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Coda Connections
Columbia Band Fans' Newsletter
Summer 2007

News & Calendar - Summer 2007
Feature - Borrowed Music in Advertising
Behind the Baton - Director's Thoughts
Fun Stuff - A few words about...
Official CCB Positions - People in Charge
Contact Information


I hope everyone is having a fun & safe Summer. I had fully intended to send this edition out in June, but timing and schedules were stacked against that outcome. Apologies.

This edition of Coda Connections features some personal thoughts on music in advertising, Mike's comments on this year's concert band repertoire, the new list of elected board members and volunteers, and more. Enjoy!

I would also like to remind you that the Columbia Jazz Band does indeed have a web site. Click here to see it.

If your email changes and you'd like to keep getting these newsletters, OR if you wish to submit your own writing/comments, you can always shoot me a message. Thanks!

- Len Morse, Editor

News & Calendar
Summer News
Both groups each have two scheduled summer concerts this year, in the evenings. All promise to be high quality performances with a wide variety of music.

Summer Calendar - Concert Band
  Sunday, 8/12, 6:30-8:30P.M., Lake Kittamaqundi Lakefront, Columbia, MD
  Sunday, 8/19, 6:00-8:00P.M., Lurman Amphitheatre, Catonsville, MD

Summer Calendar - Jazz Band
  Saturday, 8/28, 6:30-8:00P.M., Woodlawn Communty Center, Columbia, MD
  Sunday, 8/29, 6:30-8:30P.M., Lake Kittamaqundi, Columbia, MD

by Len Morse (Percussion)   Commentary Musical notes on staff
Borrowed Music in Advertising

Now more than ever, many corporations are using well-known orchestral and other pieces as background or featured music for radio and TV ads, as well as part of movie previews. This is nothing new, but it's interesting to hear what kind of music some Public Relations people decide is appropriate for their commercials.

Over the years, but especially recently, we've seen a plethora of commercials with "borrowed" orchestral pieces. There's nothing wrong with using highbrow music to try bettering a retailer's image, as long as they have the accompanying rights. Consumers who are unfamiliar with the piece will eventually associate it with the advertised product or service, if it is used long enough. Most likely, though, they will recognize the tune, even if they don't know the title of the piece.

My first memory of this phenomenon is of the trailer for "The Bad News Bears" (1976). I saw scenes of an incompetent little-league team, while hearing the battle-hardened booms and crashes of the "1812 Overture" (1880). I was eight years old and didn't know the name of the piece, but I had a sneaking suspicion that it wasn't meant for this kind of entertainment. Composer Tchaikovsky didn't much care for the piece anyway, but I still wonder what he would have thought of his music being used to advertise such a ridiculous story.

Later, as I gained knowledge about music in general, I found out that "The Lone Ranger" radio theme (1933) was actually a cavalry charge from the finale of the "William Tell Overture" (1829). Okay, so it's classical music, but in a heroic, galloping horse sort of way. And Rossini? The show seemed very close to his original intent, and it was wildly popular, so I really don't think the composer would have been too unhappy.

Let's skip ahead to the mid-90s, and an American Airlines TV commercial. They incorporated a musical phrase from George Gershwin's famous "Rhapsody in Blue" (1924). I don't know what it did for ticket sales, but when coupled with a big jet nosing its way out of a hangar, those few bars of music seemed to successfully portray the quiet excitement, almost majesty, of air travel.

Today, 31 years after my initial indoctrination into this world of "classical ads", it's still going on, but we must remember to add pop songs to the mix. Sometimes one sector of the media will borrow a tune from another sector, or perhaps they'll use something from a particular era of music.

For instance, I recently heard a radio commercial for the Food Lion grocery chain, and the background music was the theme from "The Andy Griffith Show" (1960). Instead of being whistled, the familiar melody was played on a harmonica. I couldn't concentrate on what they were saying, though - All I could think of was Andy and Opie strolling down a dirt road, fishing poles in hand. (Maybe today they'd be going to the Mayberry Food Lion for bait?) Even if you didn't recognize the tune, you would probably still get the relaxing, hometown feel that I'm guessing the producers were striving for.

Some commercials make use of an original, fictional character, which in itself is a fine idea, but there's a radio ad that makes me cringe each time I hear it - I have to turn my radio off or I'll crash my car. In this case, Oursman Hundai Man just rubs me the wrong way. Add to that the Village People's "Macho Man" (1978), and you have the makings of...well, I just hope they get some visitors out of it. (Go ahead, start singing it in your head and you'll see what I mean.) All I got was the image of a cheesy super-hero dancing badly, but hey, if it gets Hundai to their sales goal, more power to them.

So there you have it: one person's views of how borrowed music fits (or doesn't fit) into the mainstream of advertising culture. Remember, if the music is public domain, go for it, but if you need permission, please get it before recording your commercial. I say this on behalf of composers everywhere.

Behind the Baton
by Mike Blackman (Director)   Conductor

I have never been more excited about the Columbia Concert Band than I am now. Our Spring Concert was not only a performance of which we as musicians were particularly proud, but we are also hearing from many of you that it was our best performance ever. I am thrilled to finally have been able to program Percy Grainger's "Scotch Strathspey and Reel", a piece that I have loved for many years but have always avoided due to its many technical and musical challenges. It took quite a bit of effort, but as I like to say, "The juice was worth the squeeze!" As director, one of my greatest challenges is choosing music that is the right difficulty for the band and enjoyable for our audience at the same time, and the positive feedback lets me know that I am on the right track - thank you!

This Summer will see our most audience-friendly program in years. We have performances at the Columbia Lakefront (August 12th) and the beautiful Lurman Woodland Amphitheater in Catonsville (August 19th). Please pack a picnic dinner, grab your blanket, and come enjoy a variety of music from Broadway and pop, to marches and light contemporary concert band music. And for the gentleman who asked for some George Gershwin last year, I've picked something especially for you!

Our Fall/Winter season will begin with a Children's Concert (September 16th), on which we will feature selections from four Broadway musicals.

For our formal Winter Concert (December 9th) I am thinking about an interesting new piece called "The Impossible Machine," a gorgeous work by Steven Bryant entitled "Dusk," a medley from "Wicked," and some holiday music of course. All of these performances are FREE and open to the public. Finally, I am thrilled to say that we have been invited to play at the annual Maryland Music Educators' Convention in Baltimore next March. This is a great honor that we have enjoyed in the past, and I am truly looking forward to performing with this incredibly fine group of musicians for my colleagues!

Thanks so much for your continued support. Playing music is so much more fun when there's an audience. Here's to community music!

Fun Stuff
Quarterly Word: "Post Horn" - A valveless brass horn, straight or coiled, that is capable of playing only its root note and realtive harmonics; was formerly used to annouce coach arrivals.

Quarterly Quote: "Listening to the Fifth Symphony of Ralph Vaughn Williams is like staring at a cow for 45 minutes." ~Aaron Copeland (American Composer)

Official CCB/CJB Positions
Elected Executive Board
Director - Mike Blackman
President - Jeanette Donald
Vice President - Len Morse
Secretary - Carolyn Hipkins
Treasurer - Beth Jubinski
Historian - Melinda Frisch
Publicity Co-Chairs - Kathleen Shoemaker, Ken Singer
Fundraising Chair - Jenn Ambrosiano
Equipment Manager - Scott Lipcon
Grants, Programs - Jeanette Donald
Member-at-Large - Linda Baker
HCAC Liason - Tanya Hoegh-Allan

Appointees and Volunteers
CCB-CJB Liason - Jodi Shochet
Librarian - Marilyn Kelsey
Curator - Fred Shermer
Uniforms - Bill DeVuono
CCB Webmaster - Suzanne Hassell
CJB Director - Pete Barenbregge
CJB Webmaster - Matt Williams


Contact Information

phone: 301-598-4587
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