All 22 seasons of Silent Witness are now available on Amazon’s Prime Video, including in the USA. In 2005 for season 9, the show was given a complete makeover (including the music) and I was brought on board and commissioned to compose the soundtrack. The opening titles theme, Silencium Songs of the Spirit by John Harle, was kept as the opening and closing titles of the show.
The music of Silent Witness
Silent Witness has 10 episodes per season, and each two episodes make up a complete story – so I treated each ‘2 parter’ as scoring for a film. Every season there would be 5 ‘films’ for me to score, and each ‘film’ would have a very different score that was appropriate to the script and to the way it had been shot. Each 2 parter also had a different director so that lended itself to also making every story very individual.
Right from the start I wanted the soundtrack to fuse quite an electronic feel with real acoustic instruments like piano. Many times the listener is not sure what instrument is playing theme – an acoustic ‘cello sometimes morphs into an electric cello (electric ‘cello was played by Philip Sheppard for seasons 9-11). There are some common musical instruments that run through the seasons (electric cello and hardanger) but I composed new themes for each new story.
By season 12 I had moved further and further away from my initial season 9 ‘feel’ and bean really pushing the boundaries of the music. To all credit to the various show runners & producers over the years: they gave me a very free reign and rarely stepped in to suggest any changes to my music. I would always insist on a spotting session with a director before I started work on any episode – that was key to making sure that I knew everything that the director intended for the story.
I did not know then that Silent Witness was going to become such a major part of my scoring life and I ended up composing all the music right through to the end of Season 20. That season ended with a beautiful two parter directed by Dudi Appleton and was set in Mexico with a story about drug cartels.
It is wonderful that the complete series is now available around the world for all to see. Those new to the series may want to start watching from season 9 – but then I am biased!
Sheridan Tongue – Composer of Silent Witness – Seasons 9-20