Music and Its Industry: Part Two

Tunes for 'Toons was our first installment. We studied the music of cartoons starting as early as Krazy Kat (1920's) and included 'toons (to name a few) Gerald McBoing Boing, The Flintstones, Jetsons, Animaniacs, Freakazoid, the Simpsons, Jonny Quest and a classic Tom and Jerry kitchen chase. We did all of this with film - so timing and precision was everything. Two Emmy-Award winning cartoon composers, Julie and Steve Bernstein were our guests. They write music for several of the new cartoons and were there to talk about the responsibilities of playing and writing for this genre. They explained the 'click track', which in a studio setting, is clicking in 'in ear monitors' for the conductor and the musicians. That way, the beat is consistently in the ears of the people playing. You may be thinking (as I was) why this needs to happen. Well, the tempos change every few bars, or every bar, or inside of each bar. The conductor needs to be knowledgeable before the session of where the changes are, but only to assist the players. They have to be technically proficient enough to not only read the music down, and hopefully in the first session, but also be able to change tempo instantly. This may not seem like such a big deal. So, you change tempo, right? Take a listen to a cartoon soundtrack. The strings and winds are playing running 16th notes constantly, (quick movements on the screen, intensity, waves, wind) the brass and percussion are playing effects like grand motions and surprises and kabooms! When tempos change while one is playing fast moving notes, the technical requirements become more even more demanding. 

CYO did this first installment without click tracks. It was easier since we were not recording for the actual cartoon - but we still had the responsibility to play the music exactly where it needed to be placed. Picture Tom chasing Jerry down a flight of stairs, Jerry running though the swinging kitchen door and Tom falling down the last few stairs hitting the wall and the floor. If we do not place the sound (perhaps a drum and low strings and low brass playing a 'hit'), then the effect would not be the same. 

Check out this video - this is what CYO performed with cartoon. Music by Julie and Steve Bernstein.