Friday, February 15, 2008

The Law & Order Sound: The Doink Doink

You know you’re watching Law & Order when you hear that unmistakable sound. Dann Florek said in a commercial for the show that they call it “the doink doink.” I like that name much better than “chung chung” or some of the other names it’s been given, so doink doink it is.

The sound is usually heard when the show makes major scene change, and it’s accompanied by a black title card with white text describing the new scene. It could be my imagination, but I think in recent years they aren’t using the doink doink as much.

According to multiple sources, the sound was originally made to sound like a jail cell door slamming shut. According to, it "was created by combining close to a dozen sounds, including that of a group of monks stamping on a floor."

However they did it, it’s probably become one of the most recognizable sounds in TV history.

Enjoy the sound of the doink doink in this very short video below.

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Also, see my companion Law & Order site, These Are Their Stories.


Darla Goble said...

Do you have a link to the commercial when the cast was talking about the DOINK DOINK noise?

Chris Zimmer said...

Sadly, no. It aired on the USA Network several years back and they haven't posted it on line anywhere, at least not that I can see. I wish they would re-air it!

Unknown said...

The "Donk Donk" sound is a sound patch for the Roland D-50 Synthesizer. It has been around since 1984, 6 years before Law and Order premiered, so was defiantly not created for the show.
Monks stamping on the floor, LMFAO!!!

Chris Zimmer said...

@sobimcperformance - according to this more recent article, what you said is inaccurate; the monks story IS true:

Unknown said...

@Chris Zimmer. I have this sound on my Roland D50. Listen to 0:29. The sound designers of the show obviously used that sound. It has been tweaked with EQ and effects, but as the D50 sound came out way before the Law and Order show, it's not a reproduction. The producers of the show are just trying to claim fame for a sound that already excites. Not to mention, the D50 was used for most of the Synth parts of the original theme tune. That Electric Piano is Path 28 (Synthetic Electric) on the original factory internal sounds.

Unknown said...

Think about it, why would a new show spent hundreds of thousand of dollar creating an original sound for a very small part in a show, when they can use a very good sound from a pioneer synthesizer of it's time?

Unknown said...

The guy playing in the link is obviously not trying to show the note used in the show used, but unless your ears don't work, you will have to agree, it's the sound Law ans Order used.

Chris Zimmer said...

@sonicperformance - it is highly possible that tone from the D50 is a component of the Law ^& Order sound but the D50 sound alone is not the L&O sound. And yes, my ears work and I do have a music background. I think this is the art behind what Mike Post created - he took sounds that existed and made them into something new. I don't know what exactly was paid for the sound when it was initially created, but seeing that it is now such a part of TV history, it was worth every cent. Not many TV show sounds have the level of recognition that the L&O sound has. Mike Post is highly recognized for his TV themes so it makes sense that Dick Wolf would have gone to him for something distinctive and been willing to pay for it.

Bronze Tiger said...

Exactly right Chris. There is a finite frequency band in the world. Sounds will coincidentally sound like some others. The doink doink was intended to sound like a Judge's gavel & a Jail door closing. Doesn't mean thats what they used, much less some synthesizer.

Either way the doink doink is Iconic because of L&O