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Eficode Jingle- A Road Never Taken

While idly browsing through LinkedIn a few weeks ago I stumbled across two worlds colliding in a way I never thought I’d see. Eficode, who style themselves as “The #DevOps company in Europe” (and having worked with them, I’d say it’s not an idle boast), were advertising an Audio Branding Competition. The idea is simple: Write a theme tune or jingle for Eficode, win fabulous prizes.

Many years ago, as a young man in the British education system, I was subjected to a great many things. One of them happened to be music and composition lessons. As a guitarist and sometimes pianist, I occasionally give myself the dubious title of “musician”. I was struck with the idea: Am I not exactly the kind of person who could partake in such an event? I’m far from a professional, but I have a piano and a microphone. What more does one need.

But that led to the question: Where to begin?

Notes on Nominative Determinism.

Nominative determinism is the hypothesis that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that fit their names. Examples of this include Archaeologist Dr Pam Graves, the BBC weather reporter Sara Blizzard and my personal favourite: Wilbur Ulysses Bookendorf, Librarian.

But what I want to consider here is something slightly different. Nominative Auditory Determinism. Can a subject’s name determine its own ideal theme music? I ask this, because of what immediately struck me from the name of the company.

Eficode.

5/7 of these letters have direct correspondents in music. If we take out the I/O, we end up with the following progression:

EFCDE

Which sounds something like this.

First Idea. Linked because I haven’t figured out to embed in Jekyll.

This would give me the basis for what I would write.

Back to Basics

A note: I am not a professional musician. I haven’t studied music in 18 years. Some of my terms may be incorrect.

Before this competition, I hadn’t written on manuscript paper in nearly two decades. On a whim I called into my nearest book and stationary shop to find they had, in a dusty corner, a stack of the notebooks.

I decided to tackle a jingle. 8 seconds of music sounded easier to compose than four minutes, and thus I decided to try to my hand at the smaller task.

Based on the notes I described above, there’s a fairly simple choice of scale: C Major. It’s one of the most common key signatures in music. No sharps, no flats. Slap your hand on the white keys of a piano and you’ll be playing in the C Major Scale. It tends to lead to a positive feeling tunes. All the Small Things by Blink 182. Imagine by John Lennon. Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. Carry on my Wayward Son by Kansas.

Next off: I didn’t like ending on the E. E is, in my opinion, a somewhat hard note. But I also didn’t want to break the idea of nominative determinism. I arrived at a compromise. I would use the first inversion of the C chord. The bass note would still be E, but would let the jingle end on a brighter note. I also decided to roll the chord. I just liked how it sounded.

Here it is so far:

Mid Progress

It is progressing, but still far off the 8 second requirement. Though there is a simple solution to this. Lead in with some arpeggio chords in C. The C chord is C-E-G, but I drop the E so I can fit 4 quarter notes over two octaves in a single bar to maintain my expected 4/4 time signature.

Then I decided to add a cheeky kicker, a first inversion of C at the end. For a little quirkiness. Which I’ve come to expect and enjoy when dealing with the guys from Eficode.

That gives us my finished jingle:

The Sheets

The Completed Entry

A Glimpse Down The Other Path.

Two things became very obvious during this competition. Firstly, I still suck at writing sheet music. Look at the note spacing in the second bar. And I dove straight in, writing in pen of all things. I can’t tell you the number of times Mrs Clarke told me off for that in my younger years.

Secondly: There is still a part of me that wants to write music. This is, of course, not the only thing I’ve written since leaving school. But they’ve always been things written for myself. This was a chance for me to receive a briefing, a request. Then attempt to understand a client’s requirements and strive to meet them.

Though for me, one of the most important aspects of this competition was to be able to glimpse down another path. A path which, 18 years ago now, I made a decision not to take.

I believe there are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who know what they will be when they are children. They make a decision and they stick with it. And then there are those of us who are more adrift, buffeted around by chance and circumstance.

At the age of 16, I’d finished my GCSE studies in the UK. Among the subjects I studied were of course Math and Advanced IT, but also Music. I didn’t study for performance, but to learn more about composition.

The choice I had to make was this: Continue my studies in IT, leaving music for an occasional pastime. Or pursue a career in Music, with IT as the hobby. In the end, I took what I considered the safer path. It was 2005, the prevalence of computers was booming, as was the competition for the few musical jobs out there. This path took me through university, into the IT Sector, into DevOps and finally caused me to cross paths with Eficode.

Back when I was 16, the paths I had to choose from looked like they went in opposite directions, like they’d never converge again. But paths are winding, and they lead us to strange places. Here, if just for a moment, they came close enough for me to stand on one side, and see how things might look from the other.