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Making the Music

Disney filmmakers had a pretty wild time making music for Tarzan. In the animation studio, they created a gorilla band with a wailing elephant brass section. In the sound studio they recorded Rosie O'Donnell singing music written by Phil Collins.The result was "Trashing the Camp," the most outrageous of the five songs that appear in the movie.

Recording "Trashing the Camp" presented some unique challenges. The performers had to keep up with a gang of animal characters as they went on a riotous romp through a human camp, making music with almost everything they touched. Finding just the right sounds to go with the gorillas' makeshift instruments was difficult, but Collins used his head. "I went around the studio bashing things with my hands and with the drumsticks," he recalls. "Everybody was looking at me like I was crazy. Eventually I hit myself on the forehead with my fists, and they said, "That's it!" We only did a couple of takes, but the next day my head was all red. In the next session, we sent some guys to go out and get some pots and pans for the drum duet where a couple of gorillas are challenging each other. It was great fun."

In addition to "Trashing the Camp," Collins wrote four other songs for Tarzan: "Two Worlds," "YOU'LL BE IN MY HEART," "Son of Man," and "Strangers Like Me." He quickly discovered that writing songs for an animated film requires a different discipline than writing pop songs. "One of the biggest challenges is length," he explains. "When you're writing for an animated film you have to be more succinct. Two and a half to three minutes is the max. The lyrics themselves also have to be much more specific than when I'm writing a song for myself. In the end, the music has to serve the movie."

Unusual instruments from all over the world were put to work in the film's score, a task for which composer Mark Mancina delved into his personal collection of exotic music. Tarzan's lullaby features a South American guitar called a charango and an African bowlike instrument known as a birembiu. The Australian bullroar added an unsettling effect to the leopard Sabor's theme.

Hear Phil Collins Sing "Strangers Like Me" in Five Languages. Collins himself has listened to African music since the late '60s and even used heavy tribal rhythms on some of the songs on his most recent album. Doing "Tarzan" was something of a natural progression for him, but it also steered his creativity in a completely new direction. "When I write on my own, the structure of both the chords and the lyrics tends to be quite simple. However, with the songs in 'Tarzan' I pushed myself in a much more dramatic area than I normally go. This of course proved necessary as the film went through so many emotional and dramatic changes. I ended up having written songs I'd have never written before. Writing songs for this movie pushed me into different areas and caused me to do something better than ever."

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