An example of this would be in an old Disney cartoon where Goofy may fall flat on his face and TOOT!! – a big trump from a tuba sounds out.
Another animated example.
Mickey Mousing is not only used in cartoons, but in live action too. Here a clip from the 1933 film, King Kong where the ‘grabs’ and the ‘stabs’ are in sync with the music.
In this clip from Dr.No , James Bond (Sean Connery) gets rid of a spider in his room using his slipper and is mimicked by the stabs of brass in the score.
Another example of this mimicking style would be when ‘Eye of the Tiger’ was written for Rocky 3. The training scene (mentioned in an earlier blogpost) had been filmed with Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’, but permission was not given to use it, and so Survivor were asked to write a song with a riff, that would match Rocky Balboa’s punches.
There are probably many examples where this technique has been used, but we as viewers don’t think anything of it as we are ‘too busy’ watching the film.
Many critics and film composers look down upon Mickey Mousing with the idea being that it is lazy, cheap and old fashioned for a soundtrack to ape the visuals, but with composers such as Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer sometimes using this technique, I guess it’s not that bad a thing.
At times, it is nice that we don’t really notice the music but at other times it may be more important for the music to have more of an impact. I guess the technique of Mickey Mousing is a very obvious way to help the viewer relate to what is going on onscreen, perhaps even patronizing the audience but if used well and in a creative way, the results achieved can be rewarding.
Enjoy this fight scene from the TV Batman series of the 1960’s which uses Mickey Mousing in an almost comedic way.