Themes from ‘Man Made Music’

“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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“CBS Evening News” Current Theme


This theme was originally composed for CBS’ election coverage. The CBS Evening News started to use it starting in May of 2016. For this election cycle 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 music for an election a year before it takes place, 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.

Man Made Music - CBS Campaign 2016 Theme

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“CBS This Morning” Current Theme


The relaunch of CBS This Morning in 2012 was an attempt to bring back hard news to the morning time slot. There is no funny weatherman or couch on set. The first hour is anchored by Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell and is essentially an extended version of the CBS Evening News. Gayle King joins the show in the second hour, at which point it shifts to lighter fare. The broadcast starts off with a 90-second look at the news called the Eye Opener, for which this piece of beautiful music is used. It’s composed by Joel Beckerman of ManMade Music.

Man Made Music - CBS This Morning Eye Opener

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“Inauguration of Barack Obama” Theme


This theme was used for CBS’ coverage of the inauguration of President Barack Obama, anchored by Katie Couric. It is a great variation on the CBS Evening News theme composed by James Horner. While the theme is based on the Horner composition, the composer of this theme is actually Joel Beckerman of Man Made Music. Beckerman knows Horner’s theme well because he was previously involved in converting Horner’s music to a music package suited to the needs of a TV broadcast.

Man Made Music - Inauguration theme

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“CBS News Special Report” 2006 – 2011 Theme


This ominous sounding cue of James Horner’s theme package for the CBS Evening News was composed for special reports, impromptu newscasts that break into regularly scheduled programming. Before they start, viewers can usually see (part of) a 10-second countdown. That is used to give CBS stations around the country the chance to switch to the national feed. Before the Horner theme, CBS News used the headline cue from the 1991 Evening News package to open special reports.

James Horner - CBS News Special Report theme

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“CBS Evening News” 2006 – 2011 Theme


For Katie Couric’s ascension to the anchor chair, the CBS Evening News was given a total makeover. Like NBC did earlier, they turned to a famous movie composer for their theme: James Horner. He is known for the scores to such hit movies as Titanic, Aliens and Avatar. They asked him to create a theme that stood out from other news themes including its previous theme. The result is music that sounds sweeping, regal and cinematic.

Although Horner scored hundreds of movies and won both Oscars and Grammys, he had never worked in television. That was different for him because TV cues have demands that movie cues don’t have. They tend to be shorter – only a few seconds – whereas film cues can last fifteen minutes. Furthermore, many special cues such as bumpers, billboards and opens are needed. Therefore Joel Beckerman of Man Made Music, who is specialized in TV, helped Horner convert his music to a theme package suited to the demands of television. He added, for example, the three notes at the beginning of the headline cue. The music was recorded in L.A. in an eight hour session with a 90-piece orchestra, consisting mostly of players with whom Horner works regularly. This theme was also used by the CBS Morning News and Up to the Minute.

James Horner - CBS Evening News close

Below is the headline cue open to the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. The voice of legendary anchor Walter Cronkite accompanied the open until about six months after his death. There were multiple versions of both the headline cue and the open, these are the ones that were used most.

James Horner - CBS Evening News headline cue
James Horner - CBS Evening News open
James Horner - CBS Evening News open (with Cronkite voiceover)


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“Chris Matthews Show” 2002 – 2009 Theme


The Chris Matthews Show is a half-hour show airing on Sunday mornings that debuted in 2002 and focusses on politics. It consists of the roundtable format that the network public affairs shows have pioneered and perfected. However, the panelists are almost exclusively journalists, not politicians or political professionals. The show is produced by NBC News but is syndicated, meaning that it doesn’t necessarily air on NBC affiliated stations. The theme music is by Man Made Music.

Man Made Music - Chris Matthews Show theme

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