The theme music on Seinfeld definitely helped make it one of the best comedy series ever. Those bass lines coming in after a chaotic sequence were always the perfect segue through the TV series. Here’s a little knowcn fact: they were all improvised.
Every single one was composed by jazz bassist Jonathan Wolff, who was working as a session player in Los Angeles before getting the gig on Seinfeld. The idea was to match the music to Jerry’s opening monologues each episode, and since those joke would be different, even if you knew the pace of Seinfeld’s humour, the theme would be too.
“Occasionally I’d think ahead,” Wolff told Vice. “Not always. But in this case, I did think ahead, and I architected the music to be modularly manipulative for prospective monologues, knowing that that was going to come up.”
Wollf compares what he made to “LEGO music”, stating that it was all constructed to be interchangeable and flexible. “I chose to build this percolating rhythm, this New York groove, using the organic human sounds from my lips and tongue,” he explains. “So we’re already into a different species and genus of music. On TV at least. That bassline that some people may have noticed is so basic and sophomoric that it does not require meter, or four bars. It’s gonna stay together if I need to hold for a joke.”
Needless to say, that new form of music still holds up today. Little else sounds quite Seinfeld, a testament to Wolff’s creativity. Of course, it’d be hard for even the best thriller series and best drama series to do something so forward-thinking, but you never know. They did it in the ’80s, they can surely do it now.
Check out our lists of the best Netflix series and best comedy movies if you’d like more laughs.