Sides of the Track
I wrote the score to this film which consisted of a short thematic introduction piece and a much longer version of the same which accompanied the end credits. The piece was an amalgamation of different styles and genres with a focus on the traditional Middle Eastern music of the oud, a 10 – 12 string lute like instrument, performed here by Murat Keyder. Murat took a four note melodic motive that I gave him and improvised around it in the traditional Middle Eastern scales. Also, I used Western instruments like guitar, drums, strings and piano mixed in with several electronic elements, including FM Synthesis and samples, that supported the story line and the setting of the film.
The film takes place 4 years in the future on the New York City Subway as it crosses the Manhattan Bridge. A heated discussion about the country’s politics following a future terrorist attack ensues between a Muslim American woman and a homeless Vietnam Veteran who is pan-handling on the train. Sampled elements included a Muslim Call to Prayer from a famous Imam and sounds of the subway cars screeching and riding along the tracks. In addition, for the opening sequence I used reversed samples of the oud player’s performance to create an ethereal soundscape.
All the elements came together at different times. First, I acquired the samples of the call to prayer which informed the overall key of the piece, along with the subway samples, one of which is a screeching sound that the newer R-160 trains make as they are accelerating out of the station. The more obvious first pitch interval in the screech actually influenced the chord progression in the strings and guitar. The rhythm of the subway cars bumping over the tracks also informed the rhythm of the song. I wrote the thematic material over top of this and then waited until we finally found an oud player who could come up and improvise around the four note theme I wrote. Once his part was complete the piece was ready to be formed and melded with the imagery in the opening timeline animation which you see in this clip.