A look at Michael Giacchino’s style of music

Michael Giacchino has composed the scores for Pixar’s “The Incredibles”, “Ratatouille”, and “Up”. By listening to all of Giacchino’s songs in the compositions for “The Incredibles”, “Ratatouille”, and “Up”, I’ve noticed several patterns in Giacchino’s style that recur in his works, even when given different themes in the different films. Giacchino seems to be more comfortable with violins that are positioned at the base of the “pyramid”, instead of traditionally having the melody at the top of the “pyramid”. This style is not quite common in music, but of course this structure in balance has been used many times before. Giacchino also tends to have flutes or piccolos at the top, having the melody in many of his songs. This is normal in the “pyramid” sense. However, Giacchino seems to favor the flutes just a little bit more than the trumpets, clarinets, and saxophones. Giacchino did at times write parts for saxophones that were playing majority of the length of songs in a score, especially in “The Incredibles” (this can be explained by the fact that the overall style of “The Incredibles” score was jazz, which usually features saxophones and trumpets). But when the flutes come into the song, despite the saxophones, they contribute more to the song. By the parts they were given by Giacchino, they seemed to be featured in a more important way than the saxophones.

Another style that Giacchino has used are muted trumpets that either share or have the melody of the tune. A mute is inserted into a trumpet to contain the sound in that small, round, enclosed mute, this changes the overall sound of the trumpet. This style of using trumpet mutes was very popular during WW2. In his use of trumpet mutes Giacchino portrayed an sense of being in an old-fashioned state. Giacchino’s style was fitting especially for the film “Up”, where he used this technique the most, since the film centered around an older man who most likely grew up during the years were muted trumpets were popular in music.

“I think my writing has an old-fashioned feel to it, for whatever reason. I’m just so influenced by the music that I listened to growing up, a lot of it out of the 60’s, so it has a natural tendency to feel like it’s from another era.”-Michael Giacchino


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