• Interview: Will Anderson (Friendship is Magic score composer)



    William Kevin Anderson composes the entire underscore for Friendship is Magic. Basically, if Daniel Ingram didn't compose it for any of the vocalists to sing, then Will Anderson composed it to play alongside the action. I contacted him regarding a potential Q&A a while back. Will was gracious enough to answer 11 questions about himself and the music he has composed for MLP:FiM. Interview after the break!


    (Also, Seth advises you to check out this awesome song if you haven't already.)

    Interview / Q&A
    William Kevin Anderson
    My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic score composer
    Equestria Daily administrator: Sethisto (sethisto@gmail.com)
    Interview conducted by: Tekaramity (tekaramity@yahoo.com)

    My Little Pony and all related characters and indicia are ©1982-2011 Hasbro.
    All rights reserved. Equestria Daily claims no ownership of the aforementioned.

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    1. Hello, Mr. Anderson. Thank you very much for taking the time to communicate with the MLP: Friendship is Magic fanbase. Let's begin then. First of all, I must note that you already conducted quite an extensive interview with the Marvel Animation Age at http://marvel.toonzone.net/anderson.php - an interview which I highly recommend to all MLP:FiM fans interested in your musical catalog and compositional stylings. Building off of that, then, what have you scored since that particular interview transpired?

    Wow, I just went back and re-read the interview, it is great!


    Since then I finished Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island and did the remake of Biker Mice From Mars. I wrote and produced the songs for an animated feature, "The Life and Times Of Santa Claus"; I scored and wrote the songs for a Disney Christmas special,  "A Miser Brother's Christmas"; I scored another Christmas special, "A Cranberry Christmas" (Barry Manilow wrote the songs for that one - it was cool working with him!); I did some smaller independent animated projects, a few promos, a couple of live action films, a reality show called "Moment of Truth" which was a big hit…and I wrote a new musical with Sonia Levitin, "Return," which had a successful run in Los Angeles.

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    2. I see that your catalog extends back across a few decades by now. What events brought you to handle the underscore for Friendship is Magic?

    A few decades? Really? Huh. Well, remember, I started doing this when I was 12!

    I was asked to submit for FiM. The process was blind, so the folks at Hasbro Studios listened to the submissions without knowing who the composer was. My underscore piece was selected, and so they hired me.

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    3. Since scoring occurs in post-production, you presumably have access to practically everything you need to score Friendship is Magic effectively. In light of that, what *specifically* do you keep in mind when scoring this show? What stands out about it - from the perspective of animation, dialogue, and overall presentation - that you account for?

    Good Lord, that question is so huge that it makes me tired to think about it. It's all intuition and experience. Help the show, be there when you need to - get it right - make it flow - match the emotional temperature of the scene, or play against it - help the story, billboard the big moments...

    This is our process: The director and I talk through the role of the music for the entire episode. What needs special attention, what we want to achieve, what special needs the episode has. Then I write the music and show it to them and Hasbro Studios. They give me notes, I make changes, I master and deliver the show - then we move on to the next episode!

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    4. Friendship is Magic has a remarkably diverse and textured soundtrack. Many scenes and characters carry recurring motifs. You employ a superb variety of instruments, as well. Themes range from classical to electronic, country to rock, ambient to forceful. Would you care to touch upon the musical ideas and elements that you most earnestly inject into the MLP:FiM score?

    I just try to do what is right, and I do have a big diverse pallet. I love the stylistic freedom afforded me on the show.  I think it is important to stay consistent once I get the themes right.  It helps me know where I am in the show.  I love doing electronic, orchestral, gothic metal - you name it!

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    5. If you don't mind, I'd like to devote a few questions to specific pieces of music or thematic elements within the Friendship is Magic soundtrack. Perhaps your most well-known piece composed for Friendship is Magic is the montage music during Episode 18: Show Stoppers - unofficially known as "Cutie Mark Crusading" owing to the struggles of the Cutie Mark Crusaders discovering their talents. This piece is extremely catchy and boasts a synth lead alongside acoustic and muted guitars. What do you consider and implement when composing a piece of music such as this one that takes to the forefront and parallels the action while still introducing a strong melody? Any particular notions strike you while crafting this piece?

    We mapped the CMC scene out as a montage when we spotted the scene. Then I wrote a little pop rock theme that I thought worked. I knew I wanted a hook. I knew I wanted to use a retro sounding synth. I knew I wanted guitars and a strong back beat. That was that!
    Once I got the theme working, it was time to wrap it around the scene - make it work to picture. It took a long time to get it just right! Those long cues can take a bit of time to get to sit just right.

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    6. Friendship is Magic sports quite a modern soundtrack in several ways. Rainbow Dash's signature instrument is the electric guitar. Synths and electronic beats accompany several side characters, such as the DJ pony and Photo Finish. Is this direction in the music part of the overall "modernization" of the show in updating the My Little Pony franchise as a whole, or do you simply employ instruments and musical styles that you feel are appropriate to the scene or characters on-screen at the time? Any commentary you'd like to share on the more modern music you've composed for FiM?

    To some degree it is unplanned. I mean really, what else would one do for Photo Finish but German Progressive House?  I just go for what is right for the scene or character - and I try to keep it cohesive.  That said, Lauren always wanted to find a signature sound or instrument for every character and so that is always on my mind.

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    7. Conversely, the FiM soundtrack also presents a dazzling array of music more in line with classical and symphonic productions. Stirringly beautiful music accompanies the battle with (and triumphant resolution over) the imposing Nightmare Moon; over-the-top fanfare heralds the stage magician Trixie; trepidation resonates from the motif of the ravenous Parasprites; harpsichords dance around several scenes involving the elegant and graceful Rarity. Instead of a dichotomy, these stylings form a unique harmony with the more modern elements. How do you approach and overcome the potential clash between the old and the new? Any commentary you'd like to share on the more classical music you've composed for FiM?

    Wow. You really know the score. I forget what I do week by week (kidding!). I love writing orchestral music.  It is great fun to use the extensive orchestral samples now available for composers and employ them in the show. Overall, I see MLP:FiM as a classic show with a classic score.  I don't see a potential clash - it is all of one thought to me. There's room for everyone.  MLP has a big orchestral element to it. It just turned out that way.

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    8. One prime example of the fusion between old and new - as well as the association between a particular style of music and a corresponding pony - is the music accompanying Rarity's second (successful) fashion show in Suited for Success. Each pony in the show receives a fitting segment: Twilight Sparkle's disco-techno, Applejack's hayseed, Pinkie Pie's candy pop, Rainbow Dash's electric overdrive, Fluttershy's earthen beats, and Rarity's triumphant fanfare. This piece of music exemplifies the strongest synergistic elements of the Friendship is Magic underscore. If you've anything to discuss regarding this particular musical segment or the other seemingly dichotomous sections of the FiM soundtrack, would you kindly share it?

    All I can say is that this scene took FOREVER to do - it is so hard to get through everything and make it smooth, then make it so each thematic element for each pony stands out. The tricky thing is to get all the individual beats, but also keep the energy up and make it all smooth and continuous.

    I look for these kind of set pieces episode by episode and give them the special attention they deserve. It is nice to see them appreciated!

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    9. You're perpetually busy, I'm aware, but have you found time to watch MLP:FiM on air?

    My daughter TiVos them all, and we often watch them together. It is hard for me to watch them, because I work so hard on them that I am no longer objective.  I think the show looks and sounds great and I am proud of it.

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    10. Have you heard the online chatter about the show? It has gained a sizable following outside of its target audience. How does reaching a larger audience and reading any fan feedback impact you? What do you make of it all?

    I have been made aware of it, and I think FiM deserves the attention. Two words: Lauren Faust.

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    11. Thank you very much for your answers and for taking time out of your schedule to communicate with the fans. It's been a true pleasure. Do you have any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

    I love the show and am proud to be part of the creative/production team putting it out. Everyone at Hasbro Studios and The Hub has been so supportive. Everyone at Studio B in Vancouver has been wonderful. Roger and Adam and the folks up at Dick & Rogers do a bang-up job. The cast is terrific. The scripts and scribes are wonderful.  It is a huge effort to do this, and I am just happy to take care of my little corner of the MLP:FiM universe!

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    Thank you again for taking part in this interview, Will! Really looking forward to hearing the music you will be composing for Season 2!

    70 comments:

    1. I'm probably not first.

      I really want to thank Will Anderson. The music really is great. and he should be mentioned more.

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    2. Absolutely fantastic interview. Thank you so much for doing this, Tek and Seth!

      Oh, Tek, are you really on Equestria Daily staff now? If so, wow. Major step up for you! Wishing you well in your responsibilities maintaining the site here. Oh, and keep Sethisto sane and make sure he gets sleep, okay? ^_^

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    3. "Hello Mr. Anderson"

      ...

      Sorry, I don't think I'll be able to take the interview seriously after reading that phrase

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    4. @Anonymous

      ... Cannot unsee...

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    5. Oh wow, he had ties in to Biker Mice from Mars? I remember that show!

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    6. This is awesome. And what Scorch said; you bronies all rock.

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    7. "Two words: Lauren Faust"

      Best response to anything ever.

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    8. Its to bad not many people pay active attention to this music =/. But I guess that might be the point.

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    9. Whos this ''Tekaramity'' person? I s/he new?

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    10. Another Reason why people shouldn't worry so much about this show going down hill being a person who played music Trombone/Piano and a little vocals I enjoyed this interview.

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    11. You tend to forget how much work goes into make a show like this. I mean having to a get all the pieces of the Suited For Success must have been a test on the nerves, no matter how much you love your job. Thanks for all the hard work.

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    12. Great Interview so...many...big words *derp*

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    13. Um. Did anyone else read the other interview linked in the first question. Will Anderson is friends with Weird Al.

      "MAA: Slightly off topic, but what was it like to work with Weird Al?

      Will: Weird Al is great. I scored his television show for CBS, and toured and recorded with him. He is a wonderful guy. He is married and has a child named Nina. His wife is Suzanne. I played on his last album, Poodle Hat. It won a Grammy. He is quite something. Has outlasted many of the artists he has lampooned. Hard-working, great guy. I wouldn’t tour with him anymore because I have morphed into film tv score guy, but I could be persuaded to play my famous trumpet solo on stage at the Greek theatre if he wanted! He is still a friend. We are having dinner next week, as a matter of fact."

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    14. Great.
      Someone has to post a video with the music of parasprites, it's haunting.

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    15. I would really have loved to hear if he listens to any of the fan music, and what he thinks about it... I guess that'll have to wait until next time.

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    16. wow i love this fandom guys i just love it
      and i don't know wo this rek is but if s/he is a new part of ED staff i say hello Trek¡¡

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    17. Awesome interview. Like most composers, Will doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves.

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    18. Another great Equestria Daily exclusive!

      You guys sure do your research.

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    19. Mr. Anderson...

      Did you get my package?

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    20. Great interview! William Anderson really needs some attention for the great work he did on the background music for the show. I'm really looking forward to see what sort of stuff he does for season two!

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    21. @GabuEx

      Very well said. While it's absolutely understandable that Daniel Ingram's name would pop into most bronies' minds first and formost, Will Anderson is a key part of what makes the show live and breathe. If you've ever watched one of the vocal-free edits of an episode, it's clear that Friendship is Magic would not be half so lively without his compositions.

      Thanks to him for giving us a chance to learn a little more about the musical side of pony, and thanks again as ever to Tekaramity, who really did a fantastic job of conducting himself professionally and with poise in this interview. We owe ya, buddy.

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    22. LOVE the background music. It's all so wonderfully written -- I'm typically not the sort that'll watch a movie and comment on its soundtrack all the time, but I love watching the full episodes with just the background music that people post on YouTube.

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    23. I'm so glad Mr. Anderson is getting some love too <3

      This fandom rules.

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    24. Tek isn't new guys. He's done stuff like this for a while now.

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    25. An interview...how awesome is that? :D

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    26. "Two Words: Lauren Faust"

      This man gets it.

      He really does do a great job with the score! I get the feeling that we may have neglected his roles in the music scenes and if that's true we should ashamed. Anyways great interview!

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    27. I'm sounding just like everyone else when I say this, but I can't dress it up, the background music is simply awesome, no ifs ands or buts, that's just what it is, and it really helps make the show.

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    28. Mr. Anderson... your face when.

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    29. Will Anderson really deserves more love from the brony community. Rarity's fashion show music impresses me just as much as any of the main songs, and Pinkie's breakdown wouldn't be nearly as creepy without the fantastic background music.

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    30. Will seems like an awesome guy.

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    31. @GabuEx
      @Phoe
      This. I honestly love the BGM stuff that Mr. Anderson has put in, it keeps the show charming in a nicely subtle way. It's not just Daniel Ingram, but also William Anderson that makes the atmosphere awesome the way it is. I really feel that William Anderson should be more noticed.

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    32. Good read. It's nice to see Will getting some love.

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    33. That's definitely one of my favorite interviews yet. Great job, and thanks a ton for making this happen.

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    34. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

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    35. Can anyone even imagine Pinkie's psycho scene without the background music?

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    36. I have been hoping for the longest time that William Anderson would get an interview. This makes me incredibly happy!

      Mr. Anderson is such a brilliant composer. His music is one of the many reasons the show is as awesome as it is. He seriously needs more love. I love the little subtle touches he puts on he music, too. It just adds so very much to the incredible charisma of the show. :)

      I agree that Will absolutely needs more love!

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    37. I always liked the background music more than the songs in the show

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    38. pinkie pie going through her mental breakdown seriously reminds me of psychonauts I mean the ost

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    39. An excellent interview with a fantastic composer, conducted by the broniest of bronies. What's not to like?
      Congrats on the official EqDaily staff position, Tek! You deserve it.

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    40. @BagOfChips

      It really does put the ultimate cap on that scene, and the thing is I never really paid full attention to it until I found a YouTube clip where it's brought the forefront. Subtle, yet oh so effective.

      Great interview!

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    41. I've known about Anderson's impact on the series for a while now (One only has to look to the scoring of Boast Busters to see why)... I really don't think the series would be the same without him!

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    42. Thanks to all of you, seriously. ^_^ This Q&A was a total pleasure to conduct, and I thank Will most sincerely for his time and answers. And I'm optimistic, too - I'm looking to bring more exclusive interviews to EqDaily in the future!

      @Star Gazer

      Turns out Will wrote the vocal songs for American Tail 3, too. I'd heard his music and not realized it was his.

      @Anonymous

      Heh, sorry for the "big" words...I over-apply my knowledge of music theory, at times. ^^;

      @Phoe

      Very well said yourself, Phoe - and aww, I'm not owed anything! I just love doing whatever I can to help bring quality exclusive interviews to EqDaily whenever I can. ^_^ But thank you kindly. Hugs? Hugs. *hugs*

      @Anonymous

      I've conducted interviews before for EqDaily, yes, but I'm new to the staff. I hope to bring a small variety of helpful things to the site in the semi-near future.

      @Heartmend

      Hey! I'm happy that you're so happy! Yeah, I definitely appreciate all that *both* FiM composers bring to the show...and I eagerly anticipate catching up with both of them again, down the road...

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    43. Those were some of the most intelligently-worded questions I've ever seen for a fan interview. Kudos to the author. And kudos to Will for doing such a creative and impressive job scoring the show!

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    44. William Anderson is my hero, I try to emulate him in all of my work. I aspire to have the same variety and skill as him some day.

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    45. Good on you for making this interview happen, it's quite interesting.

      As not only an FiM fan, but a film guy, i love reading stuff like this.

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    46. Way to go Tek =3
      Excelent interview

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    47. Gaius Julius Caesar AugustusJune 29, 2011 at 9:02 PM

      I think an objective and unbiased view would conclude that FiM is a superb show of rarefied quality.

      I'd also like to say that the effort you put in pays off; the music (Both vocal pieces and not) is one of the show's strongest elements and it binds everything together. Rarity's fashion show music is especially brilliant.

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    48. Quite awesome how this fandom gets all these nice interviews. Nice interview too, even though I read the first question in Agent Smith's voice.

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    49. "Two Words: Lauren Faust"

      *shudder* I'm still scared about season two and future seasons... I know it'll still be cool for a while, but one day it's just going to decay, I know it. It's not going to cancel gracefully, it's going to drag out...

      Anyway! Awesome, Will is my hero! I wish I could compose like that. I hope he sticks around forever. (sigh)

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    50. Best. Fandom. That has ever exixsted.

      A bug thanks to Seth and Tek, it's people like you that make the community so good ^^

      And finally, recognition for more members of the FiM cast! I bet most of the staff has something amazing to say ^^ but for now, nice knowing about you, Will Anderson.

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    51. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    52. Seriously, the music for Rarity's fashion show has to be the best thing I've ever heard in a cartoon, not to mention a television show. The way it all flows together is magical. And he quotes Debussy for chrissakes!

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    53. Heavy Weapons PonyJune 30, 2011 at 2:17 AM

      William is a cool guys, hes done lots of great music for many shows before this one and he is a friend of Weird Al. :D

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    54. @Heavy Weapons Pony

      William is a pretty cool guy, eh does the composing and dosnt afraid of anything. ;D

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    55. Hopefully Will will get more love now. He deserves it!

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    56. This was very interesting to read, and the music is fantastic. it's one of the things I enjoy most about the show. I didn't realize all the details till the interviewer was calling them out.

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    57. It is inevitable, Mr. Anderson. You will be doing everything in your power to make Season 2 awesome. Whether you do so willingly... or not.

      I really hope I'm not the only one who read the questions in Smith's voice after "Hello, Mr. Anderson"...

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    58. @Anonymous
      BEHOLD: THE ORIGIN OF EQUESTRIA GIRLS!!!

      Suddenly, it all makes sense...

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    59. @Anonymous
      BEHOLD: THE ORIGIN OF EQUESTRIA GIRLS!!!

      Suddenly, it all makes sense...

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    60. OK, I'm reminding everyone about this (cited from Infinity Dash's youtube channel:
      Do you want an official MLP:FiM original soundtrack release? Hasbro will likely only consider it if they see the support (and therefore potential sales) for an OST release. So sign the petition! (and if they do release it you better buy it - Pinkie Pie is watching - ALWAYS watching)
      http://www.petitiononline.com/p1nk13pi/petition.html
      The more fan support, the better the chance of it happening!

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    61. Who's asking the questions? Those are deep questions, musically and dramatically.

      I appreciate the complex mixture of compositional styles. And yes, I did re-watch "Pinkie Pie's Psychotic Break." It reminded me of Leslie Bassett, Bernard Hermann and a little Elmer Bernstein as well.

      The use of orchestral instruments and styles is VERY effective. If there are any other "old" people watching who are "cartoon" fans, we remember Warner Bros. and Carl Stallings. Everything was recorded with full orchestra, piano, harps...and it worked!

      Then in the 70's animation became "cheap" and cheesy. The 80's..ugh! Don't you forget about forgetting the '80s! Gag.

      In 1993 "Animaniacs" elevated cartoon comedy back to an art form! And then came the next generation of "clever," funny and even dramatic animation, from Dexter's Lab, Powerpuff Girls and Samuria Jack, etc.

      THANK YOU! There are more but I've digressed enough.

      To Mr.Anderson and Mr. Ingram, PLEASE keep the mixture of sonics as sharp and varied as your imagination can take you! Ex: Winter Wrap-up had to have the acoustic guitar sound and the moving bass line as well the low strings supporting.

      Pinkie HAD to have the insane 3/4 carnival sound with all the random brass and it had to build in that style...until it resolved! And it did.

      Thank you! Great work! Don't back-off, don't cut corners, keep the momentum flowing. This show has the potential to rank at the very top of the list of the all-time best animated series.

      And there are SO many storylines and sonic possibilities. 100 show's is the minimum.

      If The Simpson's can make 20+ years with their limitations, Ponies can, too.

      Treat this project with care, as you do your own child. It's just a baby, but could grow into
      a "Triple Crown."

      Thank you!
      http://ocdmusician.com
      http://ocdtrumpet.com

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    62. theres alot of tuba in season 1... I like tuba, cause i play it XD

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