The Return of the Jingle?
In “Why Jingles Can be Better Brand Builders Than the Latest Hipster Jam” at adage.com, Tristan Clopet suggests that the jingle is ripe for renewal: “Simply put, there are too many variables and too much noise these days. Every brand should be bold and distinctive” (found via one of the students in my current class on sound in the media landscape).
The Honor of Spam
Sure sign of sound gaining currency in UI/UX: fake embedded audio player in spam email used to trigger spambot software:
From the People Who Brought You the MP3
The new Nexus 7 tablet from Google had its coming out party last week. The event was also a sort of coming out party the manufacturer of one of the Nexus tablet’s constituent parts: Fraunhofer IIS is the organization that holds the patent for the MP3, and the company’s “Cingo” technology has been included in the new, second edition Nexus 7 (the first edition arrived this time last year). Cingo is a surround-sound product. The question is as much whether “Cingo” could become a household name as that “Fraunhofer” might, and whether they can benefit from the aura of public domain that “MP3” has.
More on Cingo at fraunhofer.de. Via talkandroid.com.
Black Coffee, Indelible Jingle / From Millionaire to Billionaire
Great obituary by Margalit Fox in today’s New York Times for Page Morton Black (b. 1915), who sang the Chock Full o’Nuts theme song: “Chock Full o’Nuts is that heavenly coffee, / Heavenly coffee, heavenly coffee. / Chock Full o’Nuts is that heavenly coffee, / Better coffee a millionaire’s money can’t buy.”
Page Morton Black, the cabaret singer whose sprightly rendition of that song in radio and television ads was indelibly engraved on New Yorkers’ brains at midcentury, died on Sunday at her home in the Premium Point enclave of New Rochelle, N.Y. She was 97.
Fascinating details abound:
Mrs. Black, the widow of William Black, the founder of the Chock Full o’Nuts company, curtailed her singing career after their marriage. But her voice lived on in the jingle, which was broadcast for more than 20 years. Upon frequent and nostalgic request, she continued singing it at public events long afterward.
The jingle’s original last line, “Better coffee Rockefeller’s money can’t buy,” was changed in 1957, after John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his family complained.
Chock Full o’Nuts, now owned by Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, has revived the jingle, in a new arrangement, for its contemporary ads. The lyrics have been adjusted for inflation, with “billionaire” replacing “millionaire” in the last line.
Full piece at nytimes.com.
The Score as Superhero
The forthcoming S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series may not carry over many superheroes from the movies, but an orchestral score can provide its own sort of connection between big and small screens:
“Joss [Whedon] and I spoke at length about the music for S.H.I.E.L.D. in particular, about the challenge of creating a score that is big enough in its orchestral presence that it feels cinematic and feels at home in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
Via io9.com and ew.com.
The Sound of Wine
Jo Burzynska (aka Stanier Black-Five) is a talented sound artist from New Zealand. What I didn’t know is she’s also a professional wine critic. Here’s the opening graph from a scoop.co.nz piece on her Oenosthesia project, which ties together those two interests:
Oenosthesia is a ground breaking interactive exploration of sound and taste created by wine writer and sound artist, Jo Burzynska (aka Stanier Black-Five). This soundscape using her recordings of the vineyards and wineries of Irpinia in Italy, explores the significant way that sound influences the perception of taste through the combination of the changing timbres and frequencies in the piece with a selection of different wines from the region.
More at audiofoundation.org.nz.
Music for Airports (Albany Edition)
Change is hard, even when what’s changing is background music:
After 15 years of classical music piped through speakers at Albany International Airport, the format was changed six months ago to oldies rock and pop. … The change took place in January, when the airport was renewing a contract with Muzak, since acquired in March by Mood Media. Dozens of channels spanning various genres of pre-programmed music became available on a satellite service. Doug Myers, the airport’s director of public affairs and a former radio news reporter who is in his 60s, looked over the choices and selected the new format.
Full piece at timesunion.com.
Neon and the Sound of the Signs of Times Past
Sound was an unintended part of the design of the neon sign, and yet became part of its signature. Katrina Gulliver notes this in the closing paragraph of her review at slate.com of Flickering Light: A History of Neon, a new book by Christoph Ribbat.
Neon was one of the ways businesses personalized their identity, but our retail landscape is now dominated by chains, whose business model depends on replicating branches across the country without individualization. Perhaps the reason people felt so strongly about losing the Pepsi-Cola sign was that it was a lingering remnant of an age of urban decoration now lost. Video displays like those in Times Square offer us television in the street—but old neon signs became part of the street. We are now so often surrounded by moving images they can no longer draw us in, but neon still offers a distinctiveness that we could see and hear, its faint buzzing giving it a tactile there-ness that technologies ever newer and newer can’t match. Compared to LED and video, gas in glowing tubes feels real.
One follow-up note: I don’t agree with the assessment described by Gulliver above. Much as the sound of neon was not an intentional part of its design, aspects of the “ever newer and newer” technologies to come will almost certainly have their own unintentional, sublime qualities, discovered after they are adopted.
The Sounds of Smell
On Margaret Noble’s Sound Is Art blog, she posts audio of the fragrance dispensers at the International Perfume Museum in Grasse, Southern France. It’s at margaretnoble.net. (Link provided by KR Seward, who audiokayness here on Tumblr.)
The first semester I taught my course on sound at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, one of the student presentations was about the sound of perfume bottles.
Covering Album Covers
The Audio Visual section of monolithmagazine.co.uk is dedicated to “notable album artwork” — the commercial packaging, as it were, of music. This entry, found via Richard Kadrey's Tumblr account, discusses the No Pussyfooting (1973) collaboration between Brian Eno and Robert Fripp. Says Will Christie, its photographer: “I’ve always felt badly for Brian that he didn’t share the credit, since it was his idea and we worked on it together.”