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Carl Stalling begat John Zorn begat Mike Patton begat Venetian Snares



I was just listening to Venetian Snares new album, Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett, and started thinking about how much contemporary avant-garde music has in common with Carl Stalling's work for Warner Brothers. Carl Stalling may not be a familiar name to you, but you have definitely heard his music before... He produced, arranged and composed many of the soundtracks for Looney Tunes from 1937-1958. (Here comes one now!:)

Carl Stalling - Powerhouse And Other Cuts From the Early 50's [medley].mp3

Stalling's music is narrative. It juxtaposes ideas. It's technically complex. It references other music. It's driving. It's clever. It's over-the-top. It's sarcastic. It's complicated. It's passionate. It's inspired madness. Wacko. Crazy. Kooky.

John Zorn cites Stalling as one of his influences, calling his work "the great avant-garde music of America, in that it doesn't make normal music sense."

And it's not much of a stretch to consider his music as avant-garde. Consider the time he was working in... And consider the impact he had on people's musical world. If you think about it, it's pretty mindboggling. And pretty fucking awesome too.

Here are a few quotes about Stalling and cartoon music:
"While we watched the images at play before our eyes, our ears were also learning about aural relationships, how to recognize the underlying sound patterns and instrumental timbres, and when to expect the unexpected. [...] For the musically curious, cartoon sound tracks served as a point of entry into distant musical and timbral worlds that young viewers might never have otherwise encountered, much less understood." {from andante.com}

"He could transform barely familiar show tunes and classical themes into wild, rubbery jokes" {from thinks.com}

"Stalling's revolutionary cut-and-paste compositions remain a clear forerunner of the experimental music created in his wake -- in fact, it could easily be argued that he succeeded in introducing entire generations of young cartoon fanatics to the music of the avant-garde." {from musicmatch.com}



Click here to order the Carl Stalling Project, a collection of his cartoon music work.

Know any other musicians that seem obviously influenced by cartoon music? Post a comment!