2010 Student Research Conference:
23rd Annual Student Research Conference

Kill da Wabbit: Analyzing the Evolution of Music's Role in Warner Brothers Studios' Cartoons Using Representative Works
Benjamin A. Martinson♦
Dr. Jay Bulen, Faculty Mentor

Cartoons have helped define American culture and yet their music has not been thoroughly analyzed. This study defines four musical roles in cartoons. These roles illustrate musics characteristics and purpose within the visual context. Two cartoons, representative of Warner Brothers Studios finest composers, Carl Stalling and Bill Lava, exemplify their distinct compositional styles and the environment in which they worked. Prospering from creative freedom and financial support, Stalling became the preeminent composer of cartoon soundtracks by producing fully orchestrated scores that combined popular and jazz standards, original material and musical gags. Lava, during the twilight of cartoon production, relied on small ensembles, musical repetition and sound effects to create unique scores that embodied the character of the cartoons. This study concludes that the composers creativity, alongside commercial and social influences have affected how and why the music evolved from compositionally dense, emotive music to minimalistic, action-based music.

Keywords: Cartoon Music, Carl Stalling, Bill Lava, Warner Brothers, Orchestration

Topic(s):Music

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 26-4
Location: VH 1010
Time: 10:15

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♦ Indicates Truman Graduate Student
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