Film Music 101: Mickey Mousing

In the world of film and animation music, “Mickey Mousing” is the affectionate (and occasionally derogatory) nickname given to a technique whereby the music and the action on the screen are completely in sync with each other. The reason this technique is called “Mickey Mousing” is because it first appeared in the 1928 cartoon Steamboat Willie starring Mickey Mouse!

Incidentally, Mickey was originally voiced by Walt Disney himself!
The reason “Mickey Mousing” occurred at all is because, after film studios learned the trick of making sound film, they all wanted to show off the fact that their films had sound. To that end, the soundtracks of many, MANY films, were overly synchronized with the actin on the screen, and this happened a lot in the early Disney cartoons as well.
For instance, the 1929 cartoon Skeleton Dance is a 5 1/2 minute example of “Mickey Mousing.” Take a few minutes to watch it and I believe you’ll see what I mean.

My favorite moment in “Skeleton Dance” comes when the one skeleton is sneaking around, taking first three long strides and then quick stepping (and how the music matches his movement, it’s a trick seen more than once in cartoons).
While “Mickey Mousing” has decreased greatly over the years, it is still being used. A more recent example can be found in the first Spider-Man movie in 2002. In the scene where Peter (Tobey Maguire) discovers he has the ability to climb walls, listen to what the music does when his hand first touches the brick wall and then begins to climb up, it’s mimicking his actions! Pretty cool right? Have a look here below:

Hope you enjoyed another look at the world of film music, have a great day!

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See also:

Film Music 101: “Stinger” Chords

Film Music 101: Dubbing

Film Music 101: Diegetic vs. Non-Diegetic Music

Film Music 101: Underscore

Film Music 101: Music Editor

Film Music 101: Sidelining

Film Music 101: “Test” Lyrics

Film Music 101: The First Film Score

Film Music 101: Borrowing

Film Music 101: Arranger

Film Music 101: Anempathetic sound

Film Music 101: Empathetic Sound

Film Music 101: Foley

Film Music 101: Montage

Film Music 101: Compilation Score

Film Music 101: Leitmotif

Film Music 101: Orchestration and cues

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8 thoughts on “Film Music 101: Mickey Mousing

  1. Pingback: Film Music 101: Montage | Film Music Central

  2. Pingback: Film Music 101: Compilation Score | Film Music Central

  3. Pingback: Film Music 101: “Stinger” Chords | Film Music Central

  4. Pingback: Film Music 101: The Temp Track | Film Music Central

  5. Pingback: “Mickey Mousing” is the Term Used to Describe a Technique in Animation and Film Where the Sounds Perfectly Sync with the Actions on the Screen. Walt Disney was not the First to do so, but He Perfected the Method in the Mickey Mouse Short; “Steamboat

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