Music from 'The End of Time': Big Screen Music for the Small Screen


Back to more recent times this week as I explore a television soundtrack. The BBC seem to have stopped issuing soundtracks for Doctor Who - but I think its music is far more than just an accompaniment to what's on screen. The example I'm using this week is the soundtrack from a 2009 story (David Tennant's final one, if that means anything to you) 'The End of Time'.

This is a show which has, in the lead up to this story, made a big thing out of fate drawing people together and inevitable events, as well as our lead character's rather emotionally charged existential crisis. This can be easily obtained from the music (eg, 'The End Draws Near'). The soundtrack also captures a sheer epicness that is pretty much entirely responsible for giving what is, really, just a TV show, a proper cinema blockbuster feel, and that's no mean feat.

Murray Gold, the composer, is a master at motifs, bringing back characters' themes just at the right moments and developing their music as their character develops within a story ('The Master Suite' showcases this) as well as perfectly matching the episode's tonal balance to add to the drama on one hand but also the more light hearted entertainment on the other (eg, 'A Chaotic Escape') all the while maintaining a lot of influences, from film music as well as more recent minimalist classical tropes as well as more Shostakovich-y influences (especially in the series 7 soundtrack, if you're interested) yet maintaining a very unique aesthetic for the show.

This being an iconic episode of Doctor Who, there are some iconic things in this album that have gone on to be used subsequently in the show. 'Four Knocks' and 'Vale Decem' are prime examples of music which, for me, could not have been a more perfect fit to the scene in which they were placed. 'Four Knocks' especially I think shows a great skill at manipulating emotions through simple melodic writing. And FURTHERmore, I would argue that this music is great in its own right. But it also does something very special for Doctor Who and is, I reckon, part of the reason why it's one of my favourite shows.