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Cue exploration: Blood theme (Daniel Licht, from Dexter)

Film scores

Cue exploration: Blood theme (Daniel Licht, from Dexter)


“Dexter” was one of my favorite TV shows for years. It was always one of the shows I most eagerly awaited each September. It came to an end last year, and even if the end didn’t live up to (most of) the rest of the show (to put it mildly), this didn’t alter my love for the series and the wonderful memories I got watching it.
Musically, the journey was equally fulfilling. Daniel Licht created a sound that identifies with this TV show. I can instantly recognize a theme from Dexter, there’s a certain mood that’s unmistakable. He created a musical identity for Dexter, one that will remain with me forever. There are many different themes, most of them string and piano based, there are even harps in some of the cues. They all sound great. But there’s one theme that stuck with me from the first episode. And Dexter became the first show in 20 years (since “La piovra”, with music by Ennio Morricone) where I’d sit through the closing credits, episode after episode, just to listen to the music.
Meet “Blood theme”, the most recognizable composition from the Dexter scores. Meet Dexter’s inside. Meet the dark passenger: deceitful, disturbing, addictive, calculated. For me, this was always the theme that mirrored Dexter’s soul: the first part of the theme is deep, soulful; it’s the moment of decision. The second part of the cue is the action. In the beginning, it was that simple.
Then , as the series progressed, something very interesting happened. Daniel Licht composed a slightly different version of this theme for each season. Each version neatly  arranged, like the blood slides in Dexter’s wooden box.   
“Blood theme redux” (from seasons 2 and 3) has a deeper sound to it: the strings are richer, the piano is more obvious, and it’s a more complex version of the theme.
Season 4’s version is “Blood theme for strings”. The theme has grown up. The dark passenger is boxed in and the tone of the cue is even gloomier than before: the string parts are sharper, the piano sounds richer and the whole flow of the track is more serious than in the previous versions. This track was always ominous, but I feel this version is the darkest so far.
My favorite rendition of the theme though is “Blood theme 2010” from season 5. Dexter’s life has changed dramatically after Trinity and he is left now only with his infant child. This adds a heartbreaking music box lullaby sound before the theme actually kicks in and also at the end of it. It symbolizes the new full time presence in Dexter’s life, and the theme adapts in a marvelous way. Daniel Licht nailed it.
Season 6 goes retro. “Blood theme (Alaska in Winter remix)” has an 80s arcade / video game sound to it, and it’s brilliant. It still keeps the depressing undertones, and it’s over five minutes long (compared to the usual 2:30 runtime of the previous versions). The theme strangely misses from season 7 and returns in a live form for the end of the show. It’s a gift to be able to hear the theme played live (even with the small addition of some lyrics).
The show might be over, but Dexter’s legacy will live on also because of Daniel Licht’s music and Rolfe Kent’s magnificent main titles theme. For me “Blood theme” is Dexter. I’ve made a connection with this track and I’ve attached it to Dexter’s Dark Passenger. It made the journey with me and we’ve gotten to know each other very well. Even if “Blood theme”, at its core, expresses the pure loneliness of a misunderstood soul, there are enough moments when I can identify with and I will surely keep listening to it for years to come…I love it, it’s a part of me now.
Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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  1. Maleah 24th January 2017

    ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️Love this!!


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