Secrets of the Saudi state

Chambon, Philip and Sorrentino, Bruno (2002) Secrets of the Saudi state. (television soundtrack). Hardcash Productions. DVD.


This score, for cello and electroacoustic recorded material, is one of several collaborations between me and the director of Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary series. The programme focuses on contemporary Saudi Arabian society and, a year on from the 9/11 attacks, asks the question: ‘Is Saudi Arabia a friend or enemy of the West?’ For the ‘temp’ track the director had chosen very slow-moving, languid ‘Middle Eastern’ music and some late 19th century Romantic orchestral music. Channel 4, though, specifically asked me to avoid these exotic and classical musical clichés as they wanted a harder-hitting contemporary feel for the programme. The research issue was therefore how to marry the director’s musical taste and wishes with Channel 4’s request while at the same time supporting and complementing the visual aesthetic and narrative of the programme. I decided to utilize pop sampling and sequencing techniques to create a fragmentary cinematic score, weaving together the cello, Arab pop beats, sampled orchestral strings and elements of sound design and musique concrète.

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