Grant Period: One year
Jatin Vidyarthi is a composer of film soundtracks and a sound artist interested in the intersection between sound art, electronic music, Indian classical music and artistic media like sound installation, video art and contemporary dance. After studying audio engineering in Sydney, Jatin worked at sound studios and music labels in Mumbai before entering into music composition and production fulltime. In 2008, Jatin was selected to participate at the Berlinale Talent Campus, and in 2009 he produced and released Sunheri Parchai, a sonic art album in collaboration with sound artist Michael Northam at the first Khoj sound art residency in New Delhi. This grant will support Jatin Vidyarthi to enrich and challenge his practice by composing a contemporary soundtrack for a silent Indian film from the pre-talkies era. He intends to perform the soundtrack live alongside the film, in an old cinema theatre, in Bangalore, Chennai, and Pune.
While composing a densely layered soundtrack for John and Jane (2006), an award-winning feature-length independent film, Jatin was not free to record live acoustic instruments, and had to manage with electronic samples. This project will give Jatin the opportunity to work with live musicians and instruments, recording and mixing the sound in a professional sound studio. He will use complex sound design/techniques to ensure that the proposed soundtrack could be listened to independently, as well as performed live with the film to create an immersive audio-visual experience. Jatin’s music is often textured by field recordings of the sounds of everyday life in the city, or sounds of the wild—birds, insects, water. Jatin uses musical instruments like the guitar, synthesizer, Indian and electronic percussion, strings, woodwinds and bass, to build melodies, rhythms, drones and texture. He samples and processes sonic material from vinyl, cassette and CD, and processes and transforms these sounds through computer software. Steve Reich and Brian Eno are big influences of his.
Jatin has been studying film soundtracks and scores to enrich his own compositional techniques. Some of the soundtracks he admires are those created for Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Veronica Voss, composed by Peer Raben; Werner Herzog's Aguirre the Wrath of God, composed by Popul Vuh, an experimental rock and synthesizer band; and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, composed by Gyorgy Ligeti. In the context of Indian cinema, the soundtrack for Kamal Swaroop’s film Om Dar Ba Dar, composed by Rajat Dholakia, has been the biggest influence on Jatin’s work. Jatin’s work process on this project involves visiting the National Film Archives of India in Pune to watch some of its well preserved silent films like Shiraz, Prem Sanyas, Light of Asia and Throw of Dice by Franz Osten. Once he decides on which film, Jatin will view the film a couple of times before beginning to compose spontaneously over the footage. He shall use a wide range of styles and tools to compose, laying down a bed of sound and subtle noises by recording, combining and manipulating every day modern industrial and natural sounds to form long ambient drones that addsdrama and heightened actions, scenes and gestures. Jatin will also record voices of male and female classical singers to create an abstract texture and sound like another instrument track. The experimental aspect of the soundtrack will be the blending of sound, noise and music. Each different texture shall be used in a way that complements the visual rhythm of the film. He will perform this soundtrack alongside the film live in Bangalore, Chennai, and Pune, in an old cinema hall to create an immersive visual and sonic atmosphere for audiences to appreciate silent cinema, sound and their own processes of listening.