Archive for Victor Vlam

“America Decides 2020” Theme


For its election night coverage, CBS News used a theme composed by Nick Murray on behalf of MIBE Music. The music has lots of movement and creates a sense of anticipation, a befitting conclusion to a highly charged election between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump. There’s not a lot of melody because when it is used on air, anchors are frequently talking over it. The music was recorded nearly a year before its use on air, in January of 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand.

MIBE Music – America Decides 2020

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“World News Tonight” Current Theme


With the start of the fall 2020 TV season, ABC’s World News Tonight went back to its roots. The top rated newscast picked up its classic theme again. It’s not the same version as was used before 2012, when it was replaced by a totally new theme. Though it is not exactly new either. It’s a version that was recorded in 2002 by Edd Kalehoff but was not used at the time. For the opening headlines, David Muir’s broadcast still uses a cut from the previous package by Remote Control Productions.

Edd Kalehoff – World News Tonight theme
Remote Control Productions – World News Tonight headlines


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“ABC News Live” Current Theme


ABC News Live is a 24/7 streaming news service that launched in 2018. For their theme music, they turned to Matthew Kajcienski. In terms of creative direction, ABC had asked for something forward-thinking, a sound that felt large/important, and did not use traditional instrumentation. Kajcienski explains his approach: “I decided to approach the theme’s foundation more from the angle of sound design, using sustained/shifting colors, large sweeps, and musical hooks that propelled the ear in the foreground. I also created a mnemonic specific to ABC News Live to differentiate the streaming network from its ABC News counterpart.” An interesting thing to note is how large the session file was with over 120 unique electronic sound layers (“instruments”) that were used to make up the theme’s diverse color palette.

Matthew Kajcienski – ABC News Live theme


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“CBS Evening News” Current Theme


When Norah O’Donnell took over as anchor of the CBS Evening News, the program debuted a new look and sound. The new theme is a remixed version of the previous one with lots of EDM elements. After a few months, the program relocated to Washington, D.C. That made it the first network evening news program since World News Tonight in the early ’80s to air regularly from the nation’s capital.

Man Made Music – CBS Evening News open

Man Made Music – CBS Evening News headlines

Man Made Music – CBS Evening News close


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“Good Morning America” Current Theme


To highlight the “news first” focus through the new show open, Good Morning America wanted its theme to carry a weight of importance and power. However, executives wanted to completely steer away from anything orchestral to set it apart from the competition. So composer Matthew Kajcienski of DreamArtists Music was asked to write a theme within a much fresher, more “current” sound world than anything in the past. This presented a significant challenge. Composers often turn to at least some elements of the orchestra to help propel those feelings of gravity, drive and power in news. “I had to limit the orchestration to electronic instruments heard more often in a hit song, rather than in the theme to a network morning show,” Kajcienski told us. “Where I would naturally turn to a horn stab or a rhythmic ostinato in the strings, I had to experiment and find other ways to use the sound palette to achieve the timbre, drive, and textures I was after.”

DreamArtists Music – Good Morning America theme


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“The Vote” 2018 Theme


For the 2018 midterm election, NBC went back to the theme that is since 2004 most closely associated with its election coverage. Composer Michael Karp did some additional versions of the election theme for NBC and MSNBC that were used in addition to the 2016 versions. The longevity of the theme is amazing. NBC did, however, replace it’s longtime Decision moniker with new branding: “The Vote: America’s Future”

Michael Karp – The Vote theme


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“Vote 2018/2020” Theme


The ABC election theme for the 2018 midterms takes advantage of a full orchestra, electronics, and massive percussion section to convey a renewed sense of importance and urgency. Trumpet fanfares, snare drums, and soaring string melodies more in tune with an olympic event, are replaced with a more serious drive and balance the line between urgency and optimism.

DreamArtists Music – Vote 2018/2020 theme


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“WCBS Newsradio 880” Current Anthem


WCBS Newsradio 880 is a news and talk radio station in the New York metropolitan area. When they needed a new theme package, they turned to Man Made Music. The station wanted something that did not sound too self-important. The result is something that blends in well with the greater CBS News sonic brand for which Man Made Music is responsible. This is the anthem. It blends some of the individual cuts of the package together, such as the news, weather and traffic themes.

Man Made Music – WCBS Newsradio 880 anthem

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“Face the Nation” Current Theme


A few months after Margaret Brennan took over as moderator, Face the Nation was given a makeover that brought it more in line with the look and feel of other CBS News programs. The theme was recorded a month before its debut in the studios of Man Made Music in New York. Each section of an orchestra recorded their parts before it was all mixed together under the guidance of Joel Beckerman and Mickey Alexander.

Man Made Music – Face the Nation theme


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“Nightline” Current Theme


It is not so common these days for news themes to last more than 3 or 4 years, but Nightline was the exception in ABC’s news line-up. Several challenges arose, including how to approach the new sound with such a long-lasting previous identity. As the show took on an updated/current look, composers Matthew Kajcienski and Adam Schoenberg were asked to compose the new theme.

ABC wanted a sound that would not only attract the millennial generation, but would still embrace the loyal audiences while carrying Nightline into its next chapter. The theme combines elements of EM, pop, and processed acoustic instruments. The package includes an extensive library of teasers/rejoins that reflect its hip/fresh sonic re-brand. The theme was composed by Matthew Kajcienski and Adam Schoenberg, both classmates and graduates of The Juilliard School, as well as LA neighbors!

Matthew Kajcienski and Adam Schoenberg – Nightline theme


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“Stay Tuned” Current Theme


Stay Tuned is NBC News’ twice-a-day show on Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram. The theme was composed by The Perch, a new L.A. based boutique studio. Lead composer Matthew Kajcienski explained to us that it took quite a different approach when compared to writing for network or cable news shows. Because it airs on a social media platform, the audience will likely be watching the show on a smartphone, which means reduced audio quality. “From a sonic perspective, we had to keep in mind how certain orchestration, musical range, and instrumental sonorities perform when listening on such devices, ” according to Kajcienski.

Form was also a rather big departure from most other news shows. Stay Tuned is an incredibly condensed newscast, lasting only about two minutes. The theme package consists of four versions of the theme that convey different moods for different stories and an extensive set of short, transitional tracks (“the glue”). “With such a condensed broadcast format, quick transitions, and abrupt advertising breaks (especially), the theme had to be extremely flexible in how it could be edited together, yet with so many musical components, blend together seamlessly as not to feel like the music is chopped up into little pieces,” explains Kajcienski.

The Perch – Stay Tuned theme


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“This Week” Current Theme


This is quite a departure from the past. The theme to This Week has always been a particularly harmonic and melodic driven work. This time, ABC execs wanted a track in which the backbone was completely percussive-driven. Though this might sound straight-forward, over 45 individual percussive instruments were used to create the new sound for This Week. The wide pallet a composer usually has to work with when composing a theme – meaning percussion, effects, and melodic/harmonic instruments in combination – was limited. The challenge was giving the theme the same variety, emotion, and diversity with percussion only – then sprinkling in harmonic elements to glue together the track and ID the ABC News mnemonic (which is a stripped down version of the last theme’s button).

DreamArtists Music – This Week theme


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“Good Morning America” 2017 – 2019 Theme


After just a little more than a year, and with the addition of Michael Strahan to the GMA anchor desk, ABC wanted to give the show a “bigger, bolder” sound to replace the more pop-centered theme of 2015. ABC turned to their friends at DreamArtists Music and composer Matthew Kajcienski to write the show’s main theme and theme package. Differently structured from before, ABC executives came up with a new format for the opening theme music in which it would be broken up into five parts. This was to mirror the intensity of the four main news stories used in the main open from “breaking news” to “light news”, and then exit with a bold, triumphant crescendo into the broadcast. The theme combines large-scale orchestral elements with electronics, a sound that DreamArtists Music is well known for creating in the ABC News division.

DreamArtists Music – Good Morning America theme


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“Decision 2016” Theme


For the 2016 election, composer Michael Karp revised his legendary NBC election theme that has been on the air since 2004. It includes an entirely new thematic section, a new vamp section and other minor updates. In addition to MSNBC and CNBC, NBC also uses it for various election events such as “The Commander-in-Chief Forum”.

Michael Karp – NBC Decision 2016 theme


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“CBS Evening News” 2016 – 2019 Theme


Originally composed for CBS’ election coverage, this theme was adopted as the theme for the CBS Evening News in May of 2016. CBS wanted an iconic score, something people would remember 10 to 15 years from now. Man Made Music was charged with that task. Composers Joel Beckerman and Wayne Sharpe came up with this theme centered on three orchestral stabs. It’s a special challenge to write news music, as Beckerman explained to USA Today:

“What we’re doing is creating music for a movie that has not been shot—because we don’t know what the stories are. CBS News doesn’t yet know what will unfold through this whole election cycle. So we’re trying to predict the kinds of emotions that they’re going to need—the different energies, the different instruments, so that we can create almost an entire film score for them that can unfold in real time during the election cycle.”

The various sections of the orchestra give the theme its identity. Strings give it worldliness, lower brass adds trustworthiness and short note percussion gives it forward energy, said Beckerman to AdWeek. Here’s the long close, used on the Evening News. You can listen to a different cut of the package that was used for election coverage.

Man Made Music – CBS Evening News 2016 theme


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