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Ottawa 2010 - Just the right note with Lou

I spoke with Lou Pomanti to get his take on music for animation. Lou Pomanti is an award-winning, performer, arranger, and producer. He’s a keyboard wizard, and worked with Blood Sweat and Tears, James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, and Michael Buble. He even was the arranger for the finalists for the Hockey Night in Canada Anthem Challenge, which, in Canada, is pretty much the national anthem.

By Janet Blatter.

Jason Belo, from SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) said this was the first time the music industry became part of TAC. Odd, since there are rarely animations without a music track.

Both animation and music are time-based media. They both have to deal with timing, sequencing, pacing. What other similarities are there between the music and the art of animation? For starts, session musicians and music arrangers are like animators and storyboard artists; they frequently have to be able to turn someone else’s ideas into reality. What’s the secret tfor musical versatility?

I spoke with Lou Pomanti to get his take on music for animation.  Lou Pomanti is an award-winning, performer, arranger, and producer. He’s a keyboard wizard, and worked with Blood Sweat and Tears, James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, and Michael Buble. He even was the arranger for the finalists for the Hockey Night in Canada Anthem Challenge, which, in Canada, is pretty much the national anthem. AND, he is the composer for the animated series “Chop Socky Chooks”, and for the animated sketches “Little Ronnie” that are  part of the “Ron James Show”.

Here’s Lou:

“Well, my personal style is R&B. But I try to stay transparent when I’m producing or arranging other people’s work. Some producers impart their own personal sound. You could always hear a David Forster or  Daniel Lanois sound on what they produce. I listen to the composition and try to figure out what’s best. Of course I bring in my own taste, so I guess I bring in my own voice to other people’s work.  At some points, yeah, being an arranger means that you are actually creating music, but without getting paid or credited as the composer. [Laughs]. Like when I arranged Colin Oberst’s 'Canadian Gold' for Hockey Night in Canada Anthem Challenge [the winning entry], I heard a great melody that just didn’t have an ending. So I added the bars at the end, resolving it. It’s really about making somebody else’s creation the best, balancing things out. But I was the arranger for all of the finalists, trying to bring out the best in all of them.

You have to be pretty versatile, be able to have all the styles under your belt. I’d start by learning the most complex style, which is jazz. From there, you can go anywhere. Classical music is something else entirely, but good blues, rock, pop performers and composers start with jazz.”

The moral of this to animators and storyboarders: develop a personal style but be adaptive, and have a good foundation that allows you to be comfortable in any genre.

Janet Blatter is a development consultant, currently writing a book (with Mik Casey) on storyboarding for MWP. She has the dubious distinction of having a PhD in cognitive science specializing in how animators solve problems, think about time and space... Dr. J thinks she has the coolest research gig on earth.