There’s something infectious about certain ad jingles. That ‘stuck-in-the-head’ phenomenon over which we seem to have very little control is what inspired John Groves at a young age to want to be an ad music composer and, we are told, has led to him becoming one of Europe’s leading ‘comMUSICation’ experts.
Impressively, the tunes you don’t recognise will stick with you for a few hours after the show; a testament to the man’s ability.
The show is essentially a walkthrough of the basic tenets of what makes a catchy tune and what can be communicated (or coMUSICated) with the simplest of musical expressions. However, for all the detail that could be gone into to explore the facets that make up what we hear as music, the show feels decidedly superficial. Things like tempo, key, rhythm and melody complexity are touched on, but we never get the detail that would make the show so much more interesting.
What we are given are snippets of Grove’s own compositions, performed live on keyboard. And it has to be said, the man is clearly good at his job. You’ll recognise a few tunes for sure – they are perfect examples of what he outlines as the simple, refined pieces that blend into the background, yet still somehow manage to burrow into your subconscious. Impressively, the ones you don’t recognise will stick with you for a few hours after the show; a testament to the man’s ability.
His evident talent makes it all the more disappointing that the show does not delve into why his songs are so memorable. Grove mentions in passing toward the end that much of his work lately is to do with the use of music in the treatment of people with Alzheimer’s. Clearly he has knowledge of the cognitive and perceptual aspects of our responses to music. Adding some of this expertise to a little bit more structure for the hour would improve the show no end. Perhaps next year.