Jungle Jive

Daniel Goldmark

in Tunes for 'Toons

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2005 | ISBN: 9780520236172
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941205 | DOI:
Jungle Jive

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By the 1920s, jazz permeated the collective musical culture of America, from recordings and live performances to films focusing on the nature of jazz itself. Cartoons became an especially potent site for spreading the sound of jazz nationwide. Jazz would have a featured role in hundreds of Hollywood cartoons, inspiring stories and enlivening performances in shorts from every studio. This chapter examines the different workings of jazz in cartoon musical scores, touching on the issue of race and representation—and the deplorably racist effect of the imagery. Primitivism was a theme running through much early writing on jazz, for it seemed to explain both the essential attributes of the music and what made it so desirable. A take on primitivism and jazz is offered by the Warner Bros. short The Isle of Pingo-Pongo (Avery, 1938). The chapter also discusses early impressions of jazz as film music, the Fleischer brothers' unusual approach to jazz in the late 1920s and the 1930s, Warner Bros.' use of jazz and popular music in cartoons, and the use of swing music in cartoons.

Keywords: jazz; cartoons; swing music; race; Warner Bros; popular music; musical scores; primitivism; film music; Fleischer brothers

Chapter.  11030 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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