Music from noise

The sounds of an autorickshaw’s horn, the roar of a bus rushing past, and the chatter from a busy street play in the background.
Music from noise

CHENNAI: The sounds of an autorickshaw’s horn, the roar of a bus rushing past, and the chatter from a busy street play in the background. Over it, the beats from a mridangam ring strong and clear, creating music out of what one would normally call cacophony.
Praveen Sparsh’s debut album, Unreserved, hopes to take the sounds from daily life and present their inherent musicality to the people who witness them daily. The mridangam artiste released his EP in September this year.

“I was boarding a train from Chennai to Tiruchy two years ago. As I passed by the unreserved compartment, the sounds of the hawkers, of the announcements, of people talking, and of the horn of the trains, stuck with me. I noticed certain rhythmic and harmonic suggestions in them. From them onwards, I have been carrying a field recorder to collect these ambient sounds,” said the 27-year-old.
The album, produced by Sparsh and his wife Shreya Devnath, contains the sounds that struck his fancy from airports, train stations, treks and more, for two years. The sounds have been masterfully weaved with the deep notes of the mridangam.

Traditionally alien
Though the title may refer to the muse of his album, Praveen explained, “A mridangam is usually associated with certain geographical spaces, like a sabha or a temple. I wanted to put the mridangam into an alien setting, into places it is not usually associated with. After all, 60 years back, in kovil thiruvizhas, there was the 

noise of festivity and people, over which musicians would perform,” said Sparsh. 
The two years of collecting music have revealed to Sparsh the musicality that surrounds our daily lives. “I would hear a sound, and sample it because it had a groove or a harmonic suggestion. Sometimes, it was disturbing — I couldn’t zone out because I’d find a rhythm when outside. But it was like I had found a companion or jam partner. It was like I was never alone, and it made me connect with the music around me,” he said.

The six tracks have samples from airports, railway stations, the Himalayas, electronic music, and even incorporated wind instruments like the trumpet and trombone. An avid performer in Carnatic circles, this album marks Sparsh’s debut. 
“But this isn’t a dream-come-true album or anything like that. The idea came to me, and I couldn’t get rid of the thought. So I decided to mix and produce it. It’s been an amazing ride so far,” said the student of Guruvayyur Sri Durai.

‘Unreserved’ can be streamed online for free, or downloaded at for $10 (approx `750).

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The New Indian Express