‘The Man in the High Castle’ Composer on Writing for Series’ Alternate Universe

As Amazon Studios’ “The Man in the High Castle” prepares for its second season, composer Dominic Lewis continues to create a score that ushers the story through a strange, alternate universe while helping to guide the audience through the series’ complex storylines.

“There was so much story; it was intimate and character-based,” Lewis says. “The main idea I had was to help people get a grip on specifics.”

Lewis attached certain sounds and instruments to the main characters: a cello highlights Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos), while notes from a French horn accompany scenes with Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank). The composer then created a fast-paced piano theme that links the characters through the course of the series. Using classical orchestration as the basis of the score, he morphs tones and notes, manufacturing a soundscape that’s vaguely familiar yet completely foreign.

“I wanted to use Western orchestration as the tentpole, then twist it with sound design created from organic things,” Lewis says.

He deploys this technique to great affect by playing with the opening credits’ wispy version of “Edelweiss,” manipulating and layering the underlying tone of strings, resulting in a ghostly, haunting sound.

This story first appeared in the February 09, 2016 issue of Variety.