Recreating the theme from Stranger Things

Season 3 of Stranger Things was just released, so we decided to celebrate by recreating the series’ timeless theme song.

The theme was written and composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the electronic band Survive. It features a variety of popular synthesizers from the 80s, which perfectly reflects the nostalgic vibe of Stranger Things.

The theme is at a tempo of 84 BPM and in the key of E minor. However, the main synth line is an arpeggiation of a C major 7th chord – this is the VI chord in the key (check out our in-depth analysis of this arpeggio here). This synth line acts as both the main melody and an ostinato, repeating itself throughout the entire track. Most of the forward momentum is provided by filter automation and shifting timbral layers.

How to recreate the theme from Stranger Things

For our recreation, we used an eclectic collection of synths spanning Serum, Parallels, and those included in Arturia’s V Collection.

Download the Ableton project file and follow along with our video tutorial, where we walk through how we produced our recreation of the Stranger Things theme step-by-step:

Below, we highlight the instruments that we used to recreate two particularly key sounds from the theme.

The synth arpeggio

The instrument we used for the main synth line is Arturia’s Sem V2, which is modeled after the Oberheim SEM series.

The synth bass

To recreate the bass, we used Arturia’s Prophet V, which appropriately emulates Sequential Circuits’ legendary Prophet 5.

The bassline jumps back and forth between a C and an E, which gives the sense of a chord change, even though the main arpeggio stays on the C major 7th chord. At one point, the bass drops down to a B to really heighten the theme’s tension (implying an imposing V chord).

While these two synths outline the core structure of the Stranger Things theme song, be sure to check out the video to see a more detailed walkthrough.

Do you have any favorite sounds from the Stranger Things theme song? Let us know in the comments below.

July 4, 2019

Nick Chen CX Lead @ Splice. Nick Chen is a producer / performer and educator known under the aliases “Enix” and “nickthechen.”