James Bond Theme

James Bond Theme

The "James Bond Theme" is the main signature theme of the James Bond films and is featured in every "official" (EON Productions) 007 film since "Dr. No" in different versions. The piece was used as introductory fanfare in conjunction with the gun barrel sequence in every James Bond film except the 2006 version of "Casino Royale" and "Dr. No", the latter using it as the main title track after the gunbarrel, and the former in the end credits.

The "James Bond Theme" has been used as part of the actual opening credit sequence only twice, as part of the medley that opens "Dr. No" and then again in the opening credits of "FromRussia with Love". It has been used as music over the end credits for "Dr.No", "Thunderball", "OnHer Majesty's Secret Service", "The World Is Not Enough" and most recently for "Casino Royale" in 2006.

Authorship and origin

Monty Norman has been credited with writing the "James Bond Theme", and has received royalties since 1962. For "Dr. No", the tune was arranged [cite web|url=http://www.jollinger.com/barry/lawsuit.htm |title=The John Barry Resource Monty Norman's "James Bond Theme" Lawsuit|accessdate=2008-05-07] by John Barry who would later go on to compose the soundtracks for eleven James Bond films. Courts have ruled twice that the theme was written by Monty Norman despite claims and testimony by Barry that he had actually written the theme. Norman has consequently won two libel actions against publishers for claiming that Barry wrote the theme, most recently against "The Sunday Times" in 2001. It is generally acknowledged that Barry came up with the arrangement used in "Dr. No".

Norman describes the distinctive rhythm of the guitar in the first few bars of the "James Bond Theme" as "Dum di-di dum dum". He claims that it was inspired by the song "Good Sign Bad Sign" sung by Indian characters in "A House for Mr Biswas", a musical he composed based on a novel by V.S. Naipaul set in the Indian community in Trinidad. Norman showed his manuscript music from "A House for Mr Biswas" in an filmed interview and sang its lyrics. In 2005, Norman released an album called "Completing the Circle" that features "Good Sign Bad Sign", the "James Bond Theme," and a similar sounding song titled "Dum Di-Di Dum Dum." For these songs Norman added lyrics that explain the origin and history of the "James Bond Theme".

Though the "James Bond Theme" is identified with John Barry's jazz arrangement, it is heard throughout Monty Norman's score for "Dr. No" in non-jazzy guises. Barry's arrangement is repeated ("tracked") in various scenes of the first Bond film. This is consistent with the account given by some of the film makers themselves and Barry contained in supplementary material on the DVD release of "Dr. No". Barry was called in to make an arrangement of Norman's motif after Norman had completed the score. There is no information about the distinctive ostinati, countermelodies, and bridges introduced by Barry that are juxtaposed with Norman's motif in order to flesh out the arrangement. These added musical figures have become as recognizable to listeners as Norman's motif itself, which is probably responsible for the controversy over the authorship of the "James Bond Theme" as listeners have come to know it.

The guitar riff heard in the original recording of the theme was played by Vic Flick, who would later play guitar on the original recording of Ron Grainer's theme music from the 1967 television series "The Prisoner".

=Use in the James Bond movies=

Within the Bond films themselves, many different arrangements of the theme have been used, often reflecting the musical tastes of the specific times. The electric guitar version of the theme is most associated with the Sean Connery era although it was also used in some Roger Moore films and in the Bond films starring Pierce Brosnan.For every Bond movie which John Barry scored, he orchestrated a slightly different version of the Bond theme, as can be heard during the gunbarrel sequences. These specialised Bond themes reflected the style and locations featured in the movie, and the actor playing Bond.

The "James Bond Theme" and its variations found in the movies are played during many different types of scenes. Early in the series, the theme provided background music to Connery's entrances. It was not until "Goldfinger" that John Barry began to use the theme as an action cue. Since then, the primary use of the "James Bond Theme" has been with action scenes.

=The era of Sean Connery (19621967, 1971)=

The first appearance of the "James Bond Theme" was in "Dr. No". There it has been used as part of the actual gunbarrel and main title sequence.

In "From Russia with Love", the "James Bond Theme" appears in the track "James Bond with Bongos". It is a slower, jazzier rendition than the original orchestration.

In "Goldfinger", the "James Bond Theme" can be heard on the soundtrack in "Bond Back in Action Again" (gunbarrel and pre-title sequence). The "James Bond Theme" for this movie is heavily influenced by the brassy, jazzy theme song sung by Shirley Bassey.

"Thunderball" featured a full orchestral version of the theme in the track "Chateau Flight". Another full orchestral version was intended for the end titles of the film.

"You Only Live Twice" featured a funereal orchestration with Bond's burial at sea sequence in Hong Kong harbour.

With the return of Sean Connery in "Diamonds Are Forever", the guitar made a comeback along with a full orchestral version during a hovercraft sequence. On the soundtrack this track is named "Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd/Bond to Holland."

=The era of George Lazenby (1969)=

The George Lazenby film, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" used a unique high-pitched arrangement with the melody played on a Moog synthesizer. This new arrangement reflected the more violent and younger George Lazenby in the role of Bond.

=The era of Roger Moore (19731985)=

When Roger Moore came to the role, the "James Bond Theme" became a string orchestra driven piece.The brief quote of the theme in the pre-credits music of "The Spy Who Loved Me", titled "Bond 77", featured a funky disco sound, reflecting a style of music which was very popular at the time.

The tune has been inserted into many of the films' soundtracks at various places as part of an action sequence. In the last Bond films of Roger Moore, the melody of the theme was played on strings.

One unusual instance, which broke the "fourth wall" in reverse, occurred in "Octopussy", when a snake charmer played a few notes of the tune for Roger Moore's James Bond.

=The era of Timothy Dalton (19871989)=

Timothy Dalton's first film "The Living Daylights", which was the last Bond film scored by Barry, used a symphonic version with the melody played on strings. This version of the Bond theme is notable for its introduction of sequenced electronic rhythm tracks overdubbed with the orchestra - at the time, a relatively new innovation.

In "Licence to Kill", the Bond theme was arranged by Michael Kamen using rock drums to symbolize a harder and more violent Bond. This gunbarrel is the first one since "Dr. No" not starting with the Bond theme but orchestral hits.

=The era of Pierce Brosnan (19952002)=

The gunbarrel of the Pierce Brosnan film "GoldenEye" opened with a synthesized arrangement by Éric Serra. A more traditional rendition by John Altman is heard in the film during the tank chase in St. Petersburg. This version of the "James Bond Theme" is not included in the "GoldenEye" soundtrack.

David Arnold's gunbarrel arrangements in "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "The World Is Not Enough" dropped the guitar melody line, jumping straight from the tune's opening to its concluding bars. An electronic rhythm was added to the gunbarrel of "The World Is Not Enough". The typical Bond guitar line can be heard during some action scenes.

The "Die Another Day" gunbarrel recalls the version of "From Russia with Love" but with more techno-influenced rhythm. It also contains the guitar riff of the "James Bond Theme".

=The era of Daniel Craig (2006present)=

Craig's first James Bond film, "Casino Royale", does not feature the "James Bond Theme" in its entirety until the very end of the movie during a climactic scene. In "Casino Royale", the main notes of the song "You Know My Name" are played throughout the film as a substitute for the "James Bond Theme" to represent Bond's immaturity. The classic theme only plays during the end credits to signal the end of his character arc.

Composers (EON Productions)

Use in other media

The "James Bond Theme" has been used or adapted in a number of non-Bond films including The Beatles' film "Help!", and Steven Spielberg's "Catch Me If You Can". It has also been remixed by Parodi/Fair for GoldenEye, by Moby for "Tomorrow Never Dies", by Paul Oakenfold for "Die Another Day", and by Art of Noise, among many others. It is also the signature tune of the all-female pop-influenced classical string quartet, "Bond".

Cover versions

Over 70 cover versions of the "James Bond Theme" have been recorded by artists such as:

* John Barry several different versions than the original soundtrack
* Ray Barretto
* Count Basie
* bond
* Biddu
* Stanley Black
* Al Caiola
* Cannibal Corpse
* Frank Chacksfield
* Danny Davis
* Ferrante and Teicher
* Leroy Holmes
* Johnny and the Hurricanes
* Ray Martin
* Meco
* Hugo Montenegro
* Perez Prado
* The Skatalites
* Billy Strange
* The Ventures
* John Zorn

Miscellaneous Information

*A second piece of music called "The James Bond Theme" was written by Monty Norman for use in "Dr. No" prior to the composition of the more famous piece of music. A blues melody, this earlier version was not used but was included in the soundtrack album, as was a fast-paced variation called "Twisting with James" which is one of the best known James Bond melodies never to have been used in a Bond film.Fact|date=August 2008

*In "From Russia with Love", John Barry did not intend using the version of the "James Bond Theme" recorded for "Dr. No" at all. It was later edited in by producers when Bond first checks into his hotel in Istanbul and is shown his room. This happened on two further occasions: in "You Only Live Twice", during the Little Nellie flight scene, and in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", when it was edited into the climatic fight scene at Piz Gloria. John Barry was the only composer to shy away from using the "James Bond Theme" recorded for "Dr. No", even though he is credited with making the 'definitive' orchestration of the theme.Fact|date=August 2008


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