Norman composed the music for ‘Dr No’ the 1962 movie starring Sean Connery as 007. Since then, it became the theme song for the franchise and has been used in all Bond films by Eon, apart from the 2006 movie ‘Casino Royale’. The theme song is usually accompanied by the iconic gun barrel sequence.
Norman’s theme has accompanied the opening titles twice, first in ‘Dr No’ and then in the opening credits of the 1963 Bond movie ‘From Russia with Love’.
The music has been over end credits in several Bond films including ‘Dr No’, ‘Thunderball’, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, ‘The World Is Not Enough’, ‘Casino Royale’, ‘Quantum of Solace’, ‘Skyfall’, and ‘Spectre’.
While Norman composed the theme, it was arranged by John Barry who went on to compose the soundtracks for eleven Bond films. Though Barry claimed to have composed the theme music, courts have ruled twice in favour of Norman.
Describing the Bond theme, the British composer said the distinctive rhythm of the guitar in the first few bars are “Dum di-di dum dum”. This is inspired by Norman’s ‘Good Sign, Bad Sign’, the song composed for the musical adaptation of VS Naipaul’s ‘A House for Mr Biswas’, which is set in an Indian community in Trinidad.
The Bond theme also shares similarities with part of
Celia Cruz’s ‘Plegaria a La Roye’, which was recorded in Cuba with La Sonora Matancera in 1954.
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While several arrangements have been used for the Bond theme over the films, the original included five saxophones, nine brass instruments, a solo guitar and a rhythm section.
The Bond theme started off as background music denoting Connery’s entry and the MI6 agent, but from ‘Goldfinger’, Barry began using the theme music as a cue for action sequences in the Bond movies.