Introducing new Who composer Segun Akinola!
I’m loving Chris Chibnall’s choice of composer for the new series. Segun Akinola might not be a household name just yet but I bet by Jodie Whittaker’s first series is over, plenty of children (and adults alike!) will be humming the new Doctor Who arrangement. I might be jumping the gun but having heard Akinola’s past work I’m more than quietly confident he’ll produce an awesome theme and accompanying incidental music.
Who is Segun Akinola?
Segun is a fast-rising star on the composing for the screen scene. He graduated from the prestigious Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with a BA in Composition. Last year he was part of 2017’s BAFTA Breakthrough Brits, an industry award that gives talented newcomers a year of mentoring to encourage them, stretch them further and guide their skills and passion. Segun has composed the scores for milestone BBC TV events including Black and British: A Forgotten History, The Human Body: Secrets of Your Life Revealed and Expedition Volcano.
Doctor Who is woven into the fabric of British culture and recognised globally, I am absolutely thrilled to be given the privilege of working on such a beloved series and to bring my musical voice to it.
What would I like to hear?
If you think Jodie Whittaker, as the first actress to play The Doctor on screen has her work cut out for her in the upcoming series, spare a thought for Segun. The Who theme is recognisable worldwide, fans across the globe have produced their own arrangements and YouTube abounds with more versions than you can imagine – this aspiring musician has his work cut out for him to put his own, unique stamp on a television theme tune legend. My favourite arrangement of Ron Grainer’s theme is Peter Howell’s awesome synth track with it’s early use of a vocoder that opened the Fourth Doctor’s (Tom Baker) last series, and was the hallmark of both Fifth (Peter Davison) and Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) eras. For me, Doctor Who has always been about innovation and the music is a crucial component of this, whether it’s setting the viewer up for a huge adrenaline rush or for creating an imposing, beautiful, emotional and haunting atmosphere. Yes, I love the music! One of my most cherished memories is being mesmerised by Delia Derbshire’s original theme arrangement when I first watched a brand new VHS video tape (yeah, I’m a child of the late 70s!) of the 1963 pilot story An Unearthly Child. I would really like to hear a return to the experimental, synths of my youth and a hark back to the show’s beginnings.
Different to Murray Gold
Murray Gold has held the composing reins ever since Who returned in 2005. Murray has reworked the theme for each new Doctor and even produced new arrangements during the various incumbents’ tenures. His character themes are recognisable and memorable, with tempo or pitch changes to highlight their emotional journeys. He has had remarkable success with Doctor Who, his music headlined at the Proms and is a staple of concerts. Tracks like ‘I am the Doctor’ are bombastic and uplifting and get the blood pumping. So is it all good? Well, in my humble opinion, no. As much as I like vast chunks of Murray’s composition there are bits that grind. The first is it can be too melodramatic, saccharine and schmaltzy and more than a little trite. Another criticism I level – and this is more to do with the mix than Murray’s work per se. It can be just too loud. When it comes to incidental music there is nothing that annoys me more than ramped-up volume that drowns out dialogue – it’s a modern scourge. Music is there to highlight the emotion of the scene, not to deafen you into submission. So, my last ‘request’ to Segun would be to use his skill to heighten the scares, highlight the mstery and weave a magical and atmospheric tale, the storytelling aspect of composition he is so well-known for loving!
Check out Segun’s work
Here’s Segun’s profile video on Breakthrough Brits.