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Interview: "Dexter" Composer Daniel Licht Takes "The Red Road"

Composers Sean Callery and Daniel Licht
Composers Sean Callery and Daniel Licht
Society of Composers and Lyricists

Though it broadcast its last original episode in 2013, “Dexter” is not dead yet. NuvoTV secured the basic cable broadcast rights to the series. Composer Daniel Licht also put the finishing touches on the final CD for the series, which was released on July 29.

“I recorded some songs for it and mixed some music from the live concerts I did,” Licht explained during an exclusive interview in early June. “I made a really special CD for the last season of ‘Dexter.’ I think everybody was a little sad, but I think everyone was ready to move on, too. All things must pass.”

Creating themes for “Dexter”

As Licht points out, with cable channels and Netflix producing original content, there are more avenues open for entertainment.

“There’s something to be said for longer forms: it has become very interesting for storytellers and writers,” he explained. “There’s something you can do with a series that you can’t do with a 2-hour film or a 90-minute film: explore things in depth, get into really detailed character studies. Which is what ‘Dexter’ was; it was an 8-year character study.”

The composer said that “Dexter” contained themes that had been there since the beginning of the series.

“The most famous one, I suppose, is the ‘Blood Theme.’ That’s the theme you hear at the end of every show; it’s kind of a high synching violin sound,” he offered. “There’s a minor rising triad theme, usually on piano or wineglass; those themes have been there throughout. There’s always new themes in every season, usually involved with a new character.”

In Season 4, John Lithgow appeared as Arthur Mitchell, the man who became known as the Trinity Killer.

“That was great. With John, I had kind of this driving rhythm. He was kind of like a robot that kept going and couldn’t be stopped,” Licht explained. “We did an insistent kind of theme for him; the music had a lot of momentum to it. It wasn’t a stopping and starting kind of music; it was steamroller music.”

Taking “The Red Road

Licht also scored the first season of “The Red Road,” an original series airing on the Sundance Channel. He also will write music for Season 2, which is set to debut in 2015.

“The first season was 6 episodes. Sundance does kind of a British approach, which is a short series,” he said. “You can certainly pay a lot more attention to detail if you are only working on 6 episodes. If you are on a network show, and you’ve got to do 22 episodes and you get to the point where you are doing one a week, you are going to have to move faster.”

The composer also mentioned that like the annual Sundance Film Festival, the Sundance Channel has very high standards. “They are super creative; they know film very well, and they create some great TV pieces to delve into this television world. It was a great experience,” he said.