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“Adventure is out there!”: Pastiche and Postmodernism in the Music of Up

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Film music scholarship has historically focused its attention between two clear-cut scoring practices; the classical Hollywood score and the popular music score. This study attempts to break that mould by investigating the pluralistic trends found in Michael Giacchino’s film score for the film Up(2009), examining the motivic growth of specific leitmotif, and charting how that musical theme is set in a variety of musical. Unlike the classical Hollywood scoring model that is outlined by writers like Claudia Gorbman and Jeff Smith, these diverse musical settings pass through a plethora of distinct genres and styles—both “highbrow” and “lowbrow”—that have hitherto been unseen in film music history. These musical settings allow Giacchino to imbue specific leitmotifs with connotation of diverse musical histories, styles and traditions. The ultimate result is a binary system of signification, with the leitmotifs introversively signifying themes and characters within the film’s diegesis, while the diverse musical settings extroversively signify sights and sounds in the wider world. By synthesizing diverse musical styles into one musical thread, Giacchino’s film scores illustrate the power of music to draw on well-known musical genres from Western culture to enhance audiences’ narrative understanding. In this way, Giacchino’s work in Up straddles inspiration from both the classical and popular Hollywood score, adopting the diverse timbres, styles and aesthetics of the popular score, while still retaining the consistent use and development of a leitmotif that is found in the classical score. I call this new hybridized scoring practice the “pastiche score.”


Film Music, Film Sound, Pixar, Giacchino, Semiotics

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