Alan Menken: Main Titles from The Little Mermaid


Alan Menken teamed up with Howard Ashman to work on the score for the 1989 Disney film, The Little Mermaid. It remains one of the most decorated albums in Menken’s wheelhouse, with it receiving multi-platinum sales and two Grammys, two Academy Awards and a Golden Globe. As with many of Menken’s scores for Disney, the use of a leitmotif is very apparent in much of the score, which is usually set in Eb major. 


The Music

The Main Titles to The Little Mermaid accompanies the audience’s first glimpse at underwater life. Menken’s sensitive score is full of wonder and allows the imagination to run wild. As per many opening credits or an overture, parts of melody used in famous songs in the film feature – namely “Part of Your World”. 

The opening flute solo is accompanied by glistening tuned percussion before the warbling female voices enter. A cor anglais solo sits just below texture as the shimmering strings continue to grow. Fish and mermaids come into the picture and their movements are accentuated by the ever-growing music. As the music reaches its climax, viewers will catch their first look at the magnificent castle, which sits at the centre of this story. Cymbal crashes and upper brass bolster the texture so the lavish strings who finally play a full version of the chorus melody from “Part of Your World”. As we take our first look inside the castle, the music finishes, and the Main Titles have finished. 


Final Thoughts

One of Alan Menken’s most popular scores ever, the music featured in The Little Mermaid is whimsical, nautical, nostalgic and sensitive – so no wonder it has won over the heart of the public. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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