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Tales From the Trenches, vol. 4

"My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. " -Igor Stravinsky

It's all about the limitations. That's where you'll find the magic. This is well worn territory to enlightened creative people, especially musicians, where we are normally challenged by a blank slate. It's not always about thinking "outside the box", or thinking "about the box." Sometimes it is just about building a box, or building a box around your idea.

Advertising offers composers a few key limitations, or boxes if you will, and one important one is duration. "Why is this so expensive? It's only 3 seconds of music." In advertising, it seems size matters. Writing and realizing 3 seconds of music and sound that is supposed to convey the entirety of a brand's promise, or at least remind the listener of the brand and its attributes, is a very difficult task. Yet, that limitation of 3 seconds can be very liberating. Rather than a storm of creativity, audio logos and mnemonics are more like a lightning bolt of creativity. The great audio logos and mnemonics are highly creative, cleverly simple, and involve thought and strategy that goes well beyond the 3 second limit.

You can say a lot in a short amount of time. Consider the classic anecdote of Hemingway betting his friends he could write an entire story in six words. His winning story: "For sale, baby shoes, never worn."

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