Themes from ‘ABC News’

“World News Tonight” 2012 – 2020 Theme

This World News Tonight theme is a composition by major Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer and his co-composer at Remote Control Productions Steve Mazzaro. They had previously worked together on the score for the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises”. This theme is a total departure from the theme that ABC’s evening newscast had been using in some form or another since the late seventies. Although Zimmer has adapted his style for news music, the World News Tonight theme still sounds like a classic Hans Zimmer theme. He relies heavily on thumping, pulsating strings that evoke a sense of urgency, energy and determination. In musical terms it is called ostinato and in film scores it is often used to propel a scene forward which lacks dynamic visual action.

The result is a theme that sounds decidedly cinematic. It continues a trend of movie composers doing news themes that was started by NBC which commissioned John Williams in 1985 to compose The Mission. On Primetime Live movie composer Bill Conti composed the theme music. The theme debuted along with new graphics and a slightly refreshed set. ABC kept the theme when David Muir became anchor of the broadcast, though the open has been shortened.

Remote Control Productions – World News Tonight open
Remote Control Productions – World News Tonight close

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“20/20” Current Theme

For the fall 2012 season, 20/20 was given a makeover. The darker and more dramatic look that was adopted two years earlier were replaced with a more colorful palette. The ABC news magazine continued to broadcast from the World News Tonight set. For the theme music, ABC turned to DreamArtists Music, who composed the third new 20/20 theme in a row. The theme music has that big and bold sound (with a touch of cool) that has become synonymous with ABC News.

DreamArtists Music – 20/20 theme

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“ABC Olympics” 2012 Theme

For the two decades after the 1964 Winter Games, ABC made the Olympics a staple of their network and invented the way it is still televised today. The torch has since been passed to NBC which adopted many of the stylistic elements ABC pioneered, including the theme music. Bugler’s Dream by Leo Arnaud is synonymous with the Olympic Games because it has been used since the 1960’s by the network that has the broadcasting rights. For their coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, ABC turned to DreamArtists Music to capture the Olympic spirit. Given their background as concert orchestral composers, this was an assignment that played to their strengths. DreamArtists scored an Olympic theme package with an orchestra consisting of a massive brass section. There was, in fact, enough brass to fill 4 concert orchestras. Remarkably the theme was composed in only 24 hours. The result is a theme that is edgy and driving, with more percussion than Olympic themes at the other networks. The music reflects the truly grand scale of this world event.

DreamArtists Music – ABC Olympics theme

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“Good Afternoon America” Theme Song

Good Afternoon America was a GMA spinoff that aired for two months in the summer of 2012 on ABC’s daytime schedule. It was hosted by GMA’s news anchor Josh Elliot and its lifestyle anchor Lara Spencer. Good Afternoon America was taped each morning right after GMA in the upstairs studio of the Times Square Studios from which GMA originates. The show featured lighter fare like discussions about celebrities in the news, a little like ABC’s The View. A studio audience was present for each show. The distinctive theme song was written and performed by the popular country music band Little Big Town. On one of the shows, they performed the theme live.

Little Big Town – Good Afternoon America

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ABC News Current Tags

These are two of the tags that are used at the end of ABC News broadcasts. On air the music is accompanied by a voice-over saying: “More Americans choose ABC News to see the whole picture.” ABC went for a big and bold sound with a touch of cool, a formula that put GMA in the #1 spot.

DreamArtists Music – ABC News tag 1

In version 2 you might note that the end crescendo sounds like a TV turning off which is done by using reverse effects. It symbolizes that ABC News is the complete news source — period.

DreamArtists Music – ABC News tag 2

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“Good Morning America” 2012 – 2015 Theme

GMA wanted a new theme that sounded “hipper and fresher” but was still “thoughtful and interesting” to reflect the show’s increased emphasis on lifestyle and entertainment. For the third time in a row they turned to DreamArtists Music. Principal composer Matthew Kajcienski explains the challenge in composing this new theme: “You want your demographics to be able to hook into it, rather than targeting a specific group while alienating others – and just create something cool. The key here was to keep the thematic material subtle but still give it a sound that could be identified easily through texture, orchestration, and most importantly a unique and memorable percussion track.” Given these demands, the process of composing the theme was different than usual as Kajcienski explains: “We actually began by composing the percussion track first as it had to hold interest completely on its own before adding the harmonic elements. Once we had that, we dashed the track with some melodic/harmonic color and kept things simple. As the new graphics have its own ‘hook’, the music had to in essence be the sonic representation of that.” The theme is part of an extended package that gives GMA’s rejoins and breaks a modern pop feel.

DreamArtists Music – Good Morning America theme

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“See the Whole Picture” Branding Promo

This year ABC launched a new promotional campaign with the tag line “see the whole picture”. This image, which stresses relevance, is in response to the whirlwind of information coming at us these days. ABC News defines its mission to help us make sense of it all. The promos were shot with more a commercial-like feel using dramatic images of the ABC News team in stride. DreamArtists Music — who did an incredibly successful branding campaign for ABC in 2008 that later turned into the 20/20 theme — was commissioned to compose the accompanying music. The music reflects the more contemporary feel of the promo.

DreamArtists Music – See the Whole Picture promo

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“This Week” 2012 – 2013 Theme

Since George Stephanopoulos took back the reins of This Week, the well-received “Your Voice, Your Vote” theme was slightly altered to be used as the new theme for This Week. Former World News anchor Charles Gibson provides the voiceover that introduces Stephanopoulos each sunday morning. “Your Voice, Your Vote” is how ABC brands its election coverage for this election year. In prior years their coverage had simply been titled “Vote (fill-in-the-year)”. Along with a new name and new graphics a new theme was needed and so ABC turned once again to DreamArtists Music. This new theme is a new arrangement of the “Vote 2010” theme — a bit more driving and slightly less melodic. This was then spun out into an extensive new package including tracks of various moods and lengths.

DreamArtists Music – Your Voice, Your Vote theme

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“This Week” 2011 Theme

When Christiane Amanpour debuted on This Week, the program was relaunched with new theme music from trumpeter Chris Botti. But Amanpour’s tenure wasn’t an immediate hit with viewers and so changes were made. ABC in particular felt that the Botti theme was too reflective and soft for the “we get to the bottom of it” feel of the show. So they wanted a theme with a bold, exciting yet traditional sound reminiscent of the Brinkley days. ABC asked DreamArtists Music to take their Vote 2010 theme as an inspirational start. The result was a sort of hybrid theme. Although you might think the thematic material is a combination of several ABC motifs from various eras, it sticks mainly to unique elements that DreamArtists Music composed in combination with thematic snippets taken from the original ABC News theme. The result was a theme made up of a fanfare-like open, then a series of building plateaus each featuring a different musical motif, then finally a bumper building to a giant “ABC News” emblem. A couple of months after the theme debuted, Amanpour left This Week and ABC started to use a slightly altered version of its election theme for the program. Some cues from the extended 2011 package were still used thereafter, including the moving “In Memoriam” cue.

DreamArtists Music – This Week theme

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“Vote 2010” Theme

This new election theme package (the “Rally” package) was composed by the CCO and Founder of DreamArtists Music, Matthew Kajcienski. The package was launched on the evening of November 2nd, 2010 for the election special hosted by ABC anchors Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. ABC wanted something “big, bold, fresh, urgent, and exciting” for the new election season leading up to 2012.

DreamArtists Music – Vote 2010 theme

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“20/20” 2010 – 2012 Theme

This theme is by ABC’s friends at DreamArtists Music. The package was commissioned for 20/20’s relaunch in October of 2010. The theme reflects the “darker, more dramatic” approach ABC had taken with the popular news program. You might also hear hints of the 2009 theme, also by DreamArtists Music, that became the closing theme to the broadcast.

DreamArtists Music – 20/20 theme

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“Good Morning America” 2009 – 2012 Theme

When George Stephanopolous succeeded Diane Sawyer as anchor of Good Morning America, this theme was launched. This update of the previous theme – also by DreamArtists Music – is intended to reflect the more newsy direction that GMA has taken. The new theme was accompanied by a new opening format: (1) opening vamp under introductions by the main anchors, (2) main theme under a montage announcing the featured stories, (3) musical build over announcer with visuals of Times Square and (4) bumper into the show. The weekend edition of GMA continued to use the previous theme for a while but eventually adopted this version.

DreamArtists Music – Good Morning America

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“20/20” 2009 – 2010 Theme

20/20 started using this theme in September 2009. However, the theme was originally used for ABC branding promos starting in 2008. The promo was popular and the network liked the music so much that they asked the composers — DreamArtists Music — to develop an entire package around it for the ABC news magazine. While the theme was replaced in the fall of 2010 with a darker theme by DreamArtists Music, it could still occasionally be heard to open special editions of 20/20.

DreamArtists Music – 20/20 theme

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“Focus Earth with Bob Woodruff” Theme

Focus Earth was a weekly newscast focussing on environmental and energy issues. It is produced by ABC News but not many people are aware of it. That’s because it airs on Discovery’s “Planet Green” channel, which is not available in all parts of the country. The theme is composed by DreamArtists Music.

DreamArtists Music – Focus Earth theme

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“The View” 2007 – 2014 Theme

This theme was used for a number of years, starting when Whoopi Goldberg joined the show as the new moderator. During its usage a number of co-hosts sat around the table with one arched leaf, a hallmark of the show’s set. Among them: Jenny McCarthy, Sherri Shepherd and Joy Behar.

Edd Kalehoff – The View theme

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