The fantastic theme music alone is enough to make you want to dash through a forest in a leather jerkin, doing brave deeds and saving peasants from baddies. ~ ‘Boys in the Hood’, Radio Times, 2006
The music is at the heart of any film or TV show. Without it, it would be impossible to react and feel to what is going on. Robin Hood’s soundtrack has a soundtrack like no other. Full of adventure, action, romance and sorrow, the music captures every scene perfectly.
I do not think that there will be another soundtrack that will capture the world of Robin Hood so powerfully. Andy Price deserves more recognition for his work on Robin Hood.
The music for all three series of Robin Hood was composed by Andy Price and the Danubia Symphony Orchestra.
Andy Price’s other credits include the children’s TV drama Hetty Feather, David Starkey’s Elizabeth, the BBC crime drama The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Robin Hood as well as the ITV series Law and Order UK.
Above: Andy Price’s Score for ‘Elizabeth’
About the Music
The music for series one consisted of various themes for all of the characters. However, a drift away from character development in series two and three to bolder and bigger plots meant that series one remained the only series where many of the minor characters had their own theme. One such example would be the development of a theme for Allan A Dale through the track He’s My Brother.
The lack of development for some of the minor characters in series two and three meant that much of the music from series one was sadly dropped. Whilst some minor characters such as Allan still witnessed strong levels of development, it would have been rewarding to see some of the other minor characters continue their development from series one too. This would have allowed the music to develop. For instance Little John was a character that had a strong story arc series one (represented in the music through the tracks in Sheriff Got Your Tongue? when Little John goes to visit his wife and son), yet his music did not advance much further, in line with his character, in the later series.
Whilst it was sad to see some tracks fade away, it is important to note that dropping some themes allowed for some new tracks to develop. Despite all of the tracks being note worthy, no matter how good the music is, it must fit the mood of the show and the direction the characters are being taken in. Robin Hood recognised this constantly. Every track was carefully crafted for a particular scene in such a way that it fitted the characters, mood and atmosphere conveyed perfectly, like a key to a lock.
Robin Hood was famous for its action packed music. Some of the swashbuckling tracks were overwhelmingly effective at conveying the danger, excitement and thrill of being in a swordfight, shooting crucial shots with a bow or galloping away from castle guards. But the music was so effective that it did not just vividly bring the scenes to life on screen.
It transported me to the world I was watching. When I was pretending to be Robin Hood running in the school playground, or acting out a Robin Hood esque plot with my toy knights, all I could hear was the music. The music was the link between my imagination and one of my favourite stories. To be able to successfully bring the world of Robin Hood to life, through the music alone, is something I still marvel at today.
The music made audiences feel. Whilst that is the job of any soundtrack, there are undoubtedly more effective scores out there than others when it comes to making viewers feel emotion. Robin Hood made audiences feel things deeply. That was the difference. The music made audiences feel a pulse of adrenaline when watching Robin and the gang fight for their lives in a tight spot with their swords, fists and arrows, or jump from castle towers. It made you want to join in and be part of their world.
But it was not just the action packed music that should be remembered. Some of the best parts of the Robin Hood soundtrack are the soft, gentle tracks. Whilst the rapid, pounding tempo of the action tracks remain more memorable, tracks like Marian’s Theme, From Rich to the Poor, He’s My Brother, A Love that Cannot Be and Robin and Marian are a few examples of heart wrenchingly emotional tracks. These tracks connected audiences with the characters on such a deep, personal and intimate level, that it made viewers feel part of their world. Audiences did not just see when a character was sad, lonely, or grieving. They felt it. They felt their pain and sorrow. They felt the joy, torture and fragility that a character experienced through love.
The music was inspiring. It encouraged audiences to be bold and confident in themselves, but also not to be scared to feel. The music dared audiences to feel and connect with characters on a deep level. That’s why Robin Hood is timeless. Because the music still makes the story feel real. There is happiness, joy, nobility, respect, cunning, treachery, heartbreak, love, sorrow, grief, panic, confusion, loyalty and hope across the entire score of Robin Hood. Elation and despair. True to life. What an achievement.
Executive Producers on the Music
Both Dominic Minghella and Foz Allan rightly promoted the importance of Andy Price’s contribution to Robin Hood.
Dominic Minghella and Foz Allan wrote of Andy Price’s music on his (old) website:
“In my opinion, Andy Price is one of the finest composers of his generation. He can turn on a sixpence, rousing you one minute with pure melodic elation, and moving you the next with deft, exquisite delicacy. He has intelligence, humour, tenderness and energy wrapped in gorgeous, big-sweep cinematic instincts. But he does not impose or swamp; he understands exactly what the drama wants, and that’s what he delivers. He is a painter with sound, a maestro, a true artist and genius. Working with him is a pleasure; more than that, it is an honour.” Dominic Minghella (Writer/Executive Producer)
“One of Andy’s great skills as a composer for the screen is that he reads scripts extraordinarily well. He understands what is happening in each scene and then, as with the artistic contributions from the actor, designer, director etc – he interprets the scene, adding additional depth and quality. His contribution is enormous. His ability to underscore high drama, the death of a lead character for example, is astonishing. His work always supports and enhances the emotional life of a scene. Andy’s music made the show a much richer, deeper experience for the audience.” Foz Allan (Executive Producer)
Dominic Minghella also wrote of Andy Price’s contribution to Robin Hood on his blog :
“I do just want to mention Andy Price’s music though. His contribution has been somewhat overlooked. But the work is sublime.”
A large proportion of the music from series one was released on a CD in 2006 to help promote the series. The CD consisted of 34 tracks. However some of the music from series one, as well as any new music composed for series two and three, were never released.
What is most disheartening is that the music is so phenomenal that it deserves its own complete release. Released and unreleased tracks combined for all three series. It is saddening that whilst both the BBC’s Doctor Who and Merlin received a CD release for every series, Robin Hood only received one – and it was not even directly labelled to the first series. Although there was only one series of Robin Hood at the time the CD was released, making it obvious which series the music related to, the fact no link was made to series one through the title of the CD suggests that this was always intended to be the only release. This was in contrast to Doctor Who and Merlin which labelled each CD to a series.
Unlike Robin Hood, Doctor Who received a soundtrack release for every series
Despite being similar to Robin Hood in many ways, Merlin once again proved its success with a CD release for series one to four, although no release was provided for series five.
There is no doubt that a lack of further releases for the music hid its beauty away and made it a less prominent aspect of Robin Hood. People I have spoken to who watched Robin Hood often comment on the memorable music. It is sad to think that all the music is stored away somewhere with nobody there to listen and appreciate it. I am hopeful that more of Robin Hood‘s back catalogue can be released one day. Even if it just means posting them on Andy Price’s website. I am certain that there are still fans out there who would greatly appreciate a full set of the Robin Hood music so that they can continue to relive and reimagine the exciting, daring, adventurous, sorrowful and romantic elements of the show. The music is timeless and keeps the legend alive. It deserves to be listened to in its entirety.
However we should be glad that we have at least one CD honouring the sublime music of Robin Hood. And if I’m honest, although there are some wonderful unreleased soundtracks out there, I do not think that any other series captures the essence of Robin Hood any better than the music in series one.
Not all of Robin Hood‘s music has ever been released. Why? Good question.
Whilst rights could also be an issue, the fact that one CD was released demonstrates that it has been possible to provide a licensed release. The reality is that the history of the show is a sad song. Robin Hood lost out to the likes of Doctor Who and Merlin and increasingly lost support as the show went on. Whilst Robin Hood managed to retain high levels of popularity, I imagine it was likely that there was thought that there not enough demand for a CD release for series two and three. The lack of merchandise released during series two and three certainly suggests that support for the show was fading. Although more Robin Hood soundtrack releases may have been financially viable, they seemed unlikely to be as successful as Doctor Who or Merlin.
However it is important to consider that it is impossible to know the full picture behind the music release. Only a selected group of people would have been involved in that decision making process. Perhaps more CD releases were discussed but never happened. Or perhaps the original CD just didn’t sell as well as hoped. Unless more insight is provided, we will never know.
Despite a lack of further music releases, hope is not lost. There have been breakthroughs regarding the unreleased material. I also truly believe that as long as there is enough demand for further official soundtracks, it increases the chances of more music being released.
So how much was recorded?
For series one, Andy Price recorded about 3 hours 30 minutes of music. As it stands, we only have a third of that clean (without dialogue/SFX) – so about 1 hour 10 minutes.
For series two, about 1 hour and 10 minutes of new music was recorded. Only 20 minutes is clean.
Series three had 2 hours new music recorded. About 40 minutes can be found clean.
Unreleased music can be found through DVD menus and episodes as well as websites such as Andy Price’s and Dominic Minghella’s. Dominic Minghella’s blog contains one of the unreleased tracks from series one, episode two, Who Shot the Sheriff?. Whilst Andy Price’s website contains a lot more of the unreleased material, it is difficult to identify them as they are not specifically attributed to Robin Hood. Some of the music listed are also Robin Hood tracks that have already been released. But there are some great tracks there such as those that contributed to the series two and three finales.
Update: Andy Price’s website has updated since this page was written. Although the website has a more modern feel and is easier to navigate, some of the unreleased Robin Hood tracks are no longer available. This is a shame as I know that there are plenty of fans out there who would love to listen to some of the Robin Hood music that went beyond the original release. Whilst some unreleased tracks have been taken down, one of the unreleased tracks still available is the one for the series two finale – one of the best unreleased tracks.
One fan, BloodBoal, has analysed the music of Robin Hood in superb depth and detail. This person deserves the most credit for providing a break through regarding the unreleased music. BloodBoal not only explored the themes of the music, but also researched into the unreleased tracks, explaining how to find some of them. Their analysis is a rare find considering that the music of Robin Hood has not given the prominence it deserves. In contrast to similar shows such as Doctor Who and The Musketeers, very little has been written about the music: how it originated; why Andy Price was chosen; why no more music was released on CD. This makes Bloodboal’s research valuable and we are lucky to have it. It deserves to be respected.
Given the lack of information about the music, the links below contain the best analysis on the Robin Hood music that exists today. This is the only source of in-depth information I have been able to find about the music. You can check out the analysis here:
Within this link, there are three PDFs that have been created examining the music in series one, two and three. They are all worth a read. I will list them below for convenience:
A fourth also exists on the original CD release:
BloodBoal has also created a complete score for as much of the unreleased music as possible for series one. Although it is not quite all the unreleased music for the first series, the amount of additional music is phenomenal. You can check it out below. One of my favourite unreleased tracks has to be A Legend is Born.
Below there are some examples of the music, explaining its significance, what it means to me.
The Music: My Analysis
- Robin Hood Theme
This is the first track on the CD and provides the opening credits to Robin Hood. It is Robin’s core theme and as illustrated by Bloodboal, most music stems from this very theme.
This track captures the swashbuckling adventure and romance of Robin Hood. It certainly adds a lot of action and excitement, perfectly, capturing the magic of the myth and legend we know as Robin Hood.
This track is first played in episode one of series one, Will You Tolerate This? when Robin and Much first return to Locksley after their long absence. It is an emotional track, as demonstrated by Robin and Much’s reactions on seeing their beloved home for the first time in years.
The track’s gentle opening captures the beauty of a small, quiet village that Robin and Much are proud to call home. However, the track develops as Robin and Much enter the village. All is not as it seems as people run into their homes. They almost seem scared of Robin and Much’s arrival. The track continues after Robin and Much’s conversation with Dan Scarlet with the entry of Sir Guy of Gisborne. This is obviously highlighted in the track – emphasising the fear inflicted upon the villagers of Locksley by the sudden arrival of Gisborne and his henchmen.
My favourite part of this track is its gentle opening which is referenced a few more times in the show. Its repeated use reminds the viewer of Robin’s cause for fighting: to help his people in Locksley, which extends to helping the poor who are victimised by the Sheriff.
5. Marian’s Theme
This very track is at the heart of all romance in Robin Hood. In almost every scene between Robin and Marian, this track or similar, is played. It captures not only their romance, but also their passion for one another. One of its first uses is a scene between Marian and Robin in series one, episode two, Sheriff Got Your Tongue?, where Marian explains her anger towards Robin. This juxtaposition between Marian’s anger and the gentle nature of the track creates empathy for Marian and is beautiful to watch.
This track creates such an innocent romance between the two characters and often creates a calming void between action sequences. I think the gentleness of the track not only captures the innocence, but also the fragility of their bond. Their romance is one shrouded in secrecy, which few people can know in order to keep Marian safe. However this illicit love between the daughter of a sheriff and an outlaw, is one which could shatter in an instant. However, whenever they are together, they are able to experience a few moments of pure bliss and happiness before returning to their dangerous lives.
Not only is the track played when they are together, but also when Robin is alone. Often when Robin is vulnerable or in deep thought, this track or similar is often played to emphasise that Marian is always on his mind.
6. Your Eyes
This track is first played during the first episode of series one, Will You Tolerate This?, with an encounter Robin has with Marian in the castle. Here, Robin aims to build upon his initial visit to Marian and continues to use his charm to compliment her complexion.
In this scene, the soft dialogue between Robin and Marian accompanies the track beautifully. Robin’s feelings for Marian have clearly not faded during his time away as he aims to win her affection back. This track successfully further highlights the innocence of Robin’s affection and encapsulates his cheeky, flirtatious nature. The track contains a lot of light hearted sounds, further emphasising innocence. The innocence and simplicity of this track perhaps harks back to a time before the audience are introduced to the characters. A time before Robin went on Crusade, when Robin and Marian were young and care free lovers.
This track is at the heart of the first episode of series one, and is extremely significant as it marks Robin’s incredibly tough decision to become an outlaw. This is one of the most exciting tracks on the album and provides one of the first fast paced action packed tracks.
I have decided to include the scene that this track is part of as I do not think the track alone is given enough justice. It was designed for this scene and they go together, hand in hand. A perfect example of how effortlessly Andy Price appears to create music that mirrors the scene it is crafted for.
Full of action, suspense and romance, this track captures the very essence of Robin Hood as soon as episode one. It begins with the tragedy of the hanging as soon as the stools below those to be hanged are kicked away. It’s almost like such a sudden, intense and uncomfortable event triggers Robin to look back at his arrival home and at how much has changed. The kindness and innocence of the people has been exploited by the evil Sheriff. This is followed by plenty of swashbuckling action as Robin wrestles with the guards and lets the prisoners free. Yet suspense is soon added with both Much and later on, Robin facing peril.
However, Robin’s saviour turns out to be Marian and for me, this is the highlight of the track. As a confused Robin tries to identify his saviour, Marian’s theme is echoed in the track and Marian gives Robin a bold and daring look. This not only emphasises Marian’s independence, but also echoes a romance between the two. Whether this is an echo of their former love, or a hint at a possible future romance despite their previous tensions in the episode, the track jumps back into a few more action sequences before nicely rounding off. A great track used time and time again in future action sequences.
Another action packed track that is timelessly used again and again during the outlaw’s antics. This track is most notably used in series one, episode two, when Robin has to invade the castle while his men defend the courtyard for him to make his escape.
The track starts off with a repetitive rhythmic beat which almost sounds like some kind of marching as the outlaws begin to assemble their plan. However my favourite part is thirty seconds into the track when Robin and Much share a simple but powerful moment where Much’s loyalty and concern for Robin is highlighted wonderfully. However I think this part of the track is also amazing at setting a reflective tone. It can almost be applied to Robin too, reflecting the burden of the world he carries on his shoulders, fighting for the poor, the woman he loves as well as keeping all those he cares about safe.
The track continues into some beautiful action packed sequences while the outlaws fight with the guards and concludes with a clear indication that Robin has successfully accomplished his plan.
11. From the Rich to the Poor
This is another close contender amongst my favourite tracks on the album. It reeks emotion and sympathy and reminds the viewer of Robin’s mission. It acts as a reminder of how selfless Robin is as a character. He has given up everything for these people: his lands, title and his ability to marry the woman he loves. Yet in his eyes, helping those with nothing and have also lost everything, is much more important.
The theme of giving from the rich to the poor is perhaps lost across the shows tenure however when it is done, it is done superbly. This is mainly down to the powerful nature of this track. Giving from the rich to the poor is a notion that is mainly emphasised in the early episodes of series one. At the end of quite a few early episodes, Robin gives back to the poor with the accomplishment of this track. In fact this action of giving from the rich to the poor is what enables Robin to convince particular individuals to join his gang. Although this is never done in the series, I imagine Robin quietly sitting on a hillside somewhere just watching over Locksley and watch people go about their daily lives, feeling sorry for how disadvantaged they are. It is quite a calming track and I think it reflects the fact that the poor can calm Robin down in times of difficulty and stress and remind him why he is fighting.
14. Proving his Innocence
A fairly sad, but simple tune, this track is used when Robin is captured and alone in the dungeons. It starts off with a slow and simple melody, reflecting the heartbreaking fact that our beloved hero has been captured and could potentially come to an end. Like From the Rich to the Poor, I believe this to also be a reflective track. Robin is almost reflecting on whether this fight is worth it. Has he lost too much? Robin is a little lost, alone and confused as reflected by the start of the track. However, the echo of Marian’s theme soon after highlight that she is on Robin’s thoughts too. I believe it is Marian that gives Robin the faith to turn things around and cling on to hope in even the darkest of situations.
The echo of Marian’s theme then ends and switches focus to the outlaws through an eerie pitch as they implement their plan to try and rescue their leader.
15. A Noble Deed
This track is given its introduction during series one, episode three. Once again, this track reflects Robin’s selfless nature. At a time when the poor are dissatisfied with Robin, he once again, gives them all the food he and his outlaws have left in order to prove his innocence. The way this scene is shot is beautiful. The outlaws walk into the village and while the sun sets, Robin is determined to convince the people of his innocence. Roy’s face in this scene sums it all up for me. He stands with all the other outlaws behind Robin, with his eyes closed, sun streaming onto his face. Roy demonstrates that despite having to give up everything, there is nothing better than doing the right thing, even when the odds are against the outlaws. He portrays a clean conscience. Through this track and its accompanying scene, honesty is presented as a greater value, higher than wealth and titles.
I find this to be an extremely calming track which can be applied to everyday life. It evokes simplicity and promotes doing the right thing no matter what the cost. There is a certain sense of pride and honour within this track, despite loosing everything. Once again, the values of Robin Hood have been captured so accurately in the music.
16. Gisborne’s Trap
This track is first played during a scene from episode four of series one. It starts off with an eerie atmosphere, evoking caution and danger. The outlaws are of course, fleeing from Gisborne and his men. A sudden drop in the track then alerts the listener to the fact that the danger has arrived. Of course, this marks the arrival of Gisborne in the scene. The outlaws are no longer safe. The next sequence of the track then escalates, emphasising the increase of danger and adrenaline. This build up only adds to the high levels of energy the track later brings. Robin’s theme is echoed in this section of the track just before it launches into full swing. This demonstrates Robin’s protective nature and leadership qualities as his men turn to him for guidance.
However there is no time for them to decide on much course of action as the next sequence of the track hits. This highlights the sudden and full scale nature of the ambush as the outlaws desperately fight for their lives. After the music for the fighting sequence almost concludes, a sharp and dramatic emphasis is then placed on the loss of the fight: Roy.
17. Shooting Pies
The start of this track really emphasises the medieval period that the show is set in. To capture a period of history so beautifully takes true talent. Price’s genius coming to light again.
This slightly gloomy tone at the start of the track then contrasts with the following segment. The sound becomes more positive and Robin’s theme is echoed again, emphasising his presence. It’s almost as if he’s suddenly jumped in to the rescue. Ironically of course, he is rescuing Marian who has been caught attempting to deliver pies to the poor in episode four.
The track continues its rather light hearted and repetitive tone, reflecting Robin’s playful and flirtatious nature. he is arrogant and confident of his own ability and demonstrated through both the music and scene. The aspect of Price’s music that continues to amaze the most has to be how perfectly he seems to encapsulate every scene. The music and the scene go together hand in hand, accompanying each other wonderfully. A perfect fit every time.
Robin’s theme is echoed a final time before the track echoes the releasing of arrows as Robin and Roy put into action their ingenious plan. The sound of arrows flying through the air is beautifully replicated by Price and is extremely calming. It is so easy to close your eyes and visualise these two outlaws standing on the top of a hill, amongst the greenery with a gentle spring breeze, while shooting pies to the villagers.
This track is no better summed up through an exchange between Robin and Marian while the pies are being shot:
MARIAN: ‘You could simply throw the food.’
ROBIN: ‘We could. But where would be the fun in that?’
18. Robin and Marian
This is by far one of my favourite tracks on the album. Words cannot describe how emotionally empowering this track is. It really pulls at the heartstrings. The track begins so gently that you can barely hear it, slowly and escalating in volume. This gentle increase in sound is so beautiful and simple. The gentle strumming is wonderful to listen to and emphasises the innocence of the two lovers.
The track sets the scene of them meeting. You can imagine a quiet place in the forest, the sun shining, with Marian sitting on the branch of a tree. A quiet place away from the action. You can visualise the rest of the world freezing as Robin slowly emerges. You can imagine him peeking his head round from a nearby tree. You can imagine both Robin and Marian smiling as they capture each other’s eye. Pure joy and bliss is captured superbly. For me, this is where the track climaxes after the introduction. It emphasises their happiness. Nothing matters in their worlds apart from each other. The climax evokes real emotion, their hearts bleed for each other.
Innocence is at the heart of this track. Their love is innocent. In an unjust world where England seems to be rotting. When the whole world seems to be going insane, there is also something relatively normal going on: love. This is powerful love, feeling that have clearly been in place before the first episode of series one. In the midst of all the action scenes in series one, it is the scenes with Robin and Marian that capture me most. They confide in one another in times of stress and difficulty and are used as a reminder that in times of great challenges, where it seems all hope is lost, it is the simple things you have to look out for. Love always prevails. Price turns the complexity of love into a simple, raw and tender emotion. It is a beautiful track to listen to time and time again. The fact that it is repeated so much throughout the show, in most Robin and Marian scenes, demonstrates its true power.
However there is a sad song to this tune. Despite the innocence of their relationship, Robin and Marian have no choice but to conceal their love. As Robin is an outlaw and Marian a daughter of nobility, the two cannot be seen together. This is reflected towards the end of the track as it gently concludes. You can only ponder on whether their love will truly prevail. A sublime track which captures the complexities of love spectacularly.