Remembering Jack Lord

Hawaii Five-0 Music

Waimea Bay on the North Shore of O'ahu  (Webmaster)

It's not easy to discuss the music used during the twelve seasons of
Hawaii Five-0.  The people and the times changed drastically during those years. In the early seasons (1969-1974), for example,  life was influenced by the hippies, the Vietnam War, and the Watergate Scandal. After Mr. Nixon went home and one of Mr. Ford's teenagers had slipped past their Secret Service agents in order to go out on a traditional date (1975-1976), the times began to return to some semblance of normalcy, if it can be defined. By the end of the series (1977-1980), the panic was over, and life had settled down to a dull, peacetime roar. Mr. Reagan had been elected president, and the times seemed almost to return to those of the late 1940s through the early 1960s, when the Reagans had been young. Mrs. Reagan wore suits by Coco Chanel and gowns by Oleg Cassini, something that had been unheard of since Mrs. Kennedy moved to Georgetown after her husband's death.

Musically speaking, the hard-driving tempo of the Hawaii Five-0 theme song and the spaced-out and dissonant music heard in "Up Tight" (Season 1) mellowed, as well. By "We Hang Our Own" (Season 7), we were hearing western arrangements of the Five-0 theme song, and by "Number One With a Bullet" (Season 11), we were hearing Bee Gees disco music from the popular movie Saturday Night Fever. By 1980, the music had become more traditional and seemed to be caught somewhere between disco mania and the easy jazz of the post-World War II era.

The episodic themes heard in the later seasons often were composed by different musicians than those who had composed themes in the early seasons. Sometimes, their works were not fully appreciated by an audience that had been watching
Hawaii Five-0 since 1968, but they definitely reflected the mood and styles of the period.  Even then, however, a composition or episodic theme by Morton Stevens or Don B. Ray crept in, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Five-0 was still Five-0, even if the cast had changed from the Fab Four to Who-Are-These-People-And-What-Are-They-Doing-In-McGarrett's-Office-?

The Composers

 Twenty-three composers created episodic themes and interludes for Hawaii Five-0. Featured here are the three who dominated the scene, men whose work won Emmy Awards and nominations: Morton Stevens, composer of the theme, who won awards for the episodic themes for "A Thousand Pardons, You're Dead" (Season 2) and "Hookman" (Season 6); Don B. Ray, who served as music supervisor for the series and was nominated for an Emmy Award for the episodic theme for "Nightmare in Blue" (Season 6); and Bruce Broughton, who was nominated for an Emmy Award for the episodic theme for "The $100,000 Nickel" (Season 6).


Morton Stevens

Morton Stevens was born Morton Aaron Suckno in Newark, New Jersey, on January 30, 1929. Little has been published about Stevens’ early life, except that he studied composition at the Julliard School in New York and trained under composer Jerry Goldsmith, with whom he often collaborated. 

In the 1950s, Stevens was hired to work as Sammy Davis, Jr.’s arranger and conductor. That gave him the break he needed to begin composing for network television. He composed episodic themes for Tales of Wells Fargo, Checkmate, Thriller, The Virginian, Wagon Train, and Dr. Kildare, among others.

In 1965, Stevens became director of music for CBS West Coast operations. He composed episodic themes for The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Gunsmoke, and The Wild, Wild West, among others. He was nominated for Emmy Awards for his episodic themes for Gunsmoke (“Seven Hours to Dawn,” 1966 and “Major Glory,” 1968). He was also nominated for a Grammy Award for his episodic theme for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1966). 

In 1967, Stevens composed the theme of the pilot of Hawaii Five-0. He went on to compose episodic themes for forty-five episodes during the twelve years Five-0 was in production. The theme was nominated for an Emmy Award (1969), while the episodic themes for “A Thousand Pardons – You’re Dead” (1970) and “Hookman” (1974) won Emmy Awards. His Five-0 cue known as “Call to Danger” was used for the CBS Special Presentation jingle from the mid-1970s until it was retired in 1990.

He would go on to be nominated for Emmy Awards for his compositions for Police Woman (1975, 1977), the five-part mini-series, Wheels (1978), Masada (1981), and The 62nd Annual Academy Awards (1990). 

After Five-0, Stevens composed the theme of the pilot of M Station: Hawai`i (1980) and episodic themes for Code Red (1981), Twilight Zone (1985), and Matlock (1986), among others.

Stevens served on the board of governors of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He was arranging music for John Williams and the Boston Pops at the time of his death. He passed away of pancreatic cancer in Encino, California, on November 11, 1991, and was survived by his wife, Annie Stevens (1931-2014) and two children, Lisa and Mark. 



Don B. Ray

Don Brandon Ray was born in Santa Maria, California, on June 7, 1926. He studied at UCLA and California State University.

In 1956, he went to work for CBS, where he composed music for the G. E. Theater, Playhouse 90 in New York and for Twilight Zone, Wild Wild West, among others, in California.

In 1969, he began composing for Hawaii Five-0. In all, he composed music for thirty-four episodes. His episodic theme for “Nightmare in Blue” won an Emmy nomination for best dramatic score in 1974.

In addition to composing for television, Ray served as music director of the College of the Arts Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, where he specialized in new and rediscovered music. He also worked as a staff conductor for CBS and the Los Angeles Bureau of Music and as a music critic for the Los Angeles Free Press. He created the Film Scoring Program at UCLA’s Department of the Arts and published the Orchestral Handbook, a reference book for orchestral composers. He has guest lectured at the University of London and for the Irish Educational Authority.

After retiring from CBS in 1986, Ray turned to composing concert music. His “Homestead Dances,” a collection of old-fashioned waltzes and fiddle tunes, premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Don Ray passed away on April 17, 2005, in Santa Monica, California.


Bruce Broughton

Bruce Harold Broughton was born on March 8, 1945, in Los Angeles, California. Through the years, he has written music for television, movies, classical concerts, and even computer games!

Broughton composed for seventeen episodes of Hawaii Five-0 between 1973 and 1979. His composition for “The $100,000 Nickel” (Season 6) earned him an Emmy nomination for “Best Music Composition for a Series, a Single Program of a Series.”

Broughton has won a record ten Emmy Awards for such televisions productions as HBO’s Warm Springs and Dallas, and has been nominated for another thirteen Emmy Awards, including his nomination for Five-0. He also has been nominated for a Grammy Award and an Academy Award: Silverado was the first movie for which he ever composed. 

Despite his astounding success composing for the media, his first love is composing concert music. He has composed for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the US Air Force Band, among many. In addition, he has conducted Sinfonia of London and the compositions for a recording of Bernard Herrmann for Jason and the Argonauts.

He leads or sits on the boards of numerous musical, television, and motion picture organizations.. In addition, he has taught film composition at the University of Southern California and has guest-lectured at UCLA.

Episodes and Composers

Arrangements of the Theme Song



Throughout the 12 seasons of Hawaii Five-0, we hear interesting arrangements of the theme. Compiling a list of them and finding effective descriptions will take some time and effort, but I'll give it a go. The following will give us a start:

*  We hear an interesting arrangement of the theme in "Cocoon" (Pilot) as McGarrett drives to see the port captain and is tailed by intelligence. The melody is smoother than in the standard arrangement, yet the beat is a driving one. At the end of the scene, the music intensifies. (Timer 36:00-40:00)

*  An allusion to the theme is heard in "A Stranger in Our Own Land" (Season 1) as McGarrett pulls up at the airport following Nathan Manu's murder. (Timer 2:50)

*  As McGarrett drives to the Kapali home, again in "A Stranger in Our Own Land" (Season 1) to meet Chin, we hear a few bars of the theme played as it was during the scene in "Cocoon" when Intelligence was tailing McGarrett, except that it has a heavy bass here. (Timer 22:00)

*  A quiet and drawn-out arrangement of the theme is backed up (and virtually overwhelmed) by a plucked bass in "No Blue Skies" (Season 1), as Nimo Linkoa (Clayton Naluai) creeps along the roof at the W&W Distributors building, intending to shoot Danno. (Timer 30:15-31:30)

*  As Scene 1 of "The Ways of Love" (Season 1) opens, we hear a dark and foreboding arrangement that seems to be played by a bassoon.

* Also in "The Ways of Love," as Danno arrives at the beach park, where the x-ray technician's body has been discovered, we hear a lighter arrangement that seems to be played by a clarinet with a double bass and another instrument providing the melody. 

*  Trumpets backed with drums playing a calypso beat are heard in "Forty Feet High and It Kills" (Season 2) as McGarrett takes Victoria Lochner to see the surfers just before the tsunami alert is issued. (Timer 7:37-8:00)

* Woodwinds backed by a calypso beat are heard in the opening scene of "The Bomber and Mrs. Moroney" (Season 3).

* A dissonant arrangement with multiple instrumentations (brass play the melody while a bassoon plays the rhythm; brass play the melody while a piano plays the rhythm; French horns play the melody while a piano plays the rhythm) is heard during McGarrett's examination in "The Ninety-Second War," Part 1 (Season 4).

* French horns play the melody while heavy brass provide a hard beat as the golf carts enter Diamond Head Crater in "The Ninety-Second War," Part 2 (Season 4).

*  At the Tracking Center, we hear the same arrangement (brass melody with piano rhythm) as we will hear more fully in "While You're At It, Bring In the Moon" (Season 4).

*  As Morgan's henchmen drive McGarrett to the yacht in "While You're At It, Bring In the Moon" (Season 4), we hear brass melody with piano rhythm. (Timer 3:50)

* Brass plays the melody, while double bass plays the beat in "Tricks Are No Treats" (Season 6). ADD DESCRIPTION AND TIME

*  A peppy arrangement is heard in a French horn solo with a tuba providing the rhythm in "A Gun for McGarrett" (Season 7). (Timer 14:55-15:30)

* A Western arrangement is heard in "We Hang Our Own" (Season 7) (Timer 31:27-32:43).

* A Western arrangement is heard in "A Killer Grows Wings" (Season 8). A short piece is heard as McGarrett drives up to Kate Holbrook's house for the first time (Timer 17:30-17:55). A longer piece is heard as Five-0 arrests Vadney after he leaves Kate's house the second time (Timer 37:00).

*  A variation on the calypso arrangement is heard as McGarrett goes to Marcia Bissell's room at Tripler Army Hospital in "Murder - Eyes Only" (Season 8) (Timer 20:20-20:35).

*  A sad arrangement is heard in "Wooden Model of a Rat" (Season 8), when McGarrett learns that he has been indicted for the theft of Japanese netsuke (Timer: 44:07-44:25).

*  An Asian arrangement is heard in "Nine Dragons" (Season 9) as the scene shifts to Five-0 temporary headquarters in the Territorial Office Building (Timer: 26:27-26:40).

*  A jazz arrangement is heard in "Assault on the Palace" (Season 9) as the re-enactment soldiers arrive at the palace (Timer: 17:50-17:53).

*  An arrangement with a French horn carrying the melody over a percussion-driven rhythm is heard in "To Kill a Mind" (Season 9) as McGarrett moves in to arrest Emil Raddick (Mel Ferrer) and his henchmen (Timer: 47:10-47:45).  A mellower arrangement with the same orchestration is heard as the episode comes to a close (Timer: 47:52-49:00).