Doctor Who - Documentary s07e06 Episode Script

Musical Scales

Historically, Doctor Who incidental music had been provided either by a commissioned composer, or when the money wasn't available, or if the director wanted, by using library tracks.
I directed 'Enemy of the World'.
And I came into it taking for granted that what was being used was stock music, and Mood music and so on.
AYRES: If you were using library music, the director would go through music libraries, and there were various music libraries, and make yourself a score using tracks from those sources.
If a composer was commissioned, he could write music specifically to what the director wanted.
''I want a particular scary bit here, or a particular exciting bit here, ''or a romantic bit here.
'' Whatever.
Whenever I watched Doctor Who, the music seemed to work really well.
There wasn't too much of it.
It was used sensibly for stings and for background music when it was appropriate, and so on.
A lot of it had been composed by Dudley Simpson.
And he seemed to be just about right for the programme.
'Spearhead from Space' and 'Ambassadors of Death' in Jon Pertwee's first season had scores by Dudley Simpson, who was almost, at that stage, the house composer.
He was certainly writing more episodes that anybody else was.
'Inferno', which was the the last show of the first season, didn't have a specially composed score at all.
It was done entirely from what was known in those days as the Grams Library.
Douglas Camfield, for reasons of his own, didn't like using Dudley Simpson, and he also liked using library music, and that Fair enough, a lot of directors did work very well with library music.
Hey, you there! Halt, or I fire! (GUN FIRING) I wanted something a little bit different, so I went outside the perimeter of the kind of people that were being used before, like Dudley Simpson, who was used a lot, and I went for Carey Blyton.
His enthusiasm was immense.
He even phoned me up at 10:30 at night to say, ''I think I've got the Silurian sound''.
And he played down the telephone the crumhorn.
(DRAMATIC SCORE PLAYING) I said, ''Well, I'm about to go to bed, Carey, ''but, yeah, it sounds fine''.
There's a sequence where we go to a farm.
And I wanted a rural feel to it.
A bit of Elgar-type thing.
And he gave me that.
Really, I let him get on with it.
I think you have to let people like Carey Blyton, or like actors, you have to give them scope to realise their own talent.
As a score, as a conception, it was very intelligent.
He was thinking about these creatures that had been lying dormant in the earth and had come back to life after many, many millions of years.
And so he decided to structure his score using largely medieval instruments, ancient instruments.
The problem is, to our modern ears, they sound slightly comical.
The music that Carey Blyton composed did surprise me.
Because, I know if I hadn't been surprised, I don't think I would've liked it very much.
Some of it worked very well, you know, as background music and some of the scary stuff in the caves and so on.
But I really hated the little theme that comes up every time that the Silurians arrive, that reedy instrument.
I felt that it was comic rather than scary.
I felt that, in fact, if it was just general background music, which a lot of Doctor Who music, I felt, was, in Carey's case it certainly wasn't like that.
It was music you noticed, and, I felt, enhanced the scenes.
If you think that something like the crumhorn eventually evolved into the oboe Now the oboe is a very refined, very controlled sound, if it's being played by a decent musician.
The crumhorn just isn't.
It's very basic.
It's the beginning of the evolution of musical instruments, in the same way as we're talking about the beginning of the evolution of the Earth in the story.
Carey's music was added as we went along in the studio.
The music was recorded prior to the studio.
It was a library of cues.
He would have been asked to ''Here we have a scene.
''It starts here, it ends there.
''I'd like you to make that transition, ''and I think it's gonna last roughly 30 seconds.
'' There was, of course, a great difference in the early days of my time on Doctor Who from the later ones, because it wasn't possible to, as they say, spot the music.
That is, to look at an edited version, and have music composed absolutely to fit.
By Jon Pertwee's second season, things were moving on enormously, technically.
Programmes could now be edited and then post-produced.
You could dub them, which means you could go back and look at them afterwards, as a producer, as a director, and think, ''Well, actually, I'd like music there.
'' Dudley almost became the staff composer for Doctor Who.
And that was largely my doing, and most directors were happy to go along with it.
He would compose music which was recorded in the normal way, then take it along to Radiophonics, and they would add to it or treat it.
'Fury from the Deep', which was a Patrick Troughton story, had, in fact, been recorded entirely at the Radiophonic Workshop.
It was an electronic score, conventionally written, but then recorded electronically.
Very laborious.
If you're writing a minute of music for conventional players, you get conventional players in the studio, it takes a minute to play it.
For electronic music, it might take you 24 hours to record that minute of music.
LETTS: The third season I was producer, we had a mixture.
We went away from entirely working with Radiophonic Workshop, which had almost become standard the season before.
And this was entirely because the directors wanted to have different music.
In the case of 'The Sea Devils', Mike Briant was very keen to have electronic music, and got together with the Radiophonic Workshop.
They'd helped out on the incidental music down the years, working with Dudley Simpson.
And, indeed, during the '60s, Brian Hodgson had composed sound scores, which were, to all intents and purposes, the incidental music for some stories.
I think the Workshop would very much have liked to have done more scores for the programme, off their own bat.
And when 'The Sea Devils' came round, in Michael Briant they found a receptive ear.
There were members of the Workshop who fancied themselves as composers.
And they would love to have a go.
And so there was a general feeling that they were lobbying to try and be involved.
Initially,John Baker, who was one of the leading lights at the Workshop at the time, was assigned to 'The Sea Devils'.
Unfortunately, it became apparent that the workload was more than he could personally cope with at the time, so he was moved aside onto other projects, and Malcolm Clarke took over.
I had no input at all into the music, the incidental music, for 'The Sea Devils', except asking for some of it to be cut later.
At this point in time, the Radiophonic Workshop had just taken delivery of a Synthi 100, which was an enormous synthesizer which filled an entire room, made by EMS.
The sound of 'The Sea Devils' really is the sound of Malcolm fighting with this machine.
It's like a nervous breakdown in a shortwave radio factory, isn't it? It's wonderful.
I thought it was a brilliant idea.
I mean, it was music that was totally artificial.
He created all the sounds, all the music himself.
I think for Malcolm it was quite a I think it was quite a challenge.
You know, I think he'd never had to score and orchestrate and create those many sound effects.
Some of it had worked brilliantly.
But equally well, I got very concerned on a couple of occasions, because the music sounded like sound effects.
So in the fort, for example, it sounded like people walking about and echoing footsteps.
Which made you think somebody was coming, a monster or a Sea Devil was coming.
(ELECTRONIC MUSIC PLAYING) To me, that's not important.
What is important is the audience reaction to it.
And I'm sure the audience isn't looking at it saying, ''Well, I'm listening to this as a sound effect, ''I'm listening to this as music.
'' What they're interested in is the overall impression.
So, I had to ask Mike Briant if he would cut a lot of it out.
And at the time, he was He was very loath to do it, because he loved the music.
And fair enough.
It was certainly different from the music that we'd had on other shows.
And Yeah, it was different.
It was interesting, and I think for the most part, succeeded very well, indeed.
Do you know who I am? You're the prisoner.
I am the Master.
Come here.
(OMINOUS SYNTHESIZER PLAYING) I am the Master, and you will obey me.
AYRES: Malcolm did things his own way.
He didn't write conventional tunes.
If you said to him, ''I would like a romantic tune, '' he would blank.
If you said, ''I want a big, square, blue sound, '' he immediately knew what you were talking about.
He was a very difficult person to tell what to do.
Perhaps it was because I was new, that I was stupid enough to have the courage to do something that I knew necessarily wasn't going to be popular.
But I was doing what I wanted to do, and that's the arrogance of youth.
Tristram Cary's score for 'The Mutants' is as unconventional as Malcolm Clarke's music for 'The Sea Devils', but it is much better organised.
Tristram is more of a conventional composer than Malcolm was.
So, Tristram organised his material much better.
There's much more of a structure to the score.
I think it's because I liked the general quality of the kind of music he'd produced, and I mean, I always think, with a composer, unless you're a very musical person, which I'm not, it's very hard to describe to a composer exactly what you want.
You can say the mood you want to achieve, and he will see it in terms of his own kind of music.
LETTS: I was very pleased with it as a piece of music, and a piece of electronic manipulation, if you like.
It was excellent.
Which was not surprising, because Tristram Cary was a master, you know.
After that season, where we'd had 'The Sea Devils' and 'The Mutants', Dudley Simpson did pretty much become the de facto house composer.
In fact, there was only one other Jon Pertwee story that he didn't score, and he scored most of Tom Baker's stories.
I think it was just by accident.
Most of the directors were happy to go along with using Dudley as a sort of house composer.
I put them off using the Workshop for eight years because of 'The Sea Devils'.
Apologies for that.
AYRES: Doctor Who was instrumental, by stealth, in getting electronic music into popular culture.
And that's why so many people were inspired by it, and why so many modern musicians, who love those analogue sounds And there is nothing quite like the sounds that are produced by real electric circuits, you know, real valves, real transistors, real resistors and diodes being tortured by being overdriven and distorted.
It creates this unique, organic, analogue sound.
I must say that going back to it, I get great delight from listening to the sort of stuff that I did then.
LETTS: I have always felt, personally, that more advanced music is usually very good for incidental music for film or television.
So, I'm surprised, in a way, that I didn't push more for Doing so few experiments like we had with Carey Blyton and Tristram Cary and Malcolm Clarke.
AYRES: It was very exciting to have a score like 'Curse of Peladon', which is superb, but a conventional score, using conventional instruments mixed with electronics.
Then to have something as anarchic as 'The Sea Devils'.
Then to have something as electronic but as beautifully structured as 'The Mutants'.
I don't think people take those risks these days.