A GROUP of young adults push cautiously through a rainforest. There is tension in their faces, even fear. Lush violins swell in the background. Tiny percussion notes add an element of discord as a young woman bends to examine a leaf. She jerks back as she sees something red. There is a sinister, falling cascade of notes. It’s blood….

No, this is not real life. Since when was real life ever scored to music? It’s a scene from Bishaash, a new Bangladeshi TV series due to be transmitted in October. It is, says Christian Vassie, a kind of cross between Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Scooby Doo and The X Files. And he should know. Because he’s been commissioned to write the music for it.

Christian is probably best known to readers of The Press as a maverick Liberal Democrat councillor. But long before he won the Wheldrake seat, he was a successful composer of music for film and TV, with a host of commissions for the likes of the BBC and Channel 4 under his belt.

For almost three years, while politics more or less took over his life, he did no commissions.

But now he’s back in his studio, composing away – and clearly loving every minute of it.

He’s barefoot when I catch up with him, alternately plucking away on the strings of a sitar-like instrument called a santoor, or tapping out a beat on a drum known as a tabla: two of the key percussion instruments he’s using for the score. Most of his music is composed digitally, he says. “But it is important to try to understand the instruments…”

No, he admits, he’s never been to Bangladesh: and yes, for an English composer to write music that will sound authentic to a Bangladeshi audience is a challenge.

Much of the language of music – especially film music – is universal, he says. “James Bond and Indiana Jones have been shown around the world. and people around the world would recognise that a low bass clarinet sound is a threat, or that a high violin sound suggests that something may be about to happen.”

As a composer, it is his job, using that universal language of music, to capture the inner state of the characters’ minds, or to signal to the viewer that there is something that’s about to happen.

Books do that descriptively, he says. TV and films often rely on music to carry the emotional and dramatic context. “Very often the viewer isn’t even aware that they’re hearing anything,” he says. “They just know what a character is thinking or feeling, or why he’s opening the door, or why he shouldn’t open the door…”

When writing for a Bangladeshi audience, however, Christian admits he can only get so far by relying on the universal language of music. Because naturally the music of Bangladesh, like the music of any other part of the world, has its own unique characteristics.

He has spent a lot of time listening to music from the region: and he has studied the already-filmed footage of Bishaash minutely, to ensure he can put himself into the minds of the mainly young and attractive characters.

But still, occasionally, he gets things wrong – often to comic effect, as his Bangladeshi editor has pointed out on more than one occasion.

One traditional element of Bangladeshi music is the Raga – a form of chamber music played live on a range of instruments including the santoor and the tabla. The musical framing from Ragas is familiar to a Bangladeshi audience – so naturally he’s been borrowing sequences of notes and harmonies from Ragas to express certain feelings. He found one in particular which, to his western ears, had a deliciously sinister sound to it. The problem is, individual Ragas are all associated with particular times of the day. He had a call from his Bangladeshi editor. “He said ‘you can’t use that! That’s a morning Raga. It sounds too cheerful!’” Another piece of music Christian played on the santoor. “And the editor came back sand said it sounded very feminine!”

Listening to the music he has composed is fascinating. There is much that is familiar – the discordant notes for moments of danger, the violins to show something is about to happen, the throbbing notes for suspense. But the percussion, in particular, is strangely unexpected to a western ear.

Does it sound Bangladeshi? I’m not sure – and I’m not sure it is supposed to. It is, after all, a contemporary show, Christian points out. The makers of the show – which is co-produced by the BBC, which is how he got the job – emphasised they wanted the music to be distinct from that of Bollywood. “I was told fairly early on that they were not looking for something that sounded like Slumdog Millionaire!”

He himself is clearly pleased with the music.

“It looks great as a show,” he says. “Part of my job is to make it sound great. I think we’re doing that.”

There will be 24 episodes of Bishaash altogether, each lasting 25 minutes. The episodes come in pairs, with each pair making up a story. Usually, it’s along the lines of the characters having a strange or supernatural mystery of some kind to solve, Christian says.

Christian is writing the music for half the episodes, and another British composer is writing the rest.

It has been a massive learning curve, he admits – but having studied world music at university, he prides himself on his ability to try to get into the spirit of an entirely different tradition of music.

One of the things he loves about music, in fact, is the way different traditions influence and affect each-other.

“You talk about Marco Polo and the silk road. It wasn’t just silk and spices that travelled along that road – it was music and musical instruments too. The violin is thought to have originated in China, for example – there’s an instrument there called the erhu.”

The first episode of Bishaash will be aired in Bangladesh in October. So will we ever get to see it here?

That’s possible, Christian says. The makers of TV shows generally try to market them in other countries. “But I would imagine that if it is ever shown here, it would be on satellite TV.”

Here’s hoping….