Mae­stro! The sound­track king cel­e­brates his Heroes & In­spi­ra­tions while a string sec­tion surges hero­ically.

SFX - - Contents - Michael Gi­acchino At 50 takes place on 20 Oc­to­ber. www.roy­alal­berthall.com

The best way to talk about mu­sic is to talk about story and emo­tion and not to talk about the in­stru­ments,” Michael Gi­acchino tells

SFX. The Os­car-win­ning com­poser is shar­ing how he works with long-time cre­ative ally JJ Abrams but th­ese words il­lu­mi­nate his en­tire ca­reer. From Lost to The In­cred­i­bles, Star Trek

to Rogue One, Juras­sic World to Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing, he’s brought his heart-spurring, richly the­matic touch to count­less mod­ern block­busters. This month Gi­acchino cel­e­brates his 50th birth­day with a ret­ro­spec­tive con­cert at the Royal Al­bert Hall. “There’s noth­ing like a live per­for­mance,” he says, pre­par­ing to name some touch­stone in­flu­ences on his work. “The au­di­ence gives you en­ergy; you give it back to them in the form of mu­sic.”


His work with Ray Har­ry­hausen was prob­a­bly some of the first mu­sic that I no­ticed and loved. Those movies ac­tu­ally made me want to make stop-mo­tion movies, which I did end­lessly as a kid! Peo­ple nor­mally talk about his work with Hitch­cock but he did ev­ery­thing. He did tons of ra­dio shows, he did tons of tele­vi­sion, he did The Twi­light Zone. He was in­cred­i­ble. I love the sto­ry­telling as­pect of his writ­ing. You could al­ways lis­ten to his mu­sic out­side of the project that it was as­so­ci­ated with and re­live that story in your head. I al­ways try very hard to make sure what­ever mu­sic I’m writ­ing is go­ing to help tell the story. I don’t par­tic­u­larly en­joy mu­sic that’s just wall­pa­per in the back­ground. I love mu­sic that takes a story on and em­bod­ies it in its struc­ture, in how it’s played, how it’s or­ches­trated.


Star Wars was the movie that opened my brain into un­der­stand­ing what an orches­tra does. Prior to that I would lis­ten to or­ches­tral mu­sic but not re­ally think about how it was made – the idea that there are dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal com­po­nents to an orches­tra – trum­pet, oboe, French horn and so forth. In the liner notes they talked about dif­fer­ent in­stru­ments that were be­ing used in cer­tain cues. I’d go, “Oh, that’s what that sound is…” It awak­ened me to the un­der­stand­ing of how an orches­tra

head­ing into the desert or vis­it­ing an an­cient ruin makes me want to make a movie

func­tions. I be­came pretty ob­sessed with learn­ing more about that. How did I feel fol­low­ing John Wil­liams on Rogue One? There wasn’t that much time to think about it. There was just such a short time pe­riod to get it fin­ished in. It be­came some­thing that was purely about my gut in­stincts. “Okay, if you want a Star Wars score, here’s what I think it would be…” There was no time to sec­ond-guess any of it. I ac­tu­ally got to play a Stormtrooper in The Force Awak­ens. I was SN3181, the guy who ar­rests Poe Dameron af­ter they de­stroy the vil­lage at the be­gin­ning of the movie. I take him in front of Kylo Ren. He’s still alive some­where in that uni­verse… I have an ac­tion fig­ure that I pre­tend is me. A good friend of mine at Dis­ney made me a boxed Stormtrooper but it has my pic­ture on the front, in the uni­form with­out the hel­met.


I have a lot of all-time favourite films but to­day’s is Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Ev­ery as­pect of it is just amaz­ing. It’s one of those films that’s a per­fect ex­am­ple of how to make a movie: you do it quickly, ef­fi­ciently, you sto­ry­board ev­ery­thing, you make sure it’s work­ing… Steven [Spiel­berg] wanted to make some­thing that was on bud­get, that was on time, be­cause of what hap­pened on Jaws [and 1941]. I al­ways look at Raiders as an in­cred­i­ble ex­am­ple of film­mak­ing and team­work. It’s hard to imag­ine a film like that ever get­ting made again, be­cause it’s not over­pro­duced – they did just enough. Nowa­days ev­ery big ac­tion­ad­ven­ture film seems to be loaded with noth­ing but vis­ual ef­fects and fake worlds, which re­ally don’t do any­thing for me. I’d much rather have the small story and I think Raiders is a great ex­am­ple of that.


I’m al­ways at­tracted to things that are about sto­ry­telling and they were just great sto­ry­tellers. I love their way of ex­per­i­ment­ing. They didn’t read mu­sic and they cer­tainly didn’t know a whole lot about mu­sic the­ory but they weren’t afraid to ex­per­i­ment. They went by how it sounded to them – “This sounds like a great idea!” – and they took that and ran with it. And that’s an in­cred­i­bly hard thing to do. You have to be very per­sis­tent to want to work that way. I just ad­mire so much how they were able to pool so many great ideas among them, with the help of George Martin of course, who then shaped it. That col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween all of them is just fas­ci­nat­ing to me.


Rossini was writ­ing mu­sic that was in­cred­i­bly the­matic. Ev­ery­one knows the Lone Ranger theme but find­ing out that it was ac­tu­ally a clas­si­cal piece of mu­sic, writ­ten as the over­ture to an opera about Wil­liam Tell, you’re like, “Wow, this ex­isted be­fore?” And then you start un­cov­er­ing all the other things that were be­ing used in TV or film that were ac­tu­ally writ­ten hun­dreds of years ago. I love his stuff very much, be­cause it’s just in­cred­i­bly ro­man­tic and big and feels like a film score. Shostakovich is an­other com­poser who I love. He can be dark in ways that no one else can. It’s in­cred­i­ble the tex­ture he comes up with.


I have a soft spot in my heart for Cape Cod and Martha’s Vine­yard. I re­ally love learn­ing about Colo­nial his­tory and I love wan­der­ing around those towns. I have a sim­i­lar at­trac­tion to Hawaii – the ex­plo­ration, be­ing out at sea. For some rea­son that sort of nau­ti­cal his­tory has al­ways been fas­ci­nat­ing to me. I find places ab­so­lutely in­spir­ing. Go­ing into the Se­quoias or head­ing out into the desert or vis­it­ing an an­cient ruin al­ways makes me feel like I want to make a movie. My brain turns back into the 10-year-old kid who just wants to run into the woods with his cam­era. I love that idea of look­ing around you and be­ing dwarfed in scale to the point where you can do noth­ing but come up with ideas for films or sto­ries.

Just spend­ing a chill af­ter­noon with the Im­pe­ri­als.

Gi­acchino cameoed as a Stormtrooper in The Force Awak­ens. Gi­acchino wrote the score for Rogue One. Star Wars

Mark Hamill en­joys his tea break on theset.

Be­ing squished by a boul­der be­fore you’ve even had break­fast. Street mu­sic in Cape Cod.

Gi­acchino also looks to Ital­ian com­poser Rossini.

He loves them, yeah, yeah, yeah...

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