CAMPAIGN SCREEN: Music and Sound Design - Production. Top 10 music maestros

From minimalism to pop and rock 'n' roll, the influences on contemporary composers come from all genres. Jim Davis looks at ten of the best who provide music for advertising.

They may not be the new rock 'n' roll, but any stigma attached to commercials has long gone. Even the defiantly uncompromising Oasis recently let it slip that they'd be willing to see their music featured in an ad - so long as it was for the right kind of product, of course.

Not that that seems to matter particularly. The ubiquitous Moby, who is so eco-conscious that he won't travel by car, seems happy enough for his tracks to be used in commercials for the likes of the Renault Kangoo, Nissan Almera and the VW Polo - surely a case of pragmatism driving principle.

It's also a sign that the music industry is more geared up than ever to exploit the potential of advertising. Many have departments dedicated to "synchronisation", tying up deals that will give their artists a leg up via significant TV exposure and favourable brand association. There are also agencies such as Song Seekers and Recall that will suggest, source and clear copyright for using music in commercials. "It's getting more competitive and more aggressive out there," Rachel Iyer, the head of film and television at Sony, confirms.

So who's finding favour with the ad agencies? Which composers and songwriters have what it takes to bring that added dimension to 30 seconds of sell?

Our top ten is as varied as the products they're touting, from the abstract soundscapes of Philip Glass, to the perfect pop of Ray Davies, with a few specialists such as Joe & Co featuring as well.

John Hegarty is said to have remarked that the music was worth 70 per cent of an ad. Here are the people who can really make them sing.

1. PHILIP GLASS - Chicago-born Philip Glass has been at the forefront of avant-garde music since the late 60s. After the release of his first opera, Einstein on the Beach (written with Robert Wilson) in 1975, his hardline minimalism gave way to a (slightly) more accessible style of harmonic composition, used in a series of stage productions and art-house movies including Koyaanisqati and Kundun. Typically, Glass' work is powerful, emotive and original, the perfect foil in edgier commercials shot for clients such as Orange, Boots and Daewoo.

2. MICHAEL NYMAN - The prolific, multi-talented Michael Nyman is probably best known for his film score for Jane Campion's Oscar-winning 1993 film The Piano, as well as the "propulsively pounding" soundtracks he created for the film-maker Peter Greenaway on films such as The Draughtsman's Contract and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. Films, however, are just the tip of the iceberg - he's also written operas, string quartets and a saxophone concerto, as well as libretti and an influential book on experimental music. Happy to cross genres and media, his many commercials include a classic 80s spot for Milton Keynes and, more recently, music for Walker's Sensations, Sky Digital and Sony.

3. MOBY - Incredibly, every single track on Moby's fourth album, Play, has been licensed to appear in a commercial, introduction to a television programme or movie. They've been used - among other things - to sell Galaxy chocolate, Learn Direct, Thornton's, Rolling Rock, Maxwell House and even Ken Livingstone. The soft-spoken Christian, vegan, philosophy graduate from New York is an ancestor of Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick - hence the name. Watch out for more Moby soundtracked commercials from his latest album, 18.

4. RAY DAVIES - You can't keep a good Kink down. Widely recognised as one of the truly great British pop song writers, Ray Davies' raw, invigorating sound, honed in the 60s and 70s, is still managing to cut it with the over-produced young pretenders. Classic tracks such as You Really Got Me, All Day and All of the Night, Tired of Waiting for You and Days have featured in ads for BT, Pretty Polly, Barclays, Sony and Yellow Pages. Most bizarrely of all, Lola, a song about a transvestite, was used to sell Weetabix.

5. NORMAN COOK - He's had a record seven incarnations as a pop act - most of which have featured in high-profile commercials - but it was as Fatboy Slim, the champion of big beat, that Brighton's Norman Cook has tasted most success in the charts and the commercial break. Commercials for the likes of Adidas, Mastercard, Rover and Ford were all given irresistible impetus by pounding tracks culled from You've Come a Long Way Baby and Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars.

6. PETER LAWLOR - You won't necessarily know the name, but to seasoned ad watchers, Peter Lawlor's music is more than familiar. He's provided music for (among many, many others) Levi's, Coca-Cola, Orange, The New York Times, Land Rover, Special K, P&O and Pataks. (In his spare time, he writes songs for S Club 7.) Entirely self-taught, Lawlor traded bonds on Wall Street before deciding to devote himself to music, playing in a succession of bands he won't now admit to before landing his first commercial.

7. VANGELIS - The grandaddy of electronic mood music, Vangelis, a somewhat punchier version of his real name, Evanghelos Odyssey Papathanassiou, still has what it takes to create a spellbinding movie soundtrack, let alone top-drawer music for a commercial. He collaborated memorably with Ridley Scott, one of adland's most feted directors, with his music for the films Blade Runner and 1492: Conquest of Paradise, though his finest moment was undoubtedly the Oscar-winning score for Chariots of Fire in 1981. In terms of commercials, Vangelis' music has appeared in spots for Smirnoff Black, the Ford Galaxy, Persil and the Red Cross.

8. ELTON JOHN - Elton publicly announced "I like nice things" in the Royal Mail commercial that did wonders for the sales of his "back-to-basics" Songs from the West Coast album. In a fantastically productive music industry career that spans nearly 40 colourful years, the Rocket Man's songs have also appeared in ads for the likes of Microsoft, the NSPCC, Beechams and Magic 105.4 FM - no doubt enabling him to further indulge his passion for nice things.

9. JOE CAMPBELL and PAUL HART - Under the auspices of Joe & Co, which was established in 1977, Joe Campbell and Paul Hart have produced the music for countless commercials, including Clio-winning work for Newcastle Brown Ale and a D&AD Black Pencil-winner for their contribution to the much-admired Carling "Dambusters" spot. Campbell played in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hart with the jazzers Clio Laine and John Dankworth, before joining forces to write music specifically for television and advertising. Campbell and Hart have also worked on the music for a long list of feature films including Notting Hill and GoldenEye.

10. CRAIG ARMSTRONG - The versatile, multitalented composer Craig Armstrong works across the genres of film, pop, classical, dance and theatre with consummate ease. He's released two studio albums of his own - The Space Between Us and As If To Nothing - and collaborated with everyone from Madonna to U2 and Massive Attack. The cream of his many film scores include the Baz Luhrmann spectaculars Romeo+Juliet and Moulin Rouge, while the pick of his ads are the Citroen Xara (featuring a stripping Claudia Schiffer) and a recent Volvo spot. Armstrong studied at the Royal College of Music where he won several awards including the Harvey Lohr scholarship for composition.

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