In my career, I have composed theme songs for shows on ESPN, Fox Sports (SNY), Comcast SportsNet, Big Ten Network (BTN), Madison Square Garden Network (MSG), and SportsNet NY (SNY) (samples). The search for the right topical theme that reflects the direction and vision of the Network/Producer is a professional challenge that I very much enjoy!
The theme song must be “topical” based on the show’s content. The game of football has a different rhythm and pacing than baseball; as such, the themes one writes for these two sports can be vastly different. A highlight/sports recap show will have a different pace and feel than a sporting event.
If you’re thinking of getting into composing music for TV sports, here are a few things that should be taken into consideration:
What makes composing for television challenging is that you are not just developing background themes; you are sonically branding the show. This composition should have a musical mneumonic that may be simple or otherwise, rhythmic or melodic, and can become synonymous with the show (SportsCenter, anyone?).
It’s important to consider where in the show a particular composition will appear. The opening and closing music will have a distinctly different feel than the incidental and transitional pieces will have and can often be variations of the main theme.
Set the tone
Theme songs are particularly important. They are very often the clarion call indicating the show has begun. They help to launch the show and set the tone for pacing and energy. It is also a good idea to think about how the components of the theme can be developed. Just like in a movie, elements of the theme may be repeated or revisited as variants throughout the show. Therefore, it may be a good idea to have different sections in a longer version of the piece to reflect the varying moods and the level of action involved in the show itself.
Writing for television, particularly in entertainment media that combine news and sports is a wonderful challenge. The opportunity to use our musical training in a creative milieu that combines composition with branding can bring a great deal of vitality to your work. It’s also fun to be out some place and hear something you wrote coming from a television on the wall. It’s not quite Top-40, but it will certainly do.
Author bio: Aside from his work for television, Pete Calandra has released several albums both individually and in conjunction with other artists. His most recent album, Inner Circle, is available via iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.
[Sports TV image from Shutterstock.]