The theme music for Seinfeld is among the best-known in television history, but it’s also sort of … weird. With slap bass and the pops and breaths of a human voice, it’s a far cry from the melodies audiences are used to hearing as credits roll.
The music is the work of Jonathan Wolff—a composer who’s also written themes for Married... with Children, Saved by the Bell, Who’s the Boss?, The King of Queens, and Will & Grace, among others. In the above E! News interview from the '90s, Wolff explains how he wrote the earworm.
It all started with a call from Seinfeld himself, who said the show’s opening had a specific set of needs. It required a bit of music that could play in conjunction with the comedian’s stand-up sets, which would run at the beginning (and end) of each episode. With that, Seinfeld’s voice became the “lead instrument” in the composition, according to Wolff.
“I watched a lot of his comedy. I kind of took a meter from his delivery and made that the tempo of the Seinfeld theme and I built the rest of the instruments around him,” he says.
Wolff actually redid the theme for each episode to match the pacing of the individual monologues, which is why it winds in and out so seamlessly every time. For more on Wolff, check out this interview he did last year with Sideshow Podcast, and this one with Vice. It’s a good time to celebrate the show—Seinfeld became a regular running series this week in 1990.
Image credit: screenshot // seinfeldovenmitt.com