Jump to content

What instruments to use when scoring a desert scene?

Zimr Music

Recommended Posts

  • 1 month later...

IMO you can't do iconic "desert" music without the "Oud" sound (basically an arabic lute that's also played in parts of africa).

On that note, if possible try to use quarter tones and the traditional maqam system. You'll need to use 24-TET to do this, and it isn't as hard to implement as other alternative tuning systems. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...
  • 1 year later...
  • 5 years later...

I know I am quite late to this, but I have studied nintendo desert music, and they seem to use a few set of instruments



Take New Super Mario Bros. DS' desert theme. It uses a simple set of instruments

Sitar, Kalimba, Electric Guitar, a Bass Synth, Calliope Synth, Pan Flute, Strings, a normal Flute, (insert Bahp sound here), A surdo, Timbales, and shakers. Is it simple? Yeah. Does it get the job done? Also yeah.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Duduk is basically always the cliche, go-to instrument.

The bouzouki, oud, Turkish violin and clarinet, santoor, baglama, and a duo of female singers (or low male choir) are also very common.

However, you can make just about anything sound "desert" with the Phrygian Dominant mode.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

You all speak about eastern music, but you do know there's a desert in Nevada and California right?

Well my advice - make use of more feelings of emotion than feelings of style.

A desert does not have much visible life due to lack of water and plants - so maybe use low dynamics, in volume, rhythm, and orchestration.

For the first its easy - keep most of the piece on actual low dynamics.

For rhythmical dynamic - what I do is having no more than three different rhythms at all time, and at least one of them with long rhythmic values - in slow tempo, quarters are enough. In fast tempo, I'd use at least half notes.

For orchestration, I usually do woodwinds in pairs, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, some percussion (here I do use eastern percussion more), and strings. I frequently have the strings muted. Also, most of the time, in the winds and brass, only one of each instrument will play. I use both only rarely, and almost never a2 - my most frequent use of both instruments of a pair is when one plays a melody and the other a countermelody (almost never with the same rhythm) or imitation, with quiet strings in long notes (sometimes tremolo), or in the brass when the two do some kind of triumphant call, also then usually they won't do the same rhythm, or they will do imitation. The brass thing usually stands for the sun or sunrise.

Also another trick - to indicate night, have the flute play high to give a feeling of cold, and the muted brass play some spooky night melody, again preferably in slow rhythm. The 1st violins should play high while the rest of the winds should play quiet tremolo (the 1st violins might play that quiet tremolo too, but again, high).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...