Just as I was working on this update for the website, it was announced that the Chris Matthews Show would be leaving the air later this year. I was just about to post the two themes that the show has used in its eleven year history. The syndicated show uses a cue from John Williams’ masterpiece The Mission, the theme for NBC News, as its open since 2009. It was actually the music that was intended for NBC Nightly News. When the show debuted in 2002 it used music by Joel Beckerman’s company, Man Made Music. Both themes are great to listen to!
Finally, we have obtained the full version of the theme music used by one of the many short-lived NBC news magazines in the 1980′s: 1986. The show, hosted by Roger Mudd and Connie Chung, lasted for only twenty episodes. The theme certainly doesn’t sound like a traditional news theme.
The terrible news out of Boston today marked the debut of a new ABC News special report theme. The previous theme, which had been in use for about two decades, has been retired. DreamArtists Studios composed the new music.
The special report theme is often used for big and unexpected news events. Such was the case today. Shortly after 3 p.m. ET George Stephanopolous anchored a special report on the explosion at the Boston Marathon.
Recently ABC News had debuted new opening graphics for their special reports that match the graphics for World News. However most of the special reports of late were focussed on the election of a new pope and for that ABC used a special theme. So the new theme did not make its debut until today.
UPDATE (April 16, 2013): The new Special Report theme has been added to Network News Music. You can listen to the music right here.
This morning NBC’s Today Show debuted a new opening theme which replaces the John Williams’ fanfare that has in one way or another opened the broadcast since 1985. While the graphics have remained the same, the music accompanying them is a variation of the music that Today has been using for election broadcasts and other special editions. That music was composed by Adam Gubman on behalf of Non-Stop Music so it is likely he is also behind the particular arrangement that is currently used as the opening theme. You can hear the new opening theme here.
NBC hasn’t commented on the reason for replacing the iconic theme music. But Today has had a rough year. It was surpassed in the ratings by ABC’s Good Morning America in part due to the rocky transition from co-anchor Ann Curry to Savannah Guthrie. With its status as the most profitable program on network television at stake, the Today team likely wants to make clear that the show has improved. (“Warmer, more positive, and less sensational,” according to media reporter Howard Kurtz this morning.)
The version of Williams’ Today open that was used up until today, was a relatively recent version. In late 2011 John Williams rearranged the Meet the Press theme when, at the same time, he re-recorded the Today open. While Williams’ music is synonymous with the Today Show, there have been two previous attempts to replace it: in 1994 (with the debut of Studio 1A) and in 2004. (You can see a clip of the 1994 open on YouTube.) Whether the change will stick this time is unknown right now.
Speaking of new theme music, The Huffington Post reports that MSNBC’s NewsNation with Tamron Hall also received some new music. It is composed by none other than legendary pop icon Prince.
Today, I added five recent themes from NBC’s Today Show to the website. The current open that has been in use since 2004 is now finally online, along with the current and previous headline beds. I also added some special opens for last year’s British royal wedding and this year’s election.
The Today Show has a very nice orchestral sound that distinguishes it from other morning shows. ABC’s Good Morning America tends to use themes these days that have a big and bold sound. Their main theme is percussion based which gives the show a hip and edgy feel. CBS’s themes are mostly understated. This Morning uses a nice composition but not one that particularly stands out. CBS News uses theme music in the way network news used it years ago: very sparingly. NBC on the other hand takes its cues from John Williams’ The Mission. When Today uses a special open, it is usually a grand sounding orchestral theme by Non-Stop Music.
This is not just the case among morning shows; network news music in general has become more differentiated. Read more »