Monday, May 20, 2013


Yes, I know, it's from the Toronto Sun; but this linked article was written by Errol Nazareth... a fine scribe of music notes...

Carl Stalling was the in-house composer in Warner Bros' animation studio back in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. As Nazareth says in his story, and he's right, Stalling was a "genius"; a key man in the ultimate artistic success of the Looney Toons 'cartoons'. Back in the early '90s several tracks were released of these scores: The name of the CD (and tape cassette) is a 'hip', The Carl Stalling Project.

The man on perpetual staff (when studios still had music departments on payroll) had an innate sense of drama and how to score visual motion. While he did write bombastic cues to illustrate such things as 'swagger', 'trauma', and 'general wanton violence', Stalling would often understate the musical accompaniment with a subtle tinkle or resolve a piece in an unexpected way. Like any good film composer he would sometimes refrain from doubling-up on the dramatic punch.

The emphasis in Errol Nazareth's story is on orchestra conductor George Daugherty's love affair with Looney Tunes, and his efforts to bring Carl Stalling's tunes to the public through his "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" concert series: The episodes are projected and Daugherty conducts the appropriate music cues to match the picture; no doubt this would make for a fun, if not thrilling, experience for anyone who remembers those culturally-embedded melodies.

I did not realize that this is not a recent initiative; the conductor has been hosting this program, with various orchestras, for close to 25 years.

I should dig The Carl Stalling Project out of my audio archives -- for some reason I bought the cassette version; probably because I did not yet have a CD player. (Knowing Youtube, there might be an upload of the album -- which is how I obtained recently a copy of the Cream album Disraeli Gears; the subject of an upcoming blog posting.)

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