As announced last year, Silva Screen are releasing an incredible limited edition Doctor Who soundtrack boxset featuring eleven discs of music spanning every era of The Doctor. This magnificent collection, due for release very soon, comes presented in its very own TARDIS boxset and is a must for any fan of Doctor Who music through the years. Also included in the set are notes from classic Who composer Mark Ayres and notes from various composers through the years.
In this EXCLUSIVE series for Blogtor Who, Silva Screen are releasing these fascinating notes ahead of the boxset's release. Today sees Part Eight which includes notes from composer Jonathan Gibbs and Mark Ayres (which are abridged and will continue through this series). Also included are the front and back covers for The Eighth Doctor disc included in the boxset (click on them for bigger versions. Many thanks to Silva Screen, visit their site HERE.
Technology put on quite a growth spurt in the early ‘eighties! When I joined the Workshop, cutting up tape was still a noble art - almost a rite of passage. But then along came the Fairlight CMI and sampling. The canteen talk was of how amazing it was to do things in seconds that used to take days. Dick would give a withering look and get back to his conversation with Malcolm. It was always defiantly about anything BUT electronic music.
Percussive sounds like breaking glass worked well on the Fairlight - it was only 8-bit sampling after all - but sustained sounds were a nightmare to loop properly. I remember making a sample called SUEOOO (someone called Sue, going 'ooo'...) where the loop join miraculously worked for once, and using it throughout Warriors of the Deep at every pitch imaginable. The Fairlight also had a wonderful feature where you could vary the number of intervals in the octave and generate five-note or seven-note scales, for example. Fabulous unheard-before harmonies, just from an elbow-full of notes on the keyboard.
Then it got even better with FM synthesis - the DX7 and TX816. These made rich, natural, living sounds that were a world away from square waves and sawtooths. Brian and I got to meet its inventor, John Chowning. The dynamic control was great, too; you could plug in a mouthpiece and use breath to change the sound - pretty unhygienic, but very expressive. I remember using a lot of DX7 and sampled percussive sounds (actually an old bass drum skin, minus drum shell, multi-tracked over and over) for Vengeance on Varos.
The Mark of the Rani was my last Doctor Who, and the most meaningful for me. It came about for the saddest of reasons - the composer originally allocated to it, John Lewis, had become terminally ill and could not complete the score. We were called in very late and there was no studio available, so I worked nights in Peter's studio while he worked days. There was something magical about the Maida Vale studios at three in the morning. The Radio 1 Peel Sessions downstairs were typically still going strong, and you would meet some pretty startling musos at the coffee machine outside Studio 4. Then go back to writing English idyll. A very special time.
Abridged album notes from Mark Ayres [Part 8]
And so, in 1996, Doctor Who was back, if only briefly. A 90-minute TV movie saw Sylvester McCoy regenerate into Paul McGann for one night only - and hence this is the only story to get an entire disc to itself in this collection! And whilst the music (composed by a team led by John Debney, who took the main credit) was still produced largely using synthesisers and samples, it was no longer self-consciously electronic in flavour. A big Hollywood sound was asked for by the producers, so that’s what the film got. The TV Movie was intended to pilot a new run of adventures but, whilst generally well-received, the film did not go to series and the programme would go underground for another 9 years before its triumphant return in 2005.
TO BE CONTINUED
Thanks to Silva Screen