ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.8 - NOVEMBER 1999

Songs In Animated Features
(continued from page 4)

On And Off-Camera Songs
In many of the animated musicals referenced here, most or all of the songs are sung by characters on camera. Recently, there seems to be a move away from this by having songs off camera describing action, providing exposition, expressing a character's feelings. The Prince Of Egypt has several songs sung off camera. In the last decade there are examples of this approach, but its seems to have culminated in Tarzan where all the songs are sung over action. Of course, live-action movies have been doing this for years over montages, scenes and the like.

"All I Ever Wanted" from The Prince Of Egypt. Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures.
TM & © 1998 DreamWorks LLC.

In "Son of Man" and "Stranger Like Me" from Tarzan, there is an amazing amount of storytelling accomplished in these off-camera numbers, both visually and lyrically. In "Son of Man" Tarzan starts out as an inept young boy, ending up an adept young man in his environment, moving gracefully on the vines between the trees. Astonishingly, this enormous time passage is covered in the space of one song through lyrics and visuals. In "Stranger Like Me" Tarzan is exposed to a multitude of images and experiences related to being human. By the end of the number he has absorbed an immense amount of material, well on his way to becoming a creature who experiences and now understands human emotion.

There are so many factors and variables involved in whether a song should be on or off-camera. I believe there is room for both, dictated by the director's vision, the story, the animation, and the needs of the moment.

A songwriter in animation wears a number of different hats. He is a dramatist and animator, a veritable renaissance man. The more he knows about his collaborator's craft and concerns, the better able he is to fulfill the needs of the movie. In terms of songs, there is room for a wide diversity of styles and sounds. In the final analysis, there are no rules, just options.

Donald Alan Siegal just completed writing/producing songs for Trisha Yearwood for Hyperion Animation's The Tangerine Bear, Artisan Entertainment. For Warner Bros./Kid Rhino Records, he is currently writing songs and scripts for a Frosty The Snowman CD series. He is also writing songs/music/story for several animated projects including: The Corsair with Disney director Ralph Zondag (currently directing Dinosaurs); Shakespeare's Itch with director Dick Zondag, writer Ron Clark (High Anxiety); Ms. Fortissimo's Christmas with Baer Animation; and Baby Looney Tunes at Warner Bros. With Avery Corman (Kramer vs. Kramer) he is working on two live-action projects. He has worked closely with Jim Henson and his puppeteers, writing songs for all the major muppets. Roberta Flack, Randy Travis, Buffy Saint-Marie and Betty Buckley are among the artists who have recorded his songs. His musicals have been produced at The Manhattan Theatre Club, The Goodspeed Opera House and Town Hall, among others. Mr. Siegal is represented by Otto Vavrin II, SMC Artists, 818-505-9600.

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