Musically speaking, CBS News has found its identity in the last few years. Their themes are usually based around a lush, orchestral sound with crescendos and lots of emotion. That is layered on top of very contemporary drum rhythms and deliberately inorganic sounds that could have come straight out of the latest EDM track. And of course, most shows start with the now famous CBS News tritone.
I’ve added two CBS News themes to this website that represent that identity well. The first is the current theme for the CBS Evening News. It is composed by Joel Beckerman of Man Made Music. The other one is the theme used on election night 2020, composed by Nick Murray on behalf of MIBE Music.
To explain the process of composing the CBS election theme, Murray has posted a video on his very informative YouTube channel. It’s almost ninety minutes in length but well worth your time if you want to gain more understanding of how television music is produced. One of the highlights is that he lets you hear the difference between the demo version which features midi only and the final version which has live instruments. The difference is not as big as I would have expected. He dissects the music layer by layer, letting you hear in isolation the very spacey synths that give the theme its contemporary feeling.
It’s also an entertaining watch. At one point Murray refers to a section of the theme that was played over and over by CBS. “Bars 13 to 21,” he said, “that’s going to buy me a new car nine months from now when ASCAP comes out.”