Meet the men and women behind the visionary opening theme to Dr. Who (And their crazy equipment)

The Dr. Who theme stands besides John Williams' work with Star Wars as some of the most iconic music in science fiction. The video above that shows how the 1980 version of the song was created is amazing not only because the musician walks you through its genesis on the equipment it was recorded on, a nice history lesson for music geeks, but because you can hear the sounds take shape through the myriad of special effects.

Still, the original theme was realized and recorded by Delia Derbyshire, a woman at the BBC who felt that electronic music should be created by hand, not be synthesizer. Derbyshire is a fascinating figure in the history of electronic music, and one that is sadly rarely discussed when discussing our musical past. Both videos are well worth watching.

Based on quotes from the time, Derbyshire was not shy about her role in bringing the music to life.

...Delia thought she had found her own private paradise where she could combine her interests in the theory and perception of sound; modes and tunings, and the communication of moods using purely electronic sources. Within a matter of months she had created her recording of Ron Grainer's Doctor Who theme, one of the most famous and instantly recognisable TV themes ever. On first hearing it Grainer was tickled pink: "Did I really write this?" he asked. "Most of it," replied Derbyshire.


It's rare that I get to discuss music on PAR, but the Dr. Who theme is fascinating for any number of reasons, and I hope these videos help you to learn a bit more about it.