Niall Byrne: Homage or fromage?
Published 08/10/2010 | 05:00
Poor Sigur Ros. The Icelandic band recently (but rather cautiously) wrote about the fact that the band have never commissioned any of their music to be used in advertisements.
As I'm sure you are aware, their soaring, monumental-sounding music sounds like it could move glaciers (and perhaps dishwashers) yet to date the band have only allowed their music to be used in TV, film or charity-related ads.
On the Sigur Ros blog post entitled 'Homage Or Fromage' (bit.ly/sigurads), the band posted up examples of advertisements which they're not saying necessarily plagiarise their music (they are saying that, but for legal reasons aren't saying it outright), but make them go 'hmmmm'.
There's no denying the similarities between the ad music used and Sigur Ros' tunes -- change a note or chord here, keep that big sweeping crescendo and almost carbon-copy feel and you've got a new original composition. Everyone knows better though and that's why Sigur Ros deserve some pity -- there's nothing they can do about it but make people aware it's not them.
With Christmas ads already on the telly, it's inevitable that there would be some movement in the Christmas number-one stakes. After the success of Rage Against The Machine last Christmas, a Facebook group (bit.ly/cageagainst) is campaigning for something a little more obscure. Enter Cage Against The Machine -- the campaign to get composer John Cage's 4'33, that's four minutes and 33 seconds of silence -- an avant garde slice of musical hokum -- to the top of the charts.
It's an idea that might swell with support. Various supporters on the Facebook page are having fun with it -- one prefers the remix, one asks for the full-orchestra version and one says they "know a really good dance to this track".
It's a great idea for another reason, though -- perhaps 273 seconds of silence broadcast during our hyper-accelerated, culture-devouring lives is a good thing? A time to reflect. A time to just sit in silence and appreciate a few things. Sure, we have the Angelus, but this wouldn't be a religious thing. To date, more than 17,000 people support the campaign. Let's see where it goes in December.
Just 4,000 members short of that number is the Musicians Against Ryanair group (bit.ly/musiciansryanair), which protests about the airline making musicians buy extra seats for musical equipment -- the example given is a violin. The group was started by Irishman Keith Pascoe, a Cork-based member of the Vanbrugh Quartet, who says the group now have to buy eight seats instead of five to bring their musical equipment. As if musicians didn't have it bad enough already.