Fanfare for the Uncommon Copywriter

Untitled design (15).jpg

What do great pieces of music and great copy have in common?

What do master composers and master copywriters do to ensure the success of their pieces?

In 1942, the conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra commissioned 18 American composers to write short Fanfares. Each was to give honor to the men and women sacrificing their lives in the war effort.

Today, nobody remembers or performs any of the 18 except for 1. But it is much more than a remembered war-time piece. It is THE most iconic work of modern American classical music. Everyone recognizes it. Countless films, documentaries and soundtracks feature it.

Within the first few seconds, the majestic brass melody and crashing percussion conjure a remarkable patriotic fervor. It's a modern American masterpiece of classical music.

The piece is called "Fanfare for the Common Man." It was composed by the great Aaron Copland, the father of modern American classical music.

How does Aaron Copland manage to hit the nail on the head?

The answer is very similar to the key ingredient in a great piece of copy.

The Big Idea.

In Michael Masterson's excellent book "Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways To Start Any Sales Message," he explains that a Big Idea has to be accompanied by a single emotion. This single emotion is what drives the sale and connects with the person on the other side of the copy.

To make a piece of music like "Fanfare for the Common Man" burn in the hearts of the listeners, the same ingredients are required. You have to have a Principal Idea and a Principle Affect in mind when composing. Notice, it's not the Principle "Effect." It's the Principle "Affect," the element that moves the listener on a deep, emotional, and visceral level.

Every decision... every note... every chord... every musical marking serves the Principal Theme and Principal Affect. Only when this occurs does a piece of music have a chance to have a lasting impact.

In the Symphonic Copywriting lexicon, I call the Big Idea the Principle Theme. I call the "single emotion" discussed by Masterson, the Principle Affect.

As with any winning piece of copy, a composer spends the vast majority of their time working on the Big Idea. The Principle Theme.

Copland's piece has a clear, singable, mighty Principle Theme. And the Principle Affect couldn't be more clear. It's the patriotic emotion felt by all common men and women who hear the call of duty... those brave souls who put their lives in harm's way to fight for their country.

And now, it's time to hear this great piece of classical music copywriting. Here it is, Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man." Have a listen. Don't worry... it's short. I'm sure you'll recognize it.

How are you doing with your Big Idea, your Principle Theme?

Have you clarified your Principle Affect?

If you'd like some help, let's talk. Click the salmon button below or the "Contact" tab above. Let's chat and make sure you've got your core message all tuned up.

May your copy every be melodic and harmonious!


P.S. Ok, so the Big Idea, the Principle Theme... it all sounds great... but how do I come up with one? Check back in tomorrow. We'll discuss a few tips about how to know if you've nailed your Principle Theme.