THE INDUSTRY ORIGINATOR OF PRODUCTION MUSIC

Ole Georg
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As the Spumco motto—"The Danes Call It Quality"—indicates, the ghosts of Denmark haunt Ren and Stimpy lore. A leading contender in Hamlet's gene pool is Danish composer, arranger, and entrepreneur Ole Georg. The company was formally known as Capitol Production Music by the time Ole Georg became the library's overseer in 1964. Since then, his name has appeared on the closing credits to many films for music that is now available from OGM (Ole Georg Music), the principal supplier of music to CPM for many years. He has spent his entire adult life in studios, perfecting the science of meticulously timed cues that have also appeared on animation favorites such as Dilbert and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
"I come from a country where they invented Lego blocks," Ole Georg explains. "For me, music goes by the same principle. You build a score through small pieces and you have to equalize the sound. This was important when we worked in distant recording studios. We'd 'record in compatible keys so that we could edit from one studio to another."
Ole Georg also understands the vital need to retain a gentler, more romantic sound: "We live in such insecure times. We all tend to think about our childhood or early years when it was kind of safe and nice to be a human being. People associate this music with The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, security, home life, and family institutions. That's the reason we've made a point of cultivating this vintage 'catalog. No production library can be successful without one."
Ole Georg's OGM catalog has also embellished Ren and Stimpy with romantic themes of a more "classical" pedigree. There are snippets from Strauss's Die Fledermaus in "Big House Blues" (1991), Brahms's Lullaby in "Haunted House" (1992), and Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" in "Powdered Toast Man" (1992). And no Ren and Stimpy aficionado could forget the visual poetry in the "Yak Shaving Day" short (1991), when a hoary beast squirms out from a bathtub drain and proceeds to slide a razor across his face to the toe-tapping splendor of Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy."
The time-tested selections from both KPM and CPM have one prime selling point: they were recorded with three-dimensional analog orchestras and full string sections. This is a rare luxury today, a situation due more to economic than aesthetic considerations. There was a time when hyper-electronic audio was touted as the music of the "future." But today, many are languishing in a cheaply digitized new world order full of synthesized strings that often sound more like reloading toilet tanks. "If you want to be authentic, you cannot do stuff like that," Ole Georg observes with concern. "The moment you go to synthesizers, the soul of the music is often down the drain. For The
Ren Stimpy Show, you have to have the music as it was recorded at that time: live, with all of the small, charming mistakes."
As of late, the same snooty art critics who once thumbed their noses at Norman Rockwell now find his work suitable for framing at the Guggenheim. Perhaps such changes of heart may set a precedent, to encourage more music critics to lend an appreciative ear to Ren and Stimpy's "happy happy, joy joy"—even if it means gulping spoonfuls of "shaving scum" to help the sugar go down.


Excerpt from the chapter “Rhapsody in Spew – Romantic Underscores in The Ren & Stimpy Show” written by Joseph Lanza for “The Cartoon Music Book” Edited by Daniel Goldmark and Yuval Taylor. ©2002 A Cappella Books.