Doctor Who: Stock, Crackle & Pop!

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Christopher Morley takes a musical journey through the world of Who...


After looking at many of the Composers who have contributed to Doctor Who, and the efforts of the Radiophonic Workshop, it's time to cock a newly-refined ear towards some corners of the Who universe as we now examine pop music, as well as what's known as "stock music", and how they've been used in accompaniment of Workshop/specially composed scores for the Doctor's travels!

Stock Music can also be known as library music, and has been widely used since around 1927 when De Wolfe Music became the first to offer such a service with regard to the silent films of the time. But just what does it offer? The Sound Ideas take on it might give a rather big clue as to why early Doctor Who production teams turned to it on occasion!
"Stock Music (also known as royalty free music) is a less expensive alternative to the use of popular or well known music in a production. It is less expensive because you don't have to obtain special permission or pay additional clearance fees for the use of a song that has instant recognition.

Stock Music, on the other hand, has been written especially for use in audio and audio visual productions like radio and television broadcasts, commercials and jingles, motion picture and video scores and soundtracks, corporate & training presentations, Web sites, computer games, software applications and multimedia.

It is generally used as background music, behind the dialogue or a voice over. As background music, it can set the mood, provide a backdrop for a message, promote the product, activity or event being featured, identify the location of the scene or highlight the plot’s action."
So you can begin to see its benefits.

Anyone who sat down to tea and tuned in to BBC One on February 8th 1964 would have heard it underpinning the First Doctor's attempts to avoid going over The Edge Of Destruction, its score sourced from a production library.



The Space Museum, The Time Meddler, The War Machines and The Tenth Planet from the First's TARDIS tenure are also sound-tracked by similar scoring methods.



We can, though, put names to at least three of the composers whose music features in such a manner during the era of the older-looking young man. French duo Les Structures Sonores did the honours for both The Web Planet and Galaxy 4. Mission To The Unknown is the musical handiwork of Trevor Duncan, while Frenchman Pierre Arvey handled The Massacre Of St Bartholomew's Eve.

Jumping into 1966, a glance at the Second Doctor's output reveals that The Moonbase, The Faceless Ones, Tomb Of The Cybermen and The Web Of Fear owe their music to a library.



Both The Enemy Of The World and The Mind Robber take things into the classical stratosphere with scores by Bela Bartok and Anton Bruckner respectively, as the use of stock music became less frequent, with the Third Doctor's Inferno marking the last recorded use of stock/library music in the early years of Who.



But, just like the show itself, a musical resurrection of sorts occurred in 2005. This time though, instead of utilising a stock music library, the 'new' series, with its increased budgets, delved into the library of pop! Selected examples of both comparatively modern and older popular music were used throughout the tenures of the Ninth, Tenth & Eleventh Doctors to complement the work of composer in residence Murray Gold.

Among the most notable examples from the war-scarred man in the leather jacket's short tenure as captain of the good ship TARDIS are snatches of Britney Spears' Toxic and Tainted Love by Soft Cell which appear in The End Of The World.
"According to the archives, this was called an iPod. It stores classical music from humanity's greatest composers. Play on!"
Aptly David Bowie's Starman is played during Aliens Of London while the use of music emphasises the disparities caused by Rose's attempt to save her father's life in Father's Day. Set in 1987, unsurprisingly we hear two of the big hits of the time! Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up & Never Can Say Goodbye by the Communards are the songs in question, while somehow Don't Mug Yourself by The Streets, from 2002, plays on Pete Tyler's car radio...........



Glenn Miller got a boost when his music featured prominently in The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances - we hear Moonlight Serenade & In The Mood. Of course, eventually the Doctor does show off his moves! He'll do similar two selves later at Amy & Rory's wedding.


"Right then, everyone. I'll move my box. You're going to need the space. I only came for the dancing."
Speaking of dancing, there's the Master's love of Rogue Traders to consider
"Here come the drums!!!"


There are countless other uses of pop music too. Take for example ELO, who get not one but three nods in Love & Monsters via the use of Mr Blue Sky, Turn To Stone & Don't Bring Me Down, as one of many, many other inventive uses of existing music.



You might also remember Muse's Supermassive Black Hole booming through the TARDIS sound system from The Rebel Flesh & a certain Duran Duran fan in the shape of Professor Grisenko from Cold War.



Classic Who wasn't completely devoid of pop though - even if it wasn't all exactly ripped from the charts! If we go right back to the beginning you'll likely remember Susan listening to a crackly radio in An Unearthly Child....


The piece was credited to John Smith & The Common Men - Ian, or Mr Chesterton if you prefer, telling us:
"John Smith is the stage name of the Honourable Aubrey Waites. He started his career as Chris Waites and the Carollers, didn't he, Susan?"
That's after Ms Foreman reveals herself to be a fan, and she's clearly been keeping an ear on the charts of the day.
SUSAN: Oh, I'm sorry, Miss Wright. I didn't hear you coming in. Aren't they fabulous?
BARBARA: Who?
SUSAN: It's John Smith and the Common Men. They've gone from nineteen to two.
But the Common Men are really the Arthur Nelson Group, and what she's hearing is Three Guitars, Mood 2.



Although Doctor Who didn't pluck that song from the pop charts of the day, two years later they recycled some Top of the Pops footage to do just that with The Beatles.


Their number one hit Ticket To Ride appeared in the story The Chase, via the Space-Time Visualiser, just a few weeks after its April 1965 release.
HOST [on monitor]: Here singing their latest number one hit it's the fabulous, wait for it.-It's the fabulous Beatles!
VICKI: Yes! Fabulous!
BEATLES: I think I'm gonna be sad, I think it's today, yeah! The girl that's driving me mad, is going away...She's gotta ticket to ride, She's gotta ticket to ride. She's gotta ticket to ride, and she don't care. My baby don't care....
IAN: Oh, Barbara.
DOCTOR: Now you've squashed my favourite Beatles!
IAN: Vicki, I had no idea you knew about the Beatles.
VICKI: Of course I know about them. I've been to their Memorial Theatre in Liverpool.
BARBARA: Well, what do you think of them, Vicki?
VICKI: Well, they're marvellous, but I didn't know they played classical music!
BARBARA: Classical music?
Of course, the Doctor needs no ticket as he has a police box to ride through time and space! All the same, he's evidently a fan of the Fab Four.

 "I've just remembered! I can dance! I can dance!"...............

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