Striking the right ambiance proved important for 'Hurt Locker' composers

Inspired by the sounds and rhythms of the Middle East, composer/producer team Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders managed to approximate the suspense and tension experienced by the “The Hurt Locker’s” bomb detection squad stationed in Iraq.

“The thing with this movie is that it’s hard not to be close to it,” says Beltrami. “It pulls you in, whether you want to or not. The biggest challenge for us was doing something that would add to the film and yet not take it out of this almost documentary realm.

“There’s a lot of ambiance in the sounds, so the initial discussions with (director) Kathryn (Bigelow) were about how to take these sounds and this ambiance and integrate it (with music) into a seamless, cohesive entity.”

Bigelow described Sgt. James (Jeremy Renner) as a lone wolf, cowboy renegade type, which gave the composers their cue. “We approached (the theme) almost like a Western, with guitar and like a Chinese fiddle,” Beltrami explains.

Their instrumentation, drawn from Arabic culture, infused the film with the appropriate aural motif. “The main melodic part is played with a slide and something called and E-bow,” says Beltrami, “which keeps the string constantly moving without having to attack it, so its just an infinite sort of sound.”

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