Classic cartoons like Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones or Scooby Doo relied heavily on their soundtracks to complement the action. Slapstick sequences and fast paced action scenes typical for these over-the-top cartoons often require unusual instrumentation, a range of quick tempo changes and experimental elements, which have become typical for cartoon music.
Music is an element cartoons often use to create a laugh. Unlike the live-action genre, cartoons can bend reality and alter the rules of physics, which is true for their soundtrack as well. Humor is often created by sounds that conflict or exaggerate what viewers and listeners would have expected something to sound like.
The Micky Mousing technique, for example, one of the most widespread stylistic devices of cartoon music, is a technique that syncs the action on screen with the music which accompanies it. The visual motions of the characters are musically represented by the score, which often adds to the dynamics of a scene or makes it funnier.
The musical reflection of the cartoons’ constant changes in tempo, style, meter and mood has created a distinct genre of music. While the emergence of synthesisers has changed the landscape of cartoon soundtracks and its golden era is long gone, these peculiarities still hold up today and make cartoon music unique.