Gilbert and Sullivan is about as cartoony you can get- though Offenbach comes very close. I think animation probably lends itself to music that has distinctive rhythms and an interesting orchestration. The words seem to me to be less important than what is happening musically. Though of course the words tell the story. When the Disney people were animating “Fantasia”, the better animators trawled the score to identify the incidental tunes that lay under the main melody. There is a sequence in the Chinese dance in the Nutcracker where Art Babbitt has talked about “those nasty little notes underneath”. But Babbitt uses those “nasty little notes”! It is precisely this fact that makes the sequence stick out as something remarkable. Culhane references this in his book on Fantasia. It is worth looking at the dance in detail because the perspective goes all over the place and it still seems logical. In the same way, the instruments used to orchestrate a particular sequence will dictate a particular image.
Eric Goldberg animates on the beat and repeats a rhythm with the Carnival of the animals in FANTASIA 200o and Andreas Deja does it too in the same film with the barrel organ in Rhapsody in Blue. But I think Babbitt’s mushrooms still have the edge precisely because they take note of the intricacies of the orchestration and the repeated visuals (a visual ostinato) are not necessarily based on something obvious…
Here is a scene from Topsy Turvy which probably reproduces the original rehearsal process. certainly the story of miss sixpence is well-documented. It shows a nice instance of the move from caricature and implicit racism to something that draws its humour from observation of real life.
Here is the final product as done in australia:
I was playing around with the Three Little Maids from School piece at the beginning of the MIKADO.
This is the text: “Three little maids from school are we,Pert as a schoolgirl well can be,Filled to the brim with girlish glee–Three little maids from school.” David Watson has done a very clever arrangement.
I will post more on this shortly because it is an excellent example of a tune that does a great deal. The three voices (Yum yum, Pitti Sing and Peep Bo) are quite distinctive and the whole thing gallops along at quite a pace. Here are some sketches mostly of Japanese hair-styles…