Monday, May 19, 2008

Music from the Parks: It's a Small World

One of the first things that pops into many people's minds when they are asked about Disney theme park music is the song It's a Small World. Whether you are one who finds the melody catchy, or one who tries to escape the endless refrain, it is hard to deny the impact that this song has had over the past four decades.

The story goes that Walt's original idea for the attraction was to have children from each nation singing their national anthem. As the guests cruised the seas, the music would provide a sense of place for each scene. But early tests revealed that this cacophony of sound was rather unpleasant. So Walt turned to the Sherman brothers to hatch out a tune for the ride. He directed them to write a song that talked about unity, understanding, and brotherly love.

The brothers first attempt at writing a theme resulted in the song we know today, but they were not pleased with it. It was designed as a song that could be sung in a round, but rather than one melody it had two that could be sung over the same chords. They found it to be too simple. After coming up with a few other tunes, they were pressured by Walt to have a completed song. They ended up returning to their first piece. And their decision has had tremendous impact on park guests.

The song has had a life of its own in commercial releases. The It's a Small World storyteller record was the first full-length storyteller to be based on a theme park attraction. It has since been released in numerous variations on records and compact disc. Some of the releases have been simply music from the attraction, but other have included additional pieces such as various folk songs from around the world. It's a Small World is a staple on contemporary theme park soundtrack compilation albums.

And let us not forget that this song plays in an endless loop every day at five different theme parks on four continents. At any time of day, there is a very good chance that someone is listening to this enduring work.


Basil said...

It's now stuck in my head. *whisteling*

D.O.C. said...

Every now and then I will do the same thing, for now reason, start whistling the song. Does that come having gotten stuck in the ride?

Well Behaved Krissy said...

:) I have a tendency to randomly break into "Imagination" from the Figment-based ride.

I also find myself humming the Wishes music and the music that plays on the Disney travel website.

LOVE reading about the history of the site. :) Your blog is really excellent!

Well Behaved Krissy said...
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