ByRyan Matsunaga, writer at

For everything there is to love about Doctor Who, it can be easy at times to overlook the power of the music. Music has always played a crucial part in telling the epic stories that DW is known for and that tradition continues on to this day, 50 years later. With that in mind, I decided to take a look at what I feel are the most powerful pieces of music pertaining to the modern day era of [Doctor Who](series:200668).

Obviously, this was incredibly difficult to compile and there's no way that everyone's favorite tune could fit on the list. Comment on your favorite Doctor Who tunes down below and let me know what you feel should have been on the list.

10. All The Strange, Strange Creatures

There were few pieces of music in David Tennant’s era that truly told the 10th Doctor’s story the way “All The Strange, Strange Creatures” did.

Used in the trailer for Series 3, starring David Tennant and Freema Agyeman as The Doctor and Martha Jones, this track went on to define the series, with pieces of the track being used in “Gridlock”, “Daleks in Manhattan”, “42” and, most prolifically, “The Sound of Drums”, as The Master’s plan to destroy the Doctor and take control of the Earth is very nearly successful.

9. The Sad Man With a Box

A slower and, as its name implies, sadder variation of “The Mad Man With a Box”, this track was pivotal throughout Matt Smith’s tenure as the 11th Doctor. Though 11 was easily one of the most jovial and carefree Doctors, this song conveyed the underlying truth that he was also much darker and more grim than he let on, a result of countless years of traveling, fighting, running, loving and losing.

Part of this song was also brilliantly used to send off the War Doctor in the 50th anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor”, as we were finally (albeit not entirely) given the regeneration into the 9th Doctor that, from a narrative standpoint, made all of the modern era of Doctor Who possible in the first place.

8. Clara?

Picking your favorite Doctor Who companion is tantamount to picking your favorite child and most Whovians I’ve spoken to tend to agree that picking your favorite child might be easier.

Regardless of which companion you prefer, it’s pretty easy to single out the one who had the best personal theme song.

While it’s very hard to argue against Rose Tyler’s emotionally rousing theme song from way back in 2005, Clara’s theme just feels different.

The most common description I’ve heard for the song is “fairytale”, and that’s an apt description. Clara’s theme is far more than just whimsical and adventurous: It’s hope, entirely personified with instruments.

7. The Doctor’s Theme: Series 4

What this track lacks in creative titles, it makes up in spades with power. A variation of the theme given to 9th Doctor Chris Eccleston, David Tennant’s ballad throughout Series 3 and Series 4 paints a perfect picture of exactly what 10’s life was like.

The song begins softly and quietly and builds up to a magnificent exclamation of adventure with a hint of somberness and sorrow, befitting of the 10th Doctor, who lost more on a personal level than perhaps any of his previous lives.

6. This is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home

The anthem of Gallifrey is chillingly apropos, an epic orchestration that describes a world like no other.

While the music conjures up images of a world of wonder, it also carries a slightly darker undertone; a sobering reminder that the benevolent Doctor was the exception to the Time Lords and not the rule, a point driven home by the madness of the Doctor's oldest rival, the Master.

5. The Long Song

“The Rings of Akhaten” was one of those episodes that you appreciate more with every viewing. This hauntingly beautiful song was performed by the adolescent Queen of Years, Merry Gejhel, and the people of Akhaten, all of whom were singing to the parasite of Akhaten, long hailed as a god, who fed off of memories, stories and items of sentimental value.

While the song itself is both beautiful and powerful, the true meaning of this song can be found in the 11th Doctor’s emotional speech to the parasite god of Akhaten as he attempts to overfeed it with the memories and emotions of his centuries of life.

Watching this episode, not only did I briefly think he might regenerate during this ordeal, but 11 almost looks disappointed that he didn’t afterwards.

4. The Majestic Tale (Of a Madman In a Box)

An awesome rendition of the 11th Doctor’s iconic theme song, “The Majestic Tale” is a track that is truly worthy of its name.

Most memorably, this is the track that played when all 13 of the Doctor’s incarnations banded together across time and space to ultimately save Gallifrey from annihilation at the hands of the Daleks and, most notably, from extinction at the hands of the Doctor himself.

3. Vale Decem

The feels! Vale Decem is easily one of the most iconic songs of the modern Doctor Who and it is by far the most emotional.

As the 10th Doctor, who had his death foretold to him by the Ood, attempted to defy his destiny and continue his life, time finally ran out for David Tennant’s Doctor, who heard the dreaded “4 knocks” that he was warned about and ultimately sacrificed himself to save his friend Wilfred Mott from a fatal dose of radiation.

As the Ood sing the Doctor to sleep, the haunting fear and sadness in his face is striking. No Doctor before or since has been so adamantly opposed to dying, as 10 once even subverted his own regeneration by healing himself and diverting the body-changing excess energy into a jar containing his once-severed hand.

Most profound are Tennant’s last words, “I don’t want to go,” and the English translation of the song’s name, “Farewell Ten.”

2. I Am The Doctor

What more can be said about the 11th Doctor’s theme song? Composer Murray Gold himself has expressed both his love for the song and his belief that it may never be topped, a belief that so far stands true as “I Am The Doctor” continues to be used, albeit much less frequently, for Peter Capaldi’s tenure on the show.

1. The Theme

It simply doesn’t get any more iconic than the theme tune. Originally written by Ron Grainer in 1963, this opening number completely personifies Doctor Who and always has. For over half a century, some variation of this song has been used to open the show and there’s a reason it’s stood the test of time.

Just listening to the theme tune will make you feel like you’re hurtling through time and space towards a grand adventure. For added effect, try playing this in your car while driving down the road during a rainstorm.

Originally published on

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