Sunday, July 05, 2015

The New Age Music of Tomorrowland, and Others

The New Age Era, 1983 - 1993

The year was 1983, and Tomorrowland was looking a little bad.

EPCOT Center had just opened the year before, and compared to the friendly new face on tomorrow WED had achieved just south of Magic Kingdom, the fact that Tomorrowland was still selling a 60s version of the future was ever more apparent.

In truth the project hadn't really ever ended. For the opening of Space Mountain in 1975 Flight to the Moon had been reworked into Mission to Mars and America the Beautiful had been updated for the Bicentennial. New Circlevision films had popped up pretty regularly, and the Canada Circlevision film from the 1967 Montreal Expo had even been shown occasionally during "Canada Weeks". This was before it was reworked yet again and installed permanently at EPCOT.

1983 saw the first true "New" Tomorrowland. Space Mountain was given a new post show and EPCOT-style musical soundtrack. ORAC-1 took over for Jack Wagner on the WEDWAY Peoplemover. American Journeys, another reworking of America the Beautiful, moved into the Circlevision theater. The whole area was given a new color scheme, and the problematic entryway fountains were turned off. And, Jack Wagner created a new piece of music for the area.

The music sound system of Magic Kingdom had seen its first efforts to standardize and improve in the early 80s. EPCOT Center had been by far the most musically complex theme park ever created, and for the first time WED had managed to create a theme park with wall to wall music that was evenly audible through the entire area. What they had learned was headed back to Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland.

New speakers had appeared all through Tomorrowland during the re-painting process, and soon debuted a new kind of Tomorrowland music. Jack Wagner had experimented with "New Age" synth music in the 1983 Tokyo Disneyland Tomorrowland, and created an entirely new one for Magic Kingdom, this time using music entirely from one artist.... surprise! It was Mannheim Steamroller.

Tomorrowland Area Music [ca. 1983 – 1990] 
Running Time Approx. 50 Minutes
01.  Chocolate Fudge [1] 
02.  Pass the Keg (Lia) [1] 
03.  The First Door [2]
04.  The Fourth Door [2]*
05.  Going to Another Place [2]**
06.  Toccata [3]* 
07.  Mere Image [3]* 
08.  Four Rows of Jacks [4] 
09.  The Third Door [2] 
10.  The Fifth Door [2] 
11.  Morning [3] 
12.  Midnight on a Full Moon [3]* 
13.  Dancing Flames [4] 
14.  The Cricket [3]* 
15.  The Sixth Door [2] 
16.  Door Seven [2]***

[1] Fresh Aire by Mannheim Steamroller (American Gramaphone, AG-355-S, 1975)
[2] Fresh Aire II by Mannheim Steamroller (American Gramaphone, AG-359-S, 1977) 
[3] Fresh Aire III by Mannheim Steamroller (American Gramaphone, AG-365-S, 1979) 
[4] Fresh Aire 4 by Mannheim Steamroller (American Gramaphone, AG-370-S, 1981)

* Denotes a track which fades into the next track
** Track 5 is followed by five seconds of wind sound effects from the end of the record fading into the next track
*** Followed by approx. 15 seconds of silence
Based on a reference recording by Mike Lee made in 1990. Identified and compiled by Nomeus and Foxx.

 We really have Nomeus to thank for this one. He worked in Tomorrowland in the 80s and really kept the memory of this loop alive on MouseBits, even putting together a playlist of the Mannheim Steamroller songs he remembered playing there which turned out to be mostly accurate. It was his prompting that got Mike Lee's live recording of the loop from 1990 transferred, which allowed me to attempt a reconstruction.

This is one loop I won't post my rebuild of, because all of the tracks are commercially available, owned by the same person, and distributed by a company founded by the composer for the sole purpose of distributing this music. It's a very straightforward compilation process.

I do hope you'll make your own playlist or reconstruction of this loop, because I think it's the most remarkable Tomorrowland loop Jack Wagner ever created. The loop is structured around the first side of Fresh Aire II, which is an extended single suite which weaves variations on a theme in and out of a larger piece of music for a full 20 minutes. Wagner re-orders the tracks but keeps the musical motif moving in and out of his loop, meaning this is one of the very few pieces of park BGM which feels like a true listening experience instead of a bunch of random pieces of music which have a unified "feel". I had no idea what to expect during the identification of the songs and reconstruction of the loop, but it turned out to be my far and away favorite.

After Mannheim we come to the famous "Bubble Shuffle" loop.

I've tried to come up with a clear date when Mannheim fled the coop, but it just isn't possible. The loop which replaced the Mannheim loop is often distributed with a 1989 date on it, which I don't think is accurate. Home videos and recordings by Mike Lee from 1990 and 1991 reveal both the Mannheim and Bubble Shuffle loops playing on different days. Between 1989 and 1991 Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland and Magic Kingdom began to switch over from reel to reel music to CDs, so it's possible that the Bubble Shuffle loop was intended to replace the Mannheim loop when the new system came online, and it wasn't a straightforward process.

The Bubble Shuffle loop is made up of tracks which entered the Wagner sound library in 1983 to compile the Tokyo Disneyland Tomorrowland tracks as well as music which played at the EPCOT Wonders of Life pavilion. Jack used these same tracks to create the sound scape for the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure at Disney-MGM in late 1990, and I would not be surprised to learn they were used elsewhere as well. After Jack's retirement, they were used to create the interior music loop for FountainView Espresso at EPCOT in 1994.

Tomorrowland Area Music [ca. 1990 - 1993, 1995 - 2003]
Running time: approx. 58.46 
01. Bubble Shuffle [9] 
02. Night Fire Dance [3] 
03. The Palace [6] 
04. Summer's Day [8] 
05. Windswept [12]  
06. Inside the Sky [5]
07. Inside the House [10]  
08. Sea Space [9]
09. Fire Ritual [1]
10. Behind the Waterfall [7]  
11. Generation Prelude [11]  
12. Generation [11]
13. Elsewhere [2]  
14. Hidden Pathways [4]
[01] Between Two Worlds by Patrick O’Hearn (Private Music 2017-2-P, 1987)
[02] Direct by Vangelis (Arista ARCD-8545, 1988)
[03] Down to the Moon by Andreas Vollenweider (CBS MK 42255, 1986)
[04] Hidden Pathways by Bruce Mitchell (Narada Mystique CD-2003, 1987)
[05] Inside the Sky by Steve Haun (Silver Wave Records SD-504, 1988)
[06] Island by David Arkenstone (Narada Equinox ND-63005, 1989)
[07] Natural States by David Lanz and Paul Speer (Narada Experience ND-63001, 1985)
[08] Neverland by Suzanne Ciani (Private Music 2036-2-P, 1988)
[09] On Solid Ground by Larry Carlton (MCA Records MCAD-6237, 1989)
[10] The Wanderer by Azuma (Private Music 2037-2-P, 1988)
[11] The Waiting by Peter Buffett (Narada Mystique ND-62002, 1987)
[12] Whatever Works by John Jarvis (MCA Records MCAD-6263, 1988)

Playlist compiled by sds910.

This floats around in various versions, including one ripped from a CD that was used in park, but I don't think you can do better than this restoration by YouTube user TheMellowPumpkin:

Most people who went to Disney in the 90s remember this as the New Tomorrowland music, and in fact it hung on all the way up to 2003, when the current Foliart loop began playing. To help fill in the record a bit, I'm going to wander out of the usual time period of this blog and provide a brief overview of how we ended up listening to Behind the Waterfall until 2003...

The New Tomorrowland Loops, 1994

When Tomorrowland went down to be rebuilt in 1993, the sound scape was simplified. The 1976 WEDway "Lounge" track, which had survived all through the "New Age" era, was removed and the Peoplemover track speakers were wired to play the same music as the rest of Tomorrowland, which is why an entire generation remembers Behind the Waterfall from the TTA.

When New Tomorrowland debuted in late 1994, it did not do so to the relaxing sounds of Peter Arkenstone and Vangelis. A short, 15 minute suite of music by Raymond Scott played, appropriate to the machine age look of the refurbished area. You know Raymond Scott from dozens of Looney Tunes shorts and Ren and Stimpy. It's the music which usually plays when a factory is shown.

According to MagicMusic forum user sds910, all of the tracks came from a 1989 CD called "The Raymond Scott Project, Vol. 1", which most reviews online seem to indicate is of extremely unsatisfactory quality. The tracks used were, in order: 01, 03, 21, 20, 13, and 12. This played for a few months.

Soon that 15 minute loop was replaced by a 30 minute loop especially recorded for Tomorrowland by George Wilkins, in a clever pseudo-imitation of Scott's style. This still floats around online, usually identified as "Old Tomorrowland Music", in a group of ten tracks. Here's a sample:

The Wilkins track did not last long either, apparently not even making it through 1995 before the music reverted to the good old Bubble Shuffle tracks. Why?

If we use the Internet Archive and access the official Raymond Scott website at RaymondScott.Com, if we go back far enough we eventually find listed under live performances:
Tomorrowland - DisneyWorld: (Orlando, FL) six Scott Quintette compositions and recordings blatantly used as musical template for constantly-running soundtrack loop at renovated theme park attraction; infringement settled out of court (1995-96)
Busted! It looks like the Scott estate had been after Disney for a while,  for if we backtrack to the F.A.Q. section of the website we find this pointed remark:
Was Raymond Scott's music used in the Disney film HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS? 
The film score was written by noted klepto-composer* James Horner, who cleverly appropriated Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" in approx. 17 scenes, without crediting Scott. Disney was threatened with a lawsuit by Scott's publishers, and after a year of negotiation, the matter was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Although the film's screen credits were not revised, the film's cue sheets (music logs) were revised to reflect a dozen or so uses of "Powerhouse." This means Scott's heirs and publishers earn performance revenue through ASCAP when the film airs on TV and elsewhere. (* see New Yorker Magazine, March 9, 1998)
This is presumably why Esquivel music continued to play in the exit area of Space Mountain up to 2005, and possibly rights-free for Disney!
In some ways this is one of those cases where you don't realize that a piece of music is inappropriate until you hear what was intended. And while the Raymond Scott and Wilkins tracks are undoubtedly more in the style of New Tomorrowland, I don't regret having lost them. I don't know anybody who loved the 90s version of Tomorrowland who didn't feel that the New Age loop worked for it. I think the secret is that it softened an area which otherwise could feel frenetic and impersonal. The 1994 Tomorrowland sometimes seemed more sarcastic than genuinely optimistic, but the soothing, upbeat New Age music gave it back a beating heart which perhaps it would have otherwise lacked.
Ready for more? Visit the Passport to Dreams Theme Park Music Hub.
Or, hop a monorail to the past and spend a full "day" at the Walt Disney World of the 1970s by downloading Another Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World.