Lecture: Animation Score
This 2017, we invited Professor Kenneth Lampl, head of the Australian National University School of Music, to join us in this year’s Kuan Du International Animation Festival and to talk about the history of music in American animated films, along with several important composers. First, Professor Lampl divided animated films into three categories: Cartoons, Musicals and Animated Live Action, which he continued to explain the differences between categories. Furthermore, Professor Lampl introduced us to composers who made great contribution in American animated film history according to chronological order, such as Carl Stalling, Hoyt Curtin, Frank Churchill, Paul Smith, Leigh Harline and Alan Menken. Carl Stalling was the first full-time composer of Disney. While working under Disney, he produced over 20 musical animated films. Carl Stalling also invented a system which was a forerunner to the click track, a method of working in which the music would be made first, and the animation would be added later on. Such a process was known as “Mickey Mousing”, and came to be the conventional way of making animated films. Until today, some animations would still put such a method to use. Hoyt Curtin worked at American animation company Hanna-Barbera, and was the first composer in the company. He combined classical music of traditional animation with jazz and pop music from the fifties and sixties, starting a new journey of animation soundtracks for the next generation. Frank Churchill, Paul Smith and Leigh Harline created countless classics of music in Disney’s Golden Age, such as the soundtrack used in the first animated feature length film – Snow White. The era was also influenced by the of broadway musicals. After Walt Disney’s death, Alan Menken was the one to make a fresh start for Disney by the making of soundtracks for films such as Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid, which brought Disney’s animated films to a whole new level. Among the composers not from Disney, Danny Elfman, who worked with Tim Burton for a long time, was skilled using unconventional soundtracks of traditional animation to create different styles of music that could still pay tribute to Disney. With the time going, animation score becomes developed, and gradually come to the place that no one can tell the differences between animation score and which of live-action film. Therefore, Professor Lampl inspired every animation creators to think about “ How do music influence animation?” We should be careful with the proportion of music and images. In the Q&A time, Professor Lampl answered several questions as followed: Q: How do animation directors communicate well with composers? A: I advise directors to understand the style of music they want, no matter the words they use are unprofessional. Of course, the process of cooperation varies from people to people; still, I think it better to find the right partner as early as possible. The sooner you begin, the better it will do good to your career. Q: Do you think that temporary music limits composers? A: Using temp music can convey the idea of the director efficiently to the composer. It limits the composer in a certain way, however, before the well-communicated means of working appears, this is the better way. Also it is helpful to young artists. Professor Lampl even encourage the present students that: young people are the future, instead of we old professors. We hand over the tools, and your job is to carry them on. Today’s lecture went smoothly as well. We appreciate Professor Lampl for sharing so much with us. Hopefully, we can reunion in the future.