Ode To A Ford

Whatever you’re doing, stop and gather around anyone in your immediate vicinity to watch this video and learn more about this project! The video, which has been released in certain parts of Europe and the UK, is a commercial produced by Ford Motor Company to promote one of their redesigned cars, the Ford Focus. You can watch a larger version of the video here and for any naysayers out there saying "no way, that has to be fake" read on…

There are two wonderfully in-depth articles available at
createdigitalmusic.com  (here and here) that provide a wealth of details about the
project including interviews with New York-based sound designer Bill
Milbrodt, who led a 22-person team to build the 21 separate instruments
used in the ensemble. Instruments include:

  • A Clutch Guitar (ornamented with a backdrop from inside a door)
  • A Spike Fiddle made from a rear suspension mount and a shock absorber
  • The Ford Fender Bass made from fenders and a pillar/roof support
  • A Shockbone made primarily from shock absorber parts
  • A Window Frame Harp
  • An Opera Window Violin
  • A Dijeruba which works both as a dijeridu type of instrument and a primitive sort of tuba

Although it isn’t entirely clear, it appears that the ensemble is
comprised of 20 different musicians who recorded the music at Capital
Records in Los Angeles and shot the video at Universal Studios.
According to Milbrodt, the only thing used on the instruments which
were not from the 2008 Ford Focus included strings, pickups, bows, and

If you don’t want to take Milbrodt’s word for it then check out Ford’s "beautifully arranged" microsite where they have several videos of how the instruments were made, an interview with composer Craig Richey,
and a few from the studio recording and video shoot. And if that
weren’t enough, don’t miss one of the coolest web apps available; a
tack based music player that allows you to mute and control the volume
for each of the eight individual tracks. It’s easy to miss that part if
you aren’t careful but you can be certain to find it by clicking on the
little treble clef icon on the left hand side of the screen.

I wish it were possible to post direct links to all of these
infinitely entertaining goodies but since someone decided to program
the entire site in flash, that isn’t an option. Regardless, go through
as many of the videos as possible since it turns out Craig Richey wrote
a few pieces for this project and you’ll get to hear most of the music
which never made it off the editing room. Ultimately, perhaps one of
the most impressive elements of the commercial is there isn’t a word of
spoken dialogue; instead, they let the music speak for itself. In the
meantime, enjoy some of the high resolution photos made available from autoblog.com.






P.S. Apparently, there is a higher quality 13MB .mov version of the
commercial floating around. If anyone has a copy or can point me in the
direction of where I can download one, please let me know. And for all of the uber-geeks out there, apparently the execs at Ford were so impressed with the way the instruments looked, they made certain to include them in another commercial (although they are nothing more than props).

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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