You've probably heard it hundreds of times, especially in your childhood—that signature ascending glissando ("zoooooOOOOOMMMM!") followed by a full orchestra playing a rollicking, fast-paced calliope-style melody.
The tune "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" was written in 1937 and is perhaps best known as the theme song for Warner Brothers' "Looney Tunes" cartoon series. It's a safe bet that most cartoon aficionados know the melody, but not the title.
The same goes for "Powerhouse," which you'll hear most any time Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck or Porky Pig find themselves working on a factory assembly line. Also written in 1937, it was composed by Brooklyn-born, Juilliard-trained jazz composer Raymond Scott and later adapted by Warner Brothers’ music arrangers for the film studio's animated shorts.
But many of the most famous cartoons made ample use of classical music that’s instantly recognizable. One example is “What’s Opera, Doc?,” a hilarious send-up of Richard Wagner’s “Ring” cycle of operas, which features a horn-helmeted Elmer Fudd bellowing that he’ll “Kill the wabbit!” to the tune of “Flight of the Valkyries.” There's also, “The Rabbit of Seville,” another opera lampoon starring Bugs Bunny (“Welcome to my shop/Let me cut your mop/Let me shave your crop . . .”).
Of course, many of the original scores especially written for the ‘toons have also entered the cultural pantheon as some of the coolest music ever, such as the swinging, jazzy opening theme for “The Jetsons,” with its kick-butt horn section.
This weekend, cartoon music will be given its due by the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble, one of the region’s most celebrated LGBT concert bands.
The "Cartoon Classics" will be conducted by the ensemble’s Artistic Director, Dan Bassett. He says the concert has something for every cartoon music lover, whether they’re members of the Bugs and Daffy crowd or millennials more familiar with newer animated features, like Pixar’s “The Incredibles.”
“It brings us back to a time where life is simple, a time of joy,” says Bassett. “And if our concert-goers come and get that feeling again by listening to that music, then we’ve done our job.”
If You Go:
The South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble
Saturday, June 9, 7:00 pm
Amaturo Theater at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts