Channel Project: Audio

Before starting any music or audio production I looked at how other adverts dealt with audio, as it seemed to be intrinsic to the sucess of the work. These Visit Scottland ads served as great inspiration.

The premise is quite simple. There is one main melody (taken from the New Age song ‘North’ by Paul Mounsey) which is remixed in order to create a range of different moods and feelings depending on the content of the advert. It is so effective because the melody is instantly recognisible and iconic throughout the series of adverts, yet the added drum tracks and harmonies create the different themes and energies needed for the different adverts.

Mounsey is a musician whose work often appears in cinema, film and advertising. Mounsey calls his work “recontextualising traditional Gaelic songs with a musical language that belongs to the crass commercial world in which I work”. Part of this is layering the main melody, taken from Gaelic roots, with a driving force of a strong drum section or energetic harmonies.

I started the music making process by coming up with short melodies that could be repeated and layered. Luke Monet also helped me with this, and came up with one of the most, in my opinion, powerful melodies for the project entitled “Lunar” in the video. Most of the melodies are arrangements of the main theme, with different instruments (mainly synths) providing different textures. We chose to use synths as they are often associated with a “futuristic sound”. Towards the end of the video is some themes that aren’t used in the videos as I did not feel they were as effective, called “Eighties” and “Mystic”. “Eighties” I feel goes too far into the kitsch-ness of synthesizers (hence its name!) and also does not have a strong driving point. “Mystic” was intended to be in the background to give a subtle cultish feel to the adverts, however the drum rhythm proved to be too overpowering and distracting from the voice.

As discussed before, the voicovers sounded too rushed and anxious for the final piece. By adding pauses between sentences and slowing them down slightly, there were much more effective and gave a calmer tone to the adverts.

The final soundtrack of the ads were just simple mixes of these melodies with the voiceovers we had recorded before. I would have liked to have arranged a proper melody, harmonies and drum tracks but unfortunately during production we were hampered a severe lack of time and resources. We had no composing software which made making music in sync with the adverts very difficult. The editing software we were using had very poor sound mixing capabilities which can be shown in the uneven volume levels of the final piece. It also had issues wih lack of precision in timing, which made some of the tracks out of sync in the final piece. It would have also been useful to edit the voiceovers and perhaps add some subtle effects to the voice, such as reverb, to make them seem more other worldly.

Interview with Paul Mounsey can be found here:

Jones, C., 2000. “Coming to Terms with My Roots” an interview with Paul Mounsey. Retrieved from: http://www.folkworld.de/13/e/nahoo.html [Accessed 8.02.2014]

VisitScottland., 2011. VisitScottland Ad: Surprise Yourself . Retrieved from:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kUZNQASL_8 [Accessed 8.02.2014]

VisitScottland., 2013. VisitScottland Ad: Year of Natural Scottland 2013 – Natural . Retrieved from:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xquV3vaedfo [Accessed 8.02.2014]

jsihcorp., 2009 Visit Scotland Adver for Autumn video online]. Retrieved from:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rl0h8mQhwK8%5BAccessed 8.02.2014]

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