A world of pure imagination

A world of pure imagination

After hearing of Gene Wilder’s passing, like most of my peers my imagination was instantly swept along on a whirlwind ride of memories from the countless roles the monumental actor had who shaped my childhood.  Perhaps one of the most iconic was his portrayal of the great Willy Wonka in the 1971 film adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.  In the film, Wilder performs an enchanting song, “Pure Imagination” specially written for the movie by songwriting legends  Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley..  Out of force of habit, I have notated a violin arrangement of the tune for students who may wish to honor the late actor with a bit of musical adoration.Willy_Wonka_Pure_Imagination

Animaniacs Theme arranged for easy Ukulele

Animaniacs Theme arranged for easy Ukulele


This month, with Netflix releasing the great 90’s animated classic Animaniacs, i’ve had a number of students acquire an interest in the show. Some adults, waxing nostalgic remembering watching the series when it first aired, as well as many younger students watching it for the first time, frequently accompanied by those self-same sentimental grown-ups!

The theme was composed by the great Richard Stone , an American composer who was instrumental (hah) in the revival of animation in the 1990s, composing music and songs for The Simpsons with Danny Elfman, Tiny Toon Adventures, Taz-Mania, The Plucky Duck Show, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Histeria, The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, and Freakazoid.

Richard Stone also composed for various feature films and television series including the Bruce Campbell western Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, Pumpkinhead, North Shore, and the miniseries In a Child’s Name. Stone worked on John Hughes films including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Sixteen Candles (both scored by Ira Newborn). Stone also composed the music for the William Shatner series, “Rescue 911”. Stone also scored the PBS Documentary “Medal of Honor” along with Mark Watters. He later wrote compositions for various films including, Summers heat, Never on Tuesday, Tripwire, Vietnam Texas, and Victim of love.

Stone has won several Emmy Awards for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition for Animaniacs and Histeria, as well as Outstanding Original Song, shared with lyricist, writer, creator and senior producer Tom Ruegger, for the main titles of Animaniacs and Freakazoid. Stone shared many of his music direction/composing awards with his team of composers, who included Steve Bernstein, Carl Johnson, Julie Bernstein, Gordon Goodwin and Tim Kelly.

According to Animaniacs writer/producer Paul Rugg, crew members fondly referred to Richard as “The Great Stonini,” a sort of musical magician whose compositions and orchestrations often raised the quality of the cartoons to unexpected musical and artistic heights.

I’ve transcribed a simplified version of the Animaniacs theme for one of my young ukulele students, so I thought i’d share for educational purposes. Of course, i’m not the copyright holder, yadda yadda yadda. Enjoy, and HELLO NURSE!
Animaniacs Theme Ukulele

How does Hans Zimmer compose a soundtrack?

How does Hans Zimmer compose a soundtrack?

Fear, panic, invention, procrastination, conversation, more conversation with the director, more conversation with the DP (because I want to know what the color palette is), reading an enormous amount of books, more procrastination, more fear, and more deadlines until somebody yanks the score away from me.

The first thing I think about is music, and the last thing I think about is music. I’m like some Monk. I don’t see a lot of daylight. I hang out with musicians, I hang out with directors and I just try to spend as much of my life as possible playing music.