The Irish Summer has finally arrived. We’re getting great weather, and by that I mean not rain. But no, it’s actually warm and feels nice outside. And so I decided to discuss a score that really suits this fine weather: the Academy Award winning score to Up (2009) by Michael Giacchino.
This is one of my all time favourite scores because it’s so upbeat and happy and it brings me back to my childhood. Really, this score is the thing of childhoods. So light-hearted and filled with blue skies and sunny days. It also has action tracks on it, but it’s to emotional pieces which are most astounding.
The most beautiful track on the score is undoubtedly “Married Life.” I think we all teared up during the opening sequence. And who could blame us? It’s one of the most poignant and beautiful sequences created, and it manages to be only 4 minutes long. It covers the life of a married couple- from their ups and downs. The music is amazingly scored. It’s filled with emotion. The piece contains muted trumpet (a personal favourite of mine). The blend of trumpet and violin is so dreamlike and relaxing. It’s light-hearted and makes you feel like floating. The clarinet and the piano reflect the more lonely and poignant moments. The movements throughout flow with ease. A wonderfully contrasting piece that’s one of my favourite songs of all time.
The feeling of drifting is also continued in the piece “It’s Just A House.” Giacchino does a great job with the brass section here. The strings create a light-hearted foundation with the flute contributing, almost like a bird mid-flight. But it’s the brass the injects a feeling of soaring and triumph. You can almost feel the sun in the warmth and richness of the brass.
As aforementioned, Giacchino does well with contrasting sounds. In “Carl Goes Up” he reintroduces his main theme with strings but adds this refined, lonely phrase that’s not quite sad but those have inflections of melancholy in it. After the main theme, the phrase begins with a single violin followed by a harp (I believe) and guitar. It’s amazing how Giacchino portrays so emotion with very little sound/ instrumentation.
Another refined piece is “The Elle Bridge” which has the piano playing the main tune on its own. It’s delicate and poignant. It is accompanied by more instruments as the piece moves forward. We see this also in “Stuff We Did.”
The first half of “The Nickel Tour” kind of reminded me of a great romance or something. You can imagine it playing during a scene where two lovers are making love. Odd finding it here. :L The piano is really beautiful here. It’s followed then by the main theme.
The action scenes are also well scored. The instrumentation reflects the jungle landscape in “Canine Conundrum.” The more brash sounds are of great contrast with the softer, more light-hearted tracks on this score such as “52 Chachiki Pickup.” Here he has the whole brass section at his disposal to contrast with the string section. The percussion are used also.
“Escape From Muntz Mountain” is a high velocity/ high octane piece. All sections play a part in creating an epic piece. The brash brass versus the strings accompanied by the booming percussion suits the intensity of the action scenes. The movement from intensity to quieter sounds flows really well.
One of the most impressive pieces is “The Spirit of Adventure.” It’s a really old style jazz song. I think they call it “hot jazz.” But even the inflection of the singer’s voice is specific to the 1920’s/ 1930’s. It’s a real toe-tapper and definitely one to dance to. Of course, more muted trumpet which is always a plus! The lyrics are a bit wacky if you pay close attention to them. A great reflection of going on an adventure.
Closing the score is “Up With End Credits” which brings back the main theme. The trumpet begins but soon moves to the saxaphone which takes of the helm with the solo. The tuba in the background creates an almost fair-like atmosphere. The movements of sound are great: from the delicate piano moments to the full orchestral sounds playing the main theme. The trombones are well utilised to give it that extra oomph. The piece then moves to this kind of tropical atmosphere. It begins with a bit of percussion and flute to set the scene. Its followed by the guitar and more muted trumpet 😀 Moving onward, the tune moves to a lazy sunday jazz song. The trombone is rich and relaxing followed by a slower version of the main theme by the full orchestra. A great way to end the score.