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READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. At one stage, Kristofer Maddigan read a lot of biographies of jazz and swing musicians of the 1920s to ‘40s. He was immersing himself in the music of the time, so he could come up with some authentic sounding jazz and swing tunes for the Cuphead soundtrack. Cuphead is a computer game which used 1920s and ‘30s style animation. In this interview, Kris Maddigan lists many of the biographies and other books he read about the jazz and swing era. He also lists some of his other favorite books of all time.

Cuphead is a platform-style computer game animated in the style of 1920s and ‘30s Max Fleischer and Walt Disney cartoons, which had jazzy and orchestral soundtracks. One of the best things about the Cuphead songs is that there’s a human being playing every instrument. And they really give the vibraphones, piano, percussion and trumpets a workout on some of these toe-tapping songs, not to mention some moody numbers. Even a theremin is used (a 1928 electronic instrument played without physical contact).

Mr Maddigan, based in Toronto, plays percussion for the National Ballet of Canada orchestra, and other bands and orchestras. But he takes on other projects like soundtracks. He wrote numerous jazz and swing tunes for the Cuphead soundtrack, including Don’t Deal with the Devil, Threatenin’ Zeppelin, Botanic Panic and Clip Joint Calamity. See Youtube or Itunes for the Cuphead soundtrack.

READERSVOICE.COM: In interviews you’ve said you immersed yourself in the music of the 1930s for composing the more than three hour soundtrack of Cuphead, partly by reading biographies. What were the biographies of Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington you read, or any others about people like Scott Joplin, Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton, or Benny Goodman?

Duke Ellington- Music is My Mistress [a 1973 publication by Ellington, who created more than 1500 compositions], Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington [by Terry Teachout], The Duke Ellington Reader [by Mark Tucker];

Scott Joplin- King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era [by Edward A. Berlin];

Cab Calloway – Hi De Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway [by Alyn Shipton];

Benny Goodman – Benny Goodman and the Swing Era [by James Lipton Collier];

General – Early Jazz and The Swing Era by Gunther Schuller.

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– copyright Simon Sandall