One of the most primal ways of realising life is sound. For the longest time people relied on the sound of the heartbeat to know if a person was alive or dead! While technology has come a long way, the sense of sound still is a part of the basic building blocks, more so for me personally and that is what draws me to music.
My first opportunity to deal with music came during my first year of MBA, when a bunch of guys were staging a play titled Azaan, and while I don’t remember much about it, I faintly recall it was a serious and dark play about a man coming back home after many years. To create an environment of reality on stage they wanted some help on the background score, while I had no musical skills of my own, I offered to create something by mixing ambient sounds and tracks, and they Okayed it.
The opening sequence of the play was set around dawn at a railway station in a rustic town in India. The task at-hand was to recreate that scene on stage and, at the same time set the mood and tone of the story to come. And this music was the only thing the audience would be hearing for the first minute or so of the play. I put together something (the opening lines of this paragraph have described the scenario, so I’ll leave it up to your imagination to figure what sounds would’ve gone in, anyway) and people seemed to like how it played out (and at the cost of sounding immodest, I too considered it a job well done!). That was seven years ago.
Then recently on a night when I hadn’t slept a wink and was in a state of mind when one ponders over, what otherwise would be an insignificant episode in life. The thought of the play and the music flashed right in front of my eyes. It was sometime before dawn. I finally decided to hit the sack, and just then I started hearing sounds of life coming from outside the house. Too comfortable to get out, I lied there listening.
It started with mild thuds (someone dusting a rug?!) and then began a constant flow of sounds, birds (including a rooster, not exactly chirping!), Fajr (the Muslim dawn prayer), open taps and overflowing water, clanking of baltis (metal buckets), broom sweeping the floor in a nice rhythm.
Revving mopeds (delivering milk and newspapers?!), delivery vans, an early morning bicker between a man and a woman, announcements from what seemed like a sports meet at an army camp, which would inadvertently be followed by the sound of a blank cartridge being fired at the start of an event, neighbours shifting furniture (yes, it was the sound of furniture being moved and not just shaking!)
Sounds from a kitchen, something boiling (water, tea or coffee?), mortar and pestle (pounding masala for the morning tea?!), a heavy grinding stone (probably rice and dal for the dosa batter), whistle from a pressure cooker, even the normally irritating and constant buzz of the refrigerator seemed to blend well!
Like a nice symphony, sounds seemed to fade in and fade out, at times it felt like chaos, but then things would come to base again. I’m pretty certain there were more sounds, too many to list here, and I heard it all of it in not more than a couple of minutes.
Who would’ve thought, there once was a time when I had to generate these sounds to portray reality, and now, those very sounds had become reality, and how? In this case, life certainly imitated music (if not all arts!).