The Composers Of Doctor Who: Who's Next?

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Chris Morley looks to the future (and the past).


With the news arriving earlier this week that Murray Gold has departed the role of Doctor Who composer, the post he has held since 2005, it raises the question of what happens next?

It's worth remembering that Murray had previous experience of working alongside Russell T Davies prior to Saturday teatimes getting a lot more interesting all of a sudden, and that the new Executive Producer of Doctor Who has already cast an actress as the Doctor with which he has previously worked with, so will Broadchurch be raided once more?


If Chris Chibnall does manage to have a word with Olafur Arnalds  & persuade him to bring his many instruments - piano, drums, guitar & banjo among them - we could be looking at a fairly big shake-up.



The Broadchurch composer himself says of his approach to composition that...
“The classical scene is kind of closed to people who haven't been studying music all their lives. I would like to bring my classical influence to the people who don't usually listen to this kind of music, to open people's minds.”
Opening people's minds, of course, being the mission for the Radiophonic Workshop. Electronic music was still in short trousers when An Unearthly Child was first broadcast, the many varied bleeps & beeps worked up in its service confined to Room Thirteen at Television Centre under a veil of near complete secrecy while much tape was spliced - we know more of their inner workings in this day & age than audiences/listeners of the Sixties could ever have dreamt of at the time.



Though officially they've been dead as the proverbial dodo since the Nineties & John Birt's reign of terror, a new incarnation has been assembled under the watchful eye of Matthew Herbert. Frustratingly little else appears to be known with regard to what he & his team are working on at the Space, set up as a joint venture between the BBC & the Arts Council, but he is at least keen to get cracking!
"It is the perfect time for the rebirth of the Workshop. The rapid pace of change in technologies has meant our imaginations are struggling to keep up. By bringing together the people making the technology with people making the music, we are hoping to find engaging answers to some of the modern problems associated with the role of sound and music on the internet, in certain creative forms and within broadcasting."
Whether or not that means we'll ever hear them following in Nanny Delia's footsteps, not to mention those of her many colleagues, & providing stings, special sounds & everything else that made the working relationship between the original band of Radiophonic wanderers in the fourth dimension & everything else that went into making sure William Hartnell could do so in the first place, it surely remains a possibility?



Rumoured to be in the running to replace Gold is Blair Mowat, who has worked on Doctor Who under Murray as a musical arranger. Mowat composed the score for the Doctor Who spin-off Class, he also composed a new arrangement of the Torchwood theme, as well as incidental music, for the Big Finish Torchwood series and in 2016 composed a new arrangement of the Doctor Who theme for The Unbound Universe box set. So he knows the territory well.

But then there's also someone else who knows the territory rather well too. The question being, though, if he were asked to return, would he? After all he can be a bit busy...



He's David Arnold!

Before Bond came a chance to arrange his own theme for the Eighth Doctor's audio adventures. What he came up with while pottering about “in an afternoon really in a home studio” was his own attempt to draw out something of the spirit of what he grew up with. Which just so happened to be...
"...the Patrick Troughton one. That's when I was really, really young. In the '60s. I used to watch those and they were absolutely terrifying. There was something cold and robotic and somehow quite human - a human manipulation of electronic sounds. I thought it was really interesting."
And so it's proved, various humans having manipulated the big electronic sound we hear before the Doctor's latest adventure has even started in the years AD - After Delia. First to have a bash was Peter Howell after it was decided all scores from The Leisure Hive onwards would be tackled in-house.



Then came Dominic Glynn, in the nick of time for The Trial Of A Time Lord. Following Colin Baker's ousting, Keff McCulloch had a turn prior to the first fully orchestrated version by American John Debney.



The failure of the 1996 TV movie as a pilot for a new Stateside reboot of the parent programme left ten years worth of breathing room, which then brings us full circle back to the Golden years, now at an end.



But then, music, as does life, depends on change & renewal....


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