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Library Music

The concept of using library music to underscore films and television may seem unusual, yet between 1950-1965 many pre-filmed and live television broadcasts relied upon it almost exclusively, and hundreds of low-budget films continue to use similar music services today. The industry grew in the early 1950s: as television became increasingly popular and productive, programmes made on thin budgets needed fresh background music. Music brokers like David Chudnow assembled vast libraries like Mutel by recruiting young composers to write action, suspense and comedy themes under false names, and recording them Belgium, Germany or Italy - wherever Britain's strict Musicians Union rules against library music did not apply.

Practically overnight, companies like Chappell, KPM, Southern and De Wolfe put leading composers under contract and burst onto the scene with often brilliant quality. The music was written with no specific visuals in mind: the libraries would simply request the styles and the composers would be left to their own devices and imaginations, producing cues that ran anywhere from 4 seconds to 4 minutes. These would then be catalogued by genre (dramatic, suspense, romance, and so on) that directors and music editors could sample at their leisure and cut together as they wished; some libraries (such as Capitol Q) even listed the musical keys of their pieces, making it easy for editors to cut an E-flat action cue to a compatible bridge.

In this way, musical scores could be tailor-made for each production long before shooting began - a necessity in an age where post-production and dubbing was prohibitably expensive and was usually avoided by playing sound effects and music live into the studio as the scenes were acted. The libraries, keen to offer quality recordings, usually provided transcription discs on heavy shellac or vinyl at 78rpm, which would then be copied onto tape for fast editing and playback in the studio. A "mechanical license", covering all material, meant that usage fees were extremely cheap - libraries charged either by needle-drop or by a package rate, and many Doctor Who stories used multiple cues from the same library for this simple reason (the 2001 Orce Records Music from The Tenth Planet CD, for instance, simply plundered the archives of Chappell Music to arrive at their track listing).

The following pages detail the stock music used in Doctor Who, using the Production as Broadcast paperwork (PasB) from the BBC website as a guide, and examining the commercial releases of any library music that appeared in the programme - whether on records tied-in to the series or not!

Referenced from 'Forty Year Mystery Solved: The Music Behind Plan 9 from Outer Space' in Film Score Monthly, 1996 (c) Paul Mandell.

The Libraries


Archiv appears to have offered predominately vocal or traditional music, with chants, songs and orchestral music used in The Time Meddler, the Masque of Mandragora and The Ribos Operation: 14110, 2533111 & 2533310.

Boosey & Hawkes

Boosey & Hawkes, the respected music publishers, had only one record used in the programme: O 2396, titled Off Centre by Frank Tailey.


Chappell, the respected music rights publisher, gave a total of thirteen records to Doctor Who (378, 480, 690, 713, 736, 741, 748, 754, 785, 809, 812, 818 and one listed only as 'TCR Vol. 2'). The music was mostly electronic or musique concrete, and was written by an ever-changing collection of composers: Buxton Orr, Denis Ryooth, Roger Roger, Lawrence Leonard, Douglas Gamley, John Denis, Robert Farnon, Eric Peters, Walter Scott and Martin Slavin, who penned the most famous Chappell contribution to the programme: Space Adventure, the bombastic motif of the Cybermen.


Conroy's library records (BM 012, 040, 156, 303, 315, 320, 416 and two records whose codes are now unreadable on the BBC's paperwork) represented perhaps the broadest variety of music, ranging from Eric Siday's Ultra Sonic Perception soundscapes (used in The Space Museum, The Time Meddler, The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Moonbase), Trevor Duncan and Edwin Braden's dramatic orchestral music (Mutations and Spine Chillers), P. Gerard's tacky showbusiness music, as used in Planet of the Spiders: Episode 1, and the upbeat, guitar-driven Three Guitars Mood 2; better known as the fictional John Smith and the Common Men.

Hudson / Music de Wolfe

The De Wolfe Library (or Music De Wolfe) was started in 1909 by Meyer De Wolfe to cater for silent movies, but quickly established its high reputation with the advent of TV and radio. In the 70's, De Wolfe demonstrated their uniqueness from their rivals (KPM and Chappell) by employing composers who are considered the true musical innovators of their time (Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker and Nick Ingman to name a few) to experiment with new studio techniques. Amongst others, their music was used on the classic British TV series' The Sweeny and Whodunnit.

Music de Wolfe's publishing arm, Hudson, provided both dramatic music (drum rolls by Pierre Arvay and electronic music by F. Bayle) and scene-setting contemporary music, including pop-style tracks in The Evil of the Daleks and The Green Death and Spanish music in Planet of Fire. The collectable records are coded DW (for De Wolfe) 2890, 2990, 3030, 3123 & 3476.

Impress / Inter-Art

Britain's Impress Mood Music Library, published by Inter-Art under various copyrights between 1955-1961, was formed by entrepreneur Gordon Barnes with the backing of a rich postcard manufacturer. Eight Impress records would be used in Doctor Who (143, 144, 248, 249, 250, 251, 275 and 344), showcasing music by Steve Race, W. Droyson, Peter Hope, Trevor Duncan and, most regularly, Eric Siday: an American avant-garde composer, now better known for his jingles for American commercials. Not only were the composers first-rate, Impress's music had the luxury of being performed by a large orchestra in Stuttgart, Germany (driven by the union ban on library performance in England), as Trevor Duncan - whose name-change from Leonard Trebilco was inspired by the label's business address, 16 Duncan Lane - remembered in 1995:

"The Stuttgart session men were eager for the work and played magnificently. I always asked for jazz brass. The lead trumpet was Horst Fischer, a genius player. All the string and woodwind were symphonic players in suits – all stiff and proper. The gulf between the jazz faction and the straight players was palpable! Franz Biehler, who spoke perfect English, was the fixer. I’d say the Stuttgart sessions were the best I had ever known in terms of satisfaction and the results. I regret the boxiness of the acoustic; no reverb devices were available back then."

Keith Prowse Music

The Keith Prowse Music label, used famously in The War Machines to provide funky contemporary music for the Inferno nightclub scenes, has attracted a great deal of attention from DJs and reissue labels. If ever a music library had street-cred, KPM is the benchmark of retro-cool. The KPM vaults have brought a wealth of commercial compilations and remixes - though unfortunately there has yet to be a release of Johnny Hawksworth's Mood Modern stylings! The label also supplied Doctor Who with Band Stand music for Mawdryn Undead, as well as more traditional, orchestral background music by Trevor Duncan and Syd Dale in the Troughton era. The records used were KP 017, 228, 1001 & 1115.

Les Structures Sonores

The Web Planet and Galaxy 4 used background music created by Les Structures Sonores, aka French brothers Bernard and François Baschet, who from 1954 pioneered a completely new way of combining sculpture and sound. Some small, some over 20 feet high and incorporating glass rods, metal cones, wires, plastic inflatable resonators, and many other devices, these fascinating structures were not only cosmetically entrancing (undertaking their own exhibition tours as works of art), but produced an incredible range of sounds and varied sonic textures.

Three LPs were housed at the BBC - BAM LD 066 and BAM LD 087 (both pictured left), and Unidisc EX45 145M - as distributed to music libraries in the early 60s. It is not clear whether or not these LPs were also commercially available; judging by their strange content, we suspect that they were not easily obtainable in England, although BAM LD 087 received a commercial pressing in New York in 1965 to accompany a major exhibition.


Southern's records, four of which were used in Doctor Who (653, 759, 760 and 766, in The Space Museum, The Time Meddler, The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Web of Fear) provided electronic music and effects by E. Nordgren, E. Sendel and Robert Gerhard and orchestral tracks by J. Scott and W. Josephs.

Standard Music Library

The Standard Music Library album ESL 104 (sometimes listed as 'Untitled Sound Effects Album', shown left) was composed and performed by musicians Delia Derbyshire, Brian Hodgson and David Vorhaus under various pseudonyms and nom de plumes. Since two of the composers were frequent contributors to Doctor Who, it was perhaps inevitable that some of their ESL music would appear in the programme, as it did in Jon Pertwee's early epic, Inferno. Music for Inferno was also borrowed from BBC REC 25 - an internal compilation of Radiophonic Workshop music (including The Delian Mode) that proved so popular in-house that it would later be commercially released. Delia Derbyshire's Blue Veils and Golden Sands also appears in the story, but is not credited on the production paperwork.


Weinberger provided Doctor Who with a selection of avant-garde, electronic music by Desmond Leslie (232 & 233), Harry Dexter (234 & 335) and H. Feischner (260).