The Origin of Bond Theme Music

The World

Publicity poster for 'Dr. No.' (Photo: Wikipedia)

For the Geo Quiz, we are headed to the Caribbean sea. You may have heard that today is "Global Bond Day." It was 50 years ago that the James Bond movie "Dr. No" was released. "Dr. No" was mainly set in Jamaica. That is also where the Skatalites are from. For the Geo Quiz, we're looking for another Caribbean island, one that played a central role in the composition of the tune from that movie. The island is the setting for Nobel laureate V S Naipual's novel "A House for Mr Biswas." Trinidad is the answer to the Geo Quiz. Monty Norman is the man who composed the James Bond theme. We all think we know what the tune signifies — edgy, classy, secret, dangerous even. But Norman composed it to suggest something very different. Norman says the song came about from a stage musical, which was abandoned, it was supposed to be the follow-up to Irma La Douce, which was a big big hit. The song was then used for VS Naipaul's "A House for Mr Biswas," which was set in Trinidad. Nearly all the characters in the novel are of South Asian descent and Norman and his librettist wrote the musical, but then, Norman says, they suddenly realized that by the time they were finished there was no chance of getting an all west Indian Asian cast. "That's the end of the 50s beginning of the 60s, so we abandoned it. And there was one number in it that I liked very much that I put in my bottom drawer, and sort of didn't think about it," he says. That was until Norman was commissioned to write a theme for the James Bond movie "Dr. No." Then it came back to him. "Originally it had a very Asian quality. It started with "I was born with this unlucky…" and you can hear that," he says. Then came the breakthrough. Norman kept the melody but split the musical notes for a more staccato feel. "And the moment I did Dum diddy dum dum dum, I thought my God that's it," Norman says. The producers liked this new take on the tune. And so did Sean Connery. "He seemed to like it very much, I mean, when you see the film and the camera pans up to Sean's face and he says "Bond, James Bond" from that moment onwards, Sean Connery became a star, the James Bond theme which was behind him was imprinted on people's minds and the whole James Bond franchise was up and running," he says.
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