Corny Concertos and Silly Symphonies

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:
Corny Concertos and Silly Symphonies

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If cartoons have become associated over time with any one musical genre, it is classical music. Because animation (like all forms of film) is not an elite form of media, the entire cartoon spectacle is firmly grounded in popular culture. This chapter raises a variety of issues regarding classical music's place in animated cartoons, focusing on a limited number of cartoons. It concentrates not on how the canon of classical film music was established but on how it was reduced by cartoons to an even more limited set of works, analyzing how cartoons made use of these pieces and their cultural baggage. In addition, the chapter considers the culture of concert halls, and how the conductors, the audience, and the hall itself became subjects for parody and (occasionally) ridicule. Opera narratives in cartoons almost always in some way involve the ongoing cultural wrangling between high-brow opera and more base popular music. Writing on the Hollywood film musical, Jane Feuer refers to this recurring plot motif as the “‘opera vs swing’ narrative.”

Keywords: cartoons; classical music; animation; popular culture; popular music; Hollywood; opera; canon; concert halls; conductors

Chapter.  8652 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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