#85 | Seinfeld
The New Year is all about making improvements in your life. So here's an easy way to do. Just that make your world sound better with the power of Sonos. I personally use sonos speakers all all over as a home theater or simply streaming from spotify or apple music while I cook they sound amazing and are super easy to set up. They also recently launched another speaker. It's called the Sonos move. It's a portable smart speaker. You can bring with you indoors out. It's waterproof and even has automatic tuning technology to optimize the sound in any environment government dot com to learn more. You're listening to twenty thousand Hertz. And the Seinfeld is one of the most successful sitcoms of all time during the nine years that it ran Seinfeld had millions of viewers. It won ten EMMYS. He's three Golden Globes and it's cast become Superstars Seinfeld ended over twenty years ago. But it's still very much alive. It has a huge obsessive fan base. Ace minutes still gets referenced all the time it's theme song that we're hearing right now was unlike any theme song that came before it or is come after. And there's a pretty interesting backstory that you probably don't know behind that Wacky Slap Bass but before we get into it. I need to tell you about my friend Steve. My Name's Steve Lack back and I am. Hey Post production audio mixer and sound designer. Steve and I worked together years ago when we were both sound designers at the discovery channel. I consider Dallas thousand one of my best friends. I really love Dallas. We were both the night shift guys and we both come in around. Six o'clock. nightshift is generally unsupervised. So you come in and you get your assignments you work on your mixes you work on your work. And then when you feel like taking a break take a break to give you a picture of what Steve's like he's the type of person who's lived one hundred. The different lives like the time. He was a circus drummer and got into a fistfight with a clown or the time. He dropped everything and moved to Trinidad or the time he was doing things he shouldn't have been doing in a parking garage that collapsed hours later in the Northridge Earthquake. Yeah Steve is easily one of my favorite people in the world so I would wander over to his suite or he he wandered over and my sweet and we talked politics or the events of the day or sound design or whatever but we got to be pretty good friends because we had several hours hours of quiet time and night where we just hang out and chat during one of those random late nights st told me about the time he worked on Seinfeld. Wait what so apparently in the late eighties and early nineties. He'd been an assistant to a TV composer named Jonathan Wolf. When I first moved to la I was seventeen years old old? And that's Jonathan. He's composed the music for seventy five. TV shows including will and grace married with children. And who's the boss but no one becomes a major not composer overnight. Jonathan spent his first decade in. La doing musical odd jobs and making connections the studios. Were happy to have me. They treated me like a Swiss Swiss army multipurpose utility tool for musical chores. Because I had good training in a wide range of fields but after ten in years Jonathan was ready for a change. I decided that I no longer wanted to continue having the telephone dictate to me where where I was going to work each day and what I was going to do when I got there so I declared myself a composer. Jonathan wrote letters to all of his Hollywood contacts. He thanked them for their support. But ask them to stop sending him these low level musical jobs instead. He wanted to compose original music. Zach this was a huge risk. It's like an actor who had only ever had bit parts deciding that they'll only accept lead roles from now on Jonathan. Knew he might regret it but he mailed those letters anyway. I held my breath. I may have just nuked last ten years of my life. But when when those letters started arriving at their destinations all over Hollywood people just shrugged and said well. That's too bad. He's good utility guy and they started throwing me little writing assignments. songwriting assignments further movies in scoring assignments. In that is how my composing posing career began. This is around the time that Steve got hooked up with Jonathan. He landed. WHO's the boss? And he was doing some other after school specials and starting to really take off as a TV composer news looking for somebody to help out with Midi tack engineering some orchestration in transcriptions setting gear. And all that stuff. I wore many hats. Gradually more and more jobs started coming in we were doing. Who's the boss did some? WHO's the boss spin off shows? Mother sitcoms but getting connected with Jerry. Jerry Seinfeld happened almost by chance turns out in real life. Jerry has a best friend named George. It's George Wallace Comedian what makes me sick. People saying stupid stuff off their piloting unmanned say to me my wife on until I saw you the George Wallace and I have been buddies for a long long time and when Jerry Seinfeld confided confided to his best friend George Wallace that he was having trouble with the music for his new show Wallace said. Hey Call my buddy wolf and so I got a phone call from Jerry Seinfeld. He described to me a sound design issue. Oh he told me that the music for his new show which at the time was called the seinfeld chronicles the opening credits for that show would would be jerry standing in front of an audience. He tells jokes. Oscar Mayer is expanding. His Larry. It's not little anymore is Oscar. Mayer is now a huge monstrous place that area that whole section near keeps getting bigger and for him is not easy to come up with new products that come up with a new product. He has to invent meet no animal as far as I know people laugh. That's the opening credits. And he wanted music music to go with it and I told them right away. That sounds like an audio conflict because what we really need to hear. Is You telling jokes folks deibel laughing. You See TV theme music. Leading into Seinfeld where these epic belting lyrical odes like golden girls a team family ties as Dukes of Hazzard or my personal favorite has eighties. Kid transformers all all of these themes songs were designed to play all by themselves not as a device to prop up dialogue the music in the late eighties on TV was melodic a Lotta. OUGHTA Sassy saxophone silly lyrics. Yeah I'm guilty of creating a lot of that kind of music but it was not going to work in this case so Jonathan pitched this crazy idea instead of making a traditional theme song with verses and a catchy chorus he would build a music around Jerry standup bits so I pitched to Jerry. How about this? How about we treat your human voice as the melody of the Seinfeld theme every time you do a different monologue? We'll be a variation on the theme. My Job Jerry will be to accompany you in in a way that works well with your human voice but does not interfere with the audio of you telling jokes for example the human organic nature nature of your human voice might go well with the human organic nature of my human lips tongue finger snaps like this and I had his attention because that was music for Mars in the late eighties sampling was in its infancy and he said. How's that work and I said come on over? Jonathan had to prove that he could make music. That was memorable and fun on but didn't distract from Jerry standup. I threw it up against one of his monologues. He liked what I showed him. He held the phone up to the speakers. So that Larry David could hear it over. The phone Larry liked it. That was at that time. I'm the entire approval process for the Seinfeld theme are unfortunately the network was less impressed. There there was a meeting where they kind of laid out some conditions and the first thing on the list was music the network executives had some major concerns. What's up with the music? What does that sound was with a popping and what instrument is that? Can we not afford real music. It's distracting it's weird. It's annoying when he said annoying. Larry David perked up. Larry as you may. We know likes to be annoying so I turned to our boss and huddled with him. and Larry Jerry and said look guys I'll L. change the music. Sound a big deal Larry. David would have none of it. He just started yelling at me is they. Don't out and I left the meeting because Larry David thrown me out for suggesting that maybe we would change the music. And obviously Larry Punk tied on the music and music state in the picture as the hero of Ed Story. Yeah so what made up the so-called annoying music. Let's break it down to it's essential parts first up is that iconic slap Latte base at the time slap bass was an element of Funk music buried in the mix it had had not yet enjoyed celebrity status has a solo instrument. Broadly forward illuminated it. put it hot in the mix and it sounded any Kanak. Interestingly these baselines weren't played on a real base Jonathan actually played them on on a keyboard controller that could trigger different samples including bay sounds. It was about at that time that sampling was becoming. I'm really usable. And I use Seinfeld as a proving ground for that bleeding edge technology to get the sound for the original Seinfeld base. Ace Jonathan and Steve took base patches from two different devices and blended them together. The actual original base Oun was Role in defy fifty fifty popper and coreg m one slap bass. I think he started out with the M one. Felt like it wasn't cutting enough. So then we added that defy fifty paper in there which had kind of been hedged to it in what I would do is kind of get a balanced between these two cents while he was playing until we kinda just nailed EXAC- the right sound the base line of Seinfeld checks the actual music of it so basic simple it did not require for beats to a bar do not require meter at all never hold water. I can shut up and start the base to make allowance for the timings of his jokes and his punch lines and the people laughing then there. Those organic sounds that Jonathan mentioned Jonathan recorded. These noises himself off using his fingers and mouth then. He met them to his keyboard so he could play them on the fly. Combine that with a simple Shakur and these noises serve serve as the rhythmic backbone of the Seinfeld theme even the tempo was set around. Jerry's comedic timing. I watched Jerry's standup comedy. And I noticed that he he has a lyric sensibility about the way. He delivers his lines the way he moves. His choreography is facial expressions is move and there was a meter to it that I put different clocks on and finally I settled in on about one one ten. I don't think people think of their offices a workplace as a stationery store with Danish. You WanNa get pastry envelopes. Your supplies your toilet paper six cups of coffee and you go home and that seemed to work well with the metrics of Jerry's is comedy and so that became the tempo of the seinfeld theme in general a few other musical elements were used to emphasize punch lines and other key moments. There was some horns in Vaudeville. When someone told a joke there'd be a rim shot? Will my music kind of serve the oral space of that so the horns would accentuate the end of jokes in the end end of the monologue itself. Let's listen to the opening monologue from the episode the mango notice. How the musical elements ebb and flow to match? Jerry's delivery seedless watermelon what an invention scientists are working on this. I mean other signs devote their lives fighting cancer AIDS heart disease. No I'm focusing on melon. Oh sure thousands of people are dying needlessly but this that's gotTa stop to try and pick a wet one up off the floor. It's almost impossible. I'm devoting my life to that so I guess if they can get rid of the seeds. The Rhine is going next. What do we need that for? Get the Ryen. They're not GONNA stop until they're making the ground ready to eat. Fruit cups growing the idea of having to recreate a recording of the theme. Every every episode was a new concept. I treated it like Lego music. These were elements that could be modular. Modular Lee manipulated to fit the individual timings in the overall length of each monologue. I knew that if this show show win anywhere I was going to have to recreate music. Bespoke for each monologue and so he did to score an episode. Jonathan would watch and rewatch every scene playing along on his keyboard to what was happening on screen. They had to be done to picture. So that the timing's would be right and so that I could maybe use some of his choreography. Sometimes he would do things with his hands or his head. That would give me musical. Instruction the music wasn't just customized for the monologues but also for the unique transitions between scenes like going from the terminal to the plane in the episode called the airport or from the cafe. Jerry's apartment in the gum woman. The gang ends up in a sleepy Massachusetts town in the finale This level of music customization was completely unheard of in Hollywood most. TV shows have one main theme song and a handful of filler tracks. That get reused over and over but on Seinfeld every single episode is unique. It would've saved them tons of time and effort to do things the normal way but that perfectionism is exactly what makes Seinfeld feel so polished even today but the main theme only scratches is the surface of Jonathan's work on Seinfeld as the show progressed. Jonathan got to play around with a wide range of musical genres and tropes these unique tracks underscore. Some of Seinfeld's most hilarious Larionov and memorable scenes. That's coming up after the break. The sound you're hearing right now is the sound of my own personal sonos system calibrating L. happens with the SONOS APP in smartphone. At the end I get to hear this glorious sound. That sound means. My sonos system has been fully calibrated and tuned to to the room. I'm standing in. Look it's that time when everyone. Everyone is making resolutions for the New Year so held out an easy resolution that I know will make your year better upgrade the listening experience in your life this year with a great sound of Sonos. If you've always dreamed about having a top notch home theater Sonos is the perfect solution. Setup is a breeze and the speaker sound absolutely incredible once you hear the crystal clear ear sound. You'll realize what you've been missing out on compared to your other. TV speakers is also super easy to add more speakers later on so you can upgrade at anytime. Many sonos speakers even have the voice control built right in. It's perfect for playing podcasts. Or Music while you cook in the kitchen because I'm obsessive. I personally use sonos speakers all over my house and I use them every every day but so does isn't just for the home. They recently launched another groundbreaking speaker. It's called the Sonos move and it's a portable smart speaker. You can bring with you wherever you go. It's waterproof and has up to ten hours of battery life so it's ready for almost any adventure and as I just demonstrated Sonos even built in automatic tuning technology to optimize is the sound for whatever environment you're in you'll be amazed at the positive impact quality speakers can have in your life so make your world sound better with Sonos go to Sonos who knows DOT COM to learn. More this episode's mystery sound is sponsored by Sonos the wireless sound system for brilliant. Sound anywhere her here. It is it again if you think you know what that sounders this let us know at the web address. Mystery Dot Twenty K.. Dot Org if you get it right you'll be entered to win one of our world famous Super Soft Twenty Thousand Hertz. T shirts stick around to the the end of the show to hear the reveal of last episode's mystery sound when creating the music of seinfeld composer. Jonathan Wolf took a revolutionary approach for each episode he built a music around Jerry's opening and closing monologues and added unique transitions between scenes. This means that no two episodes are alike. Even the bass sound itself has changed over the course of the show. The SEINFELD old base progressed evolved. In fact there are multiple seinfeld basis throughout the show. It became a thing around my office for my staff to leave me gift samples to be into Seinfeld accused. It made it more fun for Seinfeld. Connoisseurs they note took POW the Seinfeld based sound change from season to season and from episode episode. Sometimes as for the actual melodies the early season transition music tends to stay a lot closer to the melody of the main theme song. Like this in the later seasons the base fills get a lot wackier. The era also plenty of opportunities to branch out from the main theme depending on what the script called for about a week before an episode begins. Shooting shooting each production department receives a script so they can prepare wardrobe. Props set dressing my music. Editor would read the descript in database a to do list of music pieces and or on stage music assistance. That this episode. Sometimes it's necessary to pre produce music before they shoot the scenes for example. When there's on Camera Morris singing or dancing I would need to create the music recordings far enough in advance? So the other departments the actors dancers choreographer director camera the crew had time to prepare for the shoop for example I had create the instrumental tracks for Jason Singing. Believe it or not. George isn't at home in advance for playback during the audience. Shoot Ettelaat George at home. Veep Kramer's head banging metal bersell Rochelle the musical Kramer's photo shoot of a semi naked. George David also in post is the time to create underscore music that heightens dramatic or emotional scene or serves serves as a comedic device in the hot tub episode. Elaine wanders the cold nights streets upset about her writer's block doc. The music is at first worried and then at the end triumphant as she solves her Himalayan walking shoes assignment. All right my heartaches put my feet. My feet are resilient God I took off my heels and put on my. We're the sentimental music that plays when George and leader Gerry. Watch happy couples on the here and decide to get married On seinfeld cinematic action music with chasing's became Thang Jerry. JC Newman the cable. Guy Chasing Kramer in the geriatric bike gang chasing George. The German tourists chasing Kramer and that became a recurring Seinfeld. Comedy comedy tradition. I always scored the Seinfeld chases in post as if they were serious. Dramatic chases the same with Jerry's dream sequence Tarantino. You know asked death scene in the baby shower or in the frogger when Jerry runs from the locker you get the idea. There's these moments for me to do over the top silly movie underscore and and so there was music in pre production. There's music and post production and sometimes my duties were onset because of the fast paced filming schedule. Jonathan typically had just a single day to complete each episode in general for normal episode. I liked one full calendar day between receiving an episode and delivering finished music. It was a hectic schedule but all that work paid off opt Seinfeld became a smash hit and stayed that way all the way through its final season. The one thousand nine hundred finale had seventy six million viewers making it one of the most. I watched finales of all time. It's just such an interesting point in television history. And it's like working on Mary Tyler Moore Ores going back and you're done the Lucy show the TV show captures a wide enough audience. It becomes a shared memory for a whole generation. The show's theme song can be a huge part of that often. The theme not only reflects the show's sensibilities but also welcomes the audience by bridging the gap between the show set and the viewers yours living room but the cheers theme. Does that so well. Sometimes you you really feel welcome to that show because of the theme a TV theme like no other production element transport you into the world of the show itself Yawn TV themes are woven into the fabric of our personal experiences like the soundtrack of our lives. Familiar themes like Seinfeld serve as pop up cultural touchstones marking times and places in our lives for me. Those lifeline markers include themes like mission. Impossible Awesome Pink Panther L.. Bill Search for my kids. It's probably the friends theme song people hold warm and fuzzy connections to the TV themes in their memories For the millions of Seinfeld fans out there. The show's music will always hold a special place in their hearts. So what's took to work on something so monumental is great. I mean the thing with Jonathan was he'd been in the business five or six years longer than me as a a young guy I was looking to break in and learn the ropes and he was just so helpful he started many careers. Everybody who worked for him after after me and at the same time I was there has gone too big Hollywood careers and it's all because of his mentorship and his guidance so he was really a giving person he was jealous of the success he shared it. I'm happy that the seinfeld music became a unique identifying signature for the show it became Seinfeld's sonic brand and that satisfies me a lot that even apart from the show. Even when there's no picture to go with it may recognize it as being Seinfeld theme around Twenty Thousand Hertz is hosted by me Dallas Taylor and produced out of the studios of defacto sound a sound design team dedicated to making television film in game. Sound incredible find out more at defacto. SOUND DOT com. This episode was written and produced by Casey Emily. Then me Dallas Taylor with help from Sam snead. It was sounded by Soren Beijing. It was designed to Mix by Burger and Colin Varney special thanks to our guests. Jonathan Wolf and Steve Lack. Jonathan says he loves hearing from FANS THE FANS. Find me on my instagram facebook. It's easy to find me. My my handle is seinfeld music guy. So if you're listening to this and you want to reach out to me please do how respond and you can. And get in touch with Steve through his website. Steve Lack Dot Com. Finally I also love your feedback. 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