Fugue on Advertising
-- by Jay Rose

In 1977, the Advertising Club of Greater Boston asked me to create an opening for their annual black-tie Hatch Awards ceremony for the best ads of the year.

Now you've got to understand that the ceremony is preceeded by a two-hour open bar, where some very nervous advertising types are trying to relieve their anxiety. Typically, the ceremony would be delayed because these thousand or so drunks would file into the auditorium, and then start shouting at their friends across the room. It could take as much as twenty minutes before the master of ceremonies could get started.

So we got them with their own yelling. After a short intro*, they started hearing their own voices over the auditorium PA system. They were recorded over the previous two months in their own conference rooms, by one of my studio employees posing as "preparing an educational tape for the Ad Club".

Naturally, everybody stopped shouting when they started hearing their own voices. They turned to the stage, where a montage of stills was being projected: artisans at the Revere Silver Factory, creating the Hatch Award Bowls.

This piece has an attitude. The first half (prelude) is a sound sculpture of advertising creators complaining about the clients and their chosen field. The second half (fugue) builds to how much they really love the business and its creative challenges. The final voice is mine.

By the way, this piece won me a first-place Hatch Award the following year, in the category "Miscellaneous Advertising Communications".

Details: The music is two unrelated parts of Bach's Art of the Fugue (but, of course, the entire work is interrelated). Location recording was with an AKG CK-8 shotgun and an Arrivox recorder, and then bumped to 15 ips. Blade edits were done on a Revox A-77: for my money, the fastest-editing 1/4" deck ever made... but you had to do some special mods to get it that way. Assembly was onto a 4-track MCI JH-110. The whole edit/mix took about five hours.

© 1977 Jay Rose.

* - Typewriter opening courtesy of Janet Body.

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