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Keys to creating an effective television theme song

Matthew puckett

Matthew puckett Credit: Getty

At a time when theme songs for television shows seem to be at their nadir, singer-songwriter Matthew Puckett is thriving.

He’s written the theme songs for “Boston Med” on ABC and “Gravity” on Starz, and his Fader 5 Music production company has created scores for film and music for television clients such as TLC and HBO.

amNY caught up with Puckett, who got his start playing in New York City:

How’d you get hooked up with producer Eric Schaeffer (creator of “Gravity,” among other projects)?
He found me at the Living Room. I’m not sure why he was there, but he saw me and picked up a CD. He’s such a fan of singer-songwriters, and he’s really loyal. He’s been very open to letting me write. … I love playing live. I think there’s a part of you that hopes you’ll reach someone, but that’s not the reason to do it.

What is the toughest part of writing music for TV?
Lyrics are always the hardest part, and so I write a lot of them. It’s a lot of revisions. Producers speak in completely nonmusical terms.

It seems like you’re serving two masters: yourself and the producers.
I found out very quickly that the most comfortable thing I can do is to let go of expectations. You’re serving the project — but they’re still getting a good song out of it. I’m not going to give them something that is not a potentially great song.

What’s your favorite television theme song?
The theme for “Jeopardy” — not only because it’s catchy and we all know it, but also because Merv Griffin wrote it by whistling it to the arranger. And he’s made millions from it.

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