Western classical music in advertisements

Those who know me know that I am fond of Indian classical music, it’s a music that I work on, walk to or just play it when mood strikes. And perhaps, it was just a question of time that this would have led me to Western classical, and it has finally happened over last few years.

More and more when I hear the classical composers, I realise that the music and compositions are not unfamiliar. Some of them are so intertwined in our lives through the films or the advertisements that we watch, ring tones or the bells, that we do not even realise that they are either original or adaptation of western classical scores by masters.

A case in point – Titan watches musical score is an adaptation of Mozart’s Symphony No 25, or the Raymond – The Complete Man advertisement’s musical score is Schumann’s piano piece Traumerei. Intel’s advertisement for Super Bowl in 2016 used Beethoven’s Symphony No 5 and Hyundai when it re-launched its Sonata car used Piano Sonata by Mozart, the ad even used the imagery of piano black and white keys.

Though my tryst with Western Classical Music happened during school and college days. I remember Doordarshan used to telecast the New Year Concert at Vienna, and I also remember listening to Zubin Mehta on the national television. So when Zubin Mehta performed in Delhi after almost a decade in 2015, I made sure to attend the concert – I was teased a lot by my colleagues on the hefty ticket price I had to pay for the same.

The other time I heard this music extensively was when my mother was producing snippets from Macbeth by Shakespeare for a college play, there was no YouTube, Internet was basic, film libraries in Varanasi did not have the movie adaptation of the play – hence, there was no reference point for the music to be played. I remember picking up Beethoven, Mozart and some other collections from a nearby music shop – listened to them again and again, watched the rehearsals, read the passages from the play, and then created a 20-minute musical background score for various acts of the play to be performed.

It is true that most of these pieces used either in advertisement or films are more of the popular compositions, but in defence at least they have remained in the conscious of people’s ear or mind – even when one does not realise what we are listening to or barely make out the music behind the dialogues or action on the screen.

While a similar post can also be written about the use of Indian classical music in advertisements or films, there is enough documentation regarding Bollywood songs based on Indian ragas – even though the Indian compositions are more difficult to recognise by an untrained ear than Western compositions.

Meanwhile, music in my life goes on!

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