Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Grump's Opinion: What's in your Personal Soundtrack?

What is the first thing you think of when I mention the word soundtrack?  Is is the great music that accompanies the movies that we love to watch?  In regards to Disney, is it such great pieces of music as It's a Small World?, The Enchanted Tiki Room, SpectroMagic?

Well, what would you say if I asked you what was contained in your own personal soundtrack?

Huh?  You haven't heard of a personal soundtrack?  Well, I'm not talking about a musical score that plays whenever you are around.

I first heard of the term listening to Adam Curry's Podcast, The Daily Source Code (Yes, it's that Adam Curry from MTV during their hey-day and his podcast isn't Family Friendly).  He started referring to an Organization he wanted to start called The Organization for the Preservation of the Soundtrack of Our Lives (OPSOL).  It's purpose was to keep to the forefront those songs that shaped our lives.  Each of us has songs that when heard spark memories of the past. 

That is what I am referring to when I say personal soundtrack.  These are the musical elements that are so much a part of your life, that when hearing them they unlock deeply seated memories that seem to only get unlocked with these musical cues.

Well, by now I'm sure you are wondering why I'm talking about this on a Disney Blog.  Well, if you are a Disney-phile, you probably have quite the song list from Disney products woven into your own personal soundtrack.

For myself, there are some obvious choices:

  • A Whole New World - I went and saw this movie 4 times during Thanksgiving weekend the year it was released
  • It's A Small World - I recall my niece and nephew (Regan and Collin) as well as Tim's son, Billy, as they ride through this attraction with the highly addicting tune
  • How do you Do? - Just one of the many great tunes from Splash Mountain
  • Can you Feel the Love Tonight - Conjures up memories of my wife
  • Yo Ho It's a Pirate's Life for Me - Who can resist it's catchy hook (no pun intended)
  • IllumiNations! - Well, duh, I wrote a post about that one (The Grump's Opinion: My Favorite Disney Hymn)

Would The Tree of Life, The International Gateway, or your favorite pavilion at EPCOT's World Showcase be contained within your personal soundtrack?

Yes, many of these lands, objects, and places have their own soundtracks. 

I must be 100% honest with you all.  I never really noticed these very important but hidden details until recently.  I was talking to a friend about some good Disney music to sleep to.  Yes, I wanted to sleep to Disney music.  I knew there had to be elements of the theme park that was designed to be relaxing and calming.

Well, I was told to track down some specific pieces of music.  That music was for The Tree of Life, Japan Pavilion, Expedition Everest, and others.

These were turned into an iTunes playlist and we cue it up at bedtime.

The really funny thing was that when we were walking back from the Pangani Forest Trail Meet at MouseFest, my wife asked me if I was tired.  I told her that it wasn't even lunch time yet, why would I be tired.  She pointed out that we were walking by The Tree of Life.  At that very moment, I was able to pull out of the cacophony of sounds and noises the music that we sleep to at night.  For the first time, I was able to separate that music out from the rest of the park theming.

Why would Disney Imagineers go to so much trouble to add musical elements that may go unnoticed by a majority of the park guests?  The only thing I can think of is that the original Disney Theme Park, Disneyland, was built as a living representation of a movie (i.e. The Windows are the opening credits). 

Well, if you expand this philosophy to all the parks around the world, then these seemingly hidden elements are just as important to the overall Theme Park experience as is the work of the artisans who create the soundtracks, sounds, and music for the movies we love to watch.  Not every musical element in a movie is blatantly obvious to the participant, just as the elements I'm discussing here.

Why am I writing another post about music?  That is an interesting question since a room full of cats in heat can carry a better tune than I can.  But, as you are gathering from this post, music forms the soundtrack of our lives.  I couldn't imagine a person who doesn't have their own personal soundtrack.

Well, these subtle, yet important musical elements of the theme parks are starting to be edited into my own personal soundtrack.  As I walk the parks, I try to keep an open ear listening for new pieces to add to my ever growing soundtrack. 

What musical elements (blatant or not-so-obvious) do you count as a part of your personal soundtrack?

[Edited To Add:  Craig from Running to Disney makes an excellent comment that one's personal soundtrack isn't isolated to Disney music and musical elements.  I knew this, but wasn't sure of the best way to slide in all the various, yet odd non-Disney music that is my own personal playlist.  Those songs that can bring up memories of smells, sounds, and events from the really distant and not-so-distant past]

[Edited to Add (03/01/2008):  After reading some of the comments and talking to friends about this post, I came to the conclusion that the word "soundtrack" can be interpreted in the singular OR plural form.  In the case of this post, I'm referring to the overall plural form of the word.  Your personal soundtrack is the overall list of songs and music that can unlock life memories.  The confusing thing is that when you are talking about music from Disney Movies and Themeparks, the singular piece is often referred to as a soundtrack as well.  So a soundtrack can be one piece of your overall soundtrack.... haha]

Technorati Tags: ,


Craig Wheeler said...

Great post. I am a music person by nature...always singing, did the band thing all through school, now have taken up piano since finishing college. I totally get what you are saying here. I'll have to ponder this one for a while. My soundtrack would be more than just disney music. I think any person's soundtrack would also change regularly as they make a normal progression through life -- which would include changes in values and views on life.

Unknown said...


A Whole New World was the song that Teresa and I danced to at our wedding.

Of course, anything from Splash or Haunted fits me just fine...

Ryan P. Wilson said...

While Disney music may only classify as a piece of my soundtrack, it has definitely secured its place. For their part the desert and space sequences of Horizons, the queue music from Tower of Terror (my wife and I are old fogies at heart, we used all of this music as the cocktail hour at our wedding) as well as the Jungle Cruise, the Innoventions Loop, Soarin', the tiki beats in Adventureland, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad queue, Impressions de France (thanks Doc), any of the fireworks soundtracks, and, for bedtime, the loop from Camp Minnie Mickey. Wow, that turned out to be a larger list than expected, but I promise it is only a piece of my life's full soundtrack.

Unknown said...


Camp Minnie Mickey is also on my bedtime loop

Greg said...

Great post! It makes one think. I have to include the Saint-Saens finale in Impressions de France; the fanfare within Illuminations: ROE; the original EPCOT Center plaza BGM; Tomorrow's Child from SSE; and the original Imagination soundtrack (with DreamFinder). Oh, and I have become a fan of the water music for the Fountain of Nations shows. Thanks for giving me pause to think.

FoxxFur said...

I can't say what exactly has become my absolute "personal soundtrack" but a few pieces will undoubtedly never leave me, even if the actual locations are strip mined or altered beyond repair.

EPCOT's International Gateway music, especially the selections from the UK and France.

The Haunted Mansion's organ dirge and that rickety old piano playing itself are definatley high up there.

Liberty Square's area loop, which greeted me so many times on returning from the Mansion late Magic Kingdom nights.

Delta Dreamflight, especially the overture / queue music and "We're Gonna Take You Flying.."

"All The Guys That Turn Me On, Turn Me Down" and "Heart, We Did All That We Could".

One soundtrack that's very important to me isn't a traditional loop and can't even be fully heard all at once; but the entire soundscape along the Rivers of America. The Liberty Square and Frontierland music loops for sure, the sound of the riverboat, the train whistle from Big Thunder Mountain, the rifles from Fort Langhorn, the creaking cogs and wheels in Harper's Mill (they play 'Down By The Old Mill Stream'), the banjo in Beacon Joe, the recorded birds chirping and dogs barking, the Pirates in their cave shouting, the blare of trumpet from the fort, the howling dog at the Haunted Mansion... they form one of the most complex and subtle soundscapes of any Disney park.