Feature: James Bond 007           Back to Features page

This week we unbuttoned our corporate collar, shook ourselves up a martini, and sat back to enjoy the music behind the movies of Bond, James Bond.

James Bond Themes - click to listen 

It is now 40 years since 007 burst onto our screens in Dr No, creating one of the most enduring characters in movie history. Since then, Ian Flemming’s fictional spy has appeared in 19 official Bond films, and spawned countless spoofs and spin offs, so we thought we’d take a look at the music behind the movies and how it became as much of an icon as the smooth-talking spy himself.

Credit for the original Bond Theme , used at the opening of Dr No and quoted in every movie since goes to Monty Norman. With more than 500 different recordings selling 25 million records worldwide, this has become one of the most successful movie themes of all time, winning him an Ivor Novello award. 

John Barry was bought in to orchestrate the score for Dr No, After Monty Norman fell out with the producers, Barry stayed on to write the soundtracks for another 12 James Bond films including Diamonds are Forever, You Only Live Twice and The Man With the Golden Gun. It was John Barry, not Monty Norman, who created the “screaming big-band within an orchestra” sound that we have come to associate with 007.

Diamonds are Forever

You Only Live Twice

The Man with the Golden Gun

Another of Barry’s contributions to the musical world that Bond inhabits was establishing a sort of “Leitmotif” for the spy. The “Leitmotif” was a term introduced by Wagner for a musical phrase or motto that symbolised a particular character or action. In the case of 007, it is a chord. Often heard when Bond enters a room or says one of his catchphrases, the chord is made up of a minor triad with a major seventh and ninth (C, E-flat, G, B and D, for example).

Some of the biggest names in music have contributed to the Bond legend. The title song from Live and Let Die was written by Paul McCartney. 80’s pop band Duran Duran contributed the song A View to a Kill, while Shirley Bassey sang more title songs than anybody else, recording Diamonds are Forever, Moonraker and Goldfinger.