Here’s the deal:
Unsung heroes are plentiful. Far too often, people know a song, film, short story, etc. without knowing much about the artist’s body of work, or, in some cases, without even knowing who the artist is at all. In these instances, name-brand recognition becomes irrelevant, for the work itself is what grabs people, not its label. Your Rembrandts and Shakespeares certainly have their place, but sometimes it’s the people and work that’s a little more off the beaten path that has that little extra something. Sometimes, sadly, the hipsters are right.
Allow me to introduce you to Raymond Scott.
Raymond Scott is a name that you should know, as you already know his music. Ever watch Looney Tunes? Or The Ren & Stimpy Show? Or basically any mainstream American cartoon? Then you’re familiar. Remember that “assembly line/chase music” from the Warner’s toons? It’s called “Powerhouse.” How about the pleasant, poppy trumpet piece in Ren & Stimpy? It’s “The Toy Trumpet.” There are numerous others, including “In an 18th Century Drawing Room,” “Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals” and “Twilight in Turkey.”
Although known for his contributions to animated soundtracks, Scott never actually composed for the medium. He was a jazz performer, band leader and musical pioneer, and the reason he became associated with cartoons is because Warner’s purchased his catalog to attach to their animated shorts.
Aside from his jazz pieces, Scott was also an early supporter/innovator of electronic music, creating several devices that laid the groundwork for various synthesizers and studio soundboards. Essentially, this guy is probably one of the most important musicians you’ve never heard of.
I haven’t been able to locate much of his work beyond the cartoon themes, and as I understand it, it became increasingly experimental as he went on (whether that’s good or bad, I have no idea), but what I have heard is a lot of fun and it’s easy to see why pieces this catchy were selected for such vibrant and lively cartoons. Start attaching a face to these songs. There’s a creative dynamo behind them.
But seriously, that’s all, folks.