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Tunes for 'Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon Paperback – April 2, 2007
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From The New Yorker
Examining cartoons from a musicological perspective, Goldmark does frame-by-frame readings of such works as "What's Opera, Doc?" Occasionally, this approach seems overserious, but it helps explain the artful mechanics behind a classic sequence like that of Elmer Fudd chasing after Bugs while wearing a Viking helmet and singing "Kill the wabbit" to Wagner's "Walkure" leitmotif. Goldmark compares such spirited culture-tweaking favorably with the ponderous high-culture aspirations of Disney's "Fantasia." Elsewhere, discussing cartoons' use of jazz and their frequently racist depictions of black musicians, he draws the provocative conclusion that "cartoons are, in many ways, a natural extension of the minstrel show." He also compares cartoons to ballet, and he quotes a manifesto in which Scott Bradley (the composer of much music for "Tom and Jerry") imagines the "Cartoon Music of the Future": "Think of 'Pelleas and Melisande,'" Bradley wrote optimistically, "and mise en scene by Dali."
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
"A foundational work in animation and film music studies, and is likely to be inspirational for additional work in both fields."Jeff Smith, author of The Sounds of Commerce
"Never facilely reductive, Goldmark's analyses of Carl Stalling's well-known populist propensity for non-stop musical quotation and Scott Bradley's brilliant but borderline condescending aspirations to 'elevate' the form are complex and multilayered. As a bonus, Daniel Goldmark complements his scholarly referencing of relevant secondary source material with refreshing (and, these days, quite rare!) forays into original research, unearthing surprising, never-before-seen archival elements."Greg Ford, Executive Producer, "The Carl Stalling Project"
"Daniel Goldmark has written a remarkable account of the history of animation music. His new book Tunes For 'Toons is a 'must read' for both the animation neophyte and the die-hard fan. The section on legendary composer Carl Stalling is worth the price of admission by itself."Alf Clausen, Composer, "The Simpsons"
"Great book. It answers numerous who, what, and why questions about cartoon music."Mark Mothersbaugh, film composer
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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".
It was with some anticipation therefore that I picked up this book about cartoon music, with the fun-looking cartoon cover.
To my dismay, it's a rather dry book written like a master's thesis, full of footnotes and citations (Goldmark is a professor of music history). The author spends a lot of time identifying the sources of various cartoon themes, and presents several second-by-second breakdowns of particular cartoon soundtracks. His text, which spends more time on the 1930s and 1940s cartoons than the 'golden era' of 1950s and 1960s, is full of such scholarly and entirely-beside-the-point observations as:
"The pensive, heaving breaths taken by both characters throughout the cartoon call attention to the unnatural demands that opera singers must place on their bodies."
Well, yeah??? The best of these cartoons transcended good storytelling precisely because they didn't take themselves too seriously, and put a sense of fun above all else. Daniel Goldmark could take a lesson here.