Jingles Research Article

Jingles are the catchy melodies that marketers showcase in medias to catch consumer’s attention. They are supposed to be catchy enough so that it lives on in people’s minds, always reminding them of the product that it accompanied. We all have fell victim to a jingle at one point or another in our lives, begging the question of “Why are advertisements with jingles so enticing?”, “What makes them so catchy?”, and “How does one make a successful jingle?”

Picture from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/jingle

Of course we should be paying attention to the second definition listed above, and I believe Oxford’s wording helps focus our grasp of this media art. “Short” and “easily remembered” short be the two parts you take away from understanding what a jingle is, if anything. Simple is usually better in this case, noting that most jingles having only a handful of notes a piece.

Jingles have been implemented into mainstream marketing not long after radio become commonly used. In the United States most Americans are constantly using social medias and viewing virtual content, needless to say that at one point or another we have all fallen victim to a jingle. Many large businesses utilize them in their advertising campaigns, spreading awareness and helping develop the personality of the business. But a big factor of jingle advertisements is how business’s compose and portray them. They have to be “emotionally manipulative… to achieve affective attachment” regarding the overall context of the ad, but at the same time “the tones themselves are thought to work independently and effectively, without semantic content, almost like a mood altering drug” (Scott 225). There is more than just a simple sheet of manuscript that creates a successful jingle. You need to look at the consumer’s assumed responses, like their “attitudes towards the advertised product, the consumer’s mood, and the consumer perception” throughout the whole advertisement (Wanda 239-240). The jingle could be the whole climax of the advertisement, via radio, or just a cherry that is put on top, via televised commercial. One thing that is commonly agreed upon though is that “studies of advertising music share an underlying theory in which music is an affective background component that causes attachment to the product without the cognitive involvement of the viewer” (Scott 224). What that is saying is that music can help your ad become more memorable.

To many, music is seen like a language. It can be controlled and understood in certain ways, but is very interpreted and chaotic in many others. Although it can be very expressive “it has not yet been possible to establish what exactly it is that music com­municates and how it does so… while music is considered to be “meaningful,” it does not actually convey explicit “infor­mation” about the external world” (Harley 221). Music can be used like a tool, but it cannot convey specific information alone. The way you decide to use it though, such as using techniques like dynamics, tempo, or syncopation, is where you will get your money’s worth out of it. Music as a language “is generally characterized as a rhythmic, emotional, singsong with vague, imprecise reference”, showing its value to be with more broad portrayals (Tolbert 457). The music can convey the mood you are trying to portray, maybe via key signature major/minor. It can add time techniques by adjusting tempo or beat frequency within a measure. It can aid the piece in being memorable by harnessing certain cadences. Music, especially in jingle advertisements are enticing due mainly in part to the role it plays assisting the clear message. Music isn’t precise enough as a language to tell the people the content of the “what” in the ad, but rather assists in the “why”, and even in cases the “what”, from its engaging and memorable qualities.

Shave and a Haircut Jingle

Picture from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shave_and_a_Haircut

An example of a jingle that many people know is “Shave and a Haircut”. The full set of lyrics for this example is “shave and a haircut, two bits”, but was modified across platforms in slight variations. Shave and a Haircut wasn’t implemented for many advertisements per say, but rather was an older meme used in popular songs or medias. This will used as an example nevertheless due to its success as a catchy jingle, but also its straight forward applicability to a hypothetical advertisement about haircuts.

The jingle can theoretically be transposed to any key, but we will look at it in the key of G Major. Looking at the example above, one of the first things we notice is how simplistic the chord structure is. Only four chords are used throughout the piece, with the only excitement (variation) occurring from the third measure into the fourth measure, and throughout the fourth measure. The chords sequence goes I-I-V-I, ending with an authentic cadence. I believe that the suspense built up from the tonic chord, then resulting in an authentic cadence is an excellent example of what a catchy short melody should entice.

Music theory shows many trends amongst the notes we know, and their relativity to one another in sequence. Believe it or not there are many progressions that lead up to an anticipated note to complete it. Many people, musically inclined or not, can “guess” the next note to certain progressions. This is due to hearing the progressions a thousand times before, but also the unfinished feeling that dominant chords convey when put in the right context, wanting it to resolve to tonic. Examples of strong cadences that sound “finished” and “catchy” are shown below.

Picture from https://www.musictheoryacademy.com/how-to-read-sheet-music/cadences/

In advertisements, people sometimes tend to view “music as an emotionally manipulative stimulus that appears as a sensual backdrop and operates without cognitive intervention to achieve affective attachment”. This means to view music as a tool, to aid with the rest. And I believe that that is a great way of thinking about jingles and music in advertisement. Every advertisement is different. Every marketing campaign is different, and every business is different.

The amount of genres that are out there are numerous. In Anders Meng’s article he goes into detail about the amount of genres nowadays is ridiculous, and also talks about the core fundamentals of genre classification, in his attempt of displaying a full-genre classification system. A diagram of the system described is below.

Picture from http://orbit.dtu.dk/files/3841539/Meng.pdf

When trying to compose for an advertisement, emotion is everything. You ,ust know the context, if scoring you must make action in regards to the developing plot. But for jingles: the emotion, the creativity, and THE MESSAGE. What are you trying to portray? Is it happy or sad? Spooky or inspirational? The context dictates the feel, maybe the instruments, and maybe even the key signature (if there is one). For many popular songs there are set chord progressions you may use for a start, or inspiration, but jingles are different. With jingles, every note counts, especially how, on average, there aren’t many. Context is crucial.

If you aren’t the most musically inclined or educated person, and you want to compose a jingle, have no fear– we are all artists. In this excerpt, Bernard Andrews says it perfectly:

“Many gifted composers, such as Hector Berlioz, Alexander Borodin, Emanuel Chabrier, Edward Elgar and Hector Villa-Lobos, achieved a high level of artistic success without undergoing traditional compositional training; others had some limited exposure, such as Pierre Boulez, George Gershwin, Francis Poulenc and Modest Mussorgsky; and still others left the conservatory system disenchanted, such as Claude Débussy and Erik Satie, or were expelled, notably Hugo Wolf (Gammond, 1980). Indeed, the most respected traditionalists of the twentieth century, Edward Elgar and William Walton, and the greatest innovators, Igor Stravinsky (atonality) and Arnold Schoenberg (twelve-tone), were largely self-taught. Compositional training offers no guarantee that it will engender musical creativity. As Igor Stravinsky (1947) wryly noted:

Harmony as it is taught in the schools today dictates rules that were not fixed until long after publication of the works upon which they were based, rules which were unknown to the composers of these works. In this manner, our harmonic treatises take as their point of departure Mozart and Haydn, neither of whom ever heard of harmonic treatises.”

To compose a successful jingle you must encompass the message the company wants to portray, but also compose a melody that is musically appealing that people will take notice of. Jingles are marketing tools that are implemented to install the company’s name, and perhaps motto, into the lives of potential consumers. Behind the stuck-in-your-head melody that burrowed into your mind during the commercial break is a memorable melody. Along with that melody is the memory of the company that played it. Not all jingles have words, but anytime you hear McDonalds “Ba da, ba, ba, baa” you know, even without the latter half, what company it belongs to.   

Harley, James. “Generative Processes in Algorithmic Composition: Chaos and Music.” Leonardo, vol. 28 no. 3, 1995, pp. 221-224. Project MUSE, muse.jhu.edu/article/607021.https://muse-jhu-edu.libproxy.plymouth.edu/article/607021/summary

Rondeleux, Luc. “The Digital Computer as an Instrument of Musical Creation: 1957–1997.” Leonardo, vol. 32 no. 4, 1999, pp. 305-305. Project MUSE, muse.jhu.edu/article/608703.https://muse-jhu-edu.libproxy.plymouth.edu/article/608703/pdf

Tolbert, Elizabeth. “The Enigma of Music, the Voice of Reason: “Music,” “Language,” and Becoming Human.” New Literary History, vol. 32 no. 3, 2001, pp. 451-465. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/nlh.2001.0049https://muse-jhu-edu.libproxy.plymouth.edu/article/24595

Scott, Linda M. “Understanding jingles and needledrop: A rhetorical approach to music in advertising” Journal of Consumer Research 17(2):223, Oxford University Press / USA 1990, 0093-5301http://web.b.ebscohost.com.libproxy.plymouth.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=67805889-588b-4564-9bb9-6afcf5ef61d0%40pdc-v-sessmgr05

Wanda T. Wallace (1991) ,”Jingles in Advertisements: Can They Improve Recall?”, in NA – Advances in Consumer Research Volume 18, eds. Rebecca H. Holman and Michael R. Solomon, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 239-242.http://acrwebsite.org/volumes/7167/volumes/v18/NA-18

‘Jingle’, Oxford Dictionary Online, viewed 10 April 2019, <Oxford Dictionary Online>. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/jingle

Ayo Ojebode (2005) Tested, Trusted, Yet Frustrating: An Investigation into the Effectiveness of Environmental Radio Jingles in Oyo State Nigeria, Applied Environmental Education & Communication, 4:2, 173-180, DOI: 10.1080/15330150590935560

Meng, A., Ahrendt, P., Larsen, J., & Hansen, L. K. (2007). Temporal feature integration for music genre classification. I E E E Transactions on Audio, Speech and Language Processing, 15(5), 1654-1664. https://doi.org/10.1109/TASL.2007.899293

Andrews, Bernard W. (2004) “How Composers Compose: In Search of the Questions,” Research & Issues in Music Education: Vol. 2 : No. 1 , Article 3.

Available at: http://ir.stthomas.edu/rime/vol2/iss1/3

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