Even as a young child, growing up in Guanajuato, Mexico, Edgar Barroso remembers being fascinated by the possibility of creating something meaningful out of sound. Over the course of the years — having learned to play several instruments along the way — this gifted composer and Harvard PhD candidate in the Music Department has created a vast array of music, winning numerous prizes and awards in the process.

Now he has drawn his widest — certainly most global — audience, as composer of the score for The Compass is Carried by the Dead Man, which premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival on October 22, competing with 14 other films for the festival’s top prize. Barroso recorded the score at Harvard’s state-of-the-art Studio for Electroacoustic Composition, where he received support from his advisor, Professor Hans Tutschku, the director of the studio, and Ean White, the technical director.

The Compass is Carried by the Dead Man was selected for competition by the Tokyo festival ????? one of the world’s most prestigious — out of almost a thousand entries. Directed by Arturo Pons, the film tells the story of a young boy who is lost in the desert somewhere along the US-Mexico border. The child meets a man in a mule-driven wagon who gives him a compass and instructs him to head north. The man soon dies, but the boy continues driving the wagon, encountering many new characters along the way. The result is a poetic piece that uses dark humor to depict an allegorical odyssey.