The New York jazz band bringing back cartoon music

It’s reminiscent of a Quentin Tarantino movie, where music is quintessential to the story, framing, and aesthetic. In a 2016 Variety interview, his music supervisor, Mary Ramos said, “what makes Quentin standout is his bold use of music. Often times it is a main character in his movies.” In films like Kill Bill: Vol. 1., that means a very Stalling-esque approach in terms of leaning on archival music. But, whereas Stalling relied on the vast Warner Bros. archive, allowing him to manipulate the melody from the published music to match his compositions, the contemporary world faces all kinds of copyright hurdles when it comes to music clearance. And Stalling could juggle dozens of melodies with different pace, genre, and origin to orchestrate the narrative of a six-minute cartoon.

Let’s compare that to the six-minute opening of Baby Driver, which is synced perfectly to the song “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. It’s a finished product adapted to match the onscreen action. But in Stalling’s time, you only had the ingredients because there were no recordings (remember, it’s the 1930s and 1940s) of the music he would use. “So, for example, Stalling would take a Raymond Scott song and mould it to any beat,” Goldmark says. “He could manipulate it to make it sound sad, happy, upbeat, downbeat, whatever he wanted – that’s the beauty of it.” 

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