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
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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