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The Music of Doctor Who

On September 16, 2011, in Doctor Who, Fandom, Music, by Bill

This post contains lots of links to music on YouTube. The links that are not embedded will open in separate windows. All of the Doctor Who music is from season 5 except for A Melody of River (Melody Pond’s theme music) which is from season 6.

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It’s a well known fact that incidental music is often used to set the mood of the visuals used on television programs and in the movies. Many times, a particular piece of music becomes so identified with a character that that piece gets called “Character X theme.” For example, John Barry wrote the soundtrack for the 1962 picture, Doctor No. From that movie, one piece of music has been used in all 22 James Bond films (varying slightly) signaling the first moment Bond appears on the screen. Composers Hans Zimmer and Mark Mancina wrote the music soundtrack for a 2005 Japanese anime about a seemingly teenage amnesiac girl named Saya Otonashi, who discovers that she is the only one who can save the world from the evil that is Diva, her sister.  The music of Zimmer and Mancina turned a good anime named BLOOD+ (pronounced Blood Plus) into an epic anime and forced us to care about a girl named Saya.

Music defines a program, sets the mood and signals us as to how we should feel about what we are seeing. That brings us to the long running TV series, Doctor Who. Most people are familiar with the original opening theme of the program by Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire, which has been slightly modified by current series music director, Murray Gold. That music, however, is not the theme music for the character, the Doctor.

Gold has done an absolutely brilliant job in musically defining each of the program’s characters. Not only does the principal character, the Doctor, have his own theme, but so do his current companions, Amy Pond

 

and Rory Williams (who didn’t get a theme  until the episode, The Pandorica Opens. His theme is entitled appropriately The Patient Centurion).

 

By the way, in addition to have having separate themes, Rory and Amy also have their own theme as a couple.

 

Most interestingly, the character River Song has several musical themes. There is one music selection used for young Melody Pond called A Melody of River. It is played when River Song tells Amy and Rory that she is their daughter. It is also played when young Melody regenerates in New York in Day of the Moon and older Melody regenerates into who we know to be River Song.

 

and there is a different one used for River Song.  Please note that I used this great fanvid by YouTube user, Guardian Jupiter,  for River’s theme rather than the standard video from the album because of its visuals, but the music track is her official theme. (It’s called River’s Path.)

 

and finally there is another one used for River and the Doctor when they are together.

By the way, I think this piece ( A River of Tears) is brilliantly conceived because it sounds like a phonograph record being played backwards symbolizing their timelines going in opposite directions.

The current Doctor (#11), portrayed by Matt Smith, has his own theme (I am the Doctor) which is extremely upbeat and readily identifiable as belonging to this particular Doctor. I’ve included it below, but it is not the official version from the Doctor Who season 5 sound track. Rather the version I’m showing you below is a superb piano arrangement and performance by Mark Fowler who provided this YouTube submission. I love this video because this is just how I would envision composer Murray Gold playing the piece on the piano (However, if you must have the full orchestra version, click here, then go to YouTube and tell Mark Fowler how much you enjoyed his performance).

Murray Gold carefully uses slivers of each character’s music, just a couple of seconds worth, to move the action along. Sometimes he will overlay the tunes as it appears he did in combining a few seconds of  I Am the Doctor and A River of Tears at the moment River Song revives the Doctor in Let’s Kill Hitler. The music of Doctor Who does a first-rate job of filling in and rounding out even the weakest of Doctor Who stories. Highly recommend the purchase of season 5 and 6 soundtracks. It’s excellent music and each selection tells a story that is sure to bring a small smile to your face.

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5 Responses to The Music of Doctor Who

  1. Karen says:

    Interesting that the Doctor’s theme isn’t referenced in Amy’s theme, but it is in Rory’s – or is that just an artifact of the episode?

    • Bill says:

      Nice catch! I hadn’t noticed it until you mentioned it, but you’re right…probably another example of Gold layering tracks on each other. Again, a great catch!!

  2. Jed says:

    Hey would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with? I’m going to start my own blog in
    the near future but I’m having a tough time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.

    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

    • Bill says:

      Thanks for reading…:-)

      I use wordpress. The theme I’m using is by Pagelines called whitehouse Pro. It is now a legacy theme, in that Pagelines no longers supports it; however, it still runs supporting the latest WordPress version (3.5). It is not a free theme, but they do offer a “lite” (re:free) version of their latest theme at WordPress. I will continue to use this particular theme until it fails a WordPress upgrade. Info about this theme can be found at Pagelines.com. Again, thanks for stopping by and reading the blog.

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