What Was the Source of the Iconic ‘Law & Order’ Theme Song?

Almost everyone has heard the legendary theme song melody from any Law & Order episode.
It has a way of getting stuck in your mind, and before you realize it, you’re singing along to it all day.
But where did the tune originate?
Continue reading to discover out.
Dun dun.

The podcast ‘Squadroom’ from ‘Law & Order: SVU’ is now available.

Peter Scanavino and Mariska Hargitay

Peter Scanavino and Mariska Hargitay |
GC Images/Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin

Squadroom is the official podcast of Law & Order: SVU.
It was developed by NBC and Wolf Entertainment, which is owned by Dick Wolf.
Anthony Roman presents the podcast, which provides listeners with a wealth of information on the program.

Mike Post discusses the origins of the phrase “Dun dun.”

The origins of the series’ theme song melody are revealed in episode 15.
Mike Post, the song’s composer, discusses the song’s origins.
While working on Hill Street Blues, Post and Dick Wolf met.
As a writer, Wolf was employed.
They had a ‘working relationship,’ as they put it.

Post gets a phone call from Wolf a few years after working on the series, inviting him to meet him for a drink.
Wolf talked with him about his ambition for a classic cop-and-lawyer drama unlike any other on television.

Post felt it was a “fantastic” and “amazing” concept.
He immediately wanted to be a part of it, so they set to work.

I’m sure it’s excellent, and he’s sure it’s good.
It’s excellent.
He was also quite short.
He also provided excellent guidance.
I’m talking about simply short lines that describe what he was aiming to do as a filmmaker.
Post stated, “Really nice direction.”
“I’m finished now.”
I’ve completed everything.
Dick answers the phone when it rings.
‘How are things going?’
And it’s like we’re done the day before.
So, I’ve been done for a week, right?
‘Hey, I decided to date stamp some scene alterations,’ he said.
‘Oh, so you’re simply going to print something up on the screen, with the time and date and where we are?’ I said.
‘Right,’ he says.
So I’ll need a sound to accompany it.’

The signature sound was worked on in post.
It was just on the verge of being sequenced with samples, noises, and music.”

Okay, we’ve discovered that.

Then he heard the sound of a hammer striking an anvil.
They then went into the studio and created some drum sounds.
They put together a few noises and blended them, but it wasn’t enough.
He then discovered a group of 100 guys pounding on a wooden floor in Japan.
Dick Wolf enjoyed it when they merged the sound with what they already had.

Mike Post then went to work on the ‘Law & Order’ theme music.

They desired a tone that embodied New York for the theme tune.
The sound came to Post, and he put it together with his new guitar and a clarinet in the backdrop.
Wolf loved it just the way it was, and it was an immediate success with series fans.
The classic theme music that characterizes the series for what it is is familiar to most people.


When people discuss about the popular TV police program Law and Order, someone needs to perform the first note of the theme song: “dun dun dun dun daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
It’s that well-known, and that strongly linked to the program.

It’s not by chance.
Mike Post, a well-known composer, created it.
Mike Post is one of the few persons in the music industry who has had such an impact on TV theme tunes.

Do you recall “Hill Street Blues”?
In 1981, it received two Grammy Awards for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and Best Instrumental Composition.
Post’s songs are not only appropriate for the programs for which they were written, but they are also excellent, catchy, and memorable enough to chart on the radio.
This was the situation with “The Hill Street Blues Theme.”
“The Greatest American Hero,” a song by Post, reached #1 on the Pop charts.
In the early 1980s, both were popular.

Mike Post has a knack for writing fantastic music for police series, including The Rockford Files, Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, Law and Order…and a slew of others.

Post’s resume is very impressive:

“[Mike] Post is recognized as the youngest musician to be hired as musical director for a television show, having done so on The Andy Williams Show in 1969, at the age of 24.”
Prior to that, Post worked mostly as a session musician for a number of prominent musicians, including Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, and Sonny and Cher, for whom he played guitar on the 1965 hit “I Got You Babe.”
He was also a successful producer and arranger, receiving a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement on Mason Williams’ ‘Classical Gas’ while he was just 22 years old.

Post started his career in Los Angeles with Kenny Rogers’ country-rock band First Edition.
He started writing music for television in the late 1960s alongside Pete Carpenter, a trombonist, arranger, and veteran of television theme score.
Post and Carpenter initially collaborated with producer Stephen J. Cannell in 1973, on the theme for Cannell’s police drama Toma.
However, the Rockford Files theme was their first big break.
The playful synthesizer tunes appeared to fit James Garner’s Rockford’s sardonic demeanor well.
Post earned his first Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement in 1975 for the score, which cemented both reputations.

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