Ad Music

It was much fun following my fellow music lovers on Twitter on Super Bowl Sunday and counting how many commercials had used classical music and who wrote what. It’s almost always Rossini’s Overture from Barber of Seville or Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours for all things comical. It’s almost always Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture for something explosive. Or it’s Hall of The Mountain King or Ride of the Valkyries for variations on explosive. Imagine the residual money these guys could make if they lived up to now.

Why does the advertising world rely so much on classical music? Because it’s cheap? Or because its lyrical value is still very strong in this day and age to underscore stories in commercials regardless of the price tag? I’m pretty sure that 90% of the people watching the game last night probably don’t have any idea what any of that music was or care. But obviously it’s effective if the advertisers know where to place it. Is it a respectable marketing tool, or a convenient one?

Of course, it’s always the old-school classics. With the exception of Aaron Copland, most of what I hear in commercials is music from prior to 1900. I wonder when we start hearing John Cage in a TV ad. And what would it be selling?


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