KARACHI: Many musical projects have tried to capture the original sounds of the different regions of Pakistan but ended up offering cheap imitations or distorted versions of what they think the original sounds are. Coke Studio’s latest venture Coke Studio Explorer perhaps comes slightly closer to presenting an actual auditory image of Pakistan, as it embraces diversity and brings local talent to a big platform.
But while that may not be an unexplored territory, a new project called Sound Diaries attempts to do the same in a better and more unique manner. Karim Barolia, a self-proclaimed environmental musician who has been working in the audio production for several years, and Aamish Hussain, an accountant by profession and an avid traveller, collaborated to initiate Sound Diaries.
Speaking with The Express Tribune, Barolia shared he met Hussain last year, and they decided to combine their knowledge of sound and travel for a project that later came to be known as Sound Diaries. “Aamish wanted to travel to different areas and highlight the music of different regions so he brought me in. Vlogs with musicians and all are very common these days. Therefore, I felt just recording their music was quite ordinary. We wanted to make it unique. And we decided that we wanted to highlight sounds of Pakistan, not just go and record musicians performing,” he said.
Barolia explained the thought process behind Sound Diaries. “We recall memories through different senses, one of which is sound. When you take sound out of a place, when you can’t hear what a place ‘sounds’ like, it becomes dead. That’s the importance of sound. And how we can connect sound to nature. We wanted to present Pakistan through its sounds.”
Sound Diaries will consist of five short documentaries, plus performances and tidbits of the duo’s experiences. Barolia and Hussain have already released a performance and some clips from the first of their documentaries. Titled ‘Reverberations of Thar,’ it will showcase how a place breathes sound with focus on the Tharparkar district.
For this, the producers went to the district to capture the natural reverbs. The experiment was conducted at three different locations and times of a day, showing the beauty of Thar through its sounds while recording a song with indigenous talent Abbas Faqeer under the natural acoustics and ambience of the locations. All of it was combined together as a one-act performance.
“We captured the reverbs of those locations as they change with each movement and surrounding. But what was more breathtaking was how birds were chirping on the beat of the song,” Barolia recalled. “I remember, as we recorded the performance, when the song starts, birds were chirping at the beat of the music. I didn’t realise that at first but then I saw it in the footage. When you speak to nature, it responds in its own way.”
He also passionately shared how sounds stay in place long after they are produced. “We recorded the sounds of the walls in Naukot Fort. Then we played music and recorded it again and the wall sounds played at the rhythm of the music played earlier. It was such a beautiful thing and we realised how sounds stay in place long after we have left.”
Each chapter of Sound Diaries will explore a different region of Pakistan, as well as a different property of sound. After reverbs, the next one will be about ‘noise’. Barolia said the project has been self-funded till now but they are looking for sponsorship and intend to release the series within August, before or after the Independence Day.
Barolia also hopes to continue the project long after the first five chapters too. He and Hussain are in the process of archiving the recordings and establishing a sound library for Pakistan.
Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below.