If you were born before 1995, it’s likely that you spent many of your weekends indulging in a literal game of cat and mouse with the beloved cartoon TOM AND JERRY. The charming back and forth battle of your childhood is returning to cartoon network to capture an all new generation, scored by enterprising composer VIVEK MADDALA. As musical narrative is the entirety of TOM AND JERRY (there’s no dialogue!), Vivek’s involvement in the music for this cartoon is truly indispensable.
Mandy’s interview with Vivek Maddala:
The Tom and Jerry cartoons from the 1950s really captured the audience without saying a word, thanks the amazing music. Why do you think it is so important that we bring the essence of that back for this new generation?
I agree with your description of the original “Tom and Jerry” cartoons. The music for that classic show is so evocative, sophisticated, and beautifully written. For the new show I’m trying to capture the essence of what made those scores so affecting and effective, but with my unique musical “voice.” I think it’s important for children to hear complex harmonies, counterpoint, varied rhythmic and tonal textures, and contrasting musical passages. To me, music is a kind food for the mind and soul. Would you want your child eating nothing but mass-produced fast food (which could be analogized to the prevailing popular music consumed by many young people today)? It seems important for children to be exposed to, and ideally to enjoy, carefully created, harmonically and rhythmically rich music that reflects both cherished musical pedigrees and the modern flavors, and also with no geographical or cultural boundaries. If one avenue for children to experience music they otherwise might not hear is though watching “Tom and Jerry,” then I’m happy to be part of that project.
What about this treasured cartoon inspired you for this project? Do you have any special childhood memories of this cartoon?
I have childhood memories from the 1980s of watching 1940s reruns of “Tom and Jerry,” which was an exquisitely drawn, impeccably conceived cartoon. Over the subsequent generations of the show, it developed a reputation for having the main characters engage in intense violence. But the new “Tom and Jerry” show draws inspiration from the original version where the rivalry between Tom and Jerry is more comedic, more slapstick. Also, quite frequently, the two pair up to pursue a common goal or solve a problem. So it’s pure fun, with moments of real sweetness –- and there’s a lot of musical inspiration in that.
What can we expect from this resurgence and when will these new episodes be released?
The show has been airing for a few months, and we’ve just started the next season (which I hope will start airing soon). In addition to the “classic” cartoon (set in suburban America where cat recurrently chases mouse), some episodes feature “cat and mouse detectives,” set it the hard-boiled world of detective fiction, replete with film-noir visual atmosphere and dark, smokey jazz-infused score. It’s tongue-in-cheek and quite fun. Other episodes, referred to under the subheading “Downton Tabby,” are set in a fictional Yorkshire country estate in the early 20th Century, where Tom (a servant cat) must catch a pesky mouse (Jerry) before the aristocrats discover him. There are also vintage-horror episodes, subtitled “Catsylvania,” and you can imagine how that goes, I’m sure. It’s all very entertaining.