Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Tunes for ’Toons

Tunes for ’Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon

Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Pages: 243
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Tunes for ’Toons
    Book Description:

    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 'Toonsdiscusses several well-known cartoons in detail, includingWhat'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.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94120-5
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    (pp. 1-9)

    Around age five, I had my first encounter with what Germans call anohrwurm, or earworm: I had a tune stuck in my head. I had no idea where or when I had heard it. With the help of a piano teacher, my mother and I finally identified the piece as Mozart’s piano sonata in C major, K. 545. The tune I was stuck on was the opening melody (see music example 1). I took piano lessons for four years, and during that time I learned to play the piece. My interest in the piano faded and I moved on...

  7. 1 Carl Stalling and Popular Music in the Warner Bros. Cartoons
    (pp. 10-43)

    The name Carl Stalling has appeared on movie and television screens for more than seventy-five years. His work as a composer for Hollywood cartoons was apparently headed for the same fate as practically all film music: heard but never widely recognized for its creativity and originality. That changed two decades after his death in 1972, when Greg Ford and Hal Willner producedThe Carl Stalling Project(1990–95), two CDs of Stalling’s music taken from his time at Warner Bros. (1936 to 1958). The discs sold surprisingly well for a niche release; the first of the two discs actually appeared...

  8. 2 “You Really Do Beat the Shit out of That Cat”: SCOTT BRADLEY’S (VIOLENT) MUSIC FOR MGM
    (pp. 44-76)

    Before interest in Carl Stalling’s music surged in the late 1980s, most of the critical writing on music and cartoons focused on one composer: Scott Bradley.¹ The authors tended to revere Bradley’s composing style, particularly his preference for writing original music, and thus implicitly praised his disdain for using popular music. Today, Bradley’s name has joined those of long-forgotten film composers, while Carl Stalling has become the cartoon composer to be lauded and imitated.

    Yet Bradley had held his position of prominence in the industry for decades. During his almost twenty-five years of composing cartoons for MGM (1934–57), Bradley...

    (pp. 77-106)

    By the early 1920s, a new style of music had worked its way north from New Orleans and begun to infiltrate numerous forms of popular culture and entertainment, including fiction, art, and classical music. Within only a few years, jazz permeated the collective musical culture of America, from recordings and live performances to films focusing on the nature of jazz itself. Cartoons got caught up in the craze as well, and they became an especially potent site for spreading the sound of jazz nationwide. Within two years of the Hollywood sound revolution, cartoons began appearing with such titles asThe...

  10. 4 Corny Concertos and Silly Symphonies: CLASSICAL MUSIC AND CARTOONS
    (pp. 107-131)

    If cartoons have become associated over time with any one musical genre, it is classical music. When I talk to people about cartoon music, that is inevitably what they first think of and talk about: “Cartoons are where I learned all the classics.” “I love it when Elmer sings ‘Kill the Wabbit!’” “I can’t go to a concert without thinking of a Tom and Jerry cartoon.” Apparently, countless Americans attribute their first conscious memory of the classical repertoire to cartoons. Through film, and then television, cartoons have repeatedly introduced large segments of society to this music. Among those exposed were...

  11. 5 What’s Opera, Doc? and Cartoon Opera
    (pp. 132-160)

    The visual, dramatic, and musical trappings of nineteenth-century opera have become a standard reference point for animated cartoons, and thus no understanding of the battle between classic and cartoon is complete without an examination of opera. Dozens of possible cartoons might be considered, but the best-known example is What’s Opera, Doc?(Warner Bros., 1957), Chuck Jones’s interpretation of Wagner’s operatic universe. Disney’sFantasiatakes a long look at classical music, loving and serious;What’s Opera, Doc?instead takesonclassical music. This cartoon and others like it have helped form a new cultural concept of opera, an awareness built on...

  12. A Brief Conclusion
    (pp. 161-164)

    Even a quick glance at the animation industry in our own time reveals that a great deal has changed. With the demise of the animation units run by or for major Hollywood companies, the power shifted to independent animation studios that could supply the seemingly insatiable demand for children’s television programming. In the 1970s and 1980s, Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, DIC, Ruby-Spears, and other studios paid little attention to (or money for) such luxuries as unique sound effects or original music. At the same time, there was an explosion of cartoons featuring rock bands, including Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, Josie and the Pussycats,...

  13. APPENDIX 1: Carl Stalling Documents
    (pp. 165-166)
  14. APPENDIX 2: Scott Bradley Documents
    (pp. 167-170)
    Scott Bradley
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 171-198)
    (pp. 199-212)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 213-225)