Abstract

The visionary animator Norman McLaren was influenced by the temporal and expressive qualities of music and developed innovative ways to incorporate sound and film. While McLaren’s development of his drawn-on sound technique has attracted a great deal of popular and scholarly interest, this paper brings attention to his use of traditional musical soundtracks in two animated shorts—“Begone Dull Care” (1949, soundtrack performed by the Oscar Peterson Trio) and “Spheres” (1969, soundtrack performed by Glenn Gould). I analyze these two films in conjunction with archival sources yielding evidence that McLaren, in his visual evocations of musical features, sought to achieve similar goals for the visual structures of both films. I conclude that musical performance offered an alternative to McLaren’s electronic sound techniques, yet his goals—to utilize sound as a central narrative tool—were one and the same.

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