Morning Music: Mission: Impossible Theme

Lalo SchifrinToday we get to a song that I hadn’t even thought about when the week began, the Mission: Impossible theme by the great Argentine composer and bandleader Lalo Schifrin. There’s so much to love about it. First, of course, there is that great 5/4 time signature. But that’s not really what it is. It’s actually a measure of 6/8 time followed by a measure of 2/4 time. It’s a very common, but still somehow thrilling, device. I first noticed in the Buffalo Springfield song “Broken Arrow” (not that exactly, but the moving from a 6/8 to 2/4).

I love the horn arrangement — especially the really low ones which I’m thinking are trombones. But overall, you get the feel of what I normally associate with Henry Mancini. Flutes can be really effective in this kind of music, but they aren’t used that much. Mancini, of course, was very fond of them. The arrangement of the song was also done by Schifrin, which makes me keen to check out more of his work.

If you want, you can hear Lalo Schifrin do the song live with a full band. It’s wonderful. You can also hear the whole single. But I present the original because all the elements I’ve talked about are clearer:

3 thoughts on “Morning Music: Mission: Impossible Theme

  1. How could you not have thought about this theme?! This is one of the most iconic TV show themes ever.

  2. What she said. ;)

    This one’s right up there with “Dragnet,” which brought its theme over from radioas recognizable. Even people who don’t know anything about the show know where it’s from. (I remember as a kid, my neighborhood pals drove me crazy with, “Don, the dumb dumb” chants, but that’s another story.)

    I’d also put in a vote for the “Peter Gunn” theme, one of the few pieces I ever tried to learn on the piano as a kid. It’s all about the bass. ;)

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