While Disney has long dominated animation, its supremacy has been challenged of late by Pixar, its greatest competitor (and now subsidiary). Among the many things that puts Pixar ahead is a very holistic approach to creating the world of the cartoon, both visually and sonically. Combining unusually nuanced attention to the soundtrack with a particular longing for bygone eras of popular culture, the Pixar films show that animated films can be made with as much care and precision as live-action films. In this paper, I explore Pixar’s approach to music and the soundtrack to show how advances in sound design, as well as an evolving approach to film scoring taken by veteran Hollywood composers, have brought a new level of complexity and even respectability to the long-maligned animated feature.
Daniel Goldmark (Case-Western Reserve University) received his BA in music from the University of California, Riverside; his MA and PhD in Musicology are from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author or editor of five books, including The Cartoon Music Book (A Cappella, 2001), Beyond the Soundtrack: Representing Music in Cinema (California, 2007), and Tunes for 'Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon (California, 2005). Goldmark was an archivist and music coordinator at Spümcø Animation in Hollywood; he also worked for five years as the research editor at Rhino Entertainment in Los Angeles, where he produced or co-produced several collections and anthologies. His current work is on Tin Pan Alley and an examination of cartoon music after the coming of television.