I’m in the process of recording music for my 16-minute cartoon, so I refreshed myself with this historic Disney Music Department Lecture that was referenced in “Walt’s November 23rd, 1935 memo to Don Graham” that I posted 2-weeks ago:
“I think a good study of music would be indispensable to the animator — a realization on their part of how primitive music is, how natural it is for people to want to go to music — a study of rhythm, the dance — the various rhythms that enter into our lives everyday — how rhythmical the body really is — and how well balanced the body really is. That, in itself, is music. In other words, it could be music in the body. We dance — we can keep time to rhythm without ever being taught — a baby does it — cannibals do it. But fancy dancing or tricky stuff, we have to learn. There are things in life that we do to rhythm that come natural to us. Notice how rhythmical an action like pounding with a hammer is! There’s a reason for that. You must have rhythm, or you can’t carry out that action completely. Also, sawing a board. See how necessary it is to have a good rhythm for that. Also, walking. If you walked with a rhythm, where would you get? You have to be thinking all the time what to do next. You’ have to set your mind to walking rhythmically, instead of doing it naturally.”
Until I studied Walt’s original story department as part of my film master’s thesis, I had assumed that all Disney music was prerecorded and then the action was animated to the music because it was so perfectly synced, but it’s actually the reverse: they draw the animation and then compose the music to the animation.
This requires an elaborate system of mathematically animating the movement to a beat, as discussed in the following lecture: