Law & Order TV show "Dun Dun" Sound

NekujaK

Searching for the Lost Chord
You know the one...


I'm wondering if there are any synth presets of this sound, or something close? I know the original is a composite of multiple sound sources, so I wouldn't expect a single patch to hit it on the head... but maybe. I haven't bothered to comb thru my tens of thousands of Omnisphere presets, but that would probably be a good place to start. I'm not a sound designer, so building this sound is not in my wheelhouse.

Anyway... just Monday morning musings... :emoji_thinking:
 

wst3

Lunatic - it's really that simple
Moderator
A sometimes reliable friend told me that the infamous sound is a combination of samples and synthesizers, he thought it was around a dozen different sounds, but he wasn't sure. He was certain that the legendary 500 foot stomps tale is true.

Mike Post is one of my favorite TV composers. I still listen to several of his themes for inspiration, including Law and Order (which might be my favorite), Hill Street Blues, Rockford Files (my high school dance band played an arrangement of that one), LA Law, and Hunter. And then there is the theme for Baa Baa Black Sheep - while it used some sounds as part of the theme it was written in a different time, and was more orchestral.

I remember reading about all the shows he was writing for at one point - he needed a room full of assistants just to keep up. Of course computers and samplers and such weren't available yet - wonder what he would have done with them.

Then man has chops!!!
 

José Herring

Senior Member
A sometimes reliable friend told me that the infamous sound is a combination of samples and synthesizers, he thought it was around a dozen different sounds, but he wasn't sure. He was certain that the legendary 500 foot stomps tale is true.

Mike Post is one of my favorite TV composers. I still listen to several of his themes for inspiration, including Law and Order (which might be my favorite), Hill Street Blues, Rockford Files (my high school dance band played an arrangement of that one), LA Law, and Hunter. And then there is the theme for Baa Baa Black Sheep - while it used some sounds as part of the theme it was written in a different time, and was more orchestral.

I remember reading about all the shows he was writing for at one point - he needed a room full of assistants just to keep up. Of course computers and samplers and such weren't available yet - wonder what he would have done with them.

Then man has chops!!!
Nothing rocks harder than the Theme from Rockford Files. I miss those 70's TV themes so much.
 

wst3

Lunatic - it's really that simple
Moderator
Nothing rocks harder than the Theme from Rockford Files. I miss those 70's TV themes so much.
Agreed! Love that theme, it still falls under my fingers frequently when I fire up one of my ancient, mono, non-MIDI, synthesizers.

Another theme that I play a lot if Bob James "Angela" - every time I pull up an e-piano patch. It's like it is a reflex<G>!

And yet another TV Theme I still love is W.G. Snuffy Walden's theme for "30 Something" (ok, late 80s, but still!)

Yes, this thread has caused me to revisit TV themes from my youth... and I'm having a blast!
 

dgburns

summer of pickles and IPA beer
Pretty sure that sound was just a piano lid being slammed down on the piano. you won’t find that in omni but maybe look for that in treated piano libraries. the verb at the end seems like it’s real, so it might be difficult to emulate with reverb. Not sure if there was any other sound along the piano slam, but could be wrong...
 

BeneJ

Member
That effect is made by strings, played using the extended articulation known as col legno, which involves hitting strings with the wood of the bow. Most pro string libraries include this articulation

(I like to layer col legno basses and cellos which, when played rhythmically, sound like a massive funk-style slapped bass ensemble!)
 

dgburns

summer of pickles and IPA beer
That effect is made by strings, played using the extended articulation known as col legno, which involves hitting strings with the wood of the bow. Most pro string libraries include this articulation

(I like to layer col legno basses and cellos which, when played rhythmically, sound like a massive funk-style slapped bass ensemble!)
Not even close. No where near the amount of weight or slam. It might be that there are string slaps in there, but I’m not convinced.
 
OP
NekujaK

NekujaK

Searching for the Lost Chord
Reportedly, Mike Post said the sound was a composite of about a dozen sound sources, including the legendary 500 foot stomps.

Can't say how true any of that is, but I hear musical content mixed with percussive elements, with perhaps some upward pitch-shifting. And the long shimmery tail seems to be a separate overlay. But what do I know?
 
OP
NekujaK

NekujaK

Searching for the Lost Chord
Also, every time I hear the sound, I can't help but think there's a Fairlight CMI in there.
 

InLight-Tone

Senior Member
In terms of cultural resonance, however, Post may have locked down his place in history with just two notes. Law & Order was designed with syndication in mind, so the plot tended to break into two 30-minute segments, with the first half focusing on the police and the second focusing on the district attorneys. Wolf said he needed a sound for a date stamp to change scenes and segments. Post told Wolf he wanted nothing to do with it: "Call sound effects," he said. "I do music."

But Wolf persisted until Post relented and "kind of goofed around" with drum sounds, a sample of a jail door slamming and a clip of "some guys stomping on the floor" to create the now iconic "ching-ching," which Post had originally christened "the clang."
 

Dirtgrain

Member
Chromophone 2 might be useful as a component, creating some sort of a mallet instrument (might be a good preset for this). A separate resonator effect like Ableton's Resonator or Corpus or Melda's comb filter might help catch that lower resonating sound panned a bit left or center, hard to tell (or maybe just the right choice of reverb would do). The reverb panned right sounds almost like a gong or a cymbal--a convolution reverb with sound design IRs might help for this. The panning of the sound is interesting.
 
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Sample Fuel

Active Member
I love reading this thread and to see how "fables" are told from compilations of various stories. There are only 3 people that were involved with LAW & ORDER at the time this sound was created. Mike Post, Charles Sydnor and myself (Danny Lux). I myself started working for Mike Post in 1987.

I believe the original Pilot episode was done I think in 1987 for CBS and they passed on it....what a mistake! The pilot was resurrected I think in 1988 could of still been 1987 and the rest is history....

As for the famous sound.....Maybe Charles might recall better than I do as Charlie was really more involved in the pilot than I was because I was more or less just starting out over there at that time. My memory is that it was just 2 sounds layered together. One was a D-50 (D-550) sound called Gron Percussion (I think)....unfortunately I can't remember the other one but there is a good chance it came from the Korg M1. I base that on what gear we had in his studio at the time which was not a lot of synths. We had a a racked Korg M1, Racked D-550, racked MKS-80 (this was actually used for the SIREN sound in the LAW & ORDER Main Title), racked Prophet VS, and an AKAI S-900 sampler. We also had a Roland D-70....that might of came a little later.

I recently was hanging out with Mike and he brought up the "famous sound". To his recollection he was talking like we had layered a whole bunch of sounds together like jail cell doors, etc... Like I said....Charlie would know probably, but I don't think that was the case because Charlie left shortly after the pilot and I took over as Mike's recording engineer/producer so to speak and would have to recreate that sound and I recall just layering the 2 sounds together as described earlier. So I suspect Mike's recollection is probably not correct based on that fact that I was making that sound often in the first season.

None the less I enjoyed reading this thread. Be aware that this is one of the most recognized musical signatures and is highly licensed out by Universal. So recreating it for fun is one thing but don't try to emulate it for anything commercial.