- Theme music
The phrase "theme music" usually refers to that of a radio program,
television program, or movie. It is a piece that is often written specifically for that show, and usually played during the title sequenceand/or end credits. If it is accompanied by lyrics, most often associated with the show, it is a "theme song".
The phrase "theme song" or "signature tune" may also be used to refer to a song that has become especially associated with a particular performer or dignitary; often used as they make an entrance. Examples of this association include: the
President of the United Stateswith " Hail to the Chief"; Bob Hopewith " Thanks for the Memory"; Billy Joelwith "Piano Man"; Frank Sinatrawith " New York, New York" and "My Way"; Liberacewith "I'll Be Seeing You."
The purpose of a theme song is often similar to that of a
The purpose of the music is to establish a mood for the show and to provide an audible cue that a particular show is beginning, which was especially useful in the early days of radio (See also
interval signal). In some cases, including " The Brady Bunch", " Gilligan's Island", and " The Beverly Hillbillies" the lyrics of the theme song provide some necessary exposition for people unfamiliar with the show.
In addition, some theme music uses orchestra scores or original music set mood for the show. One of the most notable of these is the ' theme song, which was drawn from the theme for the 1989 "Batman" film created by
Danny Elfman. Others uses "remixes" or covers of older songs, such as the theme song of ' (1994-1998), which featured a reworked cover of the theme song from the classic Spider-Man cartoon from the 1960s. The song was performed by Aerosmithlead guitarist Joe Perry.
Theme music has been a feature of the majority of television programs since the medium's inception, as it was for the ancestral radio shows that provided their inspiration. Programs have used theme music in a huge variety of styles, sometimes adapted from existing tunes, some composed specifically for the purpose. A few have been released commercially and become popular hits; examples would include the title theme from "Rawhide", performed and recorded by popular singer
Frankie Laine; the theme tune to " Friends", "I'll Be There For You", which was a hit for The Rembrandts; the theme from "S.W.A.T."; which was a hit for Rhythm Heritage; and the theme song from Drake and Josh, which was a hit for Drake Bell. Jan Hammerhad a major hit with the theme from " Miami Vice" in the 1980s. The Theme From Dr. Kildare (Three Stars Will Shine Tonight), recorded by Richard Chamberlain, the star of the television series, was in 1962 a top 10 hit in the US and a top 20 hit in the UK.
Other themes, like the music for "
The Young and the Restless", " Days of Our Lives", and " Coronation Street" have become iconic mostly due to the shows' respective longevities. Unlike others, these serials have not strayed from the original theme mix much, if at all, allowing them to be known by multiple generations of television viewers.
In the United Kingdom, iconic sports shows have such strong associations with their theme music that the sports themselves are synonymous with the theme tunes, such as football ("Match of the Day" theme),
cricket( Booker T. & the M.G.'s, "Soul Limbo"), motor racing( Roger Barsotti's "Motor Sport" and the bassline from Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain"), tennis( Keith Mansfield's "Light and Tuneful"), snooker("Drag Racer" by the Doug Wood Band), and skiing("Pop Goes Bach", the theme to Ski Sunday).Most television shows have specific, melodic theme music, even if just a few notes (such as the clip of music that fades in and out in the title sequence for "Lost", or the pulsing sound of helicopter blades in the theme music for "Airwolf"). One exception is " 60 Minutes", which features only the ticking hand of a Heuer stopwatch.
Also notable is the "
Law & Order" series, which started out with one theme song for Law and Order, and remixed it for its three spinoffs (', ', and ""). The related reality show "Crime and Punishment" also aired with a remix of the theme.
Radio programs with notable theme music include "
Just a Minute", which uses a high-speed rendition of the " Minute Waltz" by Frédéric Chopin, " The Archers", which has " Barwick Green", " Desert Island Discs" which has " By The Sleepy Lagoon", and "The Shipping Forecast", which has " Sailing By".
Minimization of TV themes' importance
In the 1990s, American network television began reducing the importance of opening and closing themes in a drive to decrease intervals between programs (thereby discouraging channel switching) and to address reduced storytelling time due to increased commercials.Fact|date=February 2007 A number of themes, such as the theme to "Law & Order", were rearranged in shorter formats (the current (1993) L&O theme runs about 1/3 the length of the theme as played during the first season of the series in 1990). Closing themes are now rarely heard during their original broadcast as networks instead show promos and advertisements with the credits squeezed to the side. Some shows still have such themes. However, they tend to only be heard on home video/DVD release or in syndication. A lot of shows now don't have ending theme tunes. Instead, a final tag scene is played under the credits - this is usually not relevant to the episodes story. Some series, such as the 2005 series "Threshold", have no opening credits theme music at all. ABC show
Grey's Anatomyaired its theme song in its entirety for about the first season and a half, before reducing its length. Now, only the Grey's Anatomy logo in black upon a white screen is shown between the teaser and the first act.
List of theme songs
Television news music
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