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Tunes for breaking news

Tunes for breaking news
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First Published: Sat, Oct 13 2007. 02 48 AM IST
Updated: Sat, Oct 13 2007. 02 48 AM IST
I’m a little baffled by the use of signature tunes and background music by news channels. To be fair, a signature tune playing at the beginning or end of a news bulletin is both understandable and justified, but why on earth do some of our news channels insist on playing the most inappropriate and incongruous music as background score for some news items?
Here’s a sampling from one evening that will give you an idea of the point I’m trying to make. Rashtriya Sahara aired a story about an unfortunate daughter-in-law in Rajasthan thrown out of her husband’s home by exploitative parents-in-law. The story had these early Star Wars-like sounds that hissed and twirled around as the poor girl’s plight was made known to the television-watching public at large.
Let’s move on to IBN7 telling us that the India-Australia match in Bangalore promises to be an exciting one. While we watch cricket hero Yuvi’s mum fondly give us the background for his prize-winning sixers, shots of the star on the field are accompanied by abrupt insertions of guitar and drums.
On another channel, we watch contestants from a talent hunt greet the legendary Lata Mangeshkar on her birthday. The diva stoically accepts greetings from the youngsters with mentor Gajendra Singh in tow, all of them singing Tum jiyo hazaron saal ye meri hai arzoo…. This time, it’s an appropriate song selection, though I would question the wisdom of anyone warbling before one of the greatest voices in the world. But the channel, in a typical use of background music, decides to play some tinny music in a discordant key even as the merry group blithely sings along and offers flowers to the diva.
Another channel reports news of a Pakistani court permitting General Musharraf to contest elections, and the unrest that may follow in days to come. A merry disco track punctuated with electronic phodni-like sputters and hisses plays in the background. Why?
Why do we need constant background music for a medium in which images should speak for themselves? And if there is this irrepressible urge to use background scores, can’t a little more care be taken to find something a little more appropriate? Come to think of it, the impression one gets from listening to music used in news bulletins on the telly is that most channels have stock music, possibly churned out by tired, groggy in-house music teams that cut and paste pre-programmed grooves and effects to be used in random rotation. Or, they’ve all got hold of the same samples, which they use hastily and thoughtlessly.
For that matter, even the so-called signature tunes of channels are pretty run-of-the-mill. As globes and maps twirl animatedly on television screens, signature tunes throb repetitively across channels, all with more or less the same sounds, similar instrumentation and virtually nothing that sets one apart from the other.
Let’s have an SMS poll about this, shall we? Go for it! Do we need more originality in signature tunes for news bulletins? SMS <Y> if you agree, or <N> if you disagree.
Write to Shubha at musicmatters@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Oct 13 2007. 02 48 AM IST
More Topics: Music | Tunes | News Channels | Breaking News | Columns |