A musical quest

A musical quest

telly review

A musical quest

It is said music has no language and knows no barriers. A great leveller, music is a common love across the world and never ceases to soothe. An ode to this very sentiment is NDTV Good Times’s new show Music Voyager, a half-hour music and travel series inviting viewers to discover the exciting sounds of the planet. Host Jacob Edgar, an ethnomusicologist, world music tastemaker, street food fanatic and a global explorer, hunts for the best songs the world has to offer. The show has travelled across India, Colombia, Jamaica, Turkey, Israel and many states in the US.

Jacob, who has always believed that music provides a unique vehicle for introducing people to different cultures says, “I have been working in the music industry for many years, travelling the world in search of exceptional music for Putumayo and my own label Cumbancha, so in some ways the show is an extension of the work I have been doing for years. That said, travelling with a crew of 10 people with a camera constantly capturing your every move is a whole new experience and a very different way of seeing the world. A TV camera tends to open many doors and the red carpet rolls out for us wherever we go. We have access to people and places that an average person might not, but we also try to encourage people to explore a country through its music.” And yes, what you hear is best music, filtering out a lot of stuff that may be hard to hear.

A show of this nature also comes with memories and experiences like no other, and the Indian journey had stops in Mumbai, Delhi and Rajasthan among others. “I was happy to discover the singer Papon, who I had never heard of before our India trip. He grew up in a musical family in Assam and had been singing traditional folk songs since he was very young. At the time we met, Papon and his bandmates in East India Company were living in a poor neighbourhood, basically a slum, in a beat up apartment where they made music all day. I could tell he was a gifted singer and a rising talent, and I understand he is now quite well known in India, and deservedly so. He has a great voice and charisma to match,” reminisces Jacob.

Since the show helps viewers discover a country and city through its music, the combination of travel and music was not just exciting, but came with its own set of challenges. “Some of these problems are logistical, such as getting the necessary permits to film in a particular location or convincing an artiste to participate in the show and devote a couple of days of their precious time to a strange American TV crew. We also have to get music clearances and permissions for every song we feature on the show, which is a long and laborious process.”

Another major issue for the crew is that some of the best musical performances happen at night and the light conditions are not conducive for filming. “To overcome this, we limit the shooting that we do at night and arrange daytime performances with the artistes whenever possible, ideally in picturesque settings that look great on camera. One of our biggest challenges is deciding what to include in the show and what to leave out. There are always musicians, locations, experiences we wish we could cover, but time restrictions require us to make difficult choices. We hope that in the end the final episode entertains and offers an insight to the audience and also makes the locals proud of how we presented their music, culture and home,” says Jacob.

Of course, Jacob also had to nurse a bad stomach after binging on street food and had singer Rabbi Shergill help him with medicines recommended by his mother. The show traverses countries in search of music that has today become an indelible part of its identity. As the tagline promises, it will not just blow your mind, but blow your ears too. Whether you are a music buff or not — don’t give this one a miss. Well, music is the balm for your soul too. The show airs on Thursdays and Fridays, at 9 pm, on NDTV Good Times.