We will sing to you, Doctor. The universe will sing you to your sleep. This song is ending. But the story never ends.
– “The End of Time, Part Two”
I fell in love with Doctor Who this fall for a number of reasons, one of the biggest being the score of the rebooted show. That score. Is. Amazing. It is composed by a genius by the name of Murray Gold and I would rank it second only to James Newton Howard’s The Hunger Games.
In the show, the score works wonderfully well to add emotion to scenes and recall past events. And even if an episode is particularly cheesy, I can still find something to love in the songs. Out of the show, it’s great as well – there’s simply so much to listen to, with each series having around an hour and a half of music. My go-to writing music went from being mostly Lord of the Rings to mostly Doctor Who in a matter of weeks.
Artgirl, a favorite blogger of mine, gave me the idea to do a top-ten list of Doctor Who music, so here it is! These are from New Who, series one through four (and its specials). This covers the Ninth and Tenth Doctors; Eleven will get his own post but I might wait until after any potential brilliance from his finale has been released. Enjoy!
10. “The Fate of Little Adelaide” (series four specials)
Yeah, I know this is a weird choice. It’s not one of the famous pieces or even a theme. It’s quiet, without flourishes, and yet quite powerful, especially in the last third. Deserves to be listened to more, this one.
9. “Doomsday” (series two)
I thought the second series of Doctor Who was rather unmemorable, save for “The Girl in the Fireplace” and this song. Piano, wordless vocals, and a persistent electronic thrumming make a weird but very cool combination that sounds dangerous, eerie, and most of all, lonely. It made Rose’s goodbye to the Tenth Doctor a gazillion times more sad.
8. “The Doctor’s Theme” (series one)
When I’d just started watching the show, this was like half the reason I liked it. I’m not even kidding. It’s beautiful yet eerie which is, in my opinion, one of the best kinds of songs. It’s pretty neat what an effect this theme has on various scenes, considering its length.
7. “Rose’s Theme” (series one and two)
I’m happy that Rose Tyler will be back in the fiftieth-anniversary special, but not for the reason you may think. Although I do like her as a character, I’m just excited to know that we’ll hear her theme again. I love all the companions’ themes – themes were pretty much the only thing I liked about the Ponds – but this is my favorite, representing one of Gold’s best uses of a leitmotif. I’m a sucker for sad, beautiful songs.
6. “Vale” (series four specials)
“Vale Decem” (which I’ll talk about soon) is better-known, but I think this one is about as good. It begins slowly and quietly, with just one voice, but changes midway through as if Murray Gold thought, “USE ALL THE CHOIRS! AAAAAALL OF THEM!” And that is why I love this song. The whole thing is sad, but it has such contrasts.
5. “Song of Freedom” (series four)
Doctor Who has mostly bittersweet songs. Well, this is one of the exceptions – a truly happy song. As nerdy as it may sound, it makes me feel better when I’m sad. What I most love about “Song of Freedom” is that the background sounds very modern, with electronic gobbledygook, but over that one hears a choir singing in Latin. (Gold adores those choirs, especially in series four, doesn’t he?) Similarly to “Vale,” it’s a neat combination.
4. “Vale Decem” (series four specials)
It seems like fans either love or hate Ten’s regeneration – there aren’t many in between. I loved it and much of that was due to the music. Yes, it’s dramatic, perhaps overly so, but it worked. It worked for Ten, who was so human, so emotional. It was beautiful and I want to know how they can possibly top it when Eleven regenerates at Christmas. (Aside: “The End of Time Part Two” was one of the first New Who episodes I watched all the way through, and I don’t recommend doing that. I cried even though I didn’t know the characters but I spent a lot of time asking my brother, “Who’s that, again?”)
3. “This Is Gallifrey, Our Childhood, Our Home” (series three)
Technical descriptions won’t cut it for this song. I could write about the good use of drums, woodwinds, and whatnot but in the end that’s not going to tell you what it’s really like, so let me get fangirly. It sounds old and majestic and powerful. Absolutely brilliant… if this is not in the fiftieth-anniversary episode I will be very disappointed.
2. “All The Strange, Strange Creatures” (series three)
If there is one piece that describes the show – besides the famous intro, obviously – I think it’s this. It’s odd, energetic, and a lot of fun. As with “This Is Gallifrey,” this song needs to be brought back. “All The Strange, Strange Creatures” was a leitmotif for various aliens that Ten and Martha encounter, so it isn’t specific to one character/plot point. I hope to hear it again someday.
1. “River’s Last Run” (series four)
Ooh, I love this so much. It’s an adaptation of the adaptation – the Doctor’s series four theme – of the song I put at #8. It’s still very light on the vocals, which I love because it doesn’t draw attention away from the instrumentation, which is more more dramatic and grand than the original. “River’s Last Run” is a perfect example of using music to intensify the emotion in a scene; I’m not sure if I love this because it’s from my favorite episode or I love the episode at least partially because of this song.
There, I went the entire post without making any stupid music jokes about River Song’s name! But only because I’ll probably do that next time, since she’s with Eleven. Anyway. I hope you all go forth and listen to marvelous Doctor Who music – if you aren’t already – and then you can be excited with me about what might be in the rapidly-approaching fiftieth!
What do you think about Doctor Who‘s score? What’s your favorite piece from the series of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors?