Monthly Archives: February 2007


My girlfriend recently showed me some Russian cartoons she grew up with, and I soon wanted to share with her my favorite childhood cartoon: ” Rabbit Seasoning“, where Bugs Bunny repeatedly tricks Daffy Duck into being shot by Elmer Fudd.

While she marveled at the gun violence, I couldn’t help noticing the score makes productive study for film composers. The Looney Tunes cartoon musical style is very familiar: every action on the screen is extravagantly cued, down to the last footstep and blink. Popular songs are quoted for Paul-Schaffer-style musical puns (such as H.R. Bishop’s “Home Sweet Home” accompanying Elmer and Daffy’s arm-in-arm stroll to a mountain cabin – where Daffy is promptly shot).

Composer Carl Stalling’s style may seem overly literal and hyperactive today, but it’s extremely clever and the orchestration is rich. And the music moves so quickly, it’s like studying a score on fast forward. 6 minutes and you’ve covered a hundred bases – fanfare, confusion, intimidation, flirting, rage, the list goes on…

Of course the music is only there to serve the dialogue:

DAFFY
Shoot him now! Shoot him now!BUGS
You keep out of this. He doesn’t have to shoot you now.

DAFFY
He does SO have to shoot me now! I DEMAND that you shoot me now!

My favorite musical bit is the little flute trill when Daffy pulses his eyeballs as he’s up in Elmer Fudd’s face…

AOL has the legal version of it freely available online, albeit with a preroll ad. But it’s worth it:

Rabbit Seasoning

Posted 10 years ago by John Piscitello
Posted 10 years ago by John Piscitello

From John August – on how to write dialogue :

We tend to think of dialogue as a tennis volley, with the subject being hit back and forth between speakers. But when you really listen, you realize that people talk over each other constantly, and rarely finish a complete thought.
To get a sense of this flow, you need to stop paying attention to the actual words being spoken. It’s the auditory equivalent of un-focusing your eyes. Listen for which speaker is dominating the conversation, and how often the other party chimes in to acknowledge he’s still paying attention.

How often should you eavesdrop? Pretty much constantly, with particular focus on finding interesting speakers. Some people are inherently funny, and if you soak up enough of their rhythms you can recreate them on the page fairly faithfully. But even the annoying woman ahead of you at the checkout line deserves a listen. You never know when she might come in handy.

Worth reading the whole thing…

Posted 10 years ago by John Piscitello

Via Sonic State:

When asked about the current state of the Music Industry, Eno said it was ‘terrific and frightening’ and talked about how easy it has become to make and distribute music. The downside of that being that there is less attention afforded to any individual piece.

He said he thought that music was in a ‘digestive and retrospective’ period with alot of guitar bands sounding like

Talking Heads. He was surprised that David Byrne’s influence on music has stayed dormant for so long.

Well it’s good news for Coldplay they’re going in a bit of a new direction by working with Eno – their sound to date is a bit too soft and mushy to my taste. I’ve read that the band is big on crafting and polishing their music, so it sounds like they are ambitious as musicians – someday one of those guys is going to be scoring films, I have a feeling.

In the Eno podcast there’s the usual discussion of ambient music (it’s like a painting, a still space the listener can listen in), lots of Britishy, intellectual, interesting thoughts on music (like (a) recording is a radical departure in how you experience music, since before records, the live performance of a musical piece was different every time you heard it, and (b) the fragmentation of music form online distribution makes it very difficult to use music to express your position in the culture).

Who’s got time to listen to all this stuff, anyway? If you do, check out the BBC interview mp3 online.

Posted 10 years ago by John Piscitello

Genre Matters has some thoughtful, er, thoughts on why recuts work:

At their most basic level, these trailer remixes are all about genre; about leveraging the semantic elements of one genre into the syntactic elements of another. In most cases the humor comes from the interaction between the viewer’s knowledge of the original source film, or at least knowledge of that film’s generic underpinnings, and the reversal of expectations that comes with the re-edits. Usually, music (a semantic element in and of itself) plays the key role in shifting the focus.

The full post is here.

Posted 10 years ago by John Piscitello
Posted 10 years ago by John Piscitello

In a fit of silliness last summer in Prague I stayed up all night making a recut of When Harry Met Sally to look like a horror film, using music from Batman Begins.

Some links to it came out today, 7 months after I posted it. The music is from the Batman Begins score, which I just adore, a collaboration of composers Hanz Zimmer and James Newton Howard.

Anyway, the links (any of these will get you to the recut, people seem to like it):
SnarkyGossip (the original poster, thanks Wendy!)
Boing Boing
Hainsworth
VH1 Best Week Ever
Xene’s World
David Chandler
popcultist
johnny r

(btw, iFilm made an unauthorized copy of this recut and put it on their own servers. Isn’t that ironic, since Viacom, which owns iFilm, is today ordering YouTube to take down unauthorized videos? On the other hand, VH1 – also part of Viacom – was nice enough to embed the original YouTube video…)
UPDATE: ah, the power of Boing Boing…more linkers:
Pretty is as Pretty Does
Angry Chix
The Political Pit Bull
Kisreal
PistolWimp
DirtyCarl
Kajagugu Poker
in my diatribe
milner videos
l33t geek
UmmYeah
vson
sounding furious
StarDirt
Dmitry Kedrin
cupojoe
More here

Also someone copied & uploaded it to CollegeHumor.com…

ANOTHER UPDATE: Links from Steve Rubel, Steve Bryant, Metafilter, HotAir, Zigzigger
MORE: Fantent’s doorfame, Ray Richmond (Hollywood Reporter)…

Posted 10 years ago by John Piscitello

From the WSJ, a story on Jerry Seinfeld trying to do something original for his new movie’s teaser trailers:

Mr. Seinfeld, who is writing and producing “Bee Movie,” and voicing the lead character, Barry Bee Benson, says he wanted the previews to cut through the clutter in a crowded Hollywood marketplace. “Who’s not tired of the usual trailers with all the excitement, loud music and quick cuts,” Mr. Seinfeld says. “They’re exhausting and annoying.”

He’s right. Though his point is about more than just the music, I’ve observed the musical language of trailers as narrow and stale of late.

One of the most common and well-worn motifs is the dark ambient beginning, followed by a few percussion shocks when the main plot is revealed, then an accelerating, crescendoing climax. It’s been great fun for years, but there must be other things marketers and composers can try, yes?

Bee Movie’s trailer definitely branches out, mainly by removing the music. Silence backs up a very awkward scene, not entirely unlike the comic style of “The Office”.

Then it’s off to the races with a very funny slapstick scene backed by a very traditional, big slapstick orchestral cue.

btw, IMDb lists Rupert Gregson-Williams as doing the score, he also scored “Over the Hedge”…

Posted 10 years ago by John Piscitello
I discovered Ableton Live in some UK DJ magazine this summer, it’s an impressive piece of music software and it’s got some real buzz among musicians.
Ableton Live is like a next-gen sequencer vs. the old standbys of Cubase, Logic, and Digital Performer. Like its name implies, it’s performance-oriented – you can collect and organize lots of musical elements into a palette, then start triggering and layering them in real-time. It has features which can script these triggers and even randomize them a bit.Smart time-shifting software handles beat matching in real time – so of course it’s popular among DJs (I heard one DJ say that using Ableton is “like cheating”).Traditional sequencer features are here as well – an arrangement window and lots of included virtual instruments, VST support, etc., all ably implemented.Ableton has loads of cool features, this is clearly designed by someone really into electronic music and knows what musicians need. I’ll still use Digital Performer as my main sequencer, but I’m going to spend February working in Ableton for my RPM challenge project.I decided to get started a bit more quickly by taking a class – a little synth shop called Robotspeak on Haight Street in San Francisco does Ableton classes – I just took it from a composer named Chachi Jones. It’s $200 for 4 2-hour sessions, so you’re paying $25 an hour (actually a good price for this kind of thing).

The class was a good investment – it saved me a lot of time noodling trying to figure Ableton out. Seeing the features in action and hearing how they work, all that.
Chachi’s a good guy and his music is real good. All done in Ableton – check it out – also he does video shows as well, he’s got one track on Google Video in particular which will let you hear something a bit more ambient:

More of Chachi’s videos here…

Posted 10 years ago by John Piscitello