Jamhouse Blog

Does it all depend on the tempo?

Advertising - the world of cereals, insurance and discounts. It is a world we all know, and secretly love, as we can all recall our favourite ads and their jingles, and even more imprinted in our brains are those we couldn’t stand, and that of course was the goal. But is it a fast paced world, or is it one that slowly brings you to the edge of your seat? That all depends on the tempo.

It is something most don’t consciously think about, but it is all important to those behind the scenes - and it is even more strategic than you think. A study done by Milliman (1982, 1986 - shows that music can change not only your thought processes and your emotion, but the physical speed in which you live your life. His  study, conducted in a restaurant, proved that when fast music was played, patrons ate their food and dined much quicker than when music with a slow tempo was played. While this obviously gives the food industry a hint as to how to boom business, it shows you how subliminally, tempo can change everything.

There is a lot of debate about what comes first in music, the tempo, the mood, the lyrics or the melody and just like in song writing, many of the experts are divided. According to Stephane Elmosnino, tempo is often determine by the mood that is created within an advertising brief.  

“Often, "uptempo" means either House tempos or Drum n Bass. Quite often, if there is no clear indication of pace or when composing without a brief, the "main sound" can dictate the tempo.” Mr Elmosnino said.

Garry Smith, who has worked in advertising for more than two decades, says that when it comes to music, it has to be emotionally connected to the content and that tempo certainly enhances that.

“Music has to match the feel of the vision.  It shouldn't be so rigid that it looks corny, but the atmosphere has to be right.”

And at a recent concert, this author certainly witnessed a similar phenomenon. When the music was fast paced, everyone was up and dancing and having a great time, but when a more sombre song was played, you could have heard a pin drop. The audience was not bored, but was being drawn in to the music, was paying close attention.

And this relates closely to the advertising world. When you hear first phrases of the Gold Lotto ‘Wouldn’t it be nice’ music or some other up tempo, relatable song, there is no doubt that it gets stuck in your head. But people also recognise the song that is played on the World Vision “Sponsor a Child” advertisement, or the uplifting song that accompanies the ‘My Kitchen Rules’ advertisements, and they are slow tempo songs that draw you in and make you want to pay attention.

Tempo not only changes the way you move, the way you think, the way you shop and the way you pay attention to the world around you. Are we all being deliberately manipulated by advertisers, or is the way we react to tempo simply something we cannot control? 

Author:  D. Whelan for Jamhouse Creative

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