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Silence is golden

This year (2016) Silent Witness will celebrate a milestone – its 20th Anniversary. Silent Witness is a British crime drama series, produced by the BBC, focusing on a team of forensic pathology experts and their investigations into various crimes

When I first started composing the music for Silent Witness I had no idea how big a part of my life it would become.

I came onboard the series when Emilia Fox took over from Amanda Burton as forensic pathologist Nikki Alexander in Series 9. Tim Bradley (series producer) wanted a complete ‘refresh’ for the show and that included the music. I had finished composing the music for the BBC1/Kudos show Spooks (MI5) – so the series came at the perfect time for me.

When I work on the music for Silent Witness I do not have reoccurring series themes for the characters or situations, rather I try and give each episode its own individual musical identity. There will be themes and motives within the episodes, but they will only relate to that story. It means that I am not tied down to anything musically when I begin a new episode so each new story can have a soundtrack that fully captures the ambitions of the director. The producers of Silent Witness have always embraced my approach and I am given quite a lot of freedom – which is increasingly rare in TV soundtracks. It is very stimulating and rewarding from a creative angle.

I generally keep the sound palette the same over a series: the music comes from the same sound world. Instruments such as ‘cello, electric cello, viola, piano, bass viol, harp, handanger, kemenche, percussion are instruments that I use in the soundtrack. As well as my more electronic textures that bind the real instruments together.

A director I worked with on the show a couple of years ago described my music for Silent Witness: “Like walking into a building that you know very well and discovering a whole floor that you never knew existed!”

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