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[stops playing Mendelssohn's wedding recessional]
"[sigh] All these wedding songs are so... standard."

Typically appearing in works that employ a score with non-original elements, these are brief segments of recognizable songs — like classical music that doesn't involve paying royalties — as themes for various types of scenes or activities. Some of these occur often enough to seem standardized, and in some cases they are the only reason people know the songs at all.

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Many of these have become verbal shorthand for particular nationalities or ethnicities, and thus may border on stereotypes.

Very common in Golden Age cartoons that employ Mickey Mousing, where they may be used as a leitmotif. Less so in modern cartoons, unless they have the budget to score episodes individually. If there is danger of having to pay money to use a piece of music, the piece can be imitated in style (Suspiciously Similar Song) or parodied. In Renaissance Age Warner Bros. cartoons, this often happened with movie scores. A few other unreasonable substitutes are very recognizable, though.

Many songs owe their entries on the list below to the work of Carl W. Stalling, the musical director for the vast majority of the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons. He had a well-known tendency toward musical quotation and punning; Chuck Jones was known to complain that Stalling would always use certain pieces of music in certain situations and would go out of his way to find preexisting pieces whose titles corresponded to the action he was scoring.note 

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Expect a fair amount of Exactly What It Says on the Tin with classical pieces; the composers typically wrote these pieces for the precise contexts that their titles indicate (likewise with some pop songs). Many of these are Undead Horse Tropes, but may reach a stage where they are only used ironically.

Subtropes and snippets with their own pages include:

Compare with Bad to the Bone, Stock Footage, Stock Sound Effects, Regional Riff, and Public Domain Soundtrack.

If you're trying to find the name of a famous tune, "100 Very Well-Known Instrumentals", "Another 100 Well-Known Instrumentals", or "100 Songs You´ve Heard And Don´t Know The Name" may help.


Other Examples:

This list is by no means complete, but let's give it a shot, eh?

    open/close all folders 

    The Classics 

    Setting the Setting 
See also Regional Riff.

    Marches, Bugle Calls, and Other Military Shenanigans 

    Songs You Probably Only Know from Cartoons 

    Recent Works 
See also Recycled Trailer Music.

    The One Everybody Always Asks About 
  • Powerhouse (Raymond Scott): Used or imitated in a number of later WB theatrical shorts, in scenes involving a chase, or (especially) a factory or mechanism such as a Rube Goldberg Device. The latter usage (Powerhouse B) has become famous enough to be recognizable outside an animated context. Full documentation of all Raymond Scott works and "soundalikes" in WB cartoons can be found here.

 
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Ride of the Valkyries

They all knew what they were doing, right down to speaking lines from the movie itself.

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5 (7 votes)

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