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My 10 Best MIDI TV Themes
One thing I like the most about the Internet is the sheer volume of MIDI music that can be downloaded for free from various places. Additionally, the variety of MIDI music available on the web is nearly limitless. They range from classical to pop to rock music. Think of any song or music and chances are you’ll find one lurking somewhere on the web. Thank you to the musicians who have endeavored to arrange this music and upload it to the Internet.
My favorites are of course the wide selection of movie and TV themes available in MIDI format. Ever since we were little boys, my brothers and I have loved to hum, sing, or play our favorite TV or movie themes. We’ve even played this game where one of us hums or plays the theme and we guess which TV show or movie it was taken from.
Most of the themes I will present here are 1980s classics. doing the kind of shows I grew to love growing up – which is the 1980s. (I was really bummed out when they stopped airing McGyver.) Of course they tried to revive some of the classic TV shows, like Star Trek (I lost count of the versions they did), but I thought none could top the glory of the classics and I totally lost it all interest in new releases. Another reason was that as my thinking started to mature, I became interested in shows that had more mature and intellectual themes such as LA Law, which has theme songs that I don’t find appealing under MIDI form.
So much for the nostalgia, and let’s start looking at each of my featured TV themes. I realized it was hard to narrow down my choices to 10. But after careful consideration, I finally did it. Sorry for those whose favorites I didn’t include. But then these are my personal choices.
- Knight Rider – Do I need to say more?. Admittedly, most of us who were already aware before 1986 know KITT, a very sophisticated autonomous car, piloted by none other than David Hasselhoff, alias Michael Knight. In fact, the connection between Hasselhoff and this show impressed me so much that until now, I still call it Knight Rider. The theme music was composed by Glen Larson and Stu Philips. The arrangement shown here was by Don Peake who did the music for the show when Stu Philips left the show. This is the arrangement I learned. It’s a more electronic sound (as opposed to Philips’ symphonic style), which I think is a more appropriate style for the high tech of the series.
- Battlestar Galactica – As a child, I was fascinated by science fiction series. The first intergalactic series I can remember was Battlestar Galactica. Although I don’t quite remember its plot and don’t remember any of the episodes (all I remember is the great battleship gliding through the vastness of space), its theme song, with its set of horn sounds, still resonates in my mind. This arrangement I uploaded looks a lot like the original theme.
- Star Trek, the next generation – I considered myself lucky to have been able to watch the revival of the Star Trek series on September 28, 1987. Although I was able to watch reruns of the original series, I didn’t love it as much as Next Generation. The reason is that the new series has much better special effects. And of course, I love the majestic, marching sound of its theme song.
- Danger – I love watching game shows. Some of the many shows I’ve come to love are The Prize is Right, Wheel of Fortune, Name that Tune, Deal or No Deal, Family Feud, and of course Jeopardy. As a student, I used to enter (and sometimes win) inter-school quiz competitions. That’s why I loved Jeopardy and its theme music. The theme presented here is the “Think!” music, played during the final danger when candidates write their final answer. Interestingly, it lasts exactly 30 seconds, the time allotted to competitors. “Think!” (written by Merv Grifin as “A Time For Tony” as a lullaby for his son Tony) was first performed in 1964 when the original Jeopardy debuted (didn’t know Jeopardy was that old). When Jeopardy was revived in 1984, the electronic version of “Think!” was used as a theme. However, the original is still used in the Final Jeopardy round.
- Perfect strangers – I had vague memories of the sitcoms I watched as a child, especially Different strokes and Mork and Mindy. But none of them have been etched in my mind as much as the antics of Balki Bartokomous and Larry Appleton in perfect stranger. I looked forward to every episode, and each one is sure to make your stomach ache with laughter. I felt sad when they stopped airing it in 1993. Sitcoms like Friends has never captured my interest since Perfect strangers ended. Equally memorable was the show’s theme titled Nothing’s gonna stop me now written by Jesse Frederick and Bennet Salvay, and starring none other than David Pomeranz. I consider it one of the most inspiring TV themes I’ve ever heard (with lyrics like: Stand on the wings of my dream, Ascend and descend on the wings of my dream…) The vocal version of the song is far superior and better listened to than the instrumental version (MIDI) available here. But hey, this MIDI version is enough to give you an idea of the melody of this piece.
- Doogie Howser MD – It was in my early teens when Doogie Howser aired. (1989 – 1993) Naturally, I grew to love TV comedy-drama because it tackled teenage issues. Yes, Doogie Howser was a genius (a 16-year-old doctor), but he lives a very normal teenage life, thanks to his friend Vinnie Delpino, a typical teenager, who keeps him grounded in life outside of his profession. As a young musician, I was also drawn to the show’s theme song. Interestingly, the theme song features the YAMAHA DX-7 synthesizer sound that was popular in the mid to late 1990s. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a MIDI version that closely resembles the original. Are there only a few musicians who are also Doogie Howser fans? (One of these days I might post my own take on the Doogie Howser theme here. I remembered during my high school days that I became instantly popular at my school just by performing the Doogie Howser theme.)
- X files – “The truth is out there”, “Don’t trust anyone”, “I don’t want to believe”. These are the slogans featured in X-files – a show that tackles paranormal phenomena, distrust of government, conspiracy theories and belief in extraterrestrial life. The enigmatic sound of the X Files theme song (featured here) accurately captures the mysterious nature of the series.
- MacGyver – Again, anyone who developed a conscience before 1992 (the year the series ended) knows MacGyver, a laid-back and extremely resourceful secret agent, played by Richard Dean Anderson. We’re in awe of how MacGyver escaped dire situations just by using simple, ordinary everyday things, and his most trusted Swiss army knife. He was so well known in this field that we sometimes say the phrase “we managed to get out of a situation”. Although more recently the Mythbusters (another favorite show of mine) tried to test some of the MacGygers tactics and found that some, like the ultralight bamboo plane, plastic bags and cement mixer engine, are completely wrong (but that’s another story and outside the main topic of this blog). With a popular show comes a popular theme song. I still remember how the girls freaked out when I performed the MacGyver theme at my high school. A few anecdotes: McGyver’s first name is Angus. Teri Hatcher appeared on the show as Penny Parker. (I knew it. A quiz show was wrong when it said Hatcher’s first television appearance was in Lois and Clark).
- The simpsons – As a child, I loved cartoons. But when I got into teenage life and started getting interested in them, The Simpsons came into the picture. It was a new kind of anime series, mostly addressing more mature issues not typical of anime. It was the first animated sitcom aimed at adults. Needless to say, The Simpsons has become so popular that it’s now America’s longest-running sitcom and longest-running American animated program. Its main theme song is equally interesting. Have you noticed that Liza’s saxophone solo (aside from Bart’s blackboard lines and couch scene) is different from show to show? Another anecdote: did you know that Homer’s annoyed growl “D’oh!” has been adopted into the English lexicon?
- Impossible mission – Last on my list, but definitely not least, is the Mission Impossible Theme song. It was composed by Lalo Schrifrin. The version shown here was from the 1966 show. It was given a fresh, modern arrangement when the show was revived in 1988. The movie version of the Mission Impossible theme has an even more powerful arrangement. So while the Mission Impossible series as well as the movies (although I didn’t like the way they messed up the IMF crew) were very successful, so it’s the theme song that’s widely regarded as one of the most iconic TV themes of all time.
That wraps up my list of my top 10 TV MIDI themes. I hope you enjoyed downloading these musics and brought back good memories from the past.
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