“Not so fast”.
“Think before you act”
The common meaning of “allegro” in Italian is “joyful”. The title has duel meaning here: “Allegro”, “Not so fast” can also be read as "Joyful, but not so much”.
Where am I going with this?
I’m talking about life without sound. I couldn’t imagine it. To me, it would still be joyful, yes, but not too much.
I wrote this about a year ago originally but felt it was time to re-visit the topic of a world without sound. Why? To illustrate the importance of sound and why I love to use sound effects, different voices, and music in radio commercials.
Some time ago, I heard a story about a man who was in such a horrific accident that he lost his sense of smell, sight, and sound. Losing one of those would be bad enough, but all three?
Imagine not being able to listen to John Lennon’s “Imagine”? Or the birds in the morning, or the crashing waves of the ocean at sunset. Without sound, everything would be so… silent.
Awhile back, NPR did a great story on a man born deaf. Somehow the doctors were able to detect that his loss of hearing could be modified with a special hearing aide. And so, at age twenty-two, he was able to hear for the first time. His friend played Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” for him as the first piece of music. Needless to say, he loved it but was a bit confused. He wanted more. So he went on Facebook and asked people to send suggestions. He couldn’t get enough. And he didn’t know where to begin.
Think about that. We have had our entire lives to build our music library in our head. A whole life of building that foundation of familiarity of sounds and music.
Where would you start if you’d never heard a sound or a piece of music before? The classics? Jazz? Taylor Swift?
Someone in that NPR story suggested that the man begin by listening to just sounds. Basic sounds like birds, kids playing, water rushing over stones and wind blowing in the trees. You have to build your internal sound library. After all, what does a motorcycle sound like if you’ve never heard one before? Let alone the sound of a Harley. There is a difference.
Is this why the man was confused when he heard “Bohemian Rhapsody”? Did he need the reference point of hundreds of years of music, notes, and sounds? Does Beethoven’s “Symphony Number 9 in D Minor, Op 125 (Choral): Allegro ma non troppo un poco maestoso” stand on its own to the true virgin ear?
There’s a cool sci-fi movie called, “Equilibrium”. It stars Christian Bale and is about a dystopian society where feelings and emotions have been suppressed. They don’t read, they don’t listen to music and they don’t know art. To them, everything is sterile, gray and the same. It’s the world they know. Bale’s character is supposed to destroy any evidence of art or anything that stirs emotion.
In my favorite scene, Bale’s character hears music for the first time. But not just any music, the piece of music by Beethoven mentioned above.
That piece of music elicits that feeling in me every time. I can close my eyes, sit back, and Beethoven washes over me like I’ve never heard a sound before. I am that man from the NPR story.
All sound should be like that.
Believe it or not, when I am allowed to go off into my own little world, that’s how I hear commercials. I sit back with the copy points from the business, close my eyes, and imagine… I imagine how the commercial should sound. I hear the build-up of notes, the crescendo of sounds, the riff of the words dancing… communicating.
If only I could write music. Maybe writing commercials is my “music”. I enjoy bringing the written word to the page in harmony with an idea. Sure, sometimes it’s just a quick sell script for a Perk, an event, or sale. There may not be much in there but simple relaying of information. It’ll flow, it may even be a bit creative, but the words will all have been chosen precisely to convey a certain feeling.
And when you tap into feelings, you tap into the person. That's why I use sound effects. To tap into that sound library we all have that brings back memories and thoughts. Why?
Sells a business.
Sells a brand.
Sells an idea.
Sells an emotion.
And that’s what makes effective creative copy. Like a good song, it should stir something inside you. It should play on the emotional strings and strike a chord.
And… make you take action.
That’s music to my ears.