Written for a visually lush Audubon documentary, this cue blends Native American flute and percussion with orchestral strings. The scene itself draws a visual analogy between a tribal dance and the animal – in this case, a sage grouse – that inspired it.
Film music often is called upon to evoke the sense of a culture through its indigenous music, while packaging it for Western sensibilities. There’s a delicate balance involved in suggesting a culture without caricaturing it. (Imagine the crashing gong that might herald an “Asian” character in a 1980s-era film.) My rule of thumb is that if ethnic music sounds like music, rather than a sound effect, then it’s more likely to succeed as tasteful commentary.
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