Friday, December 13, 2019

"Mood Music"


Solemn and serious.

But also exciting.

Not due to historic uniqueness or uncertain outcome.  The final “judgment” here is locked in.  (Though, to maintain interest, TV goes through the foolish dance that it isn’t.)

In lieu of actual “Verdict Suspense”, what I’m anxiously anticipating is this:

What will the cable news theme music sound like?

You know what I mean.  At some point, cable news outlets decreed that every major event have its individualized theme song.  Leaving me wondering about

“Impeachment – 2019.”

How will it sound?  Mundane or “stays with you”?  Soaring or somber?  Freshly original, or “They played that for an oil spill”?

This is a new racket for serious composers.  (Who have cornered the market.  There is no rock or rap theme music fronting headlining news events.  Though I imagine that’s coming.)  Now that this specialized work is an accepted – and I’ll bet lucrative – part of the musical landscape, I wonder if there is a class in it at Juilliard.  “Tomorrow – ‘Earthquakes.’  Be prepared with subtle but shattering examples.”)

I don’t know how far this musical sideline goes back.  The moon landing?  The Kennedy assassination?  I imagine if there was TV back then, they’d have been drum-rolling “Custer’s Last Stand”, arguing about “Indian undertones.”  (“There was one surviving cavalry pony.”  “‘Mourning horse’ music.  Do that.”)

My earliest thoughts on news theme songs goes back to the O.J. Simpson trial, which I watched gavel-to heartbreaking verdict.  There was pulsing excitement in CNN’s O.J. music, its crescendoing end building to,

Da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da


I loved that theme.  As a call to arms, it ranks second only to the theme from The Lone Ranger.

“Hiyo, Ito, awayyyyyy!

Who gets to write those stirring ”News Anthems”?  Do they have to audition?

“Sorry.  I do not get ‘Tsunami’ from that.”

Do composers try things out on their spouses?

“Listen to this, and tell me if it’s sufficiently ‘Death Row Vigil.” 

(“Too much”?  Hey, I’m only the messenger.)

Do some people balk at such assignments?

“I am an artiste!  I do not write for ‘Twisters!’”

Well some people do.  And for everything else.  A dam bursts in New Orleans and they race to the piano.

What they produce can be often quite catchy.  I’m wondering if somewhere, there’s a compilation album called “CNN Plays Latest Disasters.”  (I would not be surprised if there is.  You can’t let good news-based theme music go to waste.)

And now there’s “Impeachment – 2019.”

I wonder what they’ll come up with.

It is a sensitive line to walk.  If there are shades of arrogance or rebuke – detected by some people – the “tweets” are bound to arrive, decrying,

“Fake music.”
I take no sides in such musical disputes.

I just hope that it’s hummable.

With the trial’s preordained outcome – although the underdog Nationals did win The World Series

It is the only fun I will have.

1 comment:

Wendy M. Grossman said...

The movie BROADCAST NEWS (1988?) had a great scene of a pair of composers playing their new news theme for the network brass. "I got chills," one of them says, then rapidly goes back to what he was talking about before they started playing.