– Theme songs

as is probably well known, the Supermarionation theme songs and 'incidental music' (short snippets that are used to bridge or introduce scenes, or to heighten a scene's dramatic impact) were all written by the late Barry Gray. What is probably less well known is that Gray, in writing (and oft times performing) these pieces, pioneered the use of a number of exotic acoustic and electronic musical instruments such as the Theremin and the Ondes Martinot, in combination with an impressive array of professional recording equipment. They were used for instance, to produce the now familiar eerily atmospheric 'space noise' used to illustrate Thunderbird 5's lofty position as it circles the Earth, as well as the quiet mutterings of earlier and later technical devices, manmade or otherwise.

These short compositions and motifs were quite ephemeral: they would be heard in the course of a television broadcast and be gone at the end of the transmission, patiently waiting on the dusty shelves of some anonymous mogul's film vault to impress themselves anew upon the ears of the listener in the occasion of another repeat. Of course, some of Gray's pieces were issued on vinyl (think for example of the series of Supermarionation related LP and EP records that were brought out in the mid-60s) but the bulk of his work remained beyond the reach of his fans other than by memory recall (I, for one, have been haunted for many years by the nervously undulating violin quadruplets that he so cleverly used to underline a particularly hectic moment during one of Thunderbirds disasters).

This situation was happily amended a number of years ago with the issue of a Japanese CD that provided the fan community with uncannily accurate reproductions of the 'incidentals' used to heighten the tension in – again – Thunderbirds. However, that passed by most of his work for other series. Until the advent of computers, a welldefined soundfile format and the Web, that is.

So now that we are offered the opportunity for a closer inspection, the enduring neglect of Gray's mostly forgotten oevre turns out to be quite unjust. His musical heritage, whether it concerns the hauntingly pleading Aqua Marina used to end another half hour of unforeseen and highly unpredictable events, the lazily swaying Dangerous Games as sung by Lady Penelope in her guise as Wanda Lamour in the course of the Cham Cham affair, or the syncopated beat used to link events in the Spectrum universe, each of these betray the hand of a highly skilled composer, well steeped in his craft, one not to be unceremoniously done away with as just another 'hack' writer.

Other than for sentimental reasons, it is with these ideas in mind that his musical and electronic miniatures should be listened to. In his own modest way, he was as good as, say, a John Williams or a Henry Mancini. Quite possibly even better.



Fireball XL5 opening
Fireball XL5 closing
Don Spencer
Stingray opening
Stingray closing
Gary Miller
Thunderbirds opening
Thunderbirds closing
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons
The Spectrum
The Secret Service
the Mike Sammes Singers

All Themes digitized 1996 by J.C. Kaelin, except where otherwise noted
Special thanks go out to Kevin Munoz of the TV/Movie Sound Room
for having archived and provided the theme files for Joe90 & Secret Service