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0 A.D. Music Blog #4 - Tools of the Trade

November 11, 2014

I’m taking a break from the regular blog progression to address a question I receive quite often – regarding the instruments used to create the sounds of 0 A.D.:

"All these blogs make me wonder: Just how many instruments does Omri have? He seems to own 5-6 instruments for every civilization!"

Let’s start with admitting that I have a problem… I am an instrument hoarder, I have around 40 different ones in my studio! Also, I often use other musicians to create the sounds I cannot.

Let’s take a look at the instruments that were used to create each civilization’s distinct sound:


Celtic Tribes: The sounds of Celtica are based on a duo of D tin whistle and low D tin whistle, along with an Irish bouzouki, a bodhràn (traditional Irish drum), a rain stick, and a fender acoustic guitar.
Some tracks also feature violin and viola (played by Shir-Ran Yinon) and a Celtic harp (played by Avital Rom).


Hellenic Tribes: The Hellenic sound was created using a Greek bouzouki and a flute (played by Marta Mc’Cave), as well as large frame drums, a djembe, a harp (sampled) and horns.
The Greek bouzouki is so prominent, some of the Hellenic pieces are based entirely on it!


Persia: The sound of Persia consists of several stringed instruments – an oud, (traditional middle-eastern instrument with 11 strings and no frets), a saz (Turkish instrument with 3 double strings), and a slightly more modern fretless acoustic bass guitar.
As well as some percussion sounds – an African djembe, a darbuka, and a pair of bamboo shakers.


Rome: The primary sounds in the music of Rome are a mandolin and an English horn.
The combination of the plucky sounding mandolin with an orchestral string section playing pizzicato was quite appealing to me, and ended up being the basis for the Roman soundtrack.
Sadly, English horn players are quite rare, so that element is sampled.

Useless trivia moment: one Roman track contains a lot of wind chimes.

These were recorded on my front porch!


Iberia: The voice of Iberia is centered around the Spanish guitar, as well as a Fife, a tambourine and a rather modern LP shaker.
As the guitar is my primary instrument, I was both excited and nervous about approaching the Iberian music... I was confident I can make something great, but at the same time worried my habits as a guitar player might get in the way of my thinking as a composer.
I worked around that problem by composing the music with pen and paper and only then trying to play it on the guitar.


Carthage: For Carthage I brought in percussion artist Dror Parker to play frame drum, darbuka, riq and toms. To complement those I used a duduk (sampled) and a bamboo flute, as well as a string-heavy orchestra.


Mauryan Indians: Sadly, I do not (yet) own a sitar, so I came up with a replacement and used my homemade fretless guitar. I also recorded a snake charmer that was actually bought in India, finger cymbals, and a homemade rice shaker.
Other than those, I brought in didge player Yael Pinto and percussion artist Jeff Willet (udu drum) to provide a little extra color!


On the next post we’ll go back to the chronicles of making this score :)

Thanks for listening, stay tuned for more 0 A.D. music!

- Omri Lahav.

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