May 14, 2010, 17:47

Check out how this Super Bowl ad by Google gets so much emotional mileage out of a dead-simple piano track:

The Behind-The-Scenes Story:

Around 2009, Google Creative Labs decided to produce a YouTube video campaign featuring vignettes about people’s lives. The challenge was to accomplish this by showing only Google searches. They bid the creative idea out to several design firms among which were New York-based 1st Ave Machine.

Says director Aaron Duffy of 1st Ave Machine, “We knew that the strength of the piece was going to depend on an emotional build but we also knew that we wanted it to be fairly sparse. Really strong sound design would be really important for a piece like this because we are asking the viewer to use so much of their imagination. As soon as the project came in I started working with Jeremy Turner (composer and cellist with the Metropolitan Opera), Alan Zahn (executive producer), Nick Cipriano (sound designer) and Geoff Strasser (sound designer).”

Says Turner about the music creation process, “The most obvious thing was seeing the blinking cursor in the beginning. That inspired me to create a simple piano part created using just the on-board piano sound in Logic 8. The sonic quality of sample libraries have evolved so much it’s scary. If you know what you’re doing, the results can sound almost as good as a real instrument.”

Google ultimately award the job to 1st Ave Machine who then delivered a finished spot (with Turner’s music of course) that clocked in at fifty-two seconds long – an unusual but acceptable length because the spot would never air on TV…….or so it was thought.

Somehow Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin saw the spot, loved it and decided to break corporate protocol and run Google’s very first TV ad – during Super Bowl XLIV. It was that good.

Says executive music producer Alan Zahn, “This thing kept growing and growing. First it was a 15 second demo. Then it was a fully awarded spot. Then we had to lengthen it to 60 seconds for it to run during Super Bowl 2010 – all while preserving the energy of that initial music submission.”

“The suggestion was made to have the music build more at the end so we blended live strings with the synth strings.” says Turner. “But other than that, the instrumentation stayed as is – just an old hollow-body Epiphone guitar I own and piano. It’s a super-simple piece.”

This outstanding music-to-picture collaboration between Google Creative Labs, 1st Ave Machine and Analogue Muse produced a spot that reached 106 million TV viewers and has received 5,032,018 views on YouTube…so far.

Fun Fact:

The sound of a giggling woman 17 seconds into the spot is executive producer Alan Zahn’s 16-year-old daughter Isabel.


Mike Bielenberg is a professional musician and co-founder of, a production music marketplace where media producers and business owners can license high-quality, affordable music from a online community of musicians.

2 Responses to “Music Sync of the Week: How Jeremy Turner’s piano track wound up in a Super Bowl ad.”

  1. Tweets that mention Production music, royalty-free music, business music, on hold music, background music from MusicRevolution -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Bielenberg. Mike Bielenberg said: The story of how a promotional YouTube video and it's awesomely simple piano soundtrack became a Super Bowl ad. […]

  2. making music online Says:

    This is a very good blog , how do i subscribe to your newsletter ?

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