It's wholly apropos that Dexter composer Daniel Licht chose pre-Columbian instruments — from both human and animal bones — to energize his evocative score. On Showtime's much-acclaimed series, Michael C. Hall plays Miami police forensic-scientist Dexter Morgan, who moonlights as a dismembering vigilante, satisfying serial-killer instincts and applying a strict moral code enforced by his late foster father. In Dexter's world, no one gets away with murder.
Licht sought out musical-archaeologist Elisabeth Waldo and was the first composer since legendary Maurice Jarre (Dr. Zhivago) allowed to play her pre-Columbian instruments. It's made from a human femur bone, "probably one that was sacrificed," Licht tells TV Guide, "then painted, with notches carved into it."
The composer describes the sound of the human-bone rasp as "effectively creepy," making a "scraping sound." He says it's the precursor to modern-day Guira, which is used in salsa music. Licht also used sacrificial drums and an Aztec copper rattle for episodic scores composed of "three to four dark waltzes, some ethereal, ambient sound and a touch of gothic salsa music." The latter is ideal for the Miami-set (but now Los Angeles-shot) series.
Licht is currently at work on Darren Star's new project Cashmere Mafia, saying "it's a much lighter show, but interestingly enough, I found that my approach for the show was not terribly, terribly different than Dexter. I don't want to give away much more than that. I had fun with the title 'mafia' and pushed it in that direction."
Learn more about Dexter with clips in our Online Video Guide.
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