Doctor Who is rapidly approaching its 50th anniversary in 2013. Even though the programme was off our screens for a few years, that's still a lot of episodes. If you include movies & specials, spin-off series, video & audio stories, and a ton of fan material, there are many, many hours of viewing time dedicated to the Doctor. Right from the start of the programme, music and sound have been a key part of the series. The theme music itself was revolutionary and the original theme has been re-arranged many times but it is still recognisable as a vital part of the show. The incidental music has evolved and changed more often than the Doctor himself, and many respected composers have worked on Doctor Who stories including Richard Rodney Bennett, Tristram Cary and Stanley Myers. In the early days the music might be stock tracks from the BBC vaults, or weird electronic sounds and sometimes pushing the boundaries of experimental techniques. Doctor Who's music might be played by a small group of performers or it might be created on synthesisers, and today it is the norm for the music to be recorded by a symphony orchestra. In this article we look in more detail at the music and sound world of Doctor Who and the people who have created it.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show, there will be a number of soundtrack releases old and new, starting with "The Caves of Androzani" and "The Krotons". For more details about these releases as they are announced, skip to 50th Anniversary Music Releases.
For many years the music on Doctor Who was closely linked to the output of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, a unit created by the BBC to specialise in sound effects using electronic equipment and often experimental techniques. Though they created music and effects for many productions (such as "Quatermass and the Pit" and "The Goon Show") electronic sounds were most often associated with Science Fiction on both the big screen and on television. So it was almost inevitable that there would be such a close relationship with Doctor Who, and many members of the workshop received credits on the programme for the music or the sound effects and frequently both. Even when the Unit wasn't credited directly, it was often involved behind the scenes, taking the music from the composer and enhancing it electronically with additional layers and effects.
The Workshop supplied the BBC from 1958 to 1998, and was born from a recognition of the growing potential of electronics in the creation and manipulation of sounds. Indeed there was a phenomenal change in technology during these 4 decades. In its early days, the Unit typically used basic oscillators and tape recorders, and assorted pieces of junk used to generate sounds before later manipulating and enhancing the recordings. These pioneers devised a sound world for Doctor Who that was not the cold electronic sound of some other productions but a strangely warm and organic one. Though the perception of their output is at the subconscious level much of the time, their work undoubtedly raised the production values of the show and its popular appeal. During the 1970s and 1980s many different types of hardware synthesisers became available, but this was still prior to the widespread use of computers for sound production.
Some very special signature sounds were created by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop at Doctor Who's inception and they have stayed with the programme throughout its evolution. For the theme music, the show's first producer Verity Lambert went to Ron Grainer who had composed notable television themes for Danger Man, Maigret and Steptoe and Son. Like many composers and song writers, Grainer started by creating a piano version. His theme already had two notable characteristics: a low rhythmic pattern in the left hand (called the "tum-te-tum" or "tiddily-um") and a high melody starting with a big upwards leap (the "woo-ee-oo"). Rather than orchestrate the theme it was instead handed to Delia Derbyshire of the Radiophonic Workshop. She created the sounds for the notes and literally mixed and spliced all the pieces together on strips of magnetic tape.
Ron Grainer was so impressed by the originality of Delia Derbyshire's realisation that he tried to get her a co-composer credit for the theme, but this was forbidden by the BBC rules which wanted the unit's members to be anonymous. Ron Grainer's theme has stayed as a cornerstone of the show ever since, though it has been revamped a number of times by various composers. Essentially Delia Derbyshire's version stayed with the show until 1980, although it was edited and updated several few times by Derbyshire herself and others at the Workshop. The revamps included adding some different electronic features and also creating slightly different edits to better match the title sequence when it was altered and updated with the faces of the Doctors.
The first major theme change was a version created by Peter Howell in 1980 which lasted until 1986. A version by Dominic Glynn was used from 1986 to 1987 after the programme's enforced 18-month rest, and a version by Keff McCulloch was used from "Time and the Rani" until "Survival" in 1989. The theme for the TV Movie (a Fox-BBC collaboration) in 1996 by John Debney was largely orchestrated for a conventional symphony orchestra. When Doctor Who restarted in 2005 under the guiding hand of Russell T. Davies, he brought in Murray Gold to provide the show's music. Gold retained the orchestral sound and his up-tempo version added some counterthemes and synth sparkles, and he has created further updates to this version from time to time. The following youtube videos (with varying sound quality) show the main changes to the theme and opening titles: DW theme compilation 1 and DW theme compilation 2.
After the theme, the next major audio requirement back in 1963 was the Tardis dematerialisation sound, and this was created by another member of the radiophonic team Brian Hodgson. Hodgson famously recorded the sound of a door key being dragged along the wound base strings of a piano, and treated this recording with special effects to create the tardis's sound. Quite often the Tardis sound was edited on the show for reasons of pacing, but it was a magical effect when the sound was played in full. Hodgson also created the Tardis "hum" and provided the characteristic throbbing sound of the Dalek city. The Dalek voices were created by processing actors' voices (initially Peter Hawkins but now performed by Nicholas Briggs) through a device called a ring modulator. Some sounds were created by recording source sounds and then manipulating them, while other sounds were created purely from electronic circuits.
It has to be said that in some cases the monsters and visual effects were not totally convincing, but often the sound effects made up for this deficit and stirred the imaginations of children. The sound really added to the feeling that viewers were witnessing a real alien planet, beast or spaceship, though often at the unconscious level with most people not appreciating the creativity required to create the sounds. Sometimes the sounds alone would turn up the disgust factor with creepy bubbling ooze, or the fear factor with strange heart beats. The range of sounds required and created is really quite wide. Many of the shorter action sounds needed to be closely synchronised to activity on the screen, for pressing buttons, firing guns, explosions, bursts of the sonic screwdriver and other pieces of equipment.
Robots also required their own sounds, sometimes of a slightly comical nature e.g. for the Chumblies and the Quarks, making them seem more like pets than robots. Other audio effects were quite long and complex in form creating atmosphere on alien planets, or representing the sounds of machines and spaceships, or invisible things like hypnotic fields and force fields. Frequently the origin of certain sounds wasn't obvious, such as the pervasive mechanical sound for the Cyber Invasion, first heard in the story "The Wheel in Space". These longer sound effects served a similar function to incidental music, and indeed obviated the need for music. Brian Hodgson built up a sizeable library of special Doctor Who sounds on magnetic tapes which he later passed on to Dick Mills when he left the show during the Jon Pertwee era.
Dick Mills joined the Radiophonic Workshop in 1958, initially as a technical assistant to look after the team's hardware, but he was soon working with the others recording effects. Dick Mills assisted Delia Derbyshire on the theme music in 1963, and later he became the backbone of the Doctor Who sound effects from 1972 until the show was cancelled in 1989. Indeed the pairing of Dudley Simpson on incidental music and Dick Mills on special sound seemed unstoppable for many years. Dick Mills' contributions to Doctor Who were many and varied. To mention just a few examples he created the insect-like sounds for the "Wirrn" in the story "The Ark in Space", the evocative Time Winds in the story "Warriors' Gate", the wind chimes effect which accompanied the White Guardian, the "cloister bell" sound when the Tardis senses danger (first heard in the story "Logopolis"), and new sounds for the sonic screwdriver as the Doctor found new uses for the tool.
Mills also worked on the spin-off show "K-9 and Company", the sci-fi series "Moonbase 3" (for which he realised Dudley Simpson's Theme), "The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy" (the original radio series) and "The Two Ronnies". He has often made appearances demonstrating sound effects, whether live at Doctor Who conventions or on other television shows such as Blue Peter. Mills also conceived and produced the show's first music compilation albums - "Doctor Who: The Music" in 1983 and "Doctor Who: The Music II" in 1985. These vinyl albums were later re-issued (with some minor changes and additions) on CD by Silva Screen with the subtitle "Classic Music from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop". Volume 1 had the title "Earthshock" and Volume 2 had the title "The Five Doctors". See the later section on Soundtrack Albums for more details about these releases.
Usually sound effects are associated with things happening on the screen: machines, equipment, ray-guns, doors and spaceships. But electronic composers, whether from the Radiophonic Workshop or freelance, also provided incidental music for Doctor Who. Often the incidental music was quite traditional in nature but some composers seemed to blur the distinction between sound effects and music, often creating an eerie atmosphere. It was often not immediately clear that the weird sounds were just background. In the viewer's imagination the sounds could be coming from the alien jungle, from the wind or from some strange unseen creature, and sometimes this ambiguity could be particularly effective.
The Incidental Music for Doctor Who went through an interesting evolution. In the 1960s the programme was still trying to find its feet. It was created by the BBC Drama department but clearly aimed at a family audience, with an educational remit intending to alternate between historical stories and stories set in the future. The popularity of the science fiction stories and the monsters in particular meant that the historical stories gradually became less frequent, and the monster era was in full swing when the second Doctor Patrick Troughton joined the show in 1966. This element of finding a direction also impacted the incidental music and a number of composers were involved bringing a range of different ideas to the show. For obvious reasons, the historical stories were more likely to have acoustic scores and those set in the future were more likely to have electronic scores, but there were exceptions to this rule.
Indeed it was something of an experimental era and this was the period when some highly accomplished composers worked on the show for one or more stories: including Stanley Myers, Geoffrey Burgon, Tristram Cary and Richard Rodney Bennett. The music budget was generally very small, and if new music was recorded then at best only a small group of musicians could be employed. Several stories were made where all the background music was provided by stock music. Other stories were scored entirely by electronic music, giving them a particular feel of alienness e.g. Tristram Cary's score for "The Daleks" in 1963/64 which is comparable to the totally electronic score for the film "Forbidden Planet" in 1956.
Towards the end of the 1960s Doctor Who became firmly established in the television schedules, and the programme entered a period of relative stability. Although the use of stock music continued for some stories, the name of Dudley Simpson became more and more associated with the show. By the time Doctor Who burst into colour in the 1970s with Jon Pertwee as the new Doctor, Simpson had essentially been established as the house composer and he was to continue in this role for much of the 1970s including most of the Tom Baker era. Although Simpson wasn't a member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, he often worked closely with them to realise his music, and when he left the show the task of creating the incidental music again reverted to the workshop alternating between Paddy Kingsland, Peter Howell, Roger Limb, Malcolm Clarke and a few others.
Moving into the 1980s the creation of the incidental music experienced a shift towards sythesisers, since these instruments were now more common and affordable, and composers such as Dominic Glynn, Keff McCulloch and Mark Ayers provided strong support for the show as it went though an increasingly stormy period at the BBC. Although the programme was off air for many years after its cancellation in 1989, interest continued in the programme. On the one hand there were a number of fan productions keeping the show alive, and at the other end of the scale a Doctor Who movie was created as a joint Universal/Fox/BBC project in 1996. Although this movie built on the established foundations of the show, in many ways it also pointed towards its future restoration to our screens. With a sizeable budget and realistic effects, the TV movie also had a full orchestral soundtrack created by John Debney.
When the show returned to television in 2005 it was an obvious move to keep the orchestral background music and Russell T. Davies chose Murray Gold as the new composer for the show. Davies and Gold had worked together previously on "Queer as Folk", "The Second Coming" (with Christopher Eccleston) and "Casanova" (with David Tennant). Gold has continued in that role ever since, with his synth music orchestrated and conducted by Ben Foster and played by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. In this way the show is enjoying a rebirth with bigger budgets, and bigger audiences coming from a new generation of children who haven't seen the older show. Television scripts in the black & white days had evolved from stage plays, and it showed with a lot of dialogue. The shows were also filmed on huge bulky cameras with little capacity for editing. The show today has a lot more action and conveys the story more by visual means, and as a consequence has more opportunity for music and it is not unusual for the music to overlap the dialogue (though kept low key so that viewers can still hear the words).
Quite apart from its higher budget, Murray Gold's incidental music has mirrored changes in the programme in other ways too. The show and its music is more overtly emotional - emotion has always been there but usually toned down. Gold's music has also used recurring motifs to a greater extent, just as the show has placed more importance on the companions and how their characters develop as they join the Doctor on fantastic adventures, and then figure out their identity and place in the universe. Some musical themes also relate to the concepts which make up the story arcs. Although the seeds of these ideas had been sown earlier, and so they are not completely new, it has now become firmly established as a key part of the show. The Music of Doctor Who is now rightly celebrated outside of the show itself, with regular Doctor Who Concerts, more frequent CD releases and a wealth of fan activity on the internet. As the show approaches its 50th anniversary, who knows what musical treats lie in store.
It should be noted that in the 60s composers would score stories often without even seeing the scenes. If the music was too long for a scene then Dudley Simpson mentions that the composer would have to identify where to physically cut the magnetic tape to make an edit. Although things progressed, even in the 80s composers did not have the facilities to edit their music directly on to a copy of the video. That has all changed now and today's computer software allows precise synchronisation to picture. The other trend evident from comparing stories from different eras is towards more and more music on the show. Some early stories were quite sparse in terms of music, and a 25 minute episode might have only 1 or 2 minutes of stock music, perhaps a little more if a composer was commissioned. Again that has changed over time, with stories from the 70s, 80s and the current series averaging more and more music per episode. Another important point is that composers might have only a few weeks to create a story's music, and occasionally only days to compose, create parts, record, add effects and mix the sound. Under these circumstances the quality has varied, but some truly memorable music has been created.
A great number of composers have contributed to the sound world of Doctor Who, and here we want to briefly summarise some of composers and their contribution.
As mentioned above it was Ron Grainer (1922-1981) who composed the theme music for Doctor Who. Grainer was born in Australia and moved to Britain in 1952. Although Grainer was an accomplished film and television composer writing lots of incidental music for both media, it is his television themes which are best remembered since he had the knack of capturing the essence of a show and translating that into music. Among his memorable TV themes are "Maigret", "That Was the Week That Was", "The Prisoner", "Man in a Suitcase", "Paul Temple", "Steptoe and Son", "Tales of the Unexpected" and of course "Doctor Who". Among Grainer's other accomplishments are a number of film scores composed in the 1960s and 70s, he wrote some musicals for the stage and he and his wife managed a British group called The Eagles (not the American group of the same name). There is a comprehensive Ron Grainer website at www.rongrainer.org.uk.
Norman Kay (1929–2001) was the composer for the very first story "An Unearthly Child" and he went on to compose for two other early William Hartnell stories "The Keys of Marinus" and "The Sensorites". All three stories are still available and benefit from Kay's mysterious mood setting. Outside of Doctor Who, Kay had previously served as rehearsal pianist at the Royal Opera House, as chorus master for Scottish Opera, as coach for the Welsh baritone Sir Geraint Evans and as a freelance composer for the concert hall and for numerous television series including "Out of the Unknown", another 1960s sci-fi series from the BBC.
Tristram Cary (1925–2008) was already an established film composer when he joined Doctor Who. One of his first films was the Ealing comedy "The Ladykillers" and he also worked on a number of British films from the 1950s to the early 1970s. Although his background was with traditional orchestral instruments, he had already experimented with electronic music before his work on the programme. Doctor Who gave him further opportunities to use electronics and he became known as a pioneer in this field designing early synthesisers. Cary was initially considered to compose the Doctor Who theme music, but this didn't happen when the director was changed for the first story. However he went on to compose incidental music for the second story called "The Daleks" or "The Dead Planet", the pivotal story which introduced the Daleks. Many people would classify his music for this story as sound effects, because it largely consists of eerie atmospheric effects created by manipulating sounds electronically.
To create a particular effect Cary would sometimes record musicians playing music or individual notes and then process the recording electronically, with the result often sounding as though it was created electronically. Although he wasn't part of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Cary was clearly experimenting in a similar space. He also served on the ambitious historical story "Marco Polo" (whose score and audio/video tapes are largely lost, but the score is mostly instrumental with some nice oriental touches) and "The Gunfighters" where he wrote the ballad music sung at intervals throughout the story by the actress Lynda Baron. He also composed for another landmark Dalek story, the 12 episode "Dalek Masterplan" (this time with instrumental music as well as electronic effects). His music for these two serials was re-used on "The Rescue", "The Ark" and "The Power of the Daleks", the story which introduced Patrick Troughton to the lead role. He later supported Jon Pertwee in the story "The Mutants" again with an electronic score with occasional cues sounding like a keyboard synth. There is a double album called "Devils' Planets: The Music of Tristram Cary" with his music for some of these stories, The Daleks, The Daleks' Masterplan and The Mutants produced and digitally remastered by Mark Ayres.
Richard Rodney Bennett provided the music for an interesting early historical story "The Aztecs". This ambitious and well-constructed story raises the question of what happens if you alter Earth's history and is available on DVD, though the audio track is not available separately. Bennett's music is acoustic in nature using a handful of musicians conducted by Marcus Dods. The music conveys three distinct moods: it is eerie and even creepy in the temple's tomb, the garden scenes with the Doctor are pleasant and serene accompanied by a flute, and Ian's fight scenes are accompanied by timpani and percussion. Richard Rodney Bennett is best known as a film composer, for a number of British productions including "Billy Liar", "Billion Dollar Brain" and "Nicholas and Alexandra". His most famous film scores are probably "Murder on the Orient Express" and more recently "Four Weddings and a Funeral" though he has also worked on a range of TV productions including the mini-series "The Charmer" and "Gormenghast".
Stanley Myers (1933-1993) created the incidental music for another historical adventure "The Reign of Terror". This was an early role for him and he went on to amass a huge credit list of films and television shows. Among his many accomplished film credits, "The Deerhunter" is surely the best known and its main theme "Cavatina" is a popular tune on guitar or piano and in orchestral arrangements. Stanley Myers worked with the then up-and-coming Hans Zimmer on "My Beautiful Laundrette" on which they both served as Music Producers.
Francis Chagrin (1905-1972) was a Romanian born composer and conductor who scored Doctor Who's second dalek story "The Dalek Invasion of Earth". There is plenty of percussion in his instrumentation, which seems to complement the bleakness of London in 2164 A.D. after the dalek invasion. He scored many movies from the 1940s through to the 1960s including "The Colditz Story", "The Deep Blue Sea" and the Disney flick "Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story of a Dog". Although his Doctor Who music is not available on audio, a good selection of Chagrin's film music is available on a CD called "The Film Music of Francis Chagrin".
Raymond Jones composed and conducted the music for "The Romans" (a light comedy story) and "The Savages". "The Romans" is an acoustic score using a handful of instruments, including harp, brass, flute and other woodwind. The harp is used at times as the sound of the lyre played on screen by the Roman Emperor Nero and also by the Doctor. Jones also worked on a few other television dramas including "Wodehouse Playhouse".
Charles Botterill is credited with playing percussion on the story "The Time Meddler". In the absence of any other music credits it can only be assumed that he also composed or improvised the percussion music. The story also features some library tracks.
Humphrey Searle (1915-1982) composed the incidental music for the story "The Mythmakers" where the Tardis crew meet the legendary characters of the Greek myths. The music is acoustic with oboe, brass, drums and guitar. He also scored a few other TV programmes and several films mostly during the 1950s including the horror movie "The Haunting" in 1963. Although his Doctor Who music is not available on audio, his film music and classical works (including 5 symphonies) are well represented on CD.
Brian Hodgson has been mentioned before as a key person behind the "special sound" of Doctor Who starting from the show's beginning in 1963. Nowadays this process is called "Sound Design" and Hodgson's work included various Tardis sounds including the unforgettable dematerialisation sound, the effect for creating the Dalek voices and the various sounds of the Daleks' City. Most of the sounds on the album "Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume 1: The Early Years (1963-1969)" were created by Hodgson, including some memorable electronic tracks from the Patrick Troughton cyberman story "The Wheel in Space" for which Hodgson received a composer credit. Hodgson also receives the main credit on "The Krotons" the 2nd soundtrack release of 2013 for the show's 50th anniversary. His non-Who credits include "Bleep and Booster" (the cartoon series which started on Blue Peter, narrated by Peter Hawkins who did the Daleks' voices), Derek Jarman's film version of "The Tempest" in 1979 and more recently the music for Jeremy Clarkson's videos.
Don Harper (1921-1999) composed the incidental music for the earth-based cyberman story "The Invasion" (which also had some memorable sound effects by Brian Hodgson), where the creatures were seen at several London landmarks. He worked on some other TV shows including 2 episodes of "Out of the Unknown" and composed stock music for libraries. Alongside music by Dario Argento and Goblin, Harper's stock music was used on the George A. Romero horror movie "Dawn of the Dead" in 1978.
Stock Music or Production Music is essentially pre-composed music held in and administered by a "library" (a music licensing company or record label). Many composers have contributed to Stock Music libraries, perhaps simply creating music to boost their income when they don't have a specific commission, or some composers may make a living by creating stock music on a full-time basis. Composers may receive a fee when their music is accepted by a library and will receive royalties when their music is used. The use of Stock Music may be seen as a cheap and convenient option for a low budget TV programme, but the music should not be considered as poor quality. Many well-known and respected composers have written for Music Libraries, and the use of Stock Music on Doctor Who has sometimes been particularly effective. It would be difficult to create a complete list of Stock Music used on the programme, but here are some examples of Stock Music composers who have contributed to the soundscape of the series.
Sometimes stock music worked very well indeed, and we'd like to mention just a few of the composers involved. William Hartnell's final story "The Tenth Planet" was also the first to feature the Cybermen. The incidental music for the story came entirely from stock libraries and among the tracks are percussion cues called "Drumdramatics" 7 & 10 written by the composer Robert Farnon (1917-2005), who composed for film and TV and arranged many works for his orchestra to play and record with leading artists of the time including Vera Lynn, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. Dennis Farnon was Robert's younger brother and his tracks "Drama in Miniature" 1 & 2 were also used in the story. Dennis Farnon was also an experienced film and TV composer who composed the incidental music for the "Mr. Magoo" animations in the 1950s and in the 1970s provided the theme music for the series "Bouquet of Barbed Wire". Angela Morley (1924-2009) born Walter or "Wally" Stott, was a protege of Robert Farnon who worked in a similar field. In the 1960s she composed for several TV comedy series including "Hancock's Half-Hour" and "Hugh and I" and in the 1980s she composed episodes of several US series including "Hotel", "The Colbys", "Dynasty", "Falcon Crest" and "Dallas". She scored a number of films including most of "Watership Down" and acted as orchestrator for John Williams on several of his films.
Roger Roger (1911-1995) was a French film & TV composer and prolific contributor of stock music for libraries including some electronic works. His television work includes the 1950s "Flash Gordon" series and "The Prisoner" , and he wrote the track "Blast Off!" used on "The Tenth Planet". Douglas Gamley (1924-1998) was an Australian composer, arranger, orchestrator and conductor, two of whose stock tracks were used in "The Tenth Planet". Buxton Orr (1924-1997) was a composer who wrote songs and operas, works for chamber groups, brass bands and orchestra, and music for theatre and film. His films include the oscar-nominated "Suddenly, Last Summer" starring Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift. His stock music track "Musique Concrete II" was used in the stories "The Edge of Destruction" and "The Space Museum".
Wilfred Josephs (1927-1997), often credited as W. Josephs, composed extensively for film and television from the 1960s through to the 1990s and also contributed to Library Music collections. His films include "Swallows and Amazons", "Mata Hari" and the film version of "Callan" and among his TV themes the most memorable is surely "I, Claudius" which played while the titles showed an adder moving across a mosaic. His stock tracks called "Space Time Music" Parts 1 & 2 were used in stories including "The Web of Fear" and "The Tomb of the Cybermen". Martin Slavin (1922-1988) was a jazz musician and film composer who also contributed to stock music libraries. His "Space Adventures" 1-3 are a mix of acoustic and electronic and they essentially became the theme of the Cybermen. These tracks were first used in "The Tenth Planet" and were later used in "The Moonbase" and "Tomb of the Cybermen" where the music also accompanies the famous scene where the Cybermen emerge from their hypersleep chambers and then release the Cyber Controller.
Another particularly effective use of existing music can be found in "The Web of Fear". We call it existing music rather than stock music because Bela Bartok (1881-1945) composed classical music for concert halls and theatres rather than for music libraries. However the 3rd movement of his "Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta" contains some very eerie atmospheric music on strings followed by some timpani glissandi and a big crescendo. This music was edited to fit an early part of the "Web of Fear" where a Yeti is on display in a museum, but a spherical control unit finds its way into the robot and the Yeti comes to life.
As mentioned previously Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001) from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was the person who put together the Doctor Who theme based on the composition by Ron Grainer. In her works she generally used musique concrète methods i.e. recording real sounds and then manipulating them electronically. As a member of the workshop for 10 years she created electronic works to accompany various BBC productions, but after the title theme (which she reworked in 1967 for the Patrick Troughton era) she had only a minor involvement with Doctor Who. She realised a happy track called the "Chromophone Band" composed by Dudley Simpson for the story "The Macra Terror" (available on "Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume1: The Early Years 1963-1969), and a couple of her works "The Delian Mode" and "Blue Veils and Golden Sands" were used as stock music on the Jon Pertwee story "Inferno" (these electronic compositions are evocative and mysterious, and included on the CD "Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume2: New Beginnings 1970-1980").
In 2009 a documentary film was made about Delia Derbyshire's pioneering work, also called "The Delian Mode", and a number of additional tracks she composed are on the album called "BBC Radiophonic Music". There is a website dedicated to the composer at www.delia-derbyshire.org and another website about the documentary film at www.TheDelianMode.com. There have been at least 2 albums specifically dedicated to stock music used on Doctor Who: "Dr. Who - Music from The Tenth Planet" contains stock music tracks used on this one Who story, and "Space Adventures - Music from Doctor Who 1963-1971" has stock music from several stories from this period.
Dudley Simpson is an Australian composer who became the backbone of Doctor Who music for many years. He first served on the William Hartnell stories "Planet of Giants", "The Crusade", "The Chase" and "The Celestial Toymaker", nicely complementing the Toymaker's sinister games. He scored even more Patrick Troughton stories including "The Macra Terror" with electronic keyboard music and holiday-camp style jingles (and a stock track called "Musak" created by John Baker of the Radiophonic Workshop), "Evil of the Daleks" where he gave new companion Victoria a romantic theme on oboe, and "Fury from the Deep" where a heartbeat was added to the music for the seaweed creature. A feature of some 60s stories was that the episode title and writer credits sometimes appeared on screen after the title music had faded. In some stories this served as a short prologue to remind viewers of the setting for the story. This prologue sometimes featured music or sound effects such as a stock drum roll in most episodes of the "The War Machines", some stock bagpipe music in "The Highlanders" and some battle sounds in "The War Games". But the best example of this was "The Seeds of Death" whose opening sequence at the start of every episode showed the sun, the moon and the earth accompanied by Dudley Simpson's dramatic music.
When Jon Pertwee assumed the lead role, Simpson was effectively the house composer scoring the majority of stories through most of the 1970s until near the end of the Tom Baker era. Due to budget restrictions, his music was usually played by a small handful of musicians and then augmented with synth sounds by members of the Radiophonic Workshop to make the sound thicker and more complex, essentially more orchestral. In total he composed the music for 60 stories, including many stories now regarded as classics such as "Genesis of the Daleks" (dramatic with great characterisation), "The Pyramids of Mars" (with its Egyptian sounds and memorable organ sound for Sutekh), and "City of Death" (full of fun with the Doctor and Romana almost in holiday mood) the story set in Paris written by Douglas Adams (who also wrote "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"). In the Tom Baker story "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" Dudley Simpson also had an on-screen part as the music hall conductor. The Master became a recurring character in the Jon Pertwee era (equivalent to Sherlock Holmes' Moriarty), and Simpson introduced a theme for the character which had a characteristic 3 note motif. A few years later during Tom Baker's time, Simpson was to develop some musical ideas which briefly became the Doctor's Theme.
Ironically, given his contribution to the series, there is not a lot of Dudley Simpson's music available on CD. One of the best albums of his music is a recreation by Heathcliff Blair of Simpson's music, since the original tapes no longer existed at the BBC but some manuscripts were kept. The album has several tracks from classic stories of the Tom Baker era: "The Ark in Space", "Genesis of the Daleks", "Pyramids of Mars", "Planet of Evil" and "The Brain of Morbius", plus the aforementioned Doctor's Theme. Simpson also comments on his music among the special features on the DVDs for "The War Games", "The Sun Makers", "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" and "The Brain of Morbius". Outside of Doctor Who, Dudley Simpson had a busy career writing music for many other television productions. He scored the BBC mini-series adaptation of "The Last of the Mohicans" and wrote themes or incidental music for "Paul Temple", "The Tomorrow People", "Target", "Sense and Sensibility", "Supergran" and Terry Nation's other famous creation "Blake's 7". The album "BBC Space Themes" has Simpson's themes for "Moonbase 3" and "Blake's 7".
Carey Blyton (1932-2002) was variously a music editor, lecturer and professor of music at Trinity College of Music, and a freelance composer, primarily of songs and short works for small ensembles and particularly noted for his music for brass. He scored several international films, wrote music for adverts and for several television productions. For Doctor Who he wrote the music for "The Silurians", "Death to the Daleks" and (with Peter Howell) "Revenge of the Cybermen". His Doctor Who music is remembered mainly for his use of unusual instruments and its sometimes whimsical melodies. Though much of his music for "The Silurians" was dramatic in nature, he used medieval instruments to mirror the antiquity of the Silurian race, including the crumhorn with its odd slightly comical sound, and he composed a satirical March for the Brigadier's officious character.
His music for "Death to the Daleks" was played by the London Saxophone Quartet, and gave the evil machines a touch of absurd humour. "Revenge of the Cybermen" also used unusual wind instruments, the Serpent and Ophicleide, though the predominant sound is again brass with marimba and a touch of satire. Re-recorded Suites of his Doctor Who music can be found on the album "Sherlock Holmes Meets Doctor Who: Music for Brass". Blyton was a nephew of the children's author Enid Blyton, and he also became famous for his own children's work when he wrote the song "Bananas in Pyjamas" for the Australian TV series "PlaySchool". The song was a big success and led to a children's series also called "Bananas in Pyjamas" which used the same song as its theme tune. There was an 80th Anniversary Concert held in London in 2012 called "Carey Blyton & Friends" with music by Blyton, Arnold Bax, George Butterworth and others - see Fand Music Press for full programme details. The composer's website is at www.careyblyton.co.uk.
Geoffrey Burgon (1941-2010) is another major television composer who did an early stint on Doctor Who with "Terror of the Zygons" and "The Seeds of Doom", both Tom Baker stories from the 1970s. His Doctor Who music is very different from Dudley Simpson's which was prevalent at the time, with an acoustic sound produced by a small band of musicians though sometimes using instrumental effects (and some minimal electronics added later by Dick Mills). "Terror of the Zygons" starts off with some innocent folk music led by harp, and turns into a suspense story. "The Seeds of Doom" slowly builds tension as an eerie 'Day of the Triffids', with an organ-like sound quoting the Dies Irae for a megalomaniac plant-lover called Harrison Chase. Geoffrey Burgon went on to provide the music for the TV series "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", "Brideshead Revisited", "The Chronicles of Narnia" (the television serials from the late 1980s), "Bleak House", "Martin Chuzzlewit", the remake of "The Forsyte Saga" and "Silent Witness". He also scored some feature films including Monty Python's "Life of Brian" and "The Dogs of War". In addition to his film and TV work, Burgon composed numerous works for stage, much chamber music and a large number of choral works.
Malcolm Clarke (1943-2003) was a member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop who made some notable contributions to Doctor Who. His first role was on "The Sea Devils" where he used his skills with electronic sounds created using a huge Analogue Modular Synthesiser called the EMS VCS3 (or "The Delaware"). In places this positively drips with a feeling of the murky depths. Unfortunately the director Barry Letts made cuts to his music because he felt some of the sounds might confuse listeners because they appeared to be diegetic, i.e. coming from the on-screen environment, though Doctor Who had blurred the distinction between sound effects and music for many years. Clarke's uncut music for this story is available from the album "Dr Who At The Radiophonic Workshop Vol. 2: New Beginnings 1970-1980".
Years later Clarke returned to the programme for several stories spanning the Peter Davison and Colin Baker eras including "Earthshock", "Enlightenment", "Resurrection of the Daleks", "The Twin Dilemma", "Attack of the Cybermen" and "Terror of the Vervoids". His music for "Earthshock" is memorable for its atmospheric dripping in the caves and a memorable metallic theme (with its descending 3 notes) for the cybermen marching to the attack in the spaceship. His music for "Resurrection of the Daleks" is also memorably atmospheric but in a different way. It is dark and spooky in the streets outside the London warehouse, and suitably melancholic when Tegan leaves at the end.
Peter Howell was also a member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop with a significant contribution to the programme. He had worked with Carey Blyton on "Revenge of the Cybermen" and provided special sound including alien jungle sounds for "Planet of Evil". A major break came in 1980 when John Nathan-Turner became Doctor Who's producer and requested the theme tune to be revamped. Rather than using recorded sound and tape, Howell used synthesisers which by this time were ubiquitous and his version of the theme music stayed with the show for 5 years. The B-side of the theme single, available in both Tom Baker (1980) and Peter Davison (1981) covers, is a track called "The Astronauts" by Peter Howell and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Howell went on to create incidental music for the show scoring "The Leisure Hive" (and Dick Mills created great chirpy sounds for their voices), "Meglos" (with Paddy Kingsland stepping in for Episode 1), "Warriors' Gate" (with its ghostly banqueting music), "Kinda", "Snakedance", "The King's Demons" (with Jonathan Gibbs), "The Awakening", "Planet of Fire" (sometimes mysterious and sometimes earthy and ethnic), "The Two Doctors" as well as the special "The Five Doctors" (with its distinctive horn call in Gallifrey's Forbidden Zone) celebrating the show's 20th birthday.
Peter Howell introduced the idea of quoting a few notes from the main theme on appropriate occasions to represent the Doctor, an idea picked up by later composers including Keff McCulloch and Murray Gold. In "Meglos" which features a plant impersonating the Doctor, distorted theme fragments seem to indicate it might not be the real Doctor. Peter Howell aimed to create a unique sound for each story that he worked on, and this seemed to give each of his stories a different atmosphere or feel. The first Mara story "Kinda" had some ethnic touches with a pipe/flute sound and a mysterious soundscape for the mental world. The second Mara story "Snakedance" also had dream sequences with mysterious sound effects, but the exterior scenes suggested a Moroccan feel so Howell created a Janissary Band theme. Peter Howell also scored the spin-off "K9 and Company" also known as "A Girl's Best Friend" with Sarah Jane Smith and the robot dog K9. For his Doctor Who work (1980s onwards) Howell used the Yamaha CS80, Roland Jupiter 4 and Roland 100M Modular synthesisers. Peter Howell has a blog at www.peter-howell.blogspot.co.uk with some audio clips.
Among the other sweeping changes made by Nathan-Turner as part of his overhaul of the series, Dudley Simpson was effectively fired as the resident composer and the task of creating the incidental music was given entirely to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. So, for Tom Baker's final year as the Doctor, throughout the whole of the Peter Davison era and also for most of the Colin Baker era, the music came from various members of the Workshop. In addition to Peter Howell and Malcolm Clarke already mentioned above, these Radiophonic composers were Paddy Kingsland, Roger Limb, Jonathan Gibbs and Elizabeth Parker.
Paddy Kingsland of the BBC Radiophonic workshop scored "Full Circle", "State of Decay", "Logopolis", "Castrovalva", "The Visitation", "Mawdryn Undead", "Frontios" and Episode 1 of "Meglos". He was one of the group of composers taking over from Dudley Simpson in 1980 and setting the standard for the new Radiophonic style, using synthesisers but frequently orchestral in conception. His music was fairly melodic and easy on the ear. Among other developments he created a theme associated with the character Adric in "Full Circle" which was to be used later in the series. He also briefly quotes the first 3 notes of the Doctor Who theme and the story has great sound design for the Marshmen emerging from Mistfall. He scored the first episode of "Meglos" because Peter Howell was ill with 'flu, but Howell recovered in time to complete the story. Kingsland and Howell had agreed on a consistent sound for "Meglos" and it works because the music doesn't appear to change significantly, and the story has vocoder type vocal effects for the Deons (using the EMS Vocoder). For his Doctor Who work (1980s onwards) Kingsland used the Roland SY2 and Oberheim OBX, Roland Jupiter 4 and live acoustic drums. He introduced a drum machine (Roland CR78) and also played a Fender Telecaster electric guitar. His music for "Full Circle" and "Meglos" (tracks by both Paddy Kingsland and Peter Howell) are on the album "Doctor Who at the Radiophonic Workshop Vol.4". Outside of Doctor Who Kingsland created the incidental music and sound effects from the TV version of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Some of Paddy Kingsland's Doctor Who work was done as a freelancer after he had left the BBC. More about Paddy Kingsland can be found at his studio website at PK Studios.
Roger Limb of the BBC Radiophonic workshop scored "The Keeper of Traken", "Four to Doomsday", "Black Orchid", "Time-Flight", "Arc of Infinity", "Terminus", "The Caves of Androzani" and "Revelation of the Daleks". Among these stories "The Keeper of Traken" has some great contrasts in its music. The planet on the whole and its garden are very peaceful with some gentle relaxing music, a theme for Nyssa full of innocence, and a dark brooding theme for the Melkur which turned out to be the Master's Tardis. "The Caves of Androzani" (Peter Davison's last story) is more ambient than melodic, including some military drums (e.g. the execution scene) and a tolling bell and suitably eerie & disturbing when required by the story. Roger Limb's "The Caves of Androzani" is the first soundtrack album to be released in 2013 as part of the 50th Anniversary tributes to the show. In the 1970s, Limb contributed (along with Delia Derbyshire, Paddy Kingsland and a host of other Radiophonic composers) to a BBC Radiophonic Workshop album called "Out of this World" (originally on vinyl but re-issued on CD as "Essential Science Fiction Sound Effects, Volume 2"). A track by Limb called "Passing Clouds" was famously sampled by Prince on the track "Eye No" on the "Lovesexy" album. Outside of Science Fiction, Limb scored a number of television series including "Box of Delights" (starring Patrick Troughton), "The December Rose" and an episode of "Bellamy's Backyard Safari".
Jonathan Gibbs of the BBC Radiophonic workshop scored "The King's Demons", "Warriors of the Deep", "Vengeance on Varos" and "The Mark of the Rani". The first episode of "The Mark of the Rani" contains a long opening shot and Jonathan Gibbs created some gorgeous music to accompany this, with thick (synth) string harmonies suggesting the rural historical English setting. Jonathan Gibbs was not the first choice for "The Mark of the Rani" since John Lewis (Brian Hodgson's business partner) who had completed episode 1 became seriously ill and had to be replaced. The DVD for "The Mark of the Rani" contains an isolated score track of Gibbs' music, and an alternative score track to illustrate how the episode would have sounded with John Lewis' music. A further feature on the DVD is an interview with Gibbs called "Playing with Time". "The King's Demons" has some nice period music (both acoustic and electronic), and in the story the disguised robot Kamelian plays the lute on screen, which was actually played by Jakob Lindberg on the soundtrack.
Elizabeth Parker of the BBC Radiophonic workshop scored one story "Timelash", and earlier provided sound effects for "The Stones of Blood". A Suite of her atmospheric sound-design based music from "Timelash" is available on the album "30 Years at the Radiophonic Workshop" and the story is also available on DVD. Earlier she had provided the special sound for "Blake's 7" from season 2 onwards, and in 1984 she composed the music for the David Attenborough series "The Living Planet" which received an album release on vinyl. Though the BBC Radiophonic Workshop has closed its doors, Parker she has continued as a freelance composer to write music for many television series and documentaries. Her website is at Elizabeth-Parker.co.uk which includes audio and video clips.
In the mid-1980s the music moved back from the Radiophonic Workshop to various independent composers typically specialising in electronic music. In this period the growing sophistication of synthesisers meant that one person could use a single instrument to create a score which, though still sounding electronic, could be orchestral in conception being built from a range of instrumental sounds. Among these independent composers, Dominic Glynn made a new arrangement of the theme music for Colin Baker's final year on the show and also composed the incidental music for "The Mysterious Planet", "The Ultimate Foe", "Dragonfire", "The Happiness Patrol" and Sylvester McCoy's final complete story "Survival". Glynn has a sampler in some stories in additional to standard synth sounds, which helped to broaden his soundscape. "The Happiness Patrol" features a harmonica player who plays the blues, so Glynn complemented this with piano sounds. There is a rare CD of his music (original issued on cassette by the Doctor Who Appreciation Society) called "Black Light: The Doctor Who Music of Dominic Glynn". Since his time on Doctor Who, Glynn has continued to write music for film and TV (including several tracks used on "Red Dwarf"), and he formed the techno duo Syzygy who released music in the 1990s including the ambient album "Morphic Resonance". More about Dominic Glynn can be found on the website for the record label No Bones Records.
Richard Hartley scored one story for Doctor Who "Mindwarp", featuring the return of the green grub-like creature Sil during "The Trial of a Time Lord" Season with Colin Baker as the Doctor. Outside of the programme he was a prolific composer for television and film scoring the series "Penmarric", "Jemima Shore Investigates" and "Rules of Engagement", and many TV movies. He also scored many movies for the cinema including the cult film "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" for which he created the incidental music and acted as song arranger and musical director. A number of his film scores are available on CD.
Keff McCulloch's version of the theme music was created for the Sylvester McCoy era, and McCulloch also provided the incidental music for a number of 7th Doctor stories including "Time and the Rani", "Paradise Towers" (replacing David Snell), "Delta and the Bannermen", "Remembrance of the Daleks", "Silver Nemesis" and "Battlefield". McCulloch's music was mostly created on synths like other Who composers, though his tracks tended to have more of a contemporary 80s feel than other incidental music on the show. In both "Delta and the Bannermen" and "Remembrance of the Daleks" McCulloch created cover versions of some popular tracks, and in the former story McCulloch can be seen on screen as part of the backing group called "The Lorells". "Delta and the Bannerman" is an enjoyable soundtrack which blends well with the rock music supporting the 1959 setting, and in "Remembrance of the Daleks" he makes appropriate use of a military snare drum and has a great nursery rhyme style motif for the little girl. McCulloch helps the satire in "Paradise Towers" with some tropical musak and some contemporary electronica, and he created this score very quickly when the work of the original composer David Snell was rejected. McCulloch's music is generally fun but the downside is an over-reliance on the synthetic "orchestral hit" sound in some stories. With the exception of various arrangements of Ron Grainer's theme there is an album of music by Keff McCulloch with an introduction by John Nathan-Turner. The album was first released in 1988 as "The Doctor Who 25th Anniversary Album", then in 1997 as "Evolution: The Music from Dr Who" and then again in 2002 as "Music from Doctor Who: Original Music from the BBC Series". The Douglas Adams 4th Doctor story "Shada" dating from 1979-1980 was not completed due to strike action at the BBC. When it was released on video in 1992 (and then later on DVD) with linking narration by Tom Baker, McCulloch provided the incidental music.
Mark Ayres started out creating music for a series of videos by Reeltime Pictures called "Myth Makers" which featured interviews with various people connected with Doctor Who. He sent a demo tape of music to John Nathan-Turner and was hired to work on the Series itself. He scored three stories "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy", "The Curse of Fenric" (with lots of percussion and also the now ubiquitous synth orchestral hits) and "Ghost Light" (which includes some suitably ethnic music and pays homage to gothic movies, but avoids being too dark by scoring much of the episode with a plugged harp sound). When an extended version of "The Curse of Fenric" was created for video release, Ayres was commissioned to create more music. Not only did he have to ensure that the new music was in the same style, but he had to work around the different editing for the scenes he had previously scored. All three of Marh Ayres scores are available on individual CDs in addition to a compilation album called "The Best of Doctor Who: Volume Two". The composer went on to provide a major service to the programme and its fans in restoring and improving the audio quality on many old episodes so that they could be released on videotape and later DVD. This work has gone beyond "restoration" when new versions of older stories have been created, such as the special release of "Day of the Daleks" with improved visual effects, new footage and re-edited scenes necessitating a re-work of the incidental music and sound effects. Mark Ayres has also been involved in producing many BBC Radiophonic and Doctor Who CD releases, describing and introducing the music in many sleeve notes. Although well out of date, Mark Ayres' website is at www.markayres.co.uk and the related website of the Doctor Who Restoration Team is at www.restoration-team.co.uk.
In the mid-1960s there were two cinematic films featuring Doctor Who and the Daleks. These might not be considered "canon" to many fans because the continuity doesn't quite sit with the television programme. Nevertheless they are a fun part of Doctor Who nostalgia. In fact you might consider these to be Dalek films rather than Doctor Who films. Although the Doctor was in them in the guise of Peter Cushing, he played the role as a human inventor so that the films could stand on their own with minimal explanation. The Daleks were the the real stars of these films, and indeed the movies were simply vehicles to cash in on the 1960s Dalek-mania. Compared with the TV show the main selling point of the films was that people could see the pepper-pots bigger and bolder on the big screen in glorious technicolor, since television was totally black and white at this time. Musically neither film used the television title theme.
Malcolm Lockyer (1923-1976) was commissioned by filmmaker Milton Subotsky to score the first film "Dr. Who and the Daleks" released in 1965. At the time Lockyer was well established in the music business in a variety of roles including playing, arranging, orchestrating and conducting. He composed a few film scores in the late 1950s and was to bring a contemporary "beat" style to the first Doctor Who film. He orchestrated his score for what might be called an orchestral band sound with electric guitars, similar to some of John Barry's music at the time. Lockyer wrote his own title theme and included references to that theme within the incidental music. As comedy gave way to drama the incidental music introduced a secondary theme with a notable rising and falling melody. This second theme evolves into an heroic march as the battle between the Daleks and the Thals intensifies. The slow pace of the march theme seems to emphasise that the Thals are pacifists by nature and the underdogs waging a revolt against the superior fire-power of the Daleks, and both themes are combined in the end titles. Lockyer was also involved in arranging his music for some spin-off singles associated with the film. The sound effects for "Dr. Who and the Daleks" were provided by Barry Gray (1908-1984) who composed the music for the Gerry Anderson puppet (and live action) series.
The success of the first film and the continuing popularly of the Daleks meant that plans were soon underway for a second film which was released in 1966. For "Daleks' Invasion Earth 2050 A.D." Milton Subotsky went to Bill McGuffie (1927-1987) for the music score. The film's pre-credits sequence (which is picked up again at the end of the film) uses a piano arrangement of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in Dm. Thereafter McGuffie's music is closer to big band jazz and at times deliciously over-the-top, with the opening up-tempo theme including some electronic whoosh effects. Just like Lockyer in the earlier film, McGuffie introduces a march theme heard in the track "Daleks and Robomen" on the soundtrack album but also associated with the resistance fighters. Barry Gray returned to do the electronic effects for the second film, and based some of these on material from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The album "Dr. Who & the Daleks" contains music from both 1960s Dalek films (together with some bonus tracks) with an emphasis on the 1st film whose music was better preserved.
A long time was to pass before the third Doctor Who film was to be made, and this was a "made for TV" affair rather than a theatrical release. At the time the television show had been off the air for several years and "Doctor Who: The Movie" was intended as a pilot for a US produced series, but it also allowed the BBC to test the water to gauge the public reaction to an updated version of the show. The film wouldn't have been made at all were it not for the enthusiasm of the producer Philip Segal, and the additional funding which came from the co-production with Fox and Universal. The production team also decided to be true to the show's established continuity, and the film is therefore considered to be "canon" (after all Sylvester McCoy is seen to regenerate into Paul McGann). From a music perspective, the budget was sufficient to support a full orchestral score and hollywood composer John Debney was hired to create the music, with additional music composed by John Sponsler and Louis Febre. Ron Grainer's theme was re-arranged by Debney seemingly starting with synth sounds as though paying homage to its origins before emerging into a pounding orchestral form with full percussion.
Debney's incidental music is very much in the big hollywood style, with chorus introduced at particular moments and integrated sound effects. It played directly to the drama on screen including the overt emotional elements of the story. At the time, Debney was already a well-established television and film composer with "Hocus Pocus" and "Cutthroat Island" being 2 of his biggest movies. Since "Doctor Who: The Movie" in 1996 he has gone on to even bigger and better things with Mel Gibsons's "The Passion of the Christ", "Sin City", "Iron Man 2" and "Predators". In several ways elements of the 1996 TV movie fed into the new television series when it restarted under Russell T. Davies in 2005, not least the music which has been firmly orchestral ever since. The soundtrack album of "Doctor Who: The Movie" was never given an official release, though the composer released some copies as a promotional item. However the DVD does have some special features including an option to play 4 song tracks ("In a Dream", "Ride Into The Moonlight", "All Dressed Up" and "Auld Lang Syne") and the option to play the movie with the isolated score.
Russell T. Davies was instrumental in bringing Doctor Who back to television screens in 2005. With an eye on continuity he quite rightly kept various key aspects of the show the same, including the Ron Grainer's iconic theme music. However he made a number of significant changes to the show which could be summarised as higher production values requiring bigger budgets, and in several ways it was the TV Movie of 1996 which pointed the way to some of the show's changes. Davis had previously worked with Murray Gold on earlier projects, and he brought the composer in to give Doctor Who a new sound. Although Gold typically uses synthesisers to compose and synchronise music to picture, the budget allowed recording sessions with an orchestra and Ben Foster was hired to orchestrate the music and conduct the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The orchestral music (and other improvements like the CGI special effects) have now made the series more like a cinematic experience. Murray Gold created a new arrangement of the theme music, again with a bold cinematic feel. Though there are still many electronic elements to the theme and the music, electronics are used more to enhance the music's palette than to provide its foundation.
One of the more obvious elements of Murray Gold's music is the use of character themes or motifs. Although this had been done earlier in the show's history, its application to the new series seems more overt. The use of themes is clearly done for artistic reasons to resonate with the audience and provide a connection between different episodes, but it may also be partly for logistical reasons. Although a new Doctor Who series is shorter than a classic season, there is probably much more music to be recorded so it makes sense to re-use and adapt some material simply to help meet deadlines. Nevertheless Murray Gold has given individual episodes a distinct and unique feel, and new themes are introduced regularly for new companions, new enemies and new Doctors. Although the orchestra allows the music to go very big, at times the music is much more intimate with only a few instruments playing. The instrumentation can also be pop or jazz oriented or even introduce ethnic elements (e.g. in "The Fires of Pompeii") so there is considerable variety in the overall sound.
Since 2005 Murray Gold has used a number of themes to represent the character of The Doctor. Initially this was a mysterious theme (for Christopher Eccleston) but has increasingly shown the Timelord to be someone who brings a sense of fun and adventure. There have been many moments in the series which are played for fun, e.g. in "Partners in Crime" the Doctor and Donna perform a comedy double act and Gold has scored such moments to perfection. Nevertheless the role of the Companion has been to present the human side of the show and show the emotional arc of someone who experiences some real jeopardy or who is separated from their family or falls in love. In Series 1 and 2 Murray Gold developed "Rose's Theme" to follow her heartbreaking emotional journey as she gets completely separated from the person she loves. The emotional content of the music (both good and evil) has also increasingly been carried using human voices. Gold has written a number of songs for the show, e.g. in "Daleks in Manhattan" the song "My Angel Put the Devil in Me" is sung in true Broadway style by Tallulah, and then later Yamit Mamo performs Gold's Christmas song "The Stowaway" in "Voyage of the Damned". But some major moments deserve the big choral treatment such as when the Ood's "Song of Freedom" returns at the end of Series 4, sung the Crouch End Festival Chorus.
Since 2005 there has been a growing recognition that Doctor Who's audience appreciate the music independently of the show. This growing understanding can be seen simply by looking at the frequency of the soundtrack albums. Incidental music from Series 1 and 2 had to share a CD when the first CD was released. In the next 2 years, Series 3 and Series 4 each had a dedicated CD to itself. Then "Series 4 The Specials" (which was a shorter than normal series) was released on a double album, and double albums has been the norm for subsequent series. In 2011 one single story "A Christmas Carol" had a whole soundtrack release to itself, though admittedly this was the episode starring Katherine Jenkins as Abigail.
Doctor Who music has also been increasingly celebrated in concerts. The first concert was part of the BBC's annual Children In Need appeal in 2006, and was held at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. The concert was designed to appeal to the whole family with large screens to show clips from the show, hosted by the shows main cast and with guest appearances from the monsters. This has been followed by Doctor Who Prom concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London in both 2008 and 2010. Then in 2012 there was a "Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular" with a similar format, though this time performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in Australia. Some of these concerts were recorded and are available as special features on the Series DVDs. There is also a "Doctor Who Fan Orchestra" on Youtube. This is a virtual orchestra where musicians from around the world record themselves playing tracks of Murray Gold's music. The resulting video and audio is then edited together and mixed to create a final video of the fan orchestra playing in unison. Here is the fan orchestra playing "Rose's Theme" and "Doomsday".
By all these measures the incidental music of Doctor Who is going from strength to strength, and is increasingly appreciated by an audience outside of the programme itself. Doctor Who music has changed a lot in the course of 50 years from experimental beginnings, but it would appear that it is in very good hands.
Most of the images used to illustrate this article are Doctor Who album covers. There have been many releases of Murray Gold's music since the series resumed in 2005 with tracks from nearly every story, but is wasn't always like this. In the 60s and 70s album releases were sporadic at best. Some early releases on vinyl are considered to be collector's items today, such as various releases of the theme music, the Doctor Who Sound Effects album, Doctor Who and the Pescatons (an audio story with Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen), the audio version of Genesis of the Daleks, and Doctor Who The Music. Some of these were later released digitally on CD though again they are frequently rare. In addition to this, the titles of some albums are confusing, partly because some different albums have similar titles, but partly because some albums were re-released with different titles or covers, and there has been a degree of re-cycling of existing tracks onto new albums. Here then is a list of albums which are catalogued on Amazon, though please note that some of these items are rare (or unavailable). Some items may be priced as collector's items (far more than the original retail price) and some of the items may only be available in a used condition. Dick Mills produced the first music albums: "Doctor Who: The Music" and "Doctor Who: The Music II", while Mark Ayres produced the 4-part series called "Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop" and mastered (or re-mastered for CD) many of the official releases.
Music and Sound Effects from the original Doctor Who series (1963-1989)
Some single-composer Doctor Who albums
Albums of stock music used on Doctor Who
Music from the Doctor Who films (1965, 1966 & 1996)
Murray Gold's Music from the new Doctor Who series since 2005
There is a wealth of other music connected with Doctor Who, and we've listed some of those items here. We've included some singles or short CDs of music connected with the show, some albums by Doctor Who composers, some Doctor Who novelty albums, some story albums (with background music) and albums of music from the Doctor Who spin-off series "Torchwood". A well-produced nostalgia-inducing album is "Who is Dr Who?" which is not music from the show itself, but a fun album of music and songs associated with the show and the 1960s Dalek films. Most of the tracks were originally recorded in the 60s and early 70s and some are sung by Doctor Who actors and actresses.
The 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who in 2013 is a great opportunity to release some special merchandise, and the Music of Doctor Who will be a part of that celebration. Silva Screen have announced that in the course of the year they will release a number of soundtrack albums, old and new, and this is the story so far:
In polls among Doctor Who fans, "The Caves of Androzani" has consistently performed well and the story won the top spot itself in a 2009 poll among readers of Doctor Who Magazine. First broadcast in 1984, this is the adventure in which Peter Davison regenerates into Colin Baker. At the time, the show's music was provided by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, with various members taking on the composer role from 1980 through 1985. Roger Limb was no stranger to the show having scored "The Keeper of Traken" with Tom Baker and a number of Peter Davison stories. This first album is available now in the UK at Amazon.co.uk and US collectors can pre-order it at Amazon.com (for April 23rd).
For the second release we move back from the 80s to the 60s for "The Krotons" and find the BBC Radiophonic Workshop still playing a very big role in the show's sound, albeit using older equipment and techniques. "The Krotons" is credited to Brian Hodgson and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and is expected to focus on the "Special Sound" of Doctor Who, i.e. the Sound Effects and Sound Design elements. The new album is available from 13th May in the UK and it can be pre-ordered now at Amazon.co.uk and later at Amazon.com. Rumours indicate that the 3rd soundtrack release will be from a 7th Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) story.
There are a huge number of music and sound references within the show, and reference to Doctor Who music outside of the show. It would be an impossible task to list them all, but here we want to give you a flavour of some of Doctor Who's musical references.
Doctor Who stories which reveal the power of sound or music:
The Doctor Who Theme:
The Doctor and Companions play or sing music:
Classical Music heard in Doctor Who:
Selected tracks heard on Doctor Who:
Cameo appearances by composers in Doctor Who (click to enlarge):
Musicians and Singers appearing in Doctor Who:
Murray Gold's Doctor Who Songs:
Music and Songs related to Doctor Who:
Other Doctor Who Music trivia:
Selected examples of Doctor Who related Music on Youtube:
As previously mentioned, many of the images in this article are of CDs or Albums of Doctor Who Music. These images are copyright their respective owner, in many cases the BBC or the composers. The images have been downloaded from Amazon, or from Discogs, or are scans from my own collection. Here is a list of selected references, in part to give due acknowledgement to some wonderful resources and in part to provide a starting point for further research. There is a wealth of information contained in album liner notes, and of course Doctor Who DVDs of many episodes are available, sometimes with additional features about the music or sound. Where the original episodes are no longer available, there are soundtracks of lost stories in the "BBC Radio Collection" with the original soundtracks (including dialogue, music and sound effects) with linking narration. The Doctor Who books "The Sixties", "The Seventies" and "The Eighties" by David J. Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker include sections on Audio Releases, and Doctor Who Magazine issues no.115 and no.167 have had features about the show's incidental music. In addition many websites and reference books have been consulted for information. Some information has simply come from my memory, so I apologise for any inaccuracies!
In this reference section we provide links to other pages on mfiles related to Doctor Who music in some way.
Doctor Who Composer Pages:
Doctor Who Soundtrack and Concert Reviews:
Other Articles and Music Pages related to Doctor Who:
Here is a CD cover signed by Murray Gold. Our thanks to Petr Kocanda for permission to use his collection of autographed CDs. Click the thumbnail below to see the image full size in a separate window.
My interest in music almost exactly parallels my interest in Doctor Who. I started going to piano lessons in early 1962 at the age of 7 and I am one of those fans who remember when Doctor Who started in 1963. I got the early Doctor Who annuals and dalek toys as Christmas presents, persuaded my parents to take me to the cinema to see the early Dalek films, and I got the sheet music for Ron Grainer's theme. However it was many years after that that I began to take more interest in the music of films and television, and in the creation of music by electronic means. With the re-appearance of Doctor Who in 2005 and the growing number of CD music releases and concerts dedicated to Doctor Who music, the time now seems right to put these interests together in this article about the music of Doctor Who.
I have composed music for Mobile Games and Videos, and samples can be heard on my music portfolio page.
If you have comments, corrections or additions to make to this article, please email me at email@example.com