Blog

New election themes for ABC and NBC


The 2018 midterm elections were perhaps the most intensely covered midterms ever. Two broadcast networks introduced new theme music to brand their many hours of live coverage. ABC News debuted a completely new election theme by DreamArtists Music. It’s big, bold, urgent and orchestral.

NBC News debuted a new variation of their classic election theme by Michael Karp. They were used in addition to the main theme that was used in previous elections. The new variation extends the life of the theme that has been used by NBC in one way or another since 2004.

 

New additions: Today, Face the Nation and Stay Tuned


Great new music has been added to the website! I’ve finally been able to add the current open to NBC’s Today. (To be precise, they are currently using a slightly different mix – more brassy.) It’s composed by WCPM Custom. Also added to the archive is the new Face the Nation theme by Man Made Music.

Finally, we’ve broken some new ground. The first theme for a network news show developed exclusively for social media has been added. It’s for NBC’s Stay Tuned, composed by The Perch, a new L.A. based boutique studio headed by Matthew Kajcienski.

 

The theme carrying Nightline into its next chapter


A couple of weeks ago, ABC’s Nightline started using new theme music. It combines elements of EM, pop, and processed acoustic instruments. The theme is composed by Matthew Kajcienski and Adam Schoenberg. Listen to it here.

 

Podcast does deep dive on news music


The podcast Every Little Thing from Gimlet Media did an episode on news music this week. I can really recommend it. The show’s premise is that it takes a trip down the rabbit hole to look closer at things that may seem mundane or simple but are actually extraordinary. Aside from lots of interesting facts about news music, host Flora Lichtman gets into the history of news music and discusses some of the potential downsides (how it helps ‘sell’ the news).

For the episode they interviewed me. In fact, I’m featured pretty prominently. Thanks to Flora and the great team at Gimlet for doing that! You’ll also hear from DreamArtists Music‘s Matthew Kajcienski and David Lowe, the genius behind the BBC News theme.

Listen to the episode on Gimlet’s site, on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

ABC’s This Week debuts new theme


Earlier this month This Week debuted new theme music, once again composed by DreamArtists Music. The new theme has been added to this website.

It is quite a departure from the past. The theme to This Week has always been a particularly harmonic and melodic driven work. This time, according to Matthew Kajcienski of DreamArtists Music, ABC execs wanted a track in which the backbone was completely percussive-driven.

Alongside the new music, the opening graphics were completely revamped. As NewscastStudio notes, the new look has some visual connections to ABC’s political drama, Designated Survivor.

You can listen to the new theme here.

 

GMA debuts theme with a bigger, bolder sound


Good Morning America debuted a new theme a few weeks ago that has a bigger and bolder sound. With the addition of Michael Strahan as co-anchor, ABC was looking to replace the more pop-centered theme that debuted in late 2015.

The new theme is again composed by DreamArtists Music. The theme combines large-scale orchestral elements with electronics, a sound that DreamArtists Music is well known for creating in the ABC News division

You can listen to the new theme right here.

 

Michael Karp revises legendary NBC election theme


160115-decision-2016-mn-1000_3c14d6e5b6bf914eb9540e0bf6278236-nbcnews-fp-1200-800For the 2016 election composer Michael Karp revised his legendary election theme for NBC News. The original had been in use since 2004. Karp added a new thematic section, a new vamp section and other minor revisions. It was heard on NBC for the “Commander-In-Chief Forum” in September and is used on MSNBC throughout the day as the primary election theme. It has now been posted to Network News Music.

(Sidenote: you can browse all the election themes on this website when you follow this link.)

Two other themes have also been added to the website. You can now listen to the CBS News Nightwatch theme that was used in the last few years of the show’s existence. And the classic CBS News Special Report theme from the early 90s is now also on the site. Both are composed by Edd Kalehoff.

 

New CBS Evening News theme added


CBS Evening News 2016When the new CBS election theme premiered late last year, it was received very well. It is based around three orchestral stabs that are very memorable. Since last night it has become the main theme for the CBS Evening News. You can listen to the full theme right here on this website.

Along with the new music, the new opening includes footage from CBS journalists in the field and shots from the control room (including director TJ Asprea). The combination of the new music and graphics give the broadcast a more urgent feel. (See Scott Pelley’s report on the new theme.)

CBS wasn’t alone in commissioning a new election theme. NBC’s Today has used its own election theme since 2010. Their theme by Non-Stop Music has been updated.

The 2016 election is in full swing and that means we are hearing a lot of election themes on TV these days. Many can already be found on this website. In fact, you can see a list of all the election themes we have right here.

As a little bonus, here’s the CNN election theme. I have not been able to identify the composer. The music was first used for the 2008 election.

Unknown composer - CNN Election Theme

Finally, there is also one non-election theme that has been added to the archive on this website. It’s the current theme for The View by Flavorlab.

 

GMA debuts new theme music on eve of 40th anniversary


abcgma15On the eve of the show’s 40th anniversary, ABC’s Good Morning America relaunched with a new theme music and graphics package. As with previous themes, Matthew Kajcienski of DreamArtists Music composed the music. This marks the first time in just under four years that the long running, top rated morning show switched themes.

The new music combines elements of contemporary pop and EM rhythms with a symphonic/concert music foundation for which DreamArtists and Kajcienski is known.

They have been keeping busy at DreamArtists Music. Kajcienski won an Emmy this summer for a branding piece he wrote for Hearst Television stations. Also, in partnership with Springboard Tracks, Kajcienski created the feature branding campaign song for the ABC Television Network. A full length version of the song – featuring vocalist/song writer Taylor Carroll – will be released soon by ABC and will be available for download.

Update: The theme has been added to the website. You can listen to it here.

 

The surprisingly addictive theme music of fake news


dailyshowlogoComedy Central’s fake news shows are becoming as iconic as the shows they were meant to parody. Due to some remarkable genre choices, their theme music is equally memorable. Whether you compare The Daily Show’s theme to a traditional big band late night theme or an orchestral news theme, it stands out.

The Daily Show has used the same theme for the past fifteen years and so it was only logical not to change a winning formula when new host Trevor Noah took over. The theme is performed by the band They Might Be Giants and originally written by Bob Mould. The name? “Dog on Fire.”

Since this theme debuted in the early days of the Jon Stewart era, the show has become less of a parody newscast and more straight forward comedic commentary. But the theme still fits so well. The electric guitar and heavy percussion give it an alternative rock feel and contribute to the rebellious nature of the show.

They Might Be Giants - The Daily Show full close

Earlier this year Larry Wilmore took over Stephen Colbert’s old time slot following The Daily Show. The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore uses a theme that prominently features a guitar riff that is emphasized by the host appearing to play it in the opening montage.

Marc Bonilla - The Nightly Show full theme

The auxiliary cuts of the package contain different styles of music, mostly genres that are considered to be traditionally black music. The bed that is played during the cold open, for example, is greatly influenced by R&B. The close on the other hand is very jazzy. This unique blend of musical styles sets the show apart from other late night comedy shows.

 

CBS This Morning, CBS Radio Sports, Nightline, The View added to the website


2320945483_ctm_eye_opener_logo_640x360_2320945624Some great new additions have been added to Network News Music!

One of the most requested themes in recent years was the CBS This Morning theme. In particular, the Eye Opener was quite popular. That is the 90-second piece of music that plays while a montage of the day’s news is shown. You can now listen to the full piece of music.

I’ve added the 1967 CBS Radio Sports sounder to the website as well. It’s a variation of the news sounder that was used at the same time.

Also new is the Nightline theme that debuted last summer. It replaced the classic theme by VideoHelper that was heard daily for almost ten years.

Finally, I’ve added a page for ABC’s The View. The daytime show officially became part of ABC News last year. Four different versions of the theme music, going back to 1999, have been added.

 

Holiday Gift Tip: Joel Beckerman’s The Sonic Boom


ISC_Calrec_TheSonicBoom_coverLooking for a great last minute Christmas gift?

Joel Beckerman’s The Sonic Boom is a great book for anyone who wants to learn how music and sound in general affects what we do. Beckerman is the founder of Man Made Music and produced news music for CBS News and NBC News.

When you think of sizzling fajitas, you will likely think of the restaurant chain Chili’s. The sizzling sound is what Beckerman calls a boom moment. He defines boom moments as instances in which a sound triggers a multi-sensory experience. The sizzling fajitas make you take notice. You turn your head to see what is causing the sound and you get hungry.

Because we react faster to sound than to all other stimuli, sound is the most efficient way to convey a message. Yet it is often ignored by even the smartest people, argues Beckerman. Much of his book is spent on explaining how you can use it to your benefit.

The book doesn’t go into much detail about Beckerman’s work for CBS News and NBC News. He produced John Williams’ 2004 updates to The Mission, as well as James Horner’s 2006 work for CBS News. As a fan of news theme music, that is of course slightly disappointing. But he does devote a chapter each to his music for Univision and the Superbowl on NBC.

Aside from that, Beckman offers a lot of corporate examples — Apple, AT&T, Mister Softee — that are described vividly. The Sonic Boom is exceptionally well written. You will never listen to sound the same way again.

 

More than 10 new themes added to our archive


ABC3It’s been a while since our last update. But hopefully this was worth the wait.

To start off, the memorable election theme that ABC News used in 1996 and 2004 has been added to the website. You can now also listen to ABC’s custom version of VideoHelper’s Presidential Persuasion theme that is probably most closely associated with the 2008 elections. World News’ headline cue is derived from that theme and has also been added.

Two news magazine themes have been added to the website. Street Stories was an early 90’s show hosted by Ed Bradley on CBS. And Would You Fall For That? was an ABC show featuring psychological experiments that aired last summer.

The network news divisions also produce radio broadcasts. The theme ABC currently uses for its hourly news update is now online, as well as the legendary sounder CBS used for many, many years.

Some older themes we added as well: ABC News Business Brief and Issues & Answers, which was the show that preceded This Week.

Finally, some themes that were already on the website have been upgraded with better cuts. ABC’s current World News is an example: both the full close and open are now available for you to listen to.

 

Why John Williams is a musical genius


Last week I watched the Star Wars movies for the first time. Yes, I am late to the party. But nonetheless, like most people I enjoyed them. What got my attention was John Williams’ beautiful music for the films. And so I immediately got myself a copy of the official soundtrack. It is at that point that I started to notice things which really got me excited about John Williams. I was already a big fan of his work for NBC News and I felt it was his best work. But now I am open to consider that his work for Star Wars may be his best work yet. When I noticed what I am about to show you, I was just plain…excited.

With his soundtrack for Star Wars, Williams brought back an old tradition that had fallen out of favor with movie directors and composers in the late seventies: the leitmotif. A leitmotif is a recurring musical phrase that is associated with a particular character. So whenever that character is doing something important plotwise, the theme in one rendition or another is played. The leitmotif is common practice today in both movies and TV dramas.

The leitmotif in Star Wars that got me so excited is one you’ll recognize: Darth Vader’s theme. It’s officially called Imperial March and is a constant throughout the various movies, usually predicating evil and gloom. It has become an iconic theme. A few chords of this theme are regularly played in episodes of The Simpsons when the evil billionaire Mr. Burns enters a scene. Here’s what it sounds like:

You know it, right?

Here’s what’s amazing. Read more »

 

Themes from This Week, The Lookout and Good Afternoon America added


522051_10150901729792061_1191563769_nA couple of great themes have been added to the website. Recently This Week started using an updated version of its theme music. The new version has some electric guitar riffs that really give George Stephanopolous’s sunday morning show a great ESPN-like vibe.

Also new on the website is the theme music for ABC’s The Lookout, a new kind of news magazine produced by the Nightline team. Like the show, the theme music is different from that of other news magazines. Both these themes are composed by DreamArtists Studios.

And finally, you can now enjoy the theme song used for the GMA-spinoff Good Afternoon America. The show aired for two months last summer. The theme song is written and performed by country music band Little Big Town. It has not been commercially released so this is the only place you can listen to the full song.