ByAlisha Grauso, writer at
Editor-at-large here at Movie Pilot. Nerd out with me on Twitter, comrades: @alishagrauso
Alisha Grauso

If the internet loves one thing, it's geek culture. But if it loves TWO things, it's geek culture and clever mash-ups. And those two things have come together to create beautiful, nerdy music babies in the form of hit YouTube series Player:Piano. We've written about the classical musician/geek filmmaker duo before on Moviepilot for their live-action Legend of Zelda teaser trailer, but they've set their sites on something a big bigger this time around.

Like all of time and space.

This time, they're covering the memorable theme song of [Doctor Who](series:200668), which has been an iconic piece of pop culture for 50 years.

Pretty great hearing the thundering beat of the Doctor Who theme being played in this elegant a way, no?

I got to speak with the award-winning duo, musician-composer Sonya Belousova, and filmmaker Tom Grey about creating the concept and adapting such an iconic piece of music.

You've done a lot of anime/video game-influenced videos in the past. What made you choose Doctor Who for your next project?

Tom: It’s important to us not to let Player Piano focus too much on one genre of music. A large portion of what we do will be based on video game and anime themes but there are so many great film/TV scores as well as popular songs and classics to create content around. I, like many people, grew up with Doctor Who, so it was always a plan to do the Doctor Who theme at some point. The theme is just so iconic and has so much history to explore visually that it made sense for us to tackle it. I also really enjoyed taking the opportunity to pay homage to all the incredible actors who have played the Doctor through the years by representing their characters through Sonya’s costumes. We could have taken the easier path and just used one of the modern Doctor costumes… but to really represent the essence of what Doctor Who is, I felt all Doctors needed to be represented. But really, it’s all about the scarf!
Image: Imgur/chromium852
Image: Imgur/chromium852

Music has been such an integral part of Doctor Who over its 50-year lifespan. With that in mind, and how much it means to so many generations, did it affect the way you approached arranging this project?

Sonya: I was excited by the opportunity to explore the Doctor Who main title in a completely new direction. And what I mean by that is when I approach a project, especially when it comes to arranging, I like being 100% creative. The whole idea of arranging is not a note-by-note transcription. When I arrange a certain existing piece of music, I basically take the original idea and try to give it a new spin that reflects how I feel about that particular music at the moment. Since Doctor Who has been airing for over 50 years, its main title has already been through a significant amount of modifications so it was definitely exciting to challenge myself.

For me, every time I approach a new project, I always want to understand what it is about the property that fans enjoy. If I can become a fan myself, then I’ll naturally create a video that I, as a fan, want to see. It’s vitally important because people can usually tell if you’re just creating something without an understanding of what makes the source material great.
Image: SnarkSquad
Image: SnarkSquad

Would you ever consider adapting some of the other famous songs from Doctor Who?

Tom: Actually, funny that you mention it, we’ve already been working on a video based off of “I Am The Doctor”. The 11th Doctor’s theme is one that I’ve always enjoyed and was my first choice to do after the main theme. I have an idea to do a much bigger Doctor Who video that uses many of the different themes in a more narrative approach to a music video, but that is for a different time.

Sonya: Since we went for two Doctor Who themes, my idea was to have a completely different approach for each one of them, both musically and stylistically. “I Am The Doctor” will be much darker musically than the original theme and, without giving away all the details, all I can say is that it won’t be just piano solo. It will be much more advanced orchestration-wise.

So what's your next project?

Tom: There are a few projects based off of classic Nintendo themes that we’re working on, but beyond that we’ve been discussing partnerships with upcoming film and videogame properties to create content around new releases. So far we’ve made videos around the films and video games that I grew up with and like to geek out to. We’re excited to explore modern titles and work with developers to create an experience around their IP.

Sonya: I thought we were doing the DuckTales Moon Theme?

Tom: We are doing the DuckTales Moon Theme.

Sonya: With ducks.

Tom: Hundreds of ducks. On the moon.

Sonya: Playing piano.

Tom: That’s actually a great idea.

Sonya: Yes it is.

I don't know about you guys, but if Marvel can make a talking raccoon and a sentient tree work, I think Player:Piano can make DuckTales on the moon work. If you'd like to check out the rest of their incredibly talented, incredibly geeky work, you can check out their YouTube channel.

Until then...allons-y!


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