Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Music: 12 Jammin’ The Blues

Adventures in Music

Lester Young

Animation is anything but an improvisatory medium. Every frame is painstakingly created by hand, hundreds of artists contribute to a single film, and the animators time the action down to a 24th of a second. Only the very best animators are able to overcome the constraints of frame by frame filmmaking and imbue their work with a feeling of spontaneity. Chief among these rarified breed of animators is Ralph Bakshi. I’ve written about him several times before, but it’s not just because he’s my pal. It’s because he is so unique. Ralph’s first three pictures, Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic and Coonskin are intensely personal- just like Lester Young’s sax solos. He accomplishes his results in the same way- by constructing his films as a real-time performance with virtuoso animators. Scenes are animated and laid down and another scene takes its place. The result might not be as polished as other animated films, and the narrative can become quite fragmented, but it’s a hundred times more honest than talking dogs and princesses.

Adventures in Music

“Jammin’ The Blues” 1944

“Jammin’ the Blues” may just be the most beautiful film about Jazz ever made. I don’t need to say anything more than that. You can find this short on a DVD titled Norman Granz: Improvisation.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Music: 11 A Priceless Fragment of American Blues History

Adventures in Music

Lead Belly

In case your credit card isn’t maxed out from my previous recommendations, here is another “must have” set of three DVDs… Legends of Country Blues Guitar.

“Three Songs By Lead Belly” 1945

This landmark film distills the essence of folk blues. The staging and cutting in this little film is exquisite. Lead Belly was a man whose temper kept him in trouble with the law. Bob Dylan described him as “one of the few ex-cons to record a children’s album”. But he is best known as the “King of the 12 String Guitar”. Like the Carter Family, his extensive recording career was responsible for documenting and preserving scores of folk songs that would not have survived otherwise. His importance to American folk music can’t be overemphasized. This little clip is a treasure of the first magnitude.

A commenter has pointed out an interesting fact about the “Gray Goose” song. The goose represents the indomitable spirit of the black man, oppressed and forced to suffer countless indignities, but still surviving and persevering.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Music: 10 Bernstein on What Makes American Music American

Adventures in Music

Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein was an accomplished composer and conductor, but if you want my opinion, he really stood out as being one of the world’s greatest educators. He began a series of televised educational concerts in 1958 called “Young People’s Concerts”, and systematically educated America’s youth about great music for the next 15 years. Bernstein didn’t talk down to the kids. Looking at these lectures today as an adult, there’s still plenty for me to learn. It distresses me that there’s nothing even remotely like this available to kids on television today. It’s a crime in fact. Thankfully, the entire series of Young People’s Concerts is available on DVD.

Aaron Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man, Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts

In this clip, Bernstein sums up how America’s melting pot of cultures distilled many different kinds of music into quintessentially “American” music. Too often we try to ignore cultural differences and pretend they don’t exist. Pointing out the things that are particular to a group of people is seen as “impolite”. I prefer to celebrate all of the ethnic cultures around me here in Hollywood- Hispanic, Asian, Black, Middle Eastern- even the plain old white bread people I grew up around are unique in their own way. As a cartoonist, the differences between all of us are much more interesting than the similarities. Viva la difference!

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.