Coke Studio @ MTV. That was the beginning, early last year. Given the standards that its Pakistani counterpart had maintained, the expectations were quite high with the show, hence the hype too. Unfortunately though, the show didn’t quite manage to live upto all that. There were good songs and it brought the limelight on some very good thitherto unknown artists, but by and large the show couldn’t bring out what Rohail Hyatt so beautifully managed on the other side of the border. In any case, this year MTV seems to have taken a lesson from last season, and is keeping season 2 pretty low-key. And from the brief glimpses I have been getting of this year’s format and lineup, it does look like the 2012 edition will be a much better affair.
Anyways, coming back to what I started with, Coke Studio was the beginning. The show as such might not have had the best of starts, but what it did get the ball rolling to was a spate of activities focusing on the Indie music scene in India – a major chunk of them by MTV itself. So while we had Star World airing one brilliant show called Dewarists, MTV followed with Unplugged India and Roots. And last Saturday the channel added one more to that list, kicking off another innovatively structured show called Sound Trippin’, led by composer Sneha Khanwalkar.
Sound Trippin’ in fact does remind one strongly of Star World’s Dewarists, in its format that is a combination of a travelogue and the music creation process. But in Dewarists a fair amount of time was also spent in knowing the “Dewarists”, the artists who collaborated in each episode, their journey and so on. Sound Trippin’ differs in that a major chunk of the show, at least judging by episode 1, is spent on how Sneha goes about scavenging for street sounds with her recorder, and how they are mixed to form different rhythms that constitute the song that is the end product of the episode. The closest that Dewarists came to this was in their opening episode featuring Vishal Dadlani with Imogen Heap, who also went about collecting sounds from everyday life, and whom Sneha incidentally considers her idol. And given the kind of sounds that Sneha’s music has generally featured in her two scores, it only seems perfect that she was chosen for this project.
So Episode 1 had Sneha Khanwalkar travel around Qila Raipur in Punjab, capturing sounds from the Rural Olympics and around, and later get sibling singers Sultana and Jyoti Nooran (who had earlier sung for Sneha in OLLO) to sing a wackily worded, quintessentially Punjabi, song (the lyrics of which were also seemingly created on the fly) to the arrangement. Tung Tung goes the title of the song, born out of the onomatopoeic nature of Punjabi musical instrument sounds. Catchy as most Punjabi songs are, more so when you realize how the random sounds that Sneha recorded could have been amalgamated thus. I am definitely looking forward to the remaining nine episodes, next of which is going to be in Banaras.
Below you can see the whole of episode 1, and even below that just the song, if you are interested only in that. Do watch the whole episode if you have the time though, you will appreciate the song much better that way.