Disney shares LIGHTYEAR movie soundtrack

Academy Award®-winning composer Michael Giacchino is responsible for the scores of eight Pixar films, but “Lightyear” stands out as a true labor of love. “What I enjoyed so much about working on ‘Lightyear’ is that it’s not just a sci-fi movie, it’s a sci-fi movie that exists in Andy’s world” , says Giacchino.

“I felt the music needed to embody the love Andy felt watching Buzz on screen for the first time. The more I thought of Andy in the cinema watching this movie, the more I realized that ‘Lightyear’ is exactly the kind of movie that I would have loved when I was a kid. So, I tried to inject into the music as much fun and childlike joy as possible, to honor the spirit of children – like me and Andy – seeing their favorite movies on the big screen for the very first time.”

“Michael Giacchino has been a friend and colleague for many years now, but that’s not the only reason he was our first and only choice,” says producer Galyn Susman. “‘Lightyear’ is a sci-fi action-adventure movie, and it needs a bombastic sci-fi score. Between ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Rogue One,’ it clearly proved its sci-fi chops -fiction.”

The original score of “Lightyear” was recorded over 15 days with an 89-piece orchestra and a 39-member choir. Amid the COVID pandemic, sections were recorded separately in five different groups: strings, piano, and harp; brass; the winds; rhythm and percussion section; and choir. “‘Lightyear’ is my first Pixar movie to have a choir,” says Giacchino. “In order to firmly ground this score and this film in the world of great sci-fi movies, I felt it was a really important element to have, especially during Zurg’s theme.”

The composer adds: “The main themes of ‘Lightyear’ are for Buzz, the Hawthornes and Zurg. Buzz’s theme is almost always played by the horns, and it’s about the excitement of exploring space and the nobility of this quest. The Hawthornes, Izzy and Alisha also have a theme, which is more about family and anything that brings Buzz back to Earth. As for Zurg, his theme is just big, scary and evil. He’s the bad guy ultimate.

“With Michael, you know you’re in professional hands, and honestly, he’s so much fun working with him that you can hear that fun in his music,” Susman says. “The themes he creates have a personality in themselves. You hear the theme and realize that it really captured the essence of that character.”

But composing the score for “Lightyear” was not without its challenges. “One of my favorite sequences is called Mission Perpetual,” says Giacchino. “It’s at the beginning of the film that Buzz tries to accomplish a mission and keeps failing. It was an exciting challenge for me because there was so much that the music had to convey: Buzz’s frustration with himself- self and the sadness of being alone in his pursuit, but also his unwavering ambition and drive to achieve his goal. I myself went through a similar “mission” to get that right signal, but once I got it did, it was incredibly rewarding.

Editor Tony Greenberg highlights the power musical choices like these have on audiences. “The score informs and tells the audience how they should feel about what they’re watching. You can really change the viewer’s perspective dramatically if you change the score. I think that’s the magic of making movies.”

Giacchino recalls his close collaboration with director Angus MacLane: “It’s my first feature film with my great friend Angus. We first met on ‘One Man Band’ when he was an animator, then we reworked together on the Pixar short film ‘Toy Story.’ TERROR!’ So, I’ve gotten to know him very well over the years. I love working with Angus. He’s an amazing storyteller, and after working together for so many years, our communication has become second nature. We we’re both such big nerds on anything to do with film – especially sci-fi and space – and we had so many common points of reference for how certain scenes, characters and moments should make us feel. It was like working with a childhood friend.

MacLane agrees. “Any time I work with Michael, it’s always a fun collaboration,” he says. “I consider him a creative partner very close to the music. It’s his specialty, but he’s also a very good director. During production, I showed him the film and involved him much earlier than He understood what we were looking for, not just as a composer but as a filmmaker, and his score is exactly what you want to feel watching “Lightyear.”

Listen to the new soundtrack here:

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