When Dick Wolf’s smash hit series Law & Order first premiered in 1990, he and those working with him on the show knew they had a hit on their hands.
But, as the pilot episode of the series was coming together, Dick Wolf took a second look; feeling there was something important missing.
What was missing? A unique and distinguishing sound effect to apply to the show as it switches between scenes in the police and courtroom procedural drama.
Some call it a “chung chung,” type of sound. Others describe the iconic scene separator as a “doink doink,” or a”dun dun.”
Sometimes the creators define the recognizable Law & Order sound as more of a “ching ching” or “the clang.”
Regardless, however you describe it, the sound is certainly distinguishable as a one-of-a-kind Law & Order fixture.
And, Mike Post, the man who was tasked with creating the sound at the request of Dick Wolf, is certainly thankful he came up with it. Why? Because he gets a royalty each time it is played.
According to Looper, Mike Post has always found the fascination Law & Order fans seem to have for the sound to be a bit “odd.”
But, since he strikes a payday each time it’s used, Mike Post certainly isn’t complaining!
‘Law & Order’ Composer Pulls Out Some Creative Tricks For Iconic Sound
Law & Order creator Dick Wolf and composer Mike Post first met while working on the 1980s procedural drama Hill Street Blues.
Shortly after Hill Street Blues ended, Wolf and Post came together to discuss a unique idea Dick Wolf had for a new drama series.
According to Looper, Mike Post once described Dick Wolf’s idea as a series in which “the first half-hour we will do the crime, and the bad guys, and the cops. And the second half-hour we’d do the prosecution, and the trial and the defense, and do the lawyers.”
Post loved the idea and was on board almost immediately.
The series found its footing, and the pilot was a go. Until Dick Wolf turned to Post to help him find the perfect sound for him to pair with the scene changes. A longtime composer in the business, Mike Post had plenty of audio within his library to use for this task. But, he knew it had to be a unique sound. So, he got creative.
Mike Post combined a variety of different sounds to come up with the perfect “clang,” or “doon doon” or whatever we want to call it.
But, Post says, the strangest one he used is certainly an unexpected one.
As it turns out, the audio is, in part created by the sound of 500 Japanese men; stamping their feet on a wooden floor.
“It was sort of a monstrous Kabuki event,” Mike Post has said of the sound.
“Probably one of those large dance classes they hold,” the composer adds.
They did this whole big stamp,” Post continues. “Somebody went out and sampled that.”
This sound was also combined with the sounds of a jail door slamming, a hammer hitting an anvil, as well as some drums.