Before playing this movie with the San Francisco Symphony last week, I got to hear composer Giacchino and Director Pete Doctor address the audience. Giacchino said that during the most emotional moments of his film scores, he prefers to write simple music, or even use silence. Most scores try too hard to manufacture emotions in the listener, but Mr. G likes to get out of the way and let people feel what they want to feel.
This theme is first introduced as we are meeting Carl when he is young, with his whole life ahead of him. The song is bustling with life, dancing forward like the big band music of the 1920’s and 30s. By the end of the song, he has met the love of his life, grown old with her, and watched her pass on. The music slows down, the instruments drop out, and we are left with a solo piano, beautifully representing Carl having to face the rest of his life without his beloved Ellie. If you don’t cry at the end of that opening montage, you might be dead, or a vampire. Either way, go to the doctor to make sure you are ok.
Music can have the power to amp us up, chill us out, and help us feel a whole host of other emotions. This tune has the unique power to make people cry.
If you haven’t seen this movie, I truly cannot recommend it highly enough. Bring a box of tissues (obviously), but also pay close attention to the life lessons built in. Here are two of my favorite quotes:
Sometimes, it’s the boring stuff I remember the most. -Russell-
It’s Just a House -Carl Frederickson-
The music says to play in a Paul Whiteman style, so hop on youtube to get some context.
Define the groove and the meter by using the 8th notes to phrase toward and emphasize all of the downbeats.
Trombonists, try using some outer positions to create natural slurs and keep half step motion on the same partial.
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