Monday, March 5, 2012

The Sound Recordist at Adharshila



It started with a two line email, in October, of a film maker friend introducing the sound recordist. The mail said that the recordist wanted to take a break from regular filmy Mumbai work and was keen to work with the Adharshila children on the song cd project. The song cd project is a very old dream of taking out a cd of our sangathan and school songs sung by children and self. After many aborted promises, we had another one. So obviously we took it as another of the same and forgot it.

We were quite surprised to get a call in the middle of January when we were just planning to take a rest after a very tiring week spent on taking out the special issue of Yuvaniya. Anyway our minds started rolling. List of songs, singers? When we had thought about the cd we had many children who were keen on singing. But now they were gone. Ex star singers of Adharshila were contacted. In the mean while whoever was at hand became a singer and started serious practice. Most students have gone for the winter vacation. And what about instruments? Our good old Kachaat Band! The elder children start collecting old buckets, drums, iron, wood and any other sound thing.

The recordist bombarded us with many questions about configuration of computer, mike, fire wire and many other new technicalities. Ultimately we told him that though we had lot of such things but the experience was that none of them worked like one wants them too so it was best to get whatever equipment that was needed. (He had no idea that the first question should have been about electricity, and we too kept quite as it might have made him rethink his plans about coming here.

Anyway he arrived on the promised day, in fact a little early – 2 am instead of 6 am. His bus driver was an aspiring rally driver. He had to chill out at the bus stop - from 2am. His bus reached very early.

The first thing was that there was no way to connect the sound box to the laptop through a USB port. It needed a fire wire port. Our ancient computers had crashed trying to install fire wire. So a search started for a computer. We discovered that one of our old students had one. After chasing him we convinced him to loan it for a few days and of course was welcome to sing. Our computer genie, Latif fixed the fire wire port in it. When the electricity came the next day we discovered that it worked. Vow! With claps he tested all rooms for acoustics. Finally decided that open air was the best option. So the whole computer set up was moved near the door where he could see the artist, remember in the studios the composer sees the singer through a glass wall. Here we were singer and recordist face to face, without the glass partition.

He wanted to listen to the band. What band. What artists? We were just a bunch of children who sang every now and then. Of course we thought we were great. He was quite disappointed at not seeing proper musicians.

For four days he struggled with us – with erratic electricity, only one mike which meant recording 15 layers 15 times – solo, chorus 4 times two children at a time, one side of the drum, other side of the drum and so on and on. We also started feeling and behaving like artists with headphones and a little imagination. He also referred to us as artists, out of habit.

When finally everything was recorded for the first song he thought it was enough and the trip was at least not wasted. Now it was our turn to be disappointed. We had a whole list of songs to make a cd. Anyway he tried out some effects and showed us some things. He said that he was actually not a song recordist he was a much bigger deal i.e. a sound designer. Guess what’s that. Well it seems a sound designer is responsible for all the sounds one hears in the background in the movies – car chase, door opening, creepy sounds during a crime etc. Sound designer sounds good too.

Whatever. The song really sounded good when all the tracks were done, especially through the head phones. Ultimately the quality of a song depends on the speakers one uses to listen. We were all thrilled.

We also learnt how small things like mikes costed more than a lakh of rupees the ones on which Rehman etc. Recorded hits. In the end we were wondering which was more important the machine or the voice.

We enjoyed these four days a lot. Finally we have put the song on our mobile as mp3 file. We are trying to upload to the net somewhere. Lets see if we are successful.

Next ... we are waiting for the film crew. A group of children will make a film starting from writing, acting, shooting and editing.