Ever wondered who writes the theme tunes for the news? No? Oh… Anyway, this week on top TV podcast Boxcutters we talked to David Ashton and Damaris Baker about writing the music for ABC2’s News Breakfast. You can hear the whole interview by going here (and why not consider subscribing to the show through iTunes? Perhaps on multiple computers?).
You can hear the News Breakfast theme at whatsonthetube (scroll down for the second video clip), and here are some highlights from the interview:
Note that for the sake of simplicity I have combined all hosts into one question-asking entity I call “Boxutron“.
Boxutron: How do you approach writing a theme tune for the news?
David: The thing about writing music for TV is that you’re told what to do, basically. It’s not like writing your own song where you just sit down with a blank page and think “what do I want to write a song about?”. They say “we want something like this” and that’s what you try to do.
When they say “something like this” do they mean “dark and moody” or “like the thing NBC is using but change enough notes so we don’t get sued for it”.
David: (pause) Somewhere in between… (laughter)
In the case of Breakfast News they had a piece of music they’d been using when they were throwing ideas around. They checked out how much it would cost to get that cleared and it turned out it would be cheaper to buy us. They didn’t tell us to copy it, they said “this is what we like about it”.
It came down to ominous, serious strings with a little bit or percussion under them – and that would be what they’d read the headlines over – then it burst into these big dancey drums and a bit more melody in the strings and that would be where the opening titles with the spinning graphics would go.
The theme is surprisingly funky…
Damaris: There was a bit of an issue as to whether it should have a tune or whether it was something that was meant to be dancey and funky but definitely not sing-able, whether it should just be hummable, or…
David: There was a phrase, you had to be able to “nod to it, but not hum it”, or something…
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