Winston Sharples wrote some of the best scores of the 1930′s for the Van Beuren Rainbow Parade cartoons. They had an interesting cartoon-related after life beyond the actual films they were made for, being sold as stock music for various silent films, both live action and animation- most notably the Stuart productions releases of Fleischer’s Koko the Clown cartoons, and the Guaranteed Pictures releases of the silent Van Beuren/ Terry Aesop’s Fables. These tracks will likely forever be associated with these earlier films.
Many of the themes of these cartoons must have been ingrained into the long term memories of the kids in the 50′s and 60′s that heard this stock music over and over. I wonder if latent memories could be brought to the surface by playing a piece of Merry Kittens or Along Came a Duck. I’ve talked to many cartoon folks that love these tracks with the silent cartoons- they’re fun and set a good music mood for the pictures they were never intended to be with.
When I started working on the Thunderbean Rainbow Parade set, one of the things I wanted to do was to assemble at least one soundtrack as just music only as an alternative track for the bonus features. I did so for Along Came a Duck, using six or seven silent cartoons that used music from this film. I was able to get almost the whole score, and left the version with sound effects and voices where I was unable to (I did locate one small piece near the end of the film on someone else’s dvd release of some silent cartoons, but he refused to let me use that five second piece of music). It’s interesting to see how much the score adds to a film when just hearing the music. I think some of the genius of Sharples is lost with the addition of the other soundtrack elements at times. I’d love to get the whole music library of these and do this for all the films. On the DVD I did include a few other clips with just music as well.