Where Did the Iconic ‘Law & Order’ Theme Song Come From?

Practically everyone has heard the iconic theme song music to an episode of any Law & Order show. It has a way of getting stuck in your head and before you know it, you’re humming that song all day. But where did the song come from? Read on to find out. Dun dun.

‘Law & Order: SVU’ now has a podcast called ‘Squadroom’

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

Law & Order: SVU has its very own podcast called Squadroom. It was created by NBC and Dick Wolf’s company, Wolf Entertainment. Anthony Roman hosts the podcast where listeners can learn a variety of interesting things about the show.

Mike Post talks about where the ‘Dun dun’ came from

In episode 15, listeners learn where the theme song music for the series came from. Composer Mike Post talks about the origin of the song. Post and Dick Wolf met while working on Hill Street Blues. Wolf was hired as a writer. The two had a ‘working friendship.’

A few years after working on the series, Post receives a phone call from Wolf asking him to meet him for a drink. Wolf spoke with him about his idea for an iconic cop and lawyer drama unlike anything else on television to date.

Post thought it was a “great” and “fabulous” idea. He wanted to be a part of it almost instantly and they got to work.

“So, I do the pilot, and it’s good. I know it’s good, he knows it’s good. It’s just good. And he was really brief. And he gave me great direction. I mean just simple short sentences of what he was trying to do as a filmmaker. Really good direction,” Post explained. “So I’m all done. I’m all finished. The phone rings, it’s Dick on the phone. ‘Hey how’s it going?’ And this is like the day before we’re done. So I’ve been finished for a week ya know? And he said, ‘Hey I decided to date stamp some scene changes.’ I said, ‘Oh, so you’re gonna just print something out on the screen, time and a date, and where we are?’ He goes, ‘Right. So I need a sound to go with it.’”

Post got to work on the iconic sound. “So I came into the studio and I said, ‘Alright Dick needs me to do something to go with the little card that’s gonna come up with the place and the time for scene changes.’ It was just at the cusp of samples and sounds, and music all being sequenced.”

“We had a very extensive library of stuff, so we started looking around and I said, ‘Hey give me the sound of a jail door slamming.’ Ok we find that. Clang. It’s a bit iron kind of sound,” Post explained.

Then he listened to the sound of someone hitting an anvil with a hammer. Next, they made some drum noises in the studio. They took a few sounds together and combined them, but it wasn’t enough. He next found a sample of 100 men in Japan on a wood floor stomping. They combined that sound with what they already had and Dick Wolf loved it.

Mike Post then got to work on the theme song for ‘Law & Order’

For the theme song, they wanted a sound to really define New York. The sound came to Post, and with his new guitar, he put things together along with a clarinet in the background. Wolf really liked it the way it was and it became an instant hit with fans of the series. Most people have heard the iconic theme song that defines the series for what it is.

Law & Order is a unique show all its own and the music and theme really make it even better.