007 Music Part 1.5 – The Bond Theme
This was originally part of my piece on Dr. No, but it grew too large and cluttered an article that was supposed to be about the film.
Here’s the structure of the whole theme-
Interlude, Guitar Part x2, Interlude, Trumpet Melody x2, Brass Bridge, half Interlude, Guitar Part, Ending.
The Interlude starts as the foundation of the theme. Other parts, like the guitar, are layered on top of it. The other two times it is used is as an interlude between sections.
Guitar Part- Starts at, ahem, 0:07. dum badadat dum ba da da dum badadat dum ba da dap bwee ahh doo-dle looo. This part is rhythmic and just really classy.
Trumpet Melody- Starts in the horns, but is in full trumpet glory at :54. This is the main melody of the theme.
Brass Bridge- Starts at 1:07. Comes straight out of the Trumpet Melody.
Ending- Starts at 1:35. The end is signaled by stacked, ascending brass licks. Four instruments each play four notes. Here’s the solfege for these licks- do me ti te, me sol re ra, sol te fi fa, do me ti te. This part’s actually really interesting, so let’s begin our analysis with the Ending.
* We are in the key of e minor, and the first note of each brass lick outlines an e minor chord.
* The four note lick played by the first instrument is the same as the first four notes of the Trumpet Melody. The lick played by the fourth instrument is the same as the first.
* The notes of each lick ascend, and each lick starts higher than the previous one. Said another way, each group of four notes ascends, as does the group of four licks. The small scale mirrors the small scale. This has been a common compositional technique since Mozart.
* It’s a sequence built on the first four notes of the Trumpet Melody (as described in bullet 2). A sequence is just a set of intervals that is repeated at least three times in a row, but with a different starting pitch every time. Here’s the four note pattern: note two is a third above note one. Note three is a major 7th above the first note, and note four is a half step below note three. Where it gets interesting is that the first half of the lick is a tonal sequence, meaning the notes stay within the key of the piece, and the second half is a real sequence, meaning the notes can leave the key. This is how you get the really interesting dissonances of altered 7ths, 4ths, and 2nds at the end of each lick.
* The guitar chord at the end is a summation of all the harmonies the Bond theme explores. The chord is minor with a major 7th and a 9th, or ‘do me sol ti re’. The Guitar Part emphasized all the notes of this chord. It starts on do, the first ‘badadat’ is on the 9th, the second one is on the minor 3rd, the highest note is the major 7th (followed by an altered 7th, taken from the third and fourth notes of the Trumpet Melody), and it ends on sol.
* Recall that the first two stacked, ascending licks right before the final chord are ‘do me ti te’ and ‘me sol re ra’. It’s no coincidence that the first three notes from both those licks make up the final chord. The fourth note isn’t used because it’s just an ornamentation of the third note.
* Another way to interpret the guitar chord is as two chords stacked on top of each other: a tonic and a dominant. The solfege for those chords is ‘do me sol’ and ‘sol ti re’.
* There is an interesting relationship between some of the notes in this chord. ‘Do’ and ‘ti’ are a half step apart, as are ‘me’ and ‘re’. This is inspired by the third and fourth notes of the Trumpet Melody, which are a half step apart.
* This whole piece is driven by half steps. Note that the most important element of the Interlude is the chromatic motion in the strings and horn. And in the Guitar Part, the first ‘badadat’ is a half step away from the second ‘badadat’. In the Trumpet Melody, the trombones are doing a lot of chromatic movement.
* Recall that the stacked arpeggios are a sequence built on the first four notes of the Trumpet Melody. The second half of it is a real sequence in order to preserve the half step between the notes. As with the previous point, this highlights the importance of the half step in the theme.