Last night, past midnight at about 1 am, I and my friend Meme were audio-recording at a suspension bridge across the Sekmai somewhere at Wairi, Kakching for my film Walking Home. We required the sound of a broken suspension bridge wood planks and naked metal cables creaking when stepped on and disturbed their abandonment. We had set up the equipment and I was just about to start walking on the bridge when dogs began to bark on the other end of the bridge, which was very disturbing. I waited for a while and when they have not stopped, I calibrated my police torch for a sharp pointed shaft of light and trained in on the eyes of two dogs–one white and the other black, their eyes glistening against the light.
I loved some fun–I walked to them and when they started to retreat, I followed them, and then chased them, shattering their barks into pieces of annoying barks. They ran through the bamboo clumps to their homes. I was laughing soundlessly. I love dogs.
I waited there for the dogs to come back for a while. They came back and I ran head on into them and they ran back again. After five minutes of timid barking, it was silent again. It was my time.
There is no complete silence in nature–listening closely to silence, we come to hear a myriad of quiet sounds within the hearing range of the human ears which we are used to ignoring and taking for granted as absence of sound. Silence, thus, turns out to be the absence of both expected and unwanted sound frequencies, while we do not consider most of the nameless finer frequencies between and beyond these arbitrary sound-marks. Everything in nature produces frequencies within and/or beyond our hearing range.
The physical properties of sounds in nature can trigger our auditory nerves in myriad ways influencing our psychic states. Some frequencies are soothing while some others are disturbing. The sound of the drizzling rain has a different effect on us than the sound of the thunder rumbling or a cricket chirping.
The frequency of the cricket’s cry I recorded a couple of hours ago and am posting here has a tensing effect on us. In other words, this cricket gives you some tension. Play the track and feel it for yourself.
Among what make the world beautiful (despite itself) and life worth living is Frank Sinatra. His songs. His Strangers in the Night (among many of his other numbers) is one of my all-time favorites. This really makes my nights beautiful even when I spend them alone. Lyrics here.
And here is another version. From a live performance. Of course, as we know, most live performances by the singers themselves of already famous records have flavors slightly different from the originals. A concert performance is a different medium than a studio recording session.
Another number among my all-time favorites is his Killing Me Softly. O my! He is–I mean is–a singer. Such a singer. Lyrics here.
Nobody knows why he does not choose to be a singer when he has such a golden voice.
Here he sings K.J. Yesudas’s Surmai Akhiyon Mein from Balu Mahendra’s 1983 drama Sadma. Karaoke.
This song was recorded at the Robert Leishangthem Workstation, right at the heart of Kakching keithel, where all the noise of the market and the street flowed in from one side and three walls blocked it like an echo chamber.
Photographer Jotin Kumar sings Saawariya a cappella.
Jotin himself recorded this song in a small studio not designed for music recording. Without any instrument accompaniment. I doubt he positioned the mic properly :). I did no editing, except increasing the volume because the volume level of my laptop speakers is terribly low, and I am not sure how this is going to sound despite Jotin’s golden voice.
for John Cage
the sound of the breeze in the trees,
rain pattering lightly on the rooftop,
the chirping of crickets,
a dog barking aimlessly somewhere in the distance,
bodies shifting their weight
on creaky pine benches,
breath being drawn and being expired
the isness of being
Recorded last night at Mamangching.
On tin roof (recorded from below the roof):
On tin roof, grass and taro leaves:
While I was recording the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves and of footsteps on dry leaves in the hills in Manipur for a current film project, I heard on my earpieces a weak sound of something familiar I had practically forgotten to be still existing–weaving on a loom. The sound from my childhood. My aunt, my father’s younger sister, on whose back I grew up as a child. She used to weave. (Mother too.) I often went to the main market in Kakching to buy yarn for her.
I turned my mic to specify the direction the sound was coming from, then followed the sound track, and I heard the volume and clarity of the sound increasing as I got nearer to the source.
Higher up the hill in one of the cottages a woman was there weaving on her loom. I recorded as she weaved.
Me reading Tomas Tranströmer’s Nocturne (trans. Robin Fulton).
Me reading A Winter Night by Tomas Tranströmer.