To start, I listened to a lot of Middle Eastern style music, including traditional, metal, and electronic styles. My goal was to represent the clash of cultures, and the continuing Westernization of their culture. After a period of research, I put together a series of non-diegetic music clips to use during scene changes, or in backgrounds of scenes taking place in the city.
Once I tackled the general feel and style of the region, I decided to work on the specifics detailed in the play. The play opens with a prologue, which serves as a loose retelling of the final battle scene. In the final scene, the play calls for the song "Hell's Bells" by AC/DC to be blasted loudly, as a coping mechanism of sorts for the soldiers fighting the battle. The script calls for heavy metal music in the prologue, without specifying "Hell's Bells." We didn't want to use the song in the prologue, so I wrote a short, instrumental hard rock piece that follows the same chord progression, and evokes the feel of the song.
Upon reviewing the piece, we weren't sure how well it was going to fit. Though accurate to it's inspiration, and a fitting piece to boost the confidence and morale of soldiers, we were afraid it would send the message that we're rooting for the war. As a precaution, I composed an alternate piece to use in it's place. This one was a more modern-styled heavy metal. As a design choice, I decided to have the drums play a double bass drum pedal at constant sixteenth-notes, to simulate the sound of helicopters, as might be heard in battle.
In the end, the director felt that the first piece was the one to use, as it felt more accurate to the situation for the soldiers, as well as foreshadowing the use of "Hell's Bells" later on.
In another scene, a marine is telling the journalist a highly-embellished story of battle. To introduce the scene, the script called for the sound of the muezzin, followed by a hip-hop beat, with the new blending together in a bizarre mash-up. I took a recording of a muezzin reciting the prayer, and built a simple hip-hop loop around it.
After writing all these quite diverse pieces of music, I wanted to write a piece that brought them all together. My idea at the time was that it could be used towards the end of the play, perhaps to build tension before the final battle, or to be battle music itself at the end of it. I wove different elements of my previous pieces together to form a fitting theme that ties them together. I used the drumming style from the metal piece, the distorted, rhythm guitar used in both the rock and metal piece, the strings from the hip-hop pieces, and a traditional-sounding Middle Eastern melody.
In the end, that piece never quite fit in properly with the story. It was a great experience, though, and provided me with an opportunity to tie things together.
Overall, this was an exciting project to work on. It gave me plenty of opportunities to familiarize myself with types of music that I generally didn't listen to on my own. I had never written in Middle Eastern modes before this, and it was great to try something new. It taught me to seek out the unkown, and embrace it with open arms.