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revised by Martin Marks

[Daniel Robert]

(b Los Angeles, CA, 29 May 1953). Composer, rock singer, arranger, and guitarist. With his brother Richard he formed the theater company the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo in the 1970s, which in 1979 became Oingo Boingo, an eight-piece, new wave band led by Elfman as vocalist and songwriter. During the 1980s the band developed a distinctive synthesizer and horn-based sound; occasionally its songs were featured in youth-market films, such as for the title song of Weird Science (1985), but its ten or so albums had limited commercial success and it formally broke up in 1995.

Beginning in 1985 Elfman also began scoring films, becoming especially well known for his association with the director Tim Burton; after Batman (1989), he became one of Hollywood's most sought-after younger composers. He has worked on nearly all of Burton's films, creating colorful, rhythmically driving and knowingly referential scores, well matched to Burton's surreal style. Elfman has also written the theme music for many television shows, notably “The Simpsons”. Objecting to the overbearing use of sound effects in such action-driven films as ...

Article

Jon Pareles and Jennifer Matthews

[Randall Stuart]

(b Los Angeles, CA, 28 Nov 1943). Popular singer, songwriter, and pianist. He was born into a musical family: three of his uncles, Alfred, Lionel, and Emil, composed and conducted film scores in Hollywood (see Alfred Newman and Lionel Newman). His family lived in various Southern cities, then, when Newman was seven, they settled in Los Angeles where he began to take piano lessons. He had begun writing songs by the age of 15 and while still in high school he was hired by Metric Music in California as a staff songwriter for a salary of $50 a week. Newman attended UCLA, where he studied music composition but left before completing his degree.

While at Metric, Newman wrote songs that were performed by many artists including the Fleetwoods, Gene McDaniels, and the O’Jays. One of his first songs to be widely recognized is “I think it's going to rain today,” recorded by Judy Collins in ...

Article

Sonovox  

Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

Sound-effects device developed by the fiction writer and radio operator Gilbert M. Wright in Los Angeles in 1939 and manufactured by Wright-Sonovox, which was affiliated with the radio station representatives Free & Peters in Chicago. A sound is transmitted to the larynx of a trained ‘articulator’ through two earphone-sized loudspeakers that are placed against the throat; the sound is modified by movements of the tongue and lips to produce speech-like articulations. The Sonovox was much used for radio drama and films, including Walt Disney’s The Reluctant Dragon (1941) and Leith Stevens’s score for the film Destination Moon (1950). The voice of Casey the Train in Walt Disney’s Dumbo (1941) was created using the Sonovox. It was very popular for radio station identifications and advertising jingles. The rock band The Who used the Sonovox on their song ‘Radio London’ (1967), in which guitar chords seem to speak the days of the week. Later it was replaced by the more versatile vocoder....

Article

Karel Steinmetz

[Plekancová-Vondráčková, Lucie]

(b Prague, 8 March 1980). Czech pop singer and actress. Her family was one of musicians (her father, Jiří Vondráček, is an actor and singer, her mother, Hana Sorrosová-Vondráčková, writes lyrics, and her aunt, Helena Vondráčková, is also a singer). Lucie was trained in music and drama at the Prague Conservatory and later obtained the doctorate in the Arts Faculty at Prague University (2006). From early childhood she appeared in films and TV serials for children; in 1992 she became a presenter of children’s programmes on TV, and in 1993 she issued her first record album. There have been more than 10 of these, and all have been enthusiastically received by her public in sales; she regularly features as one of the most popular Czech singers. As an actress, she often plays major roles in Czech films, stage plays, and musicals.