Morning Music: Barney Miller Theme

Barney MillerWhen it comes to television themes, I most like Barney Miller. It was written by two veterans of television: Jack Elliott and Allyn Ferguson. Like most of these, the music is simple. In this case: very simple. It’s basically just a vamp on a single (dominant-7) chord with that unrelenting four bar bass line. The whole line is then transposed up and then back down. After the instruments come in, the bass gets pretty funky, improvising around and beyond that line. There is also a bridge, of course.

It is also the case that the show Barney Miller is great. I always find it interesting to go back and watch shows that I liked when I was much younger. Often, they really don’t hold up that well. But Barney Miller is as good as anything on television now. It isn’t just that the humor still works. The show has a remarkable amount of humanity — both regarding the officers and the criminals. I’m sure I could get a thousand words out of discussing how it has a more advanced understanding of crime than most political pundits.

Anyway, here is the song in its three minute version:

6 thoughts on “Morning Music: Barney Miller Theme

  1. Big Band with some funk. I usually hate sit-coms but I loved Barney Miller. Hal Linden and crew were laid back and cool. I think the success of any TV show or movie is getting us to care about the characters and forget we are watching a staged show. Barney Miller did that for me.

    • Exactly: big band with some funk. And the series was great. It seems like such an easy thing to do. But apparently not. It also had a great cast.

    • It’s a great part. I wish I knew who it was. Not that it matters. But it is the kind of thing that inspires people to learn the bass. And then they realize how ridiculously hard it is.

      • Bass player on the 2 sessions was Chuck Berghofer, incredible session player for many years…still playing. My dad wrote tune, when in his partnership with Elliott, and Berghofer came up with bass line. There are several versions on original sessions that we are planning on releasing. Thanks, Jillian Ferguson, President Allyn Ferguson, Inc

        • Cool! I’d love to hear that. I’ll look for it. Something was lost when music became all created on a computer. Even after the sounds were good, there is no synergy. I’ll bet there is a lot of music from that period just sitting around that people would love.

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