Emmy-nominated composer David Ricard has a knack for scoring cartoons, with credits including The Pink Panther & Pals, Maya & Miguel, The Ant & the Aardvark and more.
His latest project is a new Tom & Jerry series, which premiered April 9th on Cartoon Network.
When he's not writing music for cartoons and comedies, David is a big band composer, arranger and leader.
How did you get into composing for cartoons?
"I had been scoring commercials in New York City when I started to notice that the spots where my music was chosen were mostly comedies and cartoons. At that time, commercial composers were sort of divided between rock/electronic/remix writers and serious orchestral and jazz guys. It didn’t seem like anyone was dying to be the funny guy so I set out to develop a style and become well-versed in all the musical idioms that go into comedies and cartoons.
When I did my first series, Maya & Miguel, I hadn’t worked on a cartoon before and I had to learn a lot on-the-fly. I was determined to be more prepared for my next gig. I started studying cartoon scores, paying close attention to how comedies were scored and, over time, developed my own approach. I’d say to score comedies/cartoons you need to be well-versed in tons of styles of music but it’s really your approach that makes your scores unique."
You're now scoring a new Tom & Jerry series. What can you share about the production process for scoring a show like this?
"The turnaround time fluctuated a bit on this series which, I’ve found, is normal in animation. For most of the episodes I had a week to deliver the music for a 10-minute short. The challenge is creating a dense wall-to-wall score with the full Scott Bradley treatment in such a short amount time.
I have a template set up that covers a lot of ground while also isn’t so huge that I’m constantly paging around looking for instruments. I have a few time saving techniques but for the most part, there aren’t a lot of corners to cut.
Scott Bradley was a genius! He was equally brilliant at writing classical orchestrations as he was with jazz and show music. Creating realistic, natural-sounding scores like his with samples takes a tremendous amount of time, finesse and patience."