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Western Animation / High Note

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High Note is a 1960 animated short film (7 minutes) directed by Chuck Jones.

It doesn't have any of the classic characters and doesn't involve the voice talents of Mel Blanc at all. It is a dialogue-free cartoon concerning the sheet music for a performance of "The Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss. We see a squadron of anthropomorphized musical notes literally constructing the sheet music, laying out lines that form the staff, bending a long line as if it were an iron bar into a G-clef. Having all the construction on the paper completed, the various notes take their place. A conductor note starts off the performance, and we hear the music of "The Blue Danube".

Except we only get a couple of bars into "The Blue Danube" when the music comes to a halt. There's a missing note. It turns out one note has gone off into the sheet music for "The Little Brown Jug" and gotten rip-roaring drunk. The conductor note tries to get the drunk note into its rightful place on the top line, but the drunk note refuses to cooperate. A merry chase ensues as the drunk runs all over the page.

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See also "Hypothese Beta", a 1967 animated short that uses a similar conceit but with holes in a computer punch card.


Tropes:

  • Alcohol Hic: The drunk note is doing this after it leaves "The Little Brown Jug".
  • Anthropomorphic Typography: The characters are all musical notes.
  • Cartoon Conductor: Goes on a frantic chase trying to haul down the drunk note.
  • Credits Gag: The "D" in "Directed by Chuck Jones" is drawn to look like a musical note.
  • Double Entendre: "High" can refer to a climactic musical note (the highest register of the piece) or to being piss-ass drunk or stoned.
  • Drunken Glow: The drunken note has a red "face". As do all the other notes at the end.
  • Follow the Bouncing Ball: Used to show the process of the music through each note as the camera pans over the Blue Danube waltz—until the bouncing ball (actually a spotlight) halts because a note is missing.
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  • Here We Go Again!: After the drunken note is back in its place, the conductor begins again. When it gets to the note, not only is it missing again, but so are all the other notes after it! They've all gone to "The Little Brown Jug" to get drunk.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: With notes actually running around a piece of music as it plays.
  • Music Is Eighth Notes: Averted, as the cartoon has fun anthropomorphizing all the various types of notation (turning a rest sign into a dog, for instance).
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