Benedict Roff-Marsh

T.V. Treated – TV Themes given the Benedict Treatment

This is a bit of an exercise and not a serious album outing. I think the cover & pricing shows that.

First up, the title is unashamedly lifted from the Neon Judgement track of the same name. Not related in any other way except that these are my treatments of some TV Theme tunes.

I have always loved some theme music for certain TV shows. When I was a kid it was “Blake’s 7”, “Battle Of The Planets” and of course the “Star Wars” music. Lately I have been really taken with “Foyle’s War” which was as much a joy to watch for the quality drama as for the lovely theme. I didn’t cover that here because I have played with ideas of that a few times already.

This project came from a session where I was composing something that struck me as awfully familiar. I realized that I had managed to steal perhaps a few too many ideas from the intriguing new Star Trek “Discovery” theme. I think I was unconsciously trying to investigate that space as I am unsure whether I like it or not. It was then a “dump or keep” dilemma but I decided that I might as well embrace it and try a few more TV shows more directly. Put myself in new territory.

My plan became to take the main theme from each piece and then make a few variations of my own to create a semi-unique piece using stock orchestral samples. Once I had all my shows covered, I would go back again and re-voice the pieces my way – no samples, just pure synthesis.

Here’s what happened:

  1. Star Trek “Discovery” by Jeff Russo (Alexander Courage & Jerry Goldsmith): Discovery is an odd one seeing it is so stripped back compared to earlier themes but rather compelling nonetheless. Jane says mine sounds more like “Deep Space Nine” but I am not really worried either way. Same universe. It was all about those really big horn sounds anyway.
  2. Father Brown by Debbie Wiseman: Such a clever piece using a chamber ensemble that really captures the witty & wily nature of the show and its namesake hero. The clever use of harmony to create that sense of near-miss whilst still having humor is impressive.
  3. Midsomer Murders by Jim Parker: Midsomer has to be the murder capital of the world with about 2 murders a week in a few square miles! I discovered that it is the same composer as “Foyle’s War”, but with such a different feel. Jim was very tongue in cheek with this as it is essentially a Waltz played by a small orchestra and theremin. For the first pass I deliberately decided to avoid the theremin sound and stay with the orchestral samples. The Soprano seemed to work really well in that role though.
  4. Hill Street Blues by Mike Post: I watched this as a kid. The start of the theme was always my favorite part. It is so powerful yet economical. This was the hardest piece to start to realize. I had to quickly move away to my own variations which I will freely admit don’t have the sheer elegance of Mike’s style, or his access to top session players.
  5. Journey to Mr. Fuji: I needed a break from all the work for other people I was doing. I had the drums & bass from a set of tutorials I was making so decided that seeing I was done with them, I might as well work them up into something of my own. A few hours later I had this.
  6. The Bird in the Cage: was another few hours to center myself. I started with the idea of an Irish Reel (drunken leaping), then added a part that was more Elizabethan Dance (slow & stately). To be perverse I decided that I needed some Bagpipe parts. It all managed to step sideways and become that very classic movie Asian court scene.
  7. Star Trek ReTreated: This was the last of the re-voices done and I felt I had to at least try taking one track into another style. This was more my work than someone else’s so I didn’t feel so bad about hacking it up a bit. It became a bit more Techno – for better or worse.
  8. Father Brown ReTreated: This is relatively straight but mostly the orchestral sounds are replaced with very Moogy sounds. Some lines were made more bleepy to put them in the new frame. Of course the classic CR-78 drum loops were perfect to complete that 1980 vibe.
  9. Midsomer Murders ReTreated: This track has always had that undercurrent of aliens from the humorous oddity that theremin brings. I still avoided that sound but let myself get a bit silly overall, including a lyric lifted from a certain Carpenters song buried in the intro. Again, very Moog Does… I played up the off-kilter feel with several sounds being rather free with their tuning.
  10. Hill Street Blues ReTreated: This didn’t really want to be in any other space, but it did seem happy become a bit of a dream sequence with a more 80’s (or dare I say Retrowave) feel. I love the fake organ sound.
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