Full Name:

Bradley Scott

Occupation / Title:

Date of birth:

26/10/1891

Date of death:

27/04/1977

Birthplace:

Russellville, Arkansas, USA.

Associated studios:

  • Walt Disney
  • MGM 

Biography


Scott Bradley was a film composer who wrote acclaimed music for many memorable cartoons during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. He is best known for his work at MGM, scoring theatrical cartoon series such as Tom and Jerry, Droopy, and many one-off Tex Avery cartoons. Along with his contemporaries Carl Stalling and Max Steiner, he is probably the most important and influential composer of Hollywood cartoons, pioneering classical cartoon music style. Distinct among cartoon composers, Scott Bradley advocated for the artistic possibilities of cartoon music and wrote original scores that were uniquely modernist, expressive, and central to the experience of the film.

Career outline


After working alongside Carl Stalling and Max Steiner for several years at Disney, Bradley was brought in by the Harman-Ising Company to MGM and found himself employed there. 

Bradley was unhappy with the cartoon music style before the 30′s, which simply linked together well-known melodies. He was even more precisely concerned with timing than Carl Stalling, believing that cartoon music can express a much wider range of musical digressions, narratives and puns over the soundtrack arrangement of a serious, live-action film. He wanted to further emphasize the actions through the arrangement of the music. At MGM Bradley was able to develop a successful system of musical metaphors and phrases that would be linked to certain screen actions and events. 

In his work for Tom and Jerry, a classic cartoon series heavily reliant on timing and rhythm, Bradley arranged music through the concept of repetition and variation, reworking musical phrases and sounds already introduced and bringing in new ones. Bradley worked on Tom and Jerry from the cartoon’s beginning to its end, working in the Hanna-Barbera studio unit, and retired when MGM stopped making cartoons in 1957. 

Personal style


Bradley crafted a unique musical identity for the MGM cartoons he worked on, such as “The Cat Concerto”, a reappropriated Listz orchestral piece animated to a rather haughty Tom on the piano. Unlike his fusion counterpart Carl Stalling who quoted often from popular songs, Bradley worked on cartoons with minimal dialogue, finding more freedom in being able to compose long musical phrases that would move with the visual pace of the animations, devoid of speech. 

By the time Bradley was well-established at MGM, he was allowed total musical freedom by his producer Fred Quimby, and worked hard to avoid “Mickey-mousing”, a characteristic of cartoons prior to the 30′s, which meant mapping directly a musical tempo onto the animated sequence. Instead, Bradley liked to work more jaggedly, flowing pieces of music, fighting to balance the square divisions of a musical score alongside the visual symmetry of the cartoon action, using musical innovations to maximize the limited orchestral set of 20 players he had access to, as opposed to Stalling’s 80 at Warner Bros. 

He devised a clever system of “hearing” action, in which aural cues convey the expected visual gag, allowing the action to unfold, followed by a drum-roll to signal the gag directly after. 

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