Take a sheet of this 27-year-old field recorder’s book and pay attention to the sounds around it.

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Before we can jump into the long list of questions we had for the field recording, the sound designer and the editor Surah Samal, he asked if we could do a simple exercise. “Just tell me what you hear besides my voice,” the 27-year-old asked. The thunderous traffic were the first words of our mouths. “Okay, close your eyes and tell me what you hear now.” He asked us to observe the frequency of the vehicles, whether they were moving away or approaching, whether the horns were those of a car, bicycle or other automobile entirely. And indeed, even in the din of urban noises, the youngster has proven that there is a lot to interpret from the sounds around us. Also, how many times have we chosen to ignore it.


He is an active contributor to The touch of sound. For more of his contributions, see thetouchofsound.com/contributors/suraj-samal


Suraj was born into a family of musicians but it is the sound that interests him. And the youngster knew this was the field he had to pursue when in 2009 he saw Resul Pokutty receive the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing. This is what led him to pursue cinema with a specialization in sound engineering of the Biju Pattanaik Film and Television Institute, Cuttack. And look at the accolades he’s racking up now. Not only did he work for an independent film – Khyanikaa: the lost idea – which won the state award, but last year it was recognized by The Touch of Sound – a portal that encourages people to record authentic sounds from around the world – for capturing the authentic sound of the Indian bullfrog mating call. So we dig into the mind of this field recorder to understand the art of listening.

During recording | (Photo: Surah Samal)

If we had to introduce Suraj by just saying one thing, it would be that unlike the rest of us who take photos while experiencing something new, this youngster records it on his humble, basic device. recording Zoom H6. “The image is a visual representation and quite simple, but the sound, I believe, works in an unconscious way”, explains the native of Rourkela. To illustrate this point, he asks us to imagine an image of a cup placed on a table. But when we have to imagine the sound, several questions come to mind: is the cup steel or glass? Is the table made of wood? Is there a saucer involved? It is the power of interpretation and imagination that sounds offer. Point well done, Suraj!


He was the timing sound engineer and sound editor for the independent film A dog and his man, which received a standing ovation at the Indian International Film Festival, Goa


This sound recordist has also worked for various commercials and professionally he works as a sound designer for an EdTech platform in Bengaluru. But it was in his hometown of Rourkela, one day when it was raining relentlessly, that he recorded the mating cry of the Indian bull frog. “They croaked and suddenly there was a change in their tone. It was so much more rhythmic. And it’s the precious sound that I recorded standing under an umbrella for over half an hour,” explains the passionate listener. He even took part in the 2020 International Dawn Chorus Day Ambient Isolation Project where sound engineers were encouraged to record the sounds they heard around them. “It was the confinement period and I was able to record the authentic sounds of Bengaluru,” he said. Her recording ended up being part of a 30 minute recording of sounds from around the world!

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“All I’m saying is that we collectively have to pay attention to the sounds around us because it affects us subconsciously,” Suraj says and concludes.

Surah Samal

At the workshop | (Photo: Surah Samal)

How to listen more?
– By closing your eyes and paying attention to the sounds around us
– Understand the most common sounds and where they come from
– Knowing that it affects us mentally, such as idle chatting while working is frustrating
– Grant and deactivate what’s important and not important, respectively

To learn more about him, see instagram.com/suraj_samal_

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