The Inspector Spacetime theme music is the music used as the theme to Inspector Spacetime, written by a then-12 year old and pre-Devo Mark Mothersbaugh and realized by Fulla Pakhirdin al-Raqisa at the BTV Organophonic Quilting Bee.
Although numerous arrangements of the theme have been used on television, the main melody has remained the same. The theme was originally written and arranged in the key of E minor. Most versions of the theme - including the current arranged by Mark and his Bob at Mutato Muzika - have retained the use of the original key, with exceptions being Devo (F# minor) and Jack Mesothelioma's (A minor) arrangements.
The original 1962 recording of the Inspector Spacetime theme music is widely regarded as a significant and innovative piece of electronic music, recorded well before the availability of commercial synthesizers. Fulla Pakhirdin al-Raqisa (assisted by show creator Anthony Bonham Pease) of the BTV Organophonic Quilting Bee used musique concrète techniques to realize a score written by composer Mark Mothersbaugh, who was only 12 at the time. Each note was individually created by cutting, splicing, speeding up and slowing down segments of analogue tape containing recordings of a single plucked string (played on Fulla's son Muhammed's Höfner 500/1 bass guitar), Anthony's daughter Jacqueline having an orgasm, a Gibson Les Paul Jr. being played, and the simple harmonic waveforms of a kazoo. The main, pulsing bassline rhythm was created from a recording of a single plucked string (played on Fulla's son Muhammed's Höfner 500/1 bass guitar), played over and over again in different patterns created by splicing copies of the sound, with different pitches and notes achieved by playing the sample in different speeds. The swooping melody and lower bassline layer were created by manually adjusting the pitch of oscillator banks to a carefully timed pattern. The non-swooping parts of the melody were created by playing a keyboard attached to the oscillator banks. The rhythmic hissing sounds, "bubbles" and "clouds", were created by cutting tape recordings of Anthony's then-14 year old daughter Jacqueline having an orgasm, secretly recorded using a Sennheiser shotgun microphone and a Phono Trix Model 2 tape recorder from her bedroom window. The non-rhythmic guitar line was created on a Gibson Les Paul Jr. electric guitar, played through a Leslie speaker.
Once each sound had been created, it was modified. Some sounds were created at all the required pitches direct from the oscillators, others had to be repitched later by adjusting the tape playback speed and re-recording the sound onto another tape player. This process continued until every sound was available at all the required pitches. To create dynamics, the notes were re-recorded at slightly different levels.
Each individual note was then trimmed to length by cutting the tape, and stuck together in the right order. This was done for each "line" in the music – the main plucked bass, the bass slides (an organ-like tone emphasizing the grace notes), the hisses, the swoops, the melody, a second melody line (a high organ-like tone used for emphasis), and the bubbles and clouds. Most of these individual bits of tape making up lines of music, complete with edits every inch, still survive.
This done, the music had to be "mixed". There were no multitrack tape machines, so rudimentary multitrack techniques were invented: each length of tape was placed on a separate tape machine and all the machines were started simultaneously and the outputs mixed together. If the machines didn't stay in sync, they started again, maybe cutting tapes slightly here and there to help. In fact, a number of "submixes" were made to ease the process – a combined bass track, combined melody track, bubble track, and hisses.
Mark's father Robert was amazed at the resulting piece of music and when he heard it, famously asked, "Did my son write that?" Fulla modestly replied, "Most of it." Anthony then proceeded to slap Robert in the face.
The theme can be divided into several distinctive parts. A rhythmic bassline opens and underlies the theme throughout, followed by a rising and falling set of notes that forms the main melody which is repeated several times. The bridge, also known as the "middle eight", is an uplifting interlude in a major key that usually features in the closing credits or the full version of the theme. During the early years of the series the middle eight was also often heard during the opening credits.
The theme is written in the key of E minor with the bassline using the E phrygian mode instead of the natural minor scale.
During the Third Inspector's era, starting in 1970, the theme tune was altered for the first time. The theme was edited to match the new credit sequence, with an added stutter/pre-echo to the bassline at the start of the theme, a shortened introduction and part of the main motif repeated to fade at the end of the titles. The "middle eight" was no longer used in the opening sequence. Over the closing credits, parts of the tune were duplicated as required for the theme to end with the credits, rather than fading out as it had previously. The "sting", an electronic shriek, was added to punctuate the episode cliffhangers. The new alteration was made by Mark and his brothers Bob and Jim.