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The James Bond films are a cinematic phenomenon. They were born at a precise moment in British history, a period when a lot of social and cultural changes were taking place. The 160’s witnessed sexual liberation and the transformation of the United Kingdom from sober and sophisticated to swinging symbol of fashion, music, youth and consumerism. And the Bond films portray all the changes that were taking place during the 160’s. In this paper I will be analyzing the Bond musical theme and the music for the latest installment Die Another Day.

James Bond was born early in the 144, when Ian Fleming spent some weeks in Jamaica, where in his beach house he began a routine that was to continue until the end of his life time and which produced thirteen James Bond thrillers. Fleming started his first novel during the year 15. He took the name of his main character from the author of a book called Bird of the West Indies by an ornithologist James Bond.

It was in Casino Royale, not Dr, No, that James Bond made his first screen appearance. The first time Bond appeared on American television was on October 1st 154. Casino Royale was the third episode in CBS’s Climax Mystery Theater. It was filmed mainly on a casino set built at the Television City in Hollywood; Casino Royale lacked all the adventure and dazzling locations associated with 007. Musically the TV series was not very impressive. From a musical standpoint, Bond wasnt born until 16, at the opening of Dr. No, when Monty Normans now-legendary James Bond Theme played under a series of moving, flashing, and colorful dots.

The James Bond films are films of a unique and special kind. Genre movies are those commercial feature films which, through repletion and variation, tell familiar stories with familiar characters in familiar situations. They also encourage expectations and experiences similar to those of similar films we have already seen. The Bond films are genre films in that they exhibit a basic formula which remains remarkably consistent throughout the series. Audiences have become familiar with the stories, character types and narrative situations of the films. As one critic remarked at the opening of the Bond film, GoldenEye ‘We want to like most movies we pay to see but we already know the Bond formula � it has already earned our good will � so our pleasure revolves around seeing how the film-maker executes their turn.’

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It is evident, even within these brief schemata, that the Bond series marks the convergence of a number of different generic forms and traditions. The Bond films are unique in so far as there is no comparable group of films which can be located at precisely the same point of convergence between genres. The generic traditions which come together in Bond series encompass different national cinemas, which not only adds to their uniqueness but also goes some way towards explaining their world wide popularity.

For all the similarities which Bond films share with other genres, the Bond films series is differentiated from other action movies through the character of James Bond himself. ‘There is no romantic anti- hero in existence at the moment,’ remarked GoldenEye director Martin Campbell in 15. ‘They are all blue collar � Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Sylvester Stallone. There are no sophisticated or British comparisons to Bond. The Bond film-makers have developed their know ideology based on the notion of what is and isn’t ‘Bondian.’ This ideology constitutes a set of expectations about what a Bond movie should be like, what it should contain. As the result the James Bond theme had to portray the image as per the ideology.

From my point of view, Monty Norman has been successful in doing so. The theme portrays more than an action hero; the use of brass instruments like saxophone gives a romantic impression about James Bond’s character there are also guitars and drums. The melody also portrays James Bond as a spy and an action hero. The theme starts with a fast tempo, it is in the key of E minor and the meter is in groups of 4 and it is usually subordinate to the visual.




On some occasions the theme is played in different keys. The original theme is played during what I like to call “the Bond move.” On most occasions James Bond, no way to escape inevitable death, uses his gadgets to set himself free or/and fight the an entire army of the bad guy by himself. James Bond’s action the action is very well synchronized in GoldenEye, during one of the fight sequence the Bond Girl Natalya Simonova (played by Izabella Scorupco) is captured by the Russians. She was being taken to the “bad guy” through the streets of Moscow and there is silence for few seconds and suddenly James Bond breaks through a concrete wall in an army tank and music is accompanied with the sequence. The music is synchronized with the visual. There are other instances when the theme is played, for example, when James Bond is actually doing some spy work. In such scenes the music usually has very low dynamics and a slow tempo to help the audience to engage with the film. The theme is also used for structural unity, for instance when there is a change of scene and theme also helps in the continuity of the narrative contained.

However, as the Bond films gained popularity, so did the musical theme; the theme is perhaps the more recognizable in the Bond films. It instantly calls to mind not just a character but an entire world of girls, gadgets, guns, thrills, double entendres and more. Today, with 0 official movies (Die Another Day is the latest Bond film) the James Bond films are one of the most successful films of its kind. Some of the films have been dark, serious spy stories, others silly self-parodies, but theres always the style, the fun and the music that has for three generations (and counting) defined the worlds sexiest, suavest, coolest secret agent.

Besides the James Bond theme being an integral part of the Bondian ideology the title song is also an essential part of the film. The title songs have played any equally important role as has the James Bond musical theme. Not only do they bring a musical voice to the films, they also provided a marketable hook. The title songs are always accompanied by erotic videos of women which also include James Bond and most of the times the videos rarely make any sense; they are usually random sequence of video. The title songs are usually sung by some high profile artist, for instance the latest Bond film’s Die Another Day’s title song called Die Another Day is sung by Madonna. The video also utilizes state of the art visual graphics. So it is a mix of everything from special visual effect to erotic women, which summarizes Bond films in a nutshell. The music for the songs is also one of a kind. It does not fall into a specific genre, like the films, the music seem to be a genre by itself. The song reflects her ever-changing musical repertoire with the emphasis on techno beat, electronic backing and vocals. It also reflects the increasing technological gadgets in Bond films and, notably, Qs legacy (the gadget master). The Title song at best can be categorized as techno. However, I am a bit hasty in doing so. The music for the song doesn’t have a distinct melody and music is a little chaotic and there are very few musical instruments, most of the music is electronic. Madonna’s voice has also been electronically altered; all in all it is a typical Bond title song.

The music for Die Another Day along with Madonna was provided by Mirwais Ahmadza├»(title music), David Arnold, and Monty Norman (James Bond theme). This movie unlike its predecessors has a lot of music. The movie uses a lot of non-diegetic music to help the narrative content. The musical themes that I have identified are the Bond theme, the “evil” theme, the action sequence theme, and a leitmotiv for the Bond girl Giacinta Jinx Jordan played by Halle Berry and they have also include a Cuban musical score and also have parts of song called London calling by the group Clash.

Traditionally, the Bond Theme is saved for those signature moments in the action when our hero kicks it up a notch. The thrill of suddenly hearing the theme adds to the thrill of the moment; it puts the audience in the car, on the cliff, hanging with 007. Its sort of the ultimate cool bit. But here, the theme is used so much that it actually loses its novelty, and thus its power. It becomes, simply, music -- and really, what good is that? The Bond Theme is more than just music; its the soul of the man and the soul of the film.

In the movie when James Bond arrives at Cuba, Cuban music is played in the background to add to the visual content. As the scene in Cuba goes on, the audience can hear a variation of the Bond theme mixed with the Cuban music. From my point of view, I think, the merger is inappropriate as Bond was not engaged in any of his signature moves; he was on his way to meet one of his acquaintances in Cuba. After completing the field work in Cuba, James Bond goes to London, England. As he is on his way, during the flight audience can hear the song London Calling, as mention above is a song by Clash, which is a rock and roll band from England during the 170’s and the 180’s. The song was release in 17 and was a very popular song in those days. David Arnold used the song to portray London and helps in the continuation of the narrative content. As Michel Chion pointed out, “film sound is considered as a “plus,” an added value.” Arnold has used a lot of non-diegetic music in the film; however, he didn’t have leitmotivs from all the character. Halle Berry the CIA agent has a leitmotiv, which is played quite a few times during the movie, for instance, her leitmotiv is played when James Bond was looking for her and finds a hook she used to sneak into Gustav Graves (the bad guy) living quarters. This non-diegetic music helps the audience to follow the storyline and helps the audience understand what Bond is doing.

Before I talk about the leitmotiv for the bad guy, it will be helpful to know about his character. The bad guy is a North Korean Colonel called Moon. In the opening sequence of the film Bond throws him of a cliff and later on he reappears in the movie as Gustav Graves. He not only had changed his identity but also had changed his face via gene therapy. However James Bond, until later on, doesn’t know that Colonel Moon had changed his identity to Gustav Graves. As for the leitmotiv, the audience can recognize Gustav Graves as Colonel Moon when he makes his appearance in the movie because his entry is accompanied by the “evil” leitmotiv. Compared to the Bond Theme, the “evil” leitmotiv is played on a lower key, slow tempo and on some occasion has high dynamics. Arnold has also used this theme on numerous occasions and sometimes combined it with the Bond theme.

A variation of the “evil” leitmotiv combined with the James Bond’s and Jinx’s theme is played when Bond and Jinx are engaged in a fight with Zao (Graves’ subordinate). This is the only scene when the “evil” leitmotiv is played without Graves in the sequence. I think it was not a smart move on Arnold’s part to include Graves’ leitmotiv in this particular scene. However, in the rest of the movie Arnold has used a mixture and variation of both the Bond theme and the “evil” leitmotiv to portray all the fight sequence. Most of the fight sequence start with the/variation of the “evil” leitmotiv and ends with the/variation of the James Bond theme.

The other character like M, Q, Moneypenny and rest of the members of MI6 (British intelligence headquarters) don’t have any musical theme. It is consistent with other Bond films, it was a common phenomena. It seemed that it was a part of the Bondian ideology. The older Bond movies followed the same pattern, the Bond girl always had a leitmotiv and so did Bond’s nemesis. But the MI6 officials didn’t have a musical theme. Maybe film-makers didn’t think it was important for them to have one as they usually appear in the movie for a very short time. I also think if someone like M (chief of MI6) had a musical theme, it might affect Bond’s image negative. The musical theme might make the audience think that M or anyone in MI6 for that matter has some important role in the defeating the bad guy. But the truth is most of the times James Bond alone with his gadgets defeats the bad guy.

Bond Music from the first strains of the Bond Theme in 16 to the somewhat strained overuse of it in 00, the music has defined not just 007, but a whole generation. It also defines, quite clearly, what movies of Bond’s caliber should sound like. Over the few decades the musical theme has changed, which can be attributed to the improvement to the sound engineering. But mostly the theme has remained same. Overall, from a musical standpoint, Die Another Day is not very different from its predecessors; the major difference is that the music for the movie has evolved with time. The James Bond theme has become more like dance music. And Monty Norman should be credited for creating such a memorable musical theme.

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