March 17th, 2015

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Music: 04 Rhythmic Innovations

Adventures in Music

Dave Brubeck
(Cover by Artzybasheff)

One of the things about “bad” music that drives me up the wall is unimaginative rhythm… boom, boom, boom… everything on the same beat… sequencers repeating the same simple patterns over and over again with no variation. It’s downright inhuman. That said, most popular music from the past 100 years or so seems to invariably fall into standard 4/4 time. The interest is created by the way the musicians work around that familiar beat.

But some musicians go further… In rock music, Frank Zappa experimented with all kinds of time signatures and musical forms. In Jazz, the innovator of this unique concept was Dave Brubeck. Brubeck’s album “Time Out” had music in a variety of time signatures, none of them typical. It’s probably his most famous album- odds are you already have it.

Dave Brubeck Quartet (with Paul Desmond) live in Belgium 1964

Animators can fall into rhythmic ruts too. It’s hard to create a spontaneous and textured performance by plugging together the same old formulas over and over. Some of the most original animators, like Jim Tyer, never approached the same action or pose the same way twice in their entire career. For them, forcing themselves to do something they had already done before was impossible.

If you love jazz as much as I do, get over to Amazon and get a pile of the Naxos Jazz Icons DVDs. They’re incredible.

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.

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 2:06 pm

March 16th, 2015

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Reference: Early Warner Bros Walk Cycle Library

Walk Cycle Library

Assistant Archivist, Nicholas John Pozega has been working on a Flickr reference library for Animation Resources. Check out his walk cycle gallery culled from early Warner Bros cartoons. It might take a minute to preload, but wait for the carat on the right side of the screen and you will be able to step frame by frame through the cycle. Pretty neat stuff! Thanks Nicholas!

Early Warner Bros Walk Cycle Library at Flickr

More great Flickr reference albums soon!

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 2:55 pm

March 16th, 2015

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Music: 03 The Power To Create Emotion With Time

Adventures in Music

What the heck does opera have to do with cartoons? you ask… Well, more than you might think! Opera is an all embracing artform, incorporating live theater, singing, orchestral music, and dance all into one package. Cartoons are like that too… a great big ball of drawing, music, comedy and interesting characters that creates its own world. The stories in operas are generally soap opera potboilers- incestuous love affairs, treachery, deathbed revelations, and even hunchbacks dragging around their murdered daughter in a sack! Cartoon stories are generally pretty simplistic too… the plot of the story isn’t nearly as important as the visual artistry that goes into telling it.

Maria Callas sings “O mio babbino caro” by Puccini

One of the things I admire in classical music is the way great conductors create magic by varying their tempi through accelerando and retardando (that’s speeding up and slowing down for us non-musicians). Minute adjustments in just the right places (aka rubato) can make the music broaden out or seem hurried, or languid… it’s the power to create emotion in time. Animators do exactly the same thing when they do “slow ins and outs”, “staggers” and “hitting accents”. Just a fraction of a second’s difference can make the heart swell.

The world of opera is huge and varied. It’s hard for me to boil down a recommendation. The best introduction on DVD (Zefferelli’s La Traviata) is out of print. But I encourage you to attend live performances, listen to the Met’s live HD simulcasts, add some operas to your Netflix cue, and perhaps pick up the DVD this clip comes from, Great Recordings of the Century.

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.

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 1:52 pm