Erkki Pekkilä: "Connotative Meanings and Advertising Music" (7/11)


In this respect, some go so far as to see music videos and hit tunes as a sub-genre of jingle or advertising music. Huron (1989, 571), for instance, claims that in the Top-40 music the musical "hook" works in the same way as music behind the advertising tune. When the commercial uses music to make itself more memorable, the hit tune uses a hook. The means of the hook are the same as the means of advertising music: borrowing from other tunes, associations, plagiarism, and the use of such musical gestures as timbre, rhythm etc. With these techniques people try to create authority, credibility, when a certain guitar sound may denote, say, Jimi Hendrix. In this sense music-laden commercials can be seen as a paradigm for all such music.

Music videos and commercials may be very closely related. This may in part be due to the fact that each genre imitates the other. In the music video we may play upon consumer culture and "brandnames," while in the commercial we may -- consciously or unconsciously -- imitate the music video.

Ordered music

The one factor that distinguishes music videos from commercials may be the "artistic" element. Although some commercials (for instance Levi-Strauss jeans ads) are, without doubt, artistic, commercials and advertising music are nevertheless basically functional, products made on the basis of a commission.

In this setting the role of the music maker is subordinate (see for instance Young and Young 1977). Although the music maker may have his ideas and wishes, he must in the last instance make music on the basis of what the commissioner and advertising agency want him to do. Instead in the hit parade tunes and music videos -- although they are calculated -- the authors have some kind of artistic freedom in the making of music.

The artistic side of commercial music, without doubt, limits the fact that advertising business at least in the United States is very far industrial action. Generally the making of a commercial takes place so that a company hires an advertising agency. The advertising agency does not make the commercial itself but hires as independent producers, of which one takes care of the shooting and another of the sound. The producer works with many commercials at the same time. The time-table is very fast since the commercial is made ready in 3-7 days from the briefing. After the shooting the producer of the soundtrack get as first a copy of the commercial and so called "storyboard", where there is the manuscript of the commercial. He gets also a demographic description of the fact to what target audience the commercial is aimed at. Here there is usually the gender and age and sometimes also the colour in the commercial meant for instance for the black people. The target group affects the choose of the music. The producer - if he is not himself the composer - hires a music maker. The election takes place on the basis of what kind of music is needed. After a few days the composer comes back with the melody and if it is good enough, they also call the arranger who hires the musicians and makes a reservation for the studio time. In the music recordings there is with somebody from the advertising agency and a "copywriter" (Young and Young, 1977). It is probably clear that in this kind of music making you do not operate with musical or "intrinsic" meanings but with social meanings. It is not very important what takes place on the sound-track on a musical sense: What kind of melody-line, what chord-progressions, what invention, is there? Instead, it is important that there be traits in the music that evoke some cultural meanings that attract certain target group like young, old, men and women.

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AS/SA Nº 4, Article 6 : Page 7 / 11

© 1998, AS/SA

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