Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Music Land" - Silly Symphony's (1935)

Here's a perfect example of the quality in the old cartoons. Millions of baby boomers grew up watching these things on television, introducing us to classical music and everything else, including some jazz and swing music thrown in. If you listen to this cartoon you can here the orchestra riffing on such classics as Beethoven's "Eroica" and Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", which was later used in the film  "Apocalypse, Now" in the 1970's. If it sounded familiar yo your ears, you probably first heard it in this cartoon.

Mixed in with the classical music are a myriad of popular tunes of the day, all performed by the same orchestra in one continuous piece. The characters in this cartoon speak only in musical tones, with each one being based upon a particular instrument. This made the cartoon was very educational in introducing young children to the different musical instruments in an orchestra.

The actual plot concerns the Land of Symphony, and what happens when the Violin Princess gets bored and sneaks out to the Isle of Jazz, located just across the Sea of Discord. The place is a veritable Jazzland, with dancing and partying all night long.

The Alto Saxophone Prince, who goes looking for the Princess, arrives in Jazzland, but is bored with it all. When war ensues, and the Prince is locked in a tower, all stops are let loose his father, a Tenor Saxophone enlists the aid of his friends to free his son.

The Princess rises to the occasion, calling for an end to the war. Her efforts are rebuffed, and after she falls into the ocean; with the Prince quickly following to save her life; the two sets of parents are forced to accept the love of the two youngsters and let the two be wed. The wedding takes place on the Bridge of Harmony which connects the two islands for ever after.

Supposedly, the cartoon is based upon the dilemma of the 1930's, when parents were despairing of their children's choice of jazz over the classics. The cartoon is meant to show that the two genres are closely related, separated only by tempo and timing. The same thing happens with each generation; out goes the old, and in comes the new. But, you have only to look at the basics of any genre to see that all music; and all generations; are really very closely related. It's in "how you swing that thing."

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