When we think of music historically it’s normally classical and the rest of the music Music is often defined in the “now”. What’s new in the top 40 and the top 10? What does Billboard or Rolling Stone Say? 1930s music is often overlooked, at least by the younger Generations? Music is Historical and culturally defining from decade to decade one of those eras that stands out is the 1930s music we know a lot of it through animation. It is a long and strong mark of a period of time that has a social and cultural impact.  I was recently shown a short original-style cartoon short in Rubber hose style animation by Noel Dempsey.

Grasping the music in the 1930s cartoon style

Noel clearly grasps not only 1930s music but the cultural history of cartoons and it’s done masterfully. What is Striking is his ability to perfectly mold the visual impact to the audio background. They compliment each other perfectly. Dikity Duck “Turkey in the Straw” visually reminds us of the tradition and origin of the original “Steamboat Willie” but the soundtrack is a great little work of its own. It covers a lot of ground in one minute and fifty seconds.

Turkey in the straw 1930's music

You hear it move from the swing band and Flapper girls of the roaring ’20s and thirties, to brief glimpses of sounds not unsimilar to composer Edgard Varese, sometimes referred to as the father of electronic music. The work now begins with the Title song “Turkey in the Straw” first done by solo flute and followed by the Mountain music adaptation.  Turkey in the Straw dates back to 1820 and informed and carried throughout the Minstrel shows and Blackface of the 1930s before becoming the Hill country staple for the beginning of Bluegrass music.

1930’s music still lives on today

Somewhere even today that composition is being played right now as you are reading this. Lastly, the brilliance of carrying the concept of “music calms the savage beast” in the visuals without saying a word anywhere is duly noted. Finally, Tradition is honored again in a closing tongue in cheek by the concept of “Shave and a Haircut..two bits” is nothing less than perfect.

How significant can a bit of music be?  7 musical notes written in 1899..turned into the very form of human nature. It became a door knock call and sometimes response that I personally use to this day. I truly look forward to more from the mind of Noel Dempsey. His works are not mindless entertainment. They are Mindful Homage to the past done with Class. Bravo. 

One response to “1930s Cartoon Style and The Music of the Decade”

  1. Noel Dempsey Avatar
    Noel Dempsey

    Thank you for your kind comments on my little cartoon. I am really honoured, that you noticed all the musical references in the film as, like you pointed out so eloquently, I put a lot of care into the sounds, and listened to hours of music to find the perfect pieces. I am an amateur musician, and I am very interested in music history, so
    it was my intention to make this as music driven as possible. Also thanks to my brother Chris Dempsey for introducing my work to you. Once again, thank you, and good luck with your new website.

    Noel Dempsey.