Why ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ Brought the Composer from ‘New Orleans’ Back for New Show

by Matthew Memrick

When “NCIS: Hawai’i” needed a composer, they didn’t have to go far to find recently-canceled “NCIS: New Orleans” composer Tree Adams.

Adams said he came to “NCIS: New Orleans” three years after the show started. The show recently finished its seven-season run on May 23.

 “NCIS: Hawai’i” airs on Monday nights on CBS. The show also streams on the Paramount+ network. 

How ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ Composer Got His Start

The musician-composer said show producers were looking for someone to bridge the gap between Los Angeles (production office) and New Orleans (filming location). 

“They put together a shortlist of people,” Adams told Show Snob. “They received some demos, and I got called in for a meeting and essentially kind of won the bake-off.”

From there, Adams was somewhat of a “cultural emissary.” “NCIS: Hawai’i” producers Chris Silber and Jan Nash, who were with the New Orleans show, brought him over with new co-executive Matt Bosack. 

Adams created the “underscore” of the show, which means you may have heard his music during a car chase or a shootout and not even have known it.

Adams is no stranger to TV and movie music. He’s worked on “The 100”, “Californication,” “Lethal Weapon,” and “Perception.” In 2008, Adams landed an Emmy award nomination for his work on “Canterbury’s Law.”

According to one New Orleans TV interview, he was in the show playing with his band for a few episodes.

‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ Vs. ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ Music

Adams told the website that it’s mostly about instruments for both show’s music scores.

With “NCIS: New Orleans,” Adams said he used more of a bluesy approach with the music. The show used horns, band ensemble, bass guitar, tonal percussion, and drums to capture the sound of the Big Easy. 

Adams said “NCIS: Hawai’i” uses “a lot of Polynesian drums like an Ipu Heke, we’re using a bit of lap steel guitar, we use ukelele.” Adams said the show’s ukelele is more for tension and eerie scenes than typical Hawaiian mood music. 

Like New Orleans, the composer said show producers try to honor the show’s setting by playing local music. They try to “put some money in the pockets of local musicians and honor traditions.” 

Could There Be More NCIS Connections?

With “NCIS: Hawai’i” in its first season, the possibilities for a crossover episode with “NCIS: Los Angeles” are not likely. 

“We don’t make any connection to the other shows,” “NCIS: Los Angeles” co-creator Christopher Sibler said to TV Insider.

But you never know.

The 1980s TV show “Alf” had an unexpected crossover show with the 1960s TV show “Gilligan’s Island.” The show aired on Sept. 28, 1987. Bob Denver, Russell Johnson, Dawn Wells, and Alan Hale Jr. appeared in that episode.