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Tuning InAmerican Narrative Television Music$
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Ronald Rodman

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195340242

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195340242.001.0001

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“Just the Facts, Ma'am”

“Just the Facts, Ma'am”

Musical Style Change and Markedness in the Police Drama

Chapter:
(p.225) 8 “Just the Facts, Ma'am”
Source:
Tuning In
Author(s):

Ron Rodman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195340242.003.0009

Using the notion of musical style topics (Agawu 1992, Ratner 1980, and Monelle 2000), this chapter traces the evolution of musical style and its effect on meaning in the genre of the police drama. Style topics are musical figures in a television score that convey meaning by referencing aspects of common knowledge and practices in society accessible to television viewers. After defining various style topics for television music, the chapter analyzes music from police dramas from the 1950s to the 1990s. Musical themes to such shows as Dragnet, M Squad, Adam‐12, Hawaii Five‐O, Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, NYPD Blue, and Homicide illustrate musical styles that depict a popular view of the police during each decade. The military march topic of the theme of Dragnet portrays the police as efficient, paramilitary enforcers of the law, while the rock topic for Miami Vice would be read as signifying cool cops.

Keywords:   genre, style topic, signification, police drama, Dragnet, M Squad, Adam‐12, Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, NYPD Blue, Mike Post

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