Stephanie Lewis - Music & Education Talks expert

Music in TV ads

What do you think about music used in TV ads?

In this video, Stephanie talks about music used in TV ads. Famous tunes like Carmina Burana by Orff, or Schubert's famous Ave Maria, are often used in TV ads to catch watchers' attention.

Released on December 6, 2017

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, again. Stephanie here, together with Virtual Sheet Music. And today's topic, light and fluffy in content, though at the same time based on repertoire, is about music used in TV adverts. This, in any case, is kind of topical, given the Christmas publicity overload we are currently subject to. Now, although I watch very little TV these days, ironically, on account of the irritating barrage of publicity, the advertising music of the distant past, funnily enough, still continues to haunt me. My subconscious is always stirred into action whenever I hear a particular piece of music and, try though I might, I always end up thinking about the particular product associated with the musical extract. So, here are my top three advert pieces that still get me going. Now, the links can be found in the video text below.

It may be the case that you know these pieces already, but I'm hoping you'll discover some new works to enjoy. Also, for a bit of fun, try and guess the product attached to the music, and then see if you're right by watching the actual adverts themselves, also in the video text below.

So let's get going. Number one, "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana." If ever there's been an overly used and abused piece, it's this one. Everyone knows it thanks to various sources. From film, for example, there's "Excalibur," "The Doors," and "G-Force." In adverts, you've got Carlton Draught beer and Domino's Pizza. In TV serials, it's anything from X Factor to "Survivor," without mentioning, of course, its use in video games, sports, award ceremonies, etc., etc. However, I came across Orff's piece as a little girl with a product that, even today, doesn't do much for me and which, in any case, I would never have cause to wear. What am I talking about? But before you try and guess the product, can we just think about Orff's incredible contribution to the media and remind ourselves of his and his wife, Gunild Keetman's, efforts in music education? Their system, whereby musicianship is encouraged through music, speech, and theater, is still widely used today. And whether it's your cup of tea or not, there's no denying its continuing importance in 21st-century music education. As for the text of "Carmina Burana," written largely in the 11th or 12th century, mostly in Latin with some Old German and Provençal, it centers around that depressing concept, Wheel of Fortune, you know, where happiness turns to despair and luck to misfortune, then likewise, grief to joy. So maybe not so depressing after all. Now, I could speak about how this cantata is rhythmically quite challenging, there are regular times signature changes, or that it has a massive orchestra, Orff seems to have gone wild with the percussion section, or that there seems to be little to no musical development. You know, it seems to be largely a string of great melodies throughout. However, I prefer to give you something much more important to think about, a phrase which appeared in the codex from which the original scripts emerged. "Regnabo, regno, regnavi, sum sine regno." "I shall reign, I reign, I have reigned, I am without a realm." Put me on hold.

Orff's O Fortuna Performance:

Orff's O Fortuna TV ad:

Now, the second piece today is Mascagni's intermezzo from the opera "Cavalleria Rusticana." Now, this has always brought a tear to my eye and, re-watching this advert, well, pathetically, I don't seem to have changed much. And with that comment, you've a clue as to the product the music is trying to sell. As for Mascagni's late Romantic, one-act opera, it was his absolute international hit. In Italy alone, before Mascagni's death in 1945, it had been performed a whopping 14,000 times. Well, with themes of cheating, betrayal, jealousy, and revenge, you know, average soap opera material, you can't really fail, can you? On the other hand, with the luscious, heart-wrenching melodies you're about to hear in the next link, clearly it wasn't just the storyline that worked. Put me on hold.

Mascagni's Intermezzo Recording:

Mascagni's Intermezzo TV ad:

And number three, we have Delibes' flower song from the opera "Lakmé." Now, Delibes wrote this opera towards the end of the 19th century to much acclaim. Set in the 19th-century India when the Brits were still greedily pillaging in the name of our so-called Empire, rather similar to multinational corporations today, don't you think? Lakmé is the daughter of an Indian Brahmin, a priest, who falls in love with a British officer. They have an illicit relationship until he comes to his senses, putting duty to the Empire before any other consideration, as you do. Lakmé commits suicide rather than live with the dishonor. End of story. Okay, not exactly a great role model for our girls today, but it has got some fantastic numbers in it, including the "Flower Song," which was used to sell... Well, I'll leave you to guess as you listen. Put me on hold.

Delibes' Flower Song Performance:

Delibes' Flower Song TV ad:

So, whilst I hope you enjoyed this video and the links below, both the original pieces and their usage in advertising, I'd like you to now have a think about what advertising pieces have stayed with you and then share your favorites. Please, put the links to the adverts, too, so we all have a chance to enjoy them. I'm really looking forward to hearing from you, so get writing. Cheers for now, bye.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

paul.plak * VSM MEMBER * on January 2, 2018 @2:38 pm PST
Hi Stephanie, I was really disappointed about the 3 ad videos and the very not so mundane products and services they represent. Actually the old spice video was followed by another one on youtube that much much funnier, with a playboy guy claiming the aftershave mad it possible to have a woman in every city. But your choice of music is truly beautiful, I certainly love them all and knew them previously.
Carmina is a great show and the music happily follows suit accordingly.
Mascagni was my favourite, and certainly this piece is even better known than the opera now.
And this duet in Lakmé is just an enchantment, those do girls did sing beautifully together.
Can't say I remember the good music choices in recent TV ads, I don't watch too much TV either, but I remember some truly bad ones, like Coca-Cola. One that's very good nowadays, is an add for Dacia Duster featuring Freddy Mercury and Queen's music in "another one drives a duster", and they have now started a new one, but that may not have come to Great Britain yet, with the music from Ghostbusters film, which of course features the blockduster car.
Stephanie Lewis - host, on January 3, 2018 @5:45 am PST
Hi there Paul. I'm afraid to say that my video choices were completely based on the music used and not as to whether the adverts themselves were any good. Indeed, it's the music that has stayed with me as, interestingly enough, upon re-watching these videos, I couldn't remember anything visually (clearly my subconscious works better for 'sound' rather than 'image' this the way most brains work?). You'll note too that the adverts are 'old' so, for 21st century tastes, could probably be considered primitive. Thnx for the blockduster link. I love Queen - I do tend toward their 1970s stuff however - and this brought a smile to my face. Cheers for now and all the best in 2018.
paul.plak * VSM MEMBER * on January 3, 2018 @2:26 pm PST
well, isn't it better they need great music to enliven video ads to sell not so great products ?
Stephanie Lewis - host, on January 8, 2018 @2:10 am PST
How true!
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on December 6, 2017 @7:05 am PST
Hi Stephanie, funny that I never pay attention to the music of the commercials, they are so annoying that I think I tune myself completely off. Actually as soon as a commercial starts I switch to a different channel that I had pre-selected. I watched the videos you suggested, however of the 3 TV ads I was only able to watch the British Airlines with the Lakme music.
Merry Christmas!
Stephanie Lewis - host, on December 7, 2017 @8:08 am PST
Hi Fulvia, you know I basically don't watch TV any more so adverts are a thing of the past. If it weren't for my husband, I would have thrown the box out years ago! Sorry to hear you can't see the adverts - it may be because you're viewing the videos in the US. I suggest you try a search. For Carmina Burana do something like - TV advert Old Spice Aftershave. For Mascagni try - Crying Grandmother Kleenex 1986. Let me know how you get on. Stephanie
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on December 8, 2017 @5:15 pm PST
It worked! Thank you!
Stephanie Lewis - host, on December 10, 2017 @12:01 pm PST
Good stuff. Have a great Christmas and hopefully hear from you in the new Year!
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