Famous Themes From Ads/TV



There are many musical themes that we are familiar with these days outside of their original context, as they have been used in tv commercials or films, in a striking and memorable way. For example, a famous melody from a classical piece of music is known to most people in Great Britain as The Hovis Theme. Of course Mr Hovis didn’t write it, and in fact it was written well before the actual composer would have had the chance to enjoy a slice of the aforementioned bread whilst composing his piece. And as the composer was Czech, and wrote the piece in America, the connection to England is getting really tenuous. Never mind the fact that no-one else in the world would know what you were on about if you referred to “The Hovis Theme” to, say,  a Canadian, or even tried to engage a Parisian in conversation by referring to “le thème de hovis”.

Other themes however have a more global recognition, for example the piece that is used at the start of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. In fact that piece is the opening section of the rather cumbersomely titled: “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, German for “And so spoke Zarathustra”, Zarathustra being the Persian prophet and founder of Zoroastrianism. No wonder people remember it as “the piece from 2001”. It was written by Richard Strauss, not to be confused with Johann Strauss II, who wrote “The Blue Danube”, which is also featured in “2001” but much later in the film, in the bit where the spacecraft docks with the space station dock, and the twoseem to be performing some beautiful celestial waltz with each other (The Blue Danube is, rather fittingly, a waltz).

The problem of course is, if you want to buy these tracks or play the sheet music for them, it’s a bit tricky to find them if you only know them by their popular reference. So here is a little roundup of some of the most famous ones and what they are actually called and whom they are written by:


The Stella Artois Theme – was actually written for the movie Jean De Florette by Jean-Claude Petit.


The piece of music they blast ouf of the helicopters in Apocalypse Now – is actually “The Ride Of The Valkyries” from Richard Wagner’s famous Ring Cycle.


The British Airways Theme is actually a piece entitled The Flower Duet from the opera Lakmé by Léo Delibes.


The aforementioned piece that accompanies a spaceship docking with a sapcesation in the film 2001 is The Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss II.



The Opening theme From 2001  is actually the opening theme from Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss (no relation to Johann).


The Theme at the end of Ocean’s 11 is actually Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy.


And finally The Hovis Theme is acually the Largo movement from The New World Symphony (Symphony No. 9 in E minor) by Antonín Dvořák.


We hope you enjoyed that!


Axis Of Awesome – 4 Chord Song


I thought I’d share this great little video by the musical comedy band Axis OF Awesome. In a very funny way they explain how most pop tunes really share the same chord sequence.

Generally people always assume that rock/pop composers sit hunched over their manuscript paper trying to find great and original chord sequences – this could not be further from the truth. There basically are only a limited number of chord sequences out there, which is why you cannot copyright them – so you are perfectly entitled to take the chord sequence from Let It Be, and write your own melody over it. The net result is that many, many, many songs share the exact same chord sequence.

In the video below they are singing in the key of E major, and the chord sequence is E, B, C sharp minor, A.

So if you look at the sequence neutral of the key, the sequence is I V VI IV – so the chords on the 1st [I], 5th [V], 6th [VI] and 4th [IV] degree/not of any major scale)

Therefore in the key of C major this would be the chords of C, G, A minor, F.
In the key of F major it would be the chords: F, C, D minor, Bb

The songs they sing are:

Don’t stop Believin’ – Journey
You’re Beautiful – James Blunt
Forever Young – Alphaville
I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
Happy Ending – Mika
Amazing – Alex Lloyd
Wherever You Will Go – The Calling
Can You Feel The Love Tonight – Elton John
She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5
Pictures Of You – The Last Goodnight
With Or Without You – U2
Fall At Your Feet – Crowded House
Not Pretty Enough – Kasey Chambers
Let It Be – The Beatles
Under The Bridge – Red Hot Chilli Peppers
The Horses – Daryl Braithtwaite
No Woman No Cry – Bob Marley
Sex And Candy – Marcy Playground
Down Under – Men At Work
Waltzing Matilda – Banjo Patterson
Take On Me – A Ha
When I Come Around – Green Day
Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry
Africa – Toto
If I Were A Boy – Beyonce
Self Esteem – The Offspring
You’re Gonna Go Far Kid – The Offspring
U & Ur Hand – Pink
Poker Face – Lady Gaga
Barbie Girl – Aqua
You Found Me – The Fray
Don’t Trust Me – 30h!3
Kids – MGMT
Canvas Bags – Tim Minchin
Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
Superman – Five For Fighting
Birdplane – Axis OF Awesome
Scar – Missy Higgins

Easy – so all you have to do now is write a catchy melody, some lyrics and you’ll be rich ;-)!

Thanks to my Godson, Jean-Pierre, for introducing me to this video.

Lincoln Jaeger


Tunes you didn't realise you knew – No3: New World Symphony/The Hovis Theme

Hi There

Welcome to the third instalment of Tunes you didn’t realise you knew. Today we will be looking at the music from the Hovis advertisement. For those of you who live outside of the UK, Hovis is a big British bread company. Yes, jolly foreigner, in the UK many people love sliced and packed bread made on an industrial scale (mind you, it ain’t my cup of tea!)

Anyway, I digress, back to the music. The music used in the ad is actually the 2nd movement (Largo) of Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From the New World”, Op. 95, B. 178 by the Czech composer Antonín Dvo?ák. It is usually referred to as The New World Symphony.

We have the sheet music for it here.

Dvorak (Dvo?ák) was staying in the United States from 1892 to 1895, and the US was then (more than now) referred to as The New World (i.e. the world that Columbus discovered, hence “New” World). It is said that in the 2nd movement Dvorak was trying to portray the feeling of home-sickness, something which the music did so successfully that the main theme was later set to lyrics and turned into the song Going Home.

So, what important tid-bits should we know about Dvorak (pronounced D-vor-jak or D-vor-zhahk)?

Q: Was he a one-hit classical wonder?
A: No, but The New World Symphony is by far his best known.

Q: Ok, so what other stuff did he write that I may know (or should know)?
A: The Slavonic Dances and the Humoresque.

Q: What was he doing in the US for those 3 years?
A: Dvorak was the director of the National Conservatory of Music and was paid $15,000 a year – which in those days was an absolute fortune.

Q: Wow, so a classical composer who wasn’t broke?
A: Yep, there are a few, but not too many.

Q: Ok, let’s see the ad then.
A: Here it is, arranged for brass band (the setting of the ad is in Northern England, where brass bands were very popular due to large number of coal mining brass bands).

And here is the actual piece played by an orchestra:


Lincoln Jaeger


Tunes you didn't realise you knew – No2: Morning Mood

Hi There

Welcome to the 2nd instalment of our look at famous classical pieces that are (almost) better known for their use in Tv or Films.

It is “Morning Mood” by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907).

Q: What do I need to know about this piece?
A: Morning Mood is taken from Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite I, Opus 46”. Peer Gynt is a play by Norwegian author Henrik Ibsen, with music composed by Edvard Grieg. The music contained in the play was so powerful, it soon took on a life of its own and Grieg selected eight pieces of the incidental score to form two separate Suites: Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 (Opus 46), and Peer Gynt Suite No. 2 (Opus 55).

Q: Are other pieces from the Peer Gynt Suite well known?
A: Yes, in fact almost all of them are known individually, the 2nd most well-known piece is probably In The Hall Of The Mountain King, which has also been used in many movies and commercials.

Q: Ok, is there anything else that Grieg wrote that I may know (or should know)?
A: Mainly his Piano Concerto in A minor.

Q: Ok, so which ads has this been used in?
A: Too many to mention. The music depicts the rising of the sun so well, it is used pretty much everywhere. Here is the orchestral version of the piece:


Tunes you didn't realise you knew – No1: Clair De Lune/Ocean's 11

Hi There

We thought we’d run a little series on famous themes of classical music, that you probably didn’t realise you knew. That is because these themes are often for us, the consumer, associated with a tv ad or a movie (or sometimes several) in which they are used, rather than the original context of classical piece itself.

The result of course, is that we don’t know the actual name of the piece, we are left with “ah, that theme from that ad, argh, what’s it called…”

So today we’d like to introduce you to Clair De Lune by French composer Claude Debussy (click on his name to read a longer bio). Or, as you may know it, the theme used in the (almost) final scene of the movie Ocean’s 11.

So, what important tid-bits should we know about Debussy?

Q: Was he a one-hit classical wonder?
A: No.

Q: Ok, so what other stuff did he write that I may know (or should know)?
A: Arabesque 1, Golliwogg’s Cake Walk, La Cathédrale Engloutie, La Fille Aux Cheveux De Lin, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.

Q: Ah, that’s a whole load of French to me!
A: Yep, translated they would be Arabesque 1, Golliwogg’s Cake Walk, The Sunken Cathedral, The Girl With The Flaxen Hair, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (a faun is a spirit-like creature that lives in the forest).

Q: Ok, dude, I get it, he wrote quite a bit.
A: Yes, he was one of the eminent (important) composers of Impressionist Music.

Q: Yeah, yeah, very impressive.
A: Impressionist were concerned with giving you an impression of something, rather than describing it “exactly”. So in the piece La Cathédrale Engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral) he is giving us the impression of a cathedral (that is said to have sunk into the sea) re-emerging only to disappear again. (This refers to the legend of the sunken city of Ys, in Brittany).

Q: Ok, let’s get back to our piece.
A: Sure, it is actually originally written for piano (Ocean’s 11 uses the orchestral version), and is part of the so called Suite Bergamasque. He started writing it in 1890 at age 28, but did not finish it until 1905, (aged 43). Leopold Stokowski created the orchestration .

Q: Cool, enough knowledge, can we have a bit of Ocean’s 11 now?
A: Ok, one more thing: Clair De Lune is actually French for “Moonlight”.