Music Well – Dosia McKay, Composer, Painter, Writer

Reflections on Art and Life

Middle Eastern, Indian, and Western Instruments Create a Unique Blend in the Soundtrack

I recently had the privilege to work on a soundtrack to a documentary entitled “The Work is One” by Michelle Pomeroy from the NYU Wagner School of Public Service. The film presented a challenge because not only did it call for underscoring very contrasting emotions, but it also required an inclusion of traditional ethnic instruments. I use the word “ethnic” in a very ignorant and ethnocentric way, because it seems that in the music circles everything that does not revolve around traditional European instruments, is considered “ethnic”. Be that as it may, I needed to explore beyond the familiar.

The country in question is Afghanistan, but because of its geographic location and various surrounding cultural influences, and given that there is no such thing as a uniquely Afghani instrument, I widened my sound palette to include sounds from India and the Middle East. In the end I decided on the santor, cabasa, utar, tabla, tambourine, and duduk. But because I needed the music to appeal to the Western ear, I also included piano and an array of synthesized sounds.

Dosia McKay

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