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Critical Listening

Updated: May 17, 2023

I was asked by a professor of mine to listen to the sonic identities of three different brands and find if what I heard matched up with what I am being told and sold. That’s a powerful skill to hone. The companies I chose to examine were: Tesla, Sony, and FENTY. Tesla’s sound is dynamic, forward-moving; they utilize sounds such as anticipatory music, lightning strikes, swelling violins within orchestra, the voice of a child and his footsteps, tinny zooms, and dramatic music propel me toward the feeling that I am in the future. Tesla’s mission statement is: “Tesla's mission is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. Tesla was founded in 2003 by a group of engineers who wanted to prove that people didn't need to compromise to drive electric – that electric vehicles can be better, quicker and more fun to drive than gasoline cars.” About. Surely Tesla’s sounds match their mission.

Sony’s sound uses sweet, passionate folk music, gentle melodies, the crash, push, and pull of waves; they utilize heartfelt piano melodies and sweet violins, there’s also a fairy-like ding that rings once or twice a commercial that make me feel that I can overcome anything. In searching for Sony’s mission statement, I came across the history that encapsulates its mission. “In 1946, Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo K.K. (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation, the predecessor of Sony) started as a small company with capital of just 190,000 yen and approximately 20 employees. Founder Masaru Ibuka said the purpose of setting up the company was to "establish an ideal factory that stresses a spirit of freedom and open mindedness that will, through technology, contribute to Japanese culture." Symbolizing Sony's spirit of challenge to "do what has never been done before," the company has continued to release countless "Japan's first" and "world's first" products.” - History. In hearing Sony’s sound, I think it does its history justice.

FENTY’s sounds were harder to grasp, she utilizes advertisements in a way that’s more innovative than the traditional commercial. Most of her advertising is through social media and media production hubs like Amazon. She utilizes eclectic, experimental sounds that traverse many cultures all over the world, much like her own music. I found a youtube video of Rihanna explaining her brand, which inspired the analysis of the true soundscape of the brand. FENTY’s sounds are most definitely Rihanna’s voice/narration, gentle, vibrant dance music, or passionate, intense jungle tones, as well as interviews of people close to her; Rihanna’s ideas, insight, inspiration, her history, and personality. Their sounds made me feel as if I wanted to be right there with her, hanging out with her, seeing what she sees and hearing how she thinks. FENTY is special because it is totally powered by Rihanna’s influence.

On the FENTY about page, it says, “Inspired by a worldwide community beyond traditional boundaries, FENTY embraces a fundamental freedom: a freedom from convention and rules. ‘Women are forces of this earth. We are multifaceted, complex, vulnerable yet bulletproof, and FENTY speaks to all of our intricacies. Some days I want to be submissive, many days I’m completely in charge and most days I feel like being both….so it was imperative that we created a line versatile enough to embrace and celebrate us in that way.’ Robyn Rihanna Fenty”. The brand is most definitely about her, her vision, her wonders. The allure of this sound is its rarity. We simply love FENTY because it's Robyn Rihanna Fenty. That’s very powerful.

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