Arnold, whose last major project was as the musical director of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics closing ceremonies, spoke at his north London studios to Guardian scribe John Plunkett.
The Luton-born composer said he is currently working, alongside Michael Price, on the soundtrack to the third series of the BBC’s highly popular detective series Sherlock, which has been filming recently in London and will return to British TV screens later this year.
Arnold told the Guardian that it was through his work on the James Bond movies that he became involved with Sherlock, via Mark Gatiss (of the TV comedy series League of Gentlemen). Gatiss, who created the modern version of Conan Doyle’s famous Baker Street detective for the BBC along with Dr. Who writer Steven Moffat, is also a major 007 fan, and had struck up a friendship with Arnold when the composer had appeared in a League of Gentlemen Christmas Special.
Gatiss showed the pilot for Sherlock to Arnold, who was very enthusiastic but was also busy on another project, so Arnold suggested that he would still work on the detective series, but in partnership with Michael Price. Arnold and Price currently still share the music-writing duties for the BBC show, playing pieces of music to each other down the phone as they write: ‘We both have our favourite bits – but we never say who did what’, said Arnold, teasingly.
Arnold also revealed that, over the last year, he has spent a large amount of time working on a musical version of the 2010 movie Made in Dagenham (which he also scored), and he is hoping the new musical will open next year (2014).
Interestingly, the 51-year old composer, who won a Grammy award for his work on Independence Day, said that his music writing process has changed over time, from the early days when he would watch a film from the beginning and work his way through: ‘Now I like to write away from the film, little suites of music, perhaps 10 or 15 minutes, and adapt it to the scenes you’ve got in front of you’.
Perhaps inevitably, the interview also returned back to the topic of 007, and his non-involvement with Skyfall (which was scored by American Beauty composer Thomas Newman, a longtime collaborator of Sam Mendes). Arnold commented: ‘I always said after every Bond there’s absolutely no guarantee you would get the next one. I absolutely expected Sam to use Tom. The thing has to move on, otherwise it ends up stagnating. There are still other things I could do with it, things that we started with Quantum of Solace, but that story is kind of gone. Sam’s thing is different’.
Among other points which emerged in the interview, Arnold also told the Guardian that he is mulling over a new album of original material (perhaps taking the direction that his hero, John Barry, also took later in his career).
David Arnold will be talking about writing music for different types of media at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival on August 24.