2006 marks the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Celebrations, concerts, and fêtes fantastique are going on around the world this year in honor of this momentous occasion. You mighta heard of our hero. He’s the guy who, in ’84, really hacked off Antonio Salieri in the movie “Amadeus”. And, he was the subject of this tune from ’85 penned by a fellow Vienna boy named Falco. Ring a bell?
Pretty prolific guy actually. Easily the Kanye West of the 1760’s, y’know?
One of this man’s great gifts was his ability to hear a piece of music and then write it down note for note.
In our own little way we here at Babble-On try to do the same thing. We have to hear the music in our client’s heads and then translate that melody into something harmonious, meaningful, and communicative that lasts about a minute – the sex life of a tsetse fly without the itch or flowers on the pillow the next morning.
The young, gifted Mister Mozart posing peacefully at the keyboard
Tom Witkowski, a veteran writer who’s new to Minneapolis ad agency Periscope, came in the other week to record some voice-over and produce a fresh a radio spot with Greg for Cox Business Services. The radio ad he had written was unique because the idea hinged on our ability to create rhythm and melody from simple office sounds. John even composed some distinctive e-mail chimes that worked to glue the whole idea together.
Here’s Tom’s insight – “To a writer, sound effects are as simple as writing the three letters SFX followed by some vague description of what you’re hearing in your head (other than voices telling you to burn the joint down.) So when I started writing the spot “Music” for Cox Business Services, I figured creating a melody out of different ring tones, fax machines and email bings and bongs would be a walk in the park. It’s not until you sit down and start listening to a cacophony of office sounds that you realize that there’s a bit more to it.”… I, of course, figured somewhere there was a catalog of office sound tunes. Turns out, there’s not. No fear. By the time I got to Babble-On, Greg and John had pulled about every dang phone sound, email chime and fax feed. After going to work like a mad scientist with a soundboard, Maestro Greg composed a very rhythmic little ditty. It has a good beat and you can dance to it. The spot hinges on the sound effects all being distinctive and recognizable yet coming together to make a communications system symphony.
The gifted Mister Geitzenauer posing peacefully at the keyboard
Here’s Greg’s take on bringing the spot together – “This was the kind of session that reminds us that people use Pro Tools every day for applications into which we rarely dip our feet. While our recording and editing of dialog/FX/needledrop is a daily occurrence, there’s a whole musical face of the program which we rarely see, and which very handily allowed me to make the grab bag of office FX into something that had the
beat Tom was looking for. A couple of esoteric features of the newest version of Pro Tools really allowed me to concentrate on the creative/aesthetic aspects of the spot instead of the all-too-familiar ‘are each of these dozen-or-so sounds keeping up with the desired tempo or are they staggering along like a kid on a Christmas gift drum kit?'”
The final mix of the spot hangs together well because, while there is a distinct melody and rhythm, it’s still clear that these are office sounds and not some cheap Casio midi file hiding out from its real life as a c’jarked ring tone. And, perhaps more important, the sound-design complements the voice of veteran local voice-over actor Bert Gardner instead of detracting from it. Perhaps the highest praise comes from Tom himself, who offered, -“My compliments to Greg. I look forward to hearing him mixing more of these sound effects into cover tunes likes “867-5309 Jenny .”
Here’s the radio spot, “Music” produced for Cox Business Services by Periscope.
Bert Gardner can be booked through his Minneapolis talent agent, Moore Creative Talent, Inc.