Music Interview with the Track Team (part 3 of 3)
Acastus: Azula has very specific music that accompanies her. How did you come up with it? What were the influences there and what were you shooting to accomplish?
JZ: Azula's theme is a variation of the main Fire Nation theme that is used throughout the series. That theme is mostly comprised of drums, bass trombones and French horns in very low registers. It's pretty masculine. We wanted to portray her femininity and power and so used the gamelan (Indonesian orchestra comprised of pitched percussion) to achieve this. We combined the gamelan's eerie bell like quality with a choir to highlight her deeply rooted and very controlled evil. Mike and Bryan explained that they wanted her to be meticulously malevolent, not stark raving mad.
Acastus: The Blue Spirit also has specific music. How did you come up with it? What were the influences there and what were you shooting to accomplish?
JZ: That is an Armenian wind instrument called a duduk. It can sound very melancholy and is extremely expressive. It also has a very solitary and mysterious quality which attaches well to The Blue Spirit. Djivan Gasparyan is a duduk virtuoso who is an inspiration and influence to probably everyone who plays or knows the duduk.
Acastus: Could you share with us a few scenes where you thought the music was especially powerful or effective?
JZ: Uncle Iroh's sunghi horn piece turned out to be pretty effective. That was another interesting challenge since the sunghi horn is a fictitious instrument. We had to invent a new instrument without letting it sound modern and computerized. Ironically, we wound up using a music synthesis technique called convolution to impose characteristics of a trombone onto the duduk. I think the result sounds very much like an acoustic instrument which is part reed and part brass.
A few other scenes which in our opinion turned out nicely are the forest scene in the Jet episode with the very quiet solo flute, the Koh's lair stuff and the scene where Yue sacrifices herself in the season one finale.
Acastus: Do you think a CD of the music of Avatar will be released sometime in the future?
JZ: That is a question that only Nickelodeon can answer. ;)
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