The Composers Of Doctor Who: Roger Limb

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Christopher Morley pays tribute to another Doctor Who composer. This time it's Roger Limb.


Next up its time to go out on a Limb as we salute Roger....



The first of his eight incidental music scores for Doctor Who being The Keeper Of Traken! He had joined the Radiophonic Workshop in 1972 after spells as both a studio manager & television announcer for the BBC, on the recommendation of Paddy Kingsland:
"Paddy and I had been studio managers together. He told me he was working at this fantastic little department in Maida Vale and that I should apply for an attachment — so I did! What they were doing was what I'd been dabbling with at home for several years. I'd been dangling microphones inside pianos and just playing with interesting noises. It had never occurred to do me that this could be a career."
After his three months on this 'attachment', he applied to join up full time & seized on the chance to work with what was then a cutting-edge range of musical instruments!
"There was the VCS3 and the Delaware, both of them certainly ground–breaking, but not terribly reliable. The VCS3, in particular, used to drift out of tune all the time. I was told that this was due to their being made with poor components. But you must remember that although we now call them all 'keyboards' they were often played, or controlled, without a keyboard, just by twiddling knobs. I do remember there was an attitude back then that using keyboards as controllers was probably just an interesting cul-de-sac, almost a passing fad! I did love the ARP Odyssey, though — it had a decent keyboard and it was very musical. It felt like a real instrument."
A big, & for him very pleasing, innovation was to arrive in 1979.
"The Fairlight arrived, and I think that one instrument changed music, and the way it was to be made, forever."

Indeed it featured on several big musical landmarks of the period- Peter Gabriel being the first British musician to get hold of one & subsequently incorporating it into his Shock The Monkey. Kate Bush used it on her 1980 album Never For Ever & subsequently waxed lyrical in a 1983 interview with Electronic Soundmaker-
"Quite often there's very little that needs doing to it. Occasionally I quite like reversing it -- quite an interesting example of that was when I was working on "The Dreaming". I wanted a dijeridu, and as the Fairlight is an Australian instrument, it happened to have a dijeridu as one of its present samples."
This was used as the basis of a loop, which illustrates another aspect of the CMI: it can construct a sound that lasts longer than its maximum sampling period, by looping sections of the original envelope together. And there's a visual aspect to the Fairlight, too.
"You can actually see a sound. Incredibly ugly sounds can look really beautiful. It's really like another dimension: visual interpretation of the world rather than audio."
Following Tom Baker's departure from Doctor Who, Limb would work on seven Fifth Doctor stories- Four To Doomsday, Black Orchid, Time-Flight, Arc Of Infinity, Terminus & The Caves Of Androzani - before departing the Workshop after working on one Sixth Doctor tale, Revelation Of The Daleks.


His soundtrack to The Caves Of Androzani was subsequently reissued in March 2013 through Silva Screen Records with the full track listing being-
  1. "Doctor Who (Opening Theme)"
  2. "Androzani Minor"
  3. "Gun-Runners"
  4. "Morgus And Chellak"
  5. "Death Sentence"
  6. "Sharaz Jek"
  7. "Death Under The Red Cloth"
  8. "Androids"
  9. "Next Time It'll Be For Real"
  10. "Nobody Lives For Ever"
  11. "Spectrox"
  12. "Salateen"
  13. "Exile"
  14. "Clever Little Android"
  15. "Two Kilos, What A Deal"
  16. "The Magma Beast"
  17. "Blind Fools"
  18. "Tear His Arms Out"
  19. "Stage Three"
  20. "Geostationary Orbit"
  21. "The Girl Will Be Alone"
  22. "Peri Abducted"
  23. "Vertical Descent Pattern"
  24. "It Could Have Been Worse"
  25. "Do You Think I'm Mad?"
  26. "The Doctor Pursued"
  27. "Mud Burst"
  28. "Morgus And Stotz"
  29. "Face Off"
  30. "Morgus Kaput"
  31. "Not Beaten Yet"
  32. "Milk Of The Queen Bat"
  33. "Return To The TARDIS"
  34. "Is This Death?"
  35. "Doctor Who (Closing Theme)


Also, if you have a DVD copy of Revelation of the Daleks then pop it in and amongst the extras you can listen to Roger Limb discusses his score for in the documentary Revelation Exhumed.
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