An impressive debut episode followed by a tepid second one. Can MTV’s Sound Trippin sustain its novelty, wonders Anita Iyer
Checking out the first teaser of Sound Trippin on the channel’s official Facebook page, one knew MTV was finally up to something original in the music category.
Sound Trippin can be termed a music-o-mentary format chronicling the musical journey from sound to song. It showcases music composer Sneha Khawalkar carrying a backpack, embarking on an expedition to capture sounds from ten locations in the country, equipped with a sound recorder.
Not long ago, while the independent musicians were complaining about lack of support from music channels, MTV emerged on to the scene with Indian versions of already established concepts like Coke Studio @ MTV and followed it up with MTV Roots and MTV Unplugged. Coke Studio with Leslie Lewis on board, however, didn’t click like its Pakistani original. Apparently, shooting for the second season of Coke Studio has already commenced.
Conceptualised and owned by MTV, Sound Trippin has been produced by Babble Fish productions, a division of Only Much Louder. Babble Fish had produced The Dewarists series, the hourly music show that put different musicians together and churned out a track. In Sound Trippin, Sneha Khanwalkar travels through places like Punjab, Kanpur, Varanasi, Karanataka, Goa, Assam and Benaras recording local sounds. At the end of each episode of the travel-music show, she combines the captured sound samples and creates a song out of it. So by the end of the season, there would be 10 songs from ten locations. MTV Channel Head Aditya Swamy says that shortlisting locations was a tedious process as “we had to zero down from 17 listed ones.”
The first airing
For the first episode, the show trained its lenses on Punjab and came up with the hummable Tung Tung at the end of it. The three day journey started with 76th Qila Raipur Rural Olympics and Sneha went on to capture the sounds – right from the race commentary to the groaning contestants lifting boulders, sugarcane machines, kabbadi players and anything that caught her attention. Further she travelled through the byzantine lanes of Punjab to spot the rusty voice of folk singers Sultana and Jyoti, who full-throatedly render their vocals for Tung Tung. The final destination is a cricket bat manufacturing unit in Jalandhar, where Khanwalkar recorded the factory siren and noise from the production process.
All the recorded sounds are then brought to the editing table and the sounds are converted into song. While the folk singers’ vocals form the main skeleton of the track, the captured sounds are used for layering – the synth elements are replaced with the sounds.
If the first episode managed to grab attention with the rural essence, the second episode at Benares lacked the spontaneity and became a predictable affair. For the episode, Sneha brought in the didgeridoo (Australian wind instrument), a huge tabla and put it together with the local bells and classical vocal renditions to churn out Ram Ram. Unlike the debut episode or the one that follows in Yellapur, Benares missed the local connect.
Capturing sounds on the move isn’t new for Sneha Khanwalkar. For her film, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, she along with director Dibakar Banerjee travelled across the north of the country to dig out raw voices for the album. The outcome yielded 72 year old Des Raj Lachkani and a seven year old boy as playback singers. While the earlier search was for voices, the task this time round is about capturing sounds to layer the song.
The thought of producing a show tapping the rural towns struck her while working on the movie and she approached MTV with the idea, says Sneha.
With a slew of music shows already up his sleeve, Aditya Swamy has plans to monetise Sound Trippin like Coke Studio @ MTV and Unplugged. “Ringtones and track/video downloads will be available across mobile operators after a week of exclusive availability on Tata Docomo. Apart from digital downloads across online music stores; we would be releasing the album physically with Times Music,” he says.