Another aspect of the show that brings fans in is its music. Daniel Ingram puts a great deal of effort into the songs, including a 20-person choir for a song in the season finale (Tekaramity & Ingram, 2011), while Will Anderson creates wonderful atmosphere with an orchestral-style score with some more modern instruments (Tekaramity & Anderson, 2011). These combine and pair with the animation to vary the mood from an elegant ballet to the screaming and hollering of a sports competition. This approach to the show as art makes it a lot easier both to sit back and enjoy the show and also to drag new fans in: the creators are clearly treating it as serious business rather than just a vehicle for producing money.
“At the Gala”, the above-mentioned song from the season finale:
The episode “Dragonshy” present with the background music only:
Tekaramity (Interviewer) & Ingram, D. (Interviewee). (2011, March 23). Daniel Ingram interview has arrived! [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from Equestria Daily web site: http://www.equestriadaily.com/2011/03/daniel-ingram-interview-has-arrived.html
Ingram, the foreground music composer for MLPFiM, discusses his history and process for composing songs for various animated shows. He covers both what happens in general from the start with a script containing the initial lyrics to finish and the song being sent off to the production company, and what has happened in specific instances, such as having to go back and re-record “Winter Wrap Up” after animation began. He also talks about the fanbase and fanworks.
Ingram takes his work seriously, and has the resources to do amazing things. Consider this: “My favorite song for Season 1 hasn’t aired yet, but you’ll know it when you hear it because it’s pretty epic. I recorded a 20-person choir in Bryan Adam’s studio for this particular number, and every lead pony gets a solo.” (This song turned out to be “At the Gala”, from episode 26, “Best Night Ever”.) This is a song for a half-hour children’s cartoon. Having so many performers—both the vocalists mentioned and the variety of instruments used behind them—should be complete overkill, yet, somehow, it works.
In addition, Ingram’s opinion of fanworks greatly encouraged these creators and remixers. This has provided two boosts for the community: the fan creators produce even more, and the other fans become more likely to hear about these fanworks.
Tekaramity (Interviewer) & Anderson, W. K. (Interviewee). (2011, June 29). Interview: Will Anderson (Friendship is Magic score composer) [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from Equestria Daily web site: http://www.equestriadaily.com/2011/06/interview-will-anderson-friendship-is.html
Anderson, the background music composer for MLPFiM, discusses his history, his process, and the orchestral elements of the show. Modern instruments are still employed, but both he and Faust have wanted to find a signature sound for each character.
Anderson’s work has greatly influenced the show in two ways. First, as both he and Tekaramity mention multiple times, each character does have does have a signature stylistic influence on the background music. It’s never quite a leitmotif, but the music (or, sometimes, its absence or distortion, when characters aren’t quite feeling their usual selves) does a wonderful job in setting the tone in each scene. The scene in “Suited for Success” mentioned by Tekaramity is definitely the most triumphant example of this. Second, the music is almost never simply reused (thus the lack of leitmotifs); certainly similar-sounding pieces will occur, but Anderson puts together a full score every time. This variety helps the show avoid feeling repetitive, a major downfall of many children’s shows.
Faust, L. (Producer). (2011). My Little Pony Friendship is Magic [Television series]. Vancouver: Studio B Productions.
A young unicorn, Twilight Sparkle, learns about the magic of friendship through various adventures and hijinks with her friends in Ponyville over one season of twenty-six episodes. Her friends—including Applejack, a farmer; Rainbow Dash, an athlete; Rarity, a fashion designer; Pinkie Pie, a pastry chef and thrower of parties; and Fluttershy, the overly-shy local version of a veterinarian, help to bring Twilight out of her intellectual shell. The lessons she learns are generally presented as letters to her mentor, Princess Celestia, at the end of each episode.
As virtually every other work presented here suggests, MLPFiM is a bright, colorful show, aimed at girls around the six- to eight-year old range. However, for all the reasons presented elsewhere in this blog, it’s eminently watchable by those of all ages and genders. It is certainly not the deepest, most intellectual show out there, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the most fun.