Dachman here, just pondering last night’s amazing ASMAC First Wednesday event at the Professional Musician’s Union 47 on Vine St.
I’m a relatively new and exquisitely humble ASMAC member. While my life experiences are as diverse and numerous as the greatest of the membership, my involvement in the Los Angeles music industry is fresh and new. I still experience profound inspiration and excitement when surrounded by fellow composers, musicians and arrangers. I suppose even the most inculcated members of this largely remarkable community still get invigorated by meeting Golden Score awardees, famed attendees and esteemed talents that circulate through gatherings, seminars, dinners and the like.
So why write about it? Well, in times like these when all we get fed by the popular media is the same news rehashed over and over again the average person could use a reminder that there is still a lot of life going on around us. There is still a powerful force that lives deep inside of us all that helps push us through the waves of political division, terrorist threats, health challenges, family struggles, professional struggles and every other element that appears in our paths as we follow our personal passions. Take it from me, a Chicago Cubs fan since childhood, I know. It can take a whole lifetime to achieve what others accomplish in far less time. (This is not to discredit the talent and hard work of these individuals).
Back to last night…as we watched clips of various Animaniac scenes and the like I entered that zone again where I become so aware of how the average viewer experiences a final broadcast ready product. It is so, so different on their side. They get the elemental experience minus countless hours of work and life that go into these productions. That is a good thing, otherwise nobody would pay any attention to any art form. People don’t want to feel what the artists feel getting these creations ready for distribution. They just want the effect: laughter, drama, suspense, joy, sadness, etc.
The extraordinary tales we heard last evening paint a picture of a team that loved its work, loved each other, loved music and honored their predecessors. As we watched some of their clips that very rare blend of ingredients seemed to partly explain the almost supernatural effects the scenes had on the live audience gathered to watch together. Scores of adults laughing at cartoons together—I haven’t seen that in a very long time. Such densely adorned comedic story lines supported by meticulously detailed musical scoring played by some of the greatest technicians of our day makes for a medicinal experience. It may even be something a physician should prescribe on the right occasion. I mean it has long been said that “laughter IS the BEST medicine.”
Carl Johnson, a co-creator on the Animaniacs team said it beautifully, “nowadays, people don’t view this material as a community. It is viewed on computer screens, cell phone screens and largely individually. [To have these productions screened by groups produces laughter in a manner practically unrivaled by other forms today]”. I stopped to ponder those words and recognized how true they are. My hope is that like many things in life, there are cycles. Things come, they go and then they return. Perhaps it is not naive to think this might happen with animation, film and such forms.
Another obvious element the team faced was the enormity of their production requirements. Hundreds and thousands of minutes of composition, orchestration, recording, editing, re-working, planning, etc. was a daunting task for all involved. But as in all great stories there almost always seems to be a great leader, a Moses if you will…Richard Stone. A posthumous tribute was given for the great artist and homage was duly paid for his contributions to the demands Animaniacs placed upon all. Such a convergence of events resulting in this kind of success is something we all hope for in our creative and personal lives.
The story of the Animaniacs team was a truly befitting subject for a group like ASMAC to present to a budding generation of craftspeople who desire to be not just good, but great. As a new member of this special community I was proud to experience last night’s event even as my fabled Cubs were winning the greatest World Series in the history of baseball. Thanks to Milton Nelson for making this happen. Thanks to Chuck Fernandez, Carolyn Nelson and all who helped bring the event to life.
– Adam Dachman