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< Music, Politics, & Propaganda | Main | Dance in a Quarry >

Cartoon music as classical?

Posted at 9:04 AM on September 10, 2008 by Fred Child (3 Comments)

If music that Tchaikovsky wrote for the visual spectacle of ballet can be played on its own...if music Schubert wrote to accompany a play can make sense on its own...if music Prokofiev wrote for films can be played on its own in a concert hall...what about music written for cartoons?

Well, why not? The best of cartoon music does the same as the best of ballet music, theater music, or film music. It supports character, emotion and action. Cartoon music has never been granted the same status as theater music, ballet music, or even film music. But let's try an experiment...

On today's PT broadcast, I played this soundtrack on its own. (And for purposes of this experiment, radio's lack of visuals was an advantage.)

Try it...lean back, close your eyes, and just listen to the music in this video. (If you can't look away...try minimizing the browser window.)

Carl Stalling wrote the music for this 1956 Road Runner classic, "There They Go Go Go."

For my money, that's just great music. Inventive with texture and time, wildly virtuosic, and terrific orchestration.

On the air today, we played that soundtrack sans sound effects, and you can hear it that way on the CD "The Carl Stalling Project," a 1990 production by Hal Willner, and a must-have for cartoon-music fans.

Comments ( 3 )

Absolutely delightful program. Thank you!

Posted by Ann Coleman | September 10, 2008 7:15 PM


I haven't seen Wall-e, but it sounds like the dance scene is a reference to the beautiful scene near the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey where a spaceship spins into the dock of a space station to some Strauss music (the same waltz? I'm not sure.)

P. Garrison

Posted by Preston Garrison | September 10, 2008 8:13 PM

My 6 yr. old daughter has a radio in her bedroom. It plays all night and is tuned in to WMHT, our local view supported classical music channel. Normally she is lulled to sleep but not tonight. She has run out of her room to exclaim, with wide eyes and a huge smile on her face, "I just heard Tom & Jerry! The man said it's Symphony #2!" or "I can't believe it, they're playing another cartoon song!" I'm haven't even told her to get to sleep, I'm letting her enjoy the music. Great program!

Posted by S. King | September 10, 2008 9:04 PM

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