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Tunes for 'Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon

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In the first in-depth examination of music written for Hollywood animated cartoons of the 1930s through the 1950s, Daniel Goldmark provides a brilliant account of the enormous creative effort that went into setting cartoons to music and shows how this effort shaped the characters and stories that have become embedded in American culture. Focusing on classical music, opera, In the first in-depth examination of music written for Hollywood animated cartoons of the 1930s through the 1950s, Daniel Goldmark provides a brilliant account of the enormous creative effort that went into setting cartoons to music and shows how this effort shaped the characters and stories that have become embedded in American culture. Focusing on classical music, opera, and jazz, Goldmark considers the genre and compositional style of cartoons produced by major Hollywood animation studios, including Warner Bros., MGM, Lantz, and the Fleischers. Tunes for 'Toons discusses several well-known cartoons in detail, including What's Opera, Doc?, the 1957 Warner Bros. parody of Wagner and opera that is one of the most popular cartoons ever created. Goldmark pays particular attention to the work of Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley, arguably the two most influential composers of music for theatrical cartoons. Though their musical backgrounds and approaches to scoring differed greatly, Stalling and Bradley together established a unique sound for animated comedies that has not changed in more than seventy years. Using a rich range of sources including cue sheets, scores, informal interviews, and articles from hard-to-find journals, the author evaluates how music works in an animated universe. Reminding readers of the larger context in which films are produced and viewed, this book looks at how studios employed culturally charged music to inspire their stories and explores the degree to which composers integrated stylistic elements of jazz and the classics into their scores.


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In the first in-depth examination of music written for Hollywood animated cartoons of the 1930s through the 1950s, Daniel Goldmark provides a brilliant account of the enormous creative effort that went into setting cartoons to music and shows how this effort shaped the characters and stories that have become embedded in American culture. Focusing on classical music, opera, In the first in-depth examination of music written for Hollywood animated cartoons of the 1930s through the 1950s, Daniel Goldmark provides a brilliant account of the enormous creative effort that went into setting cartoons to music and shows how this effort shaped the characters and stories that have become embedded in American culture. Focusing on classical music, opera, and jazz, Goldmark considers the genre and compositional style of cartoons produced by major Hollywood animation studios, including Warner Bros., MGM, Lantz, and the Fleischers. Tunes for 'Toons discusses several well-known cartoons in detail, including What's Opera, Doc?, the 1957 Warner Bros. parody of Wagner and opera that is one of the most popular cartoons ever created. Goldmark pays particular attention to the work of Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley, arguably the two most influential composers of music for theatrical cartoons. Though their musical backgrounds and approaches to scoring differed greatly, Stalling and Bradley together established a unique sound for animated comedies that has not changed in more than seventy years. Using a rich range of sources including cue sheets, scores, informal interviews, and articles from hard-to-find journals, the author evaluates how music works in an animated universe. Reminding readers of the larger context in which films are produced and viewed, this book looks at how studios employed culturally charged music to inspire their stories and explores the degree to which composers integrated stylistic elements of jazz and the classics into their scores.

30 review for Tunes for 'Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon

  1. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    I was recently explaining to my adult son that the thing I loved the best about watching Saturday Morning Cartoons was the music. My parents were partial to showtimes and and my older siblings always had Rock and Roll playing. So, as I got older, I was puzzled by how familiar so much of jazz, classical, and even opera sounded. A piece of music would play and I’d recognize it immediately but would have no idea why I knew it. I figured I couldn’t be the only person with this experience and, after I was recently explaining to my adult son that the thing I loved the best about watching Saturday Morning Cartoons was the music. My parents were partial to showtimes and and my older siblings always had Rock and Roll playing. So, as I got older, I was puzzled by how familiar so much of jazz, classical, and even opera sounded. A piece of music would play and I’d recognize it immediately but would have no idea why I knew it. I figured I couldn’t be the only person with this experience and, after spending time on a Google Search, I discovered the book Tunes For ‘Toons by Daniel Goldmark. When Goldmark was a music major at the University of California, Riverside he realized he had an affinity for cartoon music. With the encouragement of his professors, he started exploring the musicology of cartoons. In the first line of the introduction he talks about having earworms since the age of five. For those of you unfamiliar with earworms, nearly every morning I wake up with some song or bit of music playing in my head and it can take hours for it to go away. I immediately knew I had found the right book! Goldmark does not try to take on the entire subject of music in cartoons but focuses on five main topic areas. In the first two chapters he goes into great detail about the work of two major cartoon composers; Carl Stalling (Warner Brothers) and Scott Bradley (MGM). Chapter three focuses on jazz and swing in cartoons. Chapter four is about classical music in cartoons. And he finishes up in chapter five with opera in cartoons. Each chapter in Goldmark’s book is chock full of information, cartoon references, scene descriptions, and musical information. As if that was not enough, he includes twenty-six pages of footnotes and a thirteen page bibliography. While not a text book, it is definitely a book you need to read slowly to digest it all. While reading this paperback book I kept my iPhone close at hand. Every few pages I would search for and watch online the cartoons he mentions. So many were like old friends, several were ones I had forgotten, and a few were ones I had missed along the way. Of course, watching cartoons while reading Goldmark’s book is an entirely different experience as you are now seeing and hearing so many things you might have otherwise missed. Even then, I had to watch Herr Meets Hare twice to catch the viking helmet horns grow when he spies Brunhilde. (No idea how this got back the censors in 1945.) While this book is centered around the music of 1920-1960 cartoons, Goldmark does address the elephant in the room. These old cartoons were incredibly racist, sexist, sacrilegious, misogynist, and much more. Early cartoons evolved out of vaudeville minstrel shows which featured white people with blackfaces and white gloves. You only have to take a good luck at Mickey Mouse to see how this horrific legacy lingers on and on. Like every other white person in American, I have been brought up with a lot of conscious and unconscious racism. I have no doubt that hours spent watching cartoons in the 1950’s didn’t help. Fortunately, I did get to see and hear cartoons with Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong and many others. Their characters were unflattering but boy was the music something great. Reading this book I have a much better understanding of why I loved Minnie The Moocher so much the first time I heard it as an adult! If you were a child with a TV in the 40s, 50s, or 60s, you absolutely have to read this book. If you are a bit younger, you might want to check out what things were like during the “golden age” of cartoons. No matter when you were born, Goldmark has quite a bit of history to teach you.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Theophilo Pinto

    Um livro sobre a trilha musical dos desenhos animados clássicos. Como não ler? Com ele numa mão, revi pelo Youtube uma porção de episódios do Pernalonga/Ortolino, Bip-Bip/Coiote, Tom/Jerry e outros. Aliás, pude tirar a limpo uma dúvida: é que, quando criança, ouvia os desenhos do Pernalonga com uma valsa de Chopin tocando ao fundo (sempre a mesma...) Já naquela época eu achava aquilo muito chato e que devia ser alguma adaptação feita na dublagem, pois em alguns momentos era possível perceber qu Um livro sobre a trilha musical dos desenhos animados clássicos. Como não ler? Com ele numa mão, revi pelo Youtube uma porção de episódios do Pernalonga/Ortolino, Bip-Bip/Coiote, Tom/Jerry e outros. Aliás, pude tirar a limpo uma dúvida: é que, quando criança, ouvia os desenhos do Pernalonga com uma valsa de Chopin tocando ao fundo (sempre a mesma...) Já naquela época eu achava aquilo muito chato e que devia ser alguma adaptação feita na dublagem, pois em alguns momentos era possível perceber que havia uma música mais trabalhada e interessante, mas que sumia quando os personagens falavam. E tinha mesmo! É sobre a música desses desenhos que Daniel Goldmark fala, sem tentar ser um livro histórico abrangente. Ele mesmo diz que fez alguns ‘estudos de caso’, e o faz muito bem, analisando alguns episódios mais extensamente. Em Tunes for ‘toons, o autor analisa a produção de dois grandes estúdios, a Warner (criadora do Pernalonga e do Bip-Bip, entre outros) e a Metro (criadora de Tom e Jerry). Ele pouco fala da Disney para além do long Fantasia. E não espere nenhuma menção de qualquer desenho japonês que, pelo menos no Brasil, compôs grande parte da grade de programação junto com os referidos cartoons americanos. Na Warner, o grande nome foi Carl Stalling, descrito como alguém que usa muita música não original, isto é, já conhecida do público nos filmes. Na Metro, Scott Bradley criava mais música original devido à admiração desse compositor com seus pares do meio erudito. Em torno dos dois e de sua produção é que o resto do livro se desenvolve. Além desses dois capítulos mais biográficos, Goldmark fala da representação da negritude pelo olhar dos cartoons, e aí repete muito do que se viu em outros lugares sobre como se enxergava essa música: como uma produção ligada a uma suposta origem africana, bastante ligada a uma ‘raiz’ original e primitiva. Ainda que isso não seja verdade, é impressionante o número de vezes que isso aparece por aí, para além dos desenhos mencionados. De todo modo, Goldmark mostrou como essa representação confinava artistas negros como Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway e outros a uma origem primitiva (de fato, vários desenhos os mostram como primitivos habitantes de uma selva com leões e outros animais). Isso é ruim porque pode tirar parte do mérito do artista ser talentoso, já que ele tinha a ‘vantagem’ de ser negro e fazer aquela música mais ‘naturalmente’. Uma bobagem que Goldmark mostra como recorrente desde aquela época, pelo menos. Os dois últimos capítulos têm a ver com o mundo da música erudita e várias paródias desse mundo pelo desenho. Seja a música instrumental, seja a ópera, Pernalonga, Jerry, Ortolino e Tom aparecem em meio a citações de Wagner, Liszt, Chopin e outros. Engraçado, nos exemplos que ele mostra não aparece nenhuma vez a tal valsa que deixava os desenhos dublados tão enfadonhos! Uma palavra sobre a metodologia que ele empregou: Goldmark comentou que sua análise dessas músicas foi feita assistindo-se aos desenhos e ouvindo as músicas com, no máximo, uma lista das entradas de cada uma (os chamados cues). O motivo principal para isso foi a falta de outro tipo de registro. Os cartoons, diz ele, são um produto destinado ao público infantil e, por isso, visto frequentemente pelos estudiosos e pelos estúdios como portador de um conteúdo pouco sofisticado. Daí, pouco ficou guardado dos arranjos e composições feitas pelos compositores. Uma pena. Mas fica a demonstração de que é possível fazer um estudo musical (musicológico?) sem ter a partitura original para seguir como roteiro. Os estúdios que produziram esses desenhos fecharam seus respectivos departamentos na década de 1960. Depois disso, vieram outros, onde os personagens cantavam, caso de Josie e as Gatinhas e tantos outros. Não foi diferente do que aconteceu com muitos filmes da época. Porém, se esses filmes tiveram um retorno da trilha instrumental a partir da década de 1970 (Tubarão, Guerra nas Estrelas e outros orquestrados principalmente por John Williams), os desenhos, aparentemente, tiveram de esperar mais. Parece que na década de 1990, com os Simpsons e outros é que o trabalho de Stalling e Bradley está sendo revisto. Tomara que continue assim.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stella

    A wonderful overview of the differing styles of two early great composers of cartoon music, Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley, and an introduction to how classical and jazz music were used in early cartoon history. Very informative.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dave-O

    Though the book focuses almost exclusively on the works of Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley, Goldmark paints a thorough picture of the workings of animation in the 1930s and 1940s. Particularly interesting to me was the different approach that each composer took in scoring animated shorts. Stalling's collage of classical, public domain, and Warner-owned themes and Bradley's own original scoring and lofty hopes for the future of music in animation. That Goldmark is a musician interested in animati Though the book focuses almost exclusively on the works of Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley, Goldmark paints a thorough picture of the workings of animation in the 1930s and 1940s. Particularly interesting to me was the different approach that each composer took in scoring animated shorts. Stalling's collage of classical, public domain, and Warner-owned themes and Bradley's own original scoring and lofty hopes for the future of music in animation. That Goldmark is a musician interested in animation and not the other way around seems to me more for the better. Texts on animation tend to focus on the same shorts or studios and get a little dry with post-modern speculation. While Goldmark does his share of that in the book, he sticks more to the facts surrounding the high-mindedness that films of the 1930's and Classical music both share. The book's ending is rather blunt, particularly the final chapter which could have been expanded on with more contemporary examples in animation. On the whole, this was a great read, especially the jazz chapter and the chapter on "What's Opera Doc".

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This book is a brief but illuminating look at the music written for and used in classic Hollywood cartoon shorts of the 1930s through 1960s. It was one of the most fun and fascinating books about music I have ever read. Goldmark looks at Carl Stalling (Warner Bros.), Scott Bradley (MGM, especially the Tom and Jerry series), the use of jazz in cartoons, the use of classical music, and the use of opera as both music and setting. Although Goldmark does not address anything in exhaustive depth, his This book is a brief but illuminating look at the music written for and used in classic Hollywood cartoon shorts of the 1930s through 1960s. It was one of the most fun and fascinating books about music I have ever read. Goldmark looks at Carl Stalling (Warner Bros.), Scott Bradley (MGM, especially the Tom and Jerry series), the use of jazz in cartoons, the use of classical music, and the use of opera as both music and setting. Although Goldmark does not address anything in exhaustive depth, his examinations of composers and music are very interesting and shed a great deal of welcome light on cartoon soundtracks, their construction, meaning, and influence. The chapter on the classic Bugs bunny short What's Opera, Doc? is brilliant. I hope that Goldmark continues writing on this music, because I would gladly have read a book twice as long. If you've ever spent way too much time watching old cartoons, this book will delight you.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    This was a really fascinating read. Goldmark goes into great detail about the history of music in animation, focusing on early Hollywood cartoons from Warner Bros., Disney, MGM, and others from the 1930s through the 1950s, the Golden Age of animation. Using carefully researched case studies of specific shorts and composers like Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley, Goldmark really does an incredible job of tracing how music was used in these cartoons--how studio practices influenced the process of co This was a really fascinating read. Goldmark goes into great detail about the history of music in animation, focusing on early Hollywood cartoons from Warner Bros., Disney, MGM, and others from the 1930s through the 1950s, the Golden Age of animation. Using carefully researched case studies of specific shorts and composers like Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley, Goldmark really does an incredible job of tracing how music was used in these cartoons--how studio practices influenced the process of composition, how popular songs were incorporated into the shorts, and how jazz and opera started to infuse so many cartoons. I would have loved to see Goldmark talk more about cartoons outside this era, and he only assigns two pages to modern cartoons, but the dearth of studies on this topic make any contribution worthwhile. I thought Tunes for 'Toons was overall an immensely enjoyable and readable book. If you have any interest in the history of animation, definitely check it out.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gijs Grob

    Een eerste poging tot het beschrijven van de sociologische en musicologische betekenis van filmmuziek bij de classic cartoons (jaren dertig-veertig). Goldmark behandelt de stijlen van Carl Stalling en Scott Bradley, maar ook de rol van jazz en klassiek in cartoons. Het boek bevat, zoals vele sociale studies, nogal wat discutabel gewauwel (vooral over de jazz, dat duidelijk gevoed is door een nauwe blik op beperkt materiaal), maar evenveel interessante gedachten en een uitstekende notenapparaat en Een eerste poging tot het beschrijven van de sociologische en musicologische betekenis van filmmuziek bij de classic cartoons (jaren dertig-veertig). Goldmark behandelt de stijlen van Carl Stalling en Scott Bradley, maar ook de rol van jazz en klassiek in cartoons. Het boek bevat, zoals vele sociale studies, nogal wat discutabel gewauwel (vooral over de jazz, dat duidelijk gevoed is door een nauwe blik op beperkt materiaal), maar evenveel interessante gedachten en een uitstekende notenapparaat en bronvermelding, zodat de studie als wetenschappelijk pionierswerk zeer geslaagd te noemen valt.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John

    As the only book length scholarly study of cartoons that I know of, this book was an interesting and unique read. An invaluable source for my future work with music and humor, for those working in cartoon music, or for those who want a serious yet eminently accessible introduction to music in the Hollywood cartoon.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Djll

    Well-organized and clearly written, although somewhat flat and academic (UC Press, so it literally *is* academic) in tone, Goldmark's premises are delineated and explained methodically, and he wisely limits himself to just a few key figures, avoiding what could easily have been a chaotic, over-expansive survey. Well-organized and clearly written, although somewhat flat and academic (UC Press, so it literally *is* academic) in tone, Goldmark's premises are delineated and explained methodically, and he wisely limits himself to just a few key figures, avoiding what could easily have been a chaotic, over-expansive survey.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Greg Smith

    Carl Stalling is a personal deity, and the chapter on him was music to my ears. The chapter on Scott Bradley, his high-minded rival at MGM, heretofore nameless to me, made me want to hear more of his Tom and Jerry soundtracks without actually having to slog through any more T&J cartoons.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bill Benzon

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

  13. 5 out of 5

    Denean

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steven E Barden

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rose

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nolan Vallier

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rose Pruiksma

  19. 4 out of 5

    Don Kinnier

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael Dalby

  22. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  24. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Boyd

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dave Guinane

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jon Nelson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maciej Zolnowski

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eugene Iemola

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ross McGrew

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