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Animation / The Goat Musician

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The musician himself

The Goat Musician (Russian: Козёл-музыкант) is a 1954 Soviet animated short directed by Boris Dyozhkin with screenplay by Sergey Mikhalkov. It was produced by Soyuzmultfilm.

The short is a satire of composers who merely compile existing tunes in favor of actual creativity. As a musician, the goat, on the advice of his donkey friend, composes a symphonic work based off of Zhil-byl u babushki seren'kiy kozlik (which translates to "Once grandmother had a gray goat"). The goat's concert is preceded by the gray wolf, considered to be a respected musicologist. While he appreciated the composition, the audience took to leaving their seats dismissing the music as a hack job.

The official Soyuzmultfilm YouTube channel has uploaded the full short here.

Provides examples of:

  • Aside Glance: The gray wolf gives one as he walks away with the goat by his side. Not so much as a lampshade on the absurdity of the situation, so much as leading the goat to his uncertain doom.
  • The Big Bad Wolf: The gray wolf is said to be a musicologist, and he seems to be neither feared nor savage. But that doesn't stop him from having any malicious intentions with the goat, judging by his quick Aside Glance as they disappeared into the woods.
  • Dark Reprise: Zhil-byl u babushki seren'kiy kozlik, which the donkey plays on the piano, causing the goat to have a "Eureka!" Moment. The piano tune is played once again during a brief moment of silence after the goat follows the wolf.
  • Dissonant Serenity: In the final scene, a pair of hedgehogs are a little too blithe about the goat musician possibly being eaten by the wolf, which they imply by reciting the nursery rhyme's final lyrics.
  • Folk Music: The goat uses a Russian folk song as the basis of his work.
  • Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: All of the animals.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The melodic theme of the goat's music uses a Russian folk song that starts out innocently enough about a grandmother and her beloved grey goat, but it ends with said goat being preyed on by a pack of wolves after wandering in the woods till nothing was left of it but horns and hooves. Unfortunately, the goat musician (and, to an extent, the donkey who provided it) seemed to be unaware of this, but the audience was understandably shocked, eventually causing them to leave their seats in disgust.
  • Musical Spoiler: This is what prompted the audience's surprised faces, and their leaving the concert later, when they hear the melody the goat used for his theme. And at the end when the melody is played again in piano form, hinting at the goat's fate. See Ironic Nursery Tune.
  • Never Found the Body: Unlike the goat in the song in which only his horns and hooves remained, there is no trace of the goat musician whatsoever except for his composition which has been ripped to shreds. That is, if he really was eaten by the wolf.
  • No Name Given: None of the characters are named. The goat musician is simply known as is.
  • Only in It for the Money: The donkey's main concern seemed to be whether or not he gets paid if the concert proves successful in providing the goat with his theme.
  • Only One Finds It Fun: The goat's donkey friend is the only one enjoying the music whilst everyone shuffles out of their seats. Arguably, there's the gray wolf as well, who can be seen smiling and even licking his lips as the goat conducts the orchestra.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Again, the folk song the goat used on his symphonic work in the vein of it being traditional.
    • Georges Bizet's Carmen Suite No.1: Toreador March was briefly heard before the goat decided to return to the usual theme.
  • Stylistic Suck: The goat's music, aside from the misguided use of an ironic nursery tune as his theme, is also unnecessarily bombastic, has no clear mood/atmosphere, and a general lack of knowledge as to what the music is really all about. A snippet of Georges Bizet's Carmen Suite No.1: Toreador March, for example, managed to sneak in there for some reason.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: The short starts out lighthearted and silly but ends with the goat and the donkey falling out with each other after the concert's failure. Out of spite, the goat accompanies the wolf, and they walk towards the dark forest, where it's hinted at that the goat was never seen again.
  • Tough Room: The audience was excited at first at the announcement of the goat's concert, but once the music started, they grew quickly bored until the motif elicited a startled reaction. The goat is unaware of all of this due to having his back turned while conducting the orchestra, and by the time he takes a bow, everyone has gone.
  • Uncertain Doom: It is unknown whether or not the goat musician was eaten by the gray wolf after accompanying him to the woods. Then again, the parallels between the goat musician and the goat in the folk song imply that it might be the case as lampshaded by two hedgehogs.
  • Woodland Creatures: The audience and the goat's orchestra consist mostly of these. The goat himself, his donkey friend, and the wolf musicologist are the exceptions.
  • Writer's Block: In the beginning of the short, the goat struggles to find a motif for his latest musical piece; listening to records and perusing music sheets hasn't helped. It's not until his donkey friend provides him with an old Russian nursery rhyme that he finally starts composing.