Michael Giacchino: A Live Conversation with Music

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Michael Giacchino has proven himself a gifted and adaptable composer of music for films, television and video games. He won an Academy Award for giving the animated film “Up” its musical heart and soul. His eerie compositions helped bring to life the mysterious world of one most critically-acclaimed TV programs of all-time, LOST. He’s brought imagination and originality to big budget Hollywood flicks such as Star Trek and Disney’s forthcoming John Carter.

Ever wonder how he works across so many genres and artforms? Well, ask him!

In advance of the upcoming opening of Giacchino’s latest venture, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (December 21st), the highly-sought-after composer will join David Garland live in studio for a special edition of Movies on the Radio on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 9 pm ET. 

He will share some music—including the premiere of some of "John Carter of Mars"--and answer your questions! Submit them below...

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Comments [49]

Jackson

is the audio interview still available anywhere? :S

Oct. 01 2012 09:35 AM
Dick Clark from New Windsor, New York


.......I'm sure I'm not the only one to suggest.........

..............Do another show.............

..............Has co-hosting crossed anyone's mind?.....

..............There's a good mix here...................

Jan. 18 2012 11:03 AM
Peter Daley from Daegu, South Korea

Loved the program and the sneak peaks at Michael's new score.
Oh and my question was asked, but I didn't mean "was there any music from Lost in sheet form" I meant will there be any more. The sheet music published by Disney only only goes up to season 3. So If it's not too late, I was wondering if there are any plans to publish music from series 4 - 6.
Thanks anyway^^

Dec. 23 2011 07:18 PM

As one who usually leaves the "Stage and Screen" digital music channel on in the background, I really enjoyed this program.

The way you weave the use of choirs into your scores is amazing - it's not something one usually hears in more recent movie scoring.

My question though is: do you have a particular instrument that you enjoy scoring for?

Dec. 22 2011 03:04 PM
pascalahad from Andrésy, France

Well, probably way too late for my comment to be read, but still... I discovered Michael Giacchino's work through The Lost World and Secret Weapons of Normandy soundtracks. I had a hard time compute that these were for video games and not movies!
A fan since. I must admit I was wary of the John Carter movie since today (too different from my mind images while reading the book, which I love), but the magnificent score gives me tremendous hope.
I wonder if Michael had read the book. More generally, I wonder if his inspiration comes from visuals only, or can it come from the written word too.
Keep on the awesome work!!

Dec. 21 2011 01:20 PM
pixid

The John Carter almost seems to have bits and pieces of influence from Lawrence of Arabia. I know Andrew Stanton's a BIG David Lean fan.

Dec. 21 2011 10:25 AM
Chris from Houston, TX

Hello Michael. I'm listening to the show as I type this, and I'm resonating with so many things that you're saying, especially describing your love of films and SFX, and that transitioning to a love of film scores.

How did you make the initial connections that led to you getting to work full time as a film composer?

I've had the privilege of creating the scores for some online games, and have two more lined up for early next year, but it's nowhere near a full time job yet. I hope to be able to turn this into a career, and would love to know the process you went through yourself.

Keep up the great work!

Dec. 18 2011 11:21 PM
Rob Gallop from UK

Hi WQWR

I am a Giacchino fan in the UK and thanks so much for this fantastic interview.

Great to hear Michael's passion for his LOST symphony; a CD would be fantastic (the choir version of the Moving On theme is beautiful) but also don't forget to visit your fans in the UK if you go on tour!

Lastly, the John Carter score sounds fantastic - makes me even more excited for the finished film. I also cannot wait to hear what you do with the new Star Trek movie - its been a long time coming but I am sure it will be worth it - loved your work on the first film.

Michael - you are a legend and already up there with my other three favourite film composers - John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner. Keep up your amazing work and be safe in the knowledge that your legacy in music is already secured.

And a HI from freezing to UK to Giacchino fans everywhere!!

:-)

Dec. 18 2011 05:09 PM
Robert Poda from New York

David, I so enjoyed your program last night and the interview with Michael Giacchino. Music in movies has been something I have always enjoyed - one of the reasons I listen to your program every week. I started collecting sound track albums from movies over 50 years ago - I still have the vinyl records - hundreds of them. Michael's music gave me hope for the future in Movie music and reminded me of the past greats such as Rosza, Waxman, Niscambine, Tiomkin, Waxman, Newman, Elmer Bernstein, Herrmann and so many others. Thank you!

Dec. 18 2011 12:41 PM
Adam

Michael,

I tweeted this to you when you first joined Twitter but got no response. Not sure how else to reach you! Your music from LOST was my topic of study for an anthropology project I did last year in school. I'd be honored if you would just check it out.

Here it is: http://www.jhu.edu/anthmedia/Projects/lost2/

Your loyal fan,
Adam

Dec. 17 2011 10:57 PM
David Garland

@Bard of Helium, The show is now archived for listening. Use the player above.

Dec. 17 2011 10:54 PM
Bard of Helium from Maryland

Will a recording of the interview and audio tracks be available soon? Thank you.

Dec. 17 2011 10:30 PM
David Garland

So many great questions, so little time! Michael Giacchino and I are grateful for your questions, and those that weren't answered on-air will be answered by Michael soon here on this page. Please check back.

My thanks to Michael for being such good company tonight!

Dec. 17 2011 10:18 PM
Stephanie J. Hughes

Finally! Someone to fill the shoes of the by-gone masters. A film score writer! Welcome, Michael Giacchino!!! You are filling the shoes of my music gods; Goldsmith, Bernstein, Korngold, Morricone, et al. Real music!!!! I loved listening and will watch for your creations. More!

Dec. 17 2011 09:53 PM
Justice from Seattle

You seem like the natural successor to John Williams. Which film composer(s) do you admire most?

Dec. 17 2011 09:30 PM
Adam from Not In Portland

Your LOST performances with the added choir were amazing. Any chance we ever get a recorded version of those?

Dec. 17 2011 09:23 PM
Waldemar Vinovskis from Macungie, PA

We love Michael's film music, we're big fans of mallet percussion. We really enjoy what he does with his percussion features in his films, particularly in the Incredibles and Ratatouille. Does he have a particular background or experience with percussion instruments?

Dec. 17 2011 09:03 PM
Adam

Who is your favorite current Film or Television composer?

Keep up the incredible work, Michael. You are are inspiration. Your music from LOST in particular was just absolutely mesmerizing on so many levels.

Dec. 17 2011 09:01 PM
Jim from California

Michael, the live concert for the LOST finale in Italy, w/ the choir singing the LA X theme interspersed w/ other finale themes, any chance of getting that on CD or in any form PLEASE?
The choir just took it to a whole new level.

Dec. 17 2011 08:58 PM
Larry from Gilbert, AZ

Michael,

My 18 yr old son is passionate about orchestra music. As a Dad I am curious to learn about professions that revolve around his interests. Can you give us a glimpse of the business side of your world?

Dec. 17 2011 08:49 PM
Benson Farris from Arizona

Since you have done all three what are some of the differences in the scores of movies, TV shows, and video games?

Dec. 17 2011 08:43 PM
Benson Farris from Arizona

Hey Michael, when you receive a new project to score, what is your process to come up with themes and motifs?

Dec. 17 2011 08:41 PM
Petr Kocanda from Prague, Czech Republic

With John Carter already finished and Star Trek 2 still months away, what's currently up on his schedule he might be able to talk to?

Any chance more of his Alias music gets released or Undercovers will get released? The music was definitely the best thing about both shows.

And the final question, which also appeared here already, what techniques he used in John Carter to define Martians in John Carter? May we expect anything as creative as his Lost scores?

Dec. 17 2011 06:26 PM
WQXR

Thank you for all your comments and questions. Some wonderful thoughts here. David will be reviewing these for tonight's show. Stay tuned!

Dec. 17 2011 04:18 PM
Bernie from UWS

I'm curious how Mr. Giacchino feels about the prevalence of pop songs in movies, particularly when they seem to overshadow the score itself. You see it over the end-credits a lot but also within the film itself.

Also, how many people does he have working for him in his studio and what are their roles in the final musical product? Thank you.

Dec. 17 2011 04:15 PM
Richard Mirenzi from Canton, Ohio

Hello Michael,
I was wondering if when you were growing up, was there ever a film or television show score that you listened to that you would want to re-compose, improve and change the music for completely to make your own? How would you change that score to make it better? Is there a current film or television score you feel that with just a few changes could be better than it is? Is there a film or television score that you consider to be perfect and would never change any of? Finally, how did the practice of naming your individual tracks on your film and television albums for a lack of better words "creatively" come about?

Thank you,

P.S I consider the track "Enterprising Young Men" from the soundtrack to "Star Trek" to be the perfect representation of 1960's symphonic nostalgia. It's amazing to me to that you were able to create a sound that quite literally could have been in an episode of the original 1960's series and no one would have ever known the difference.

Dec. 17 2011 03:36 PM
Mike Prevette from Salisbury NC

Are there any plans to record the "LOST Symphony" ? The DVD feature on the concert was a tremendous tease...it'd be wonderful to hear the chilling and moving LOST themes in a larger orchestral setting . Maybe Varese can do something, have there been any discussions?

Dec. 17 2011 03:16 PM

Sure would like to see reply notifications on these Comment pages, so we might see if anyone responded to our comments.

Dec. 17 2011 02:46 PM
Rachel Manes from Brooklyn, NY

What inspired your composition of the "Up" theme that was threaded throughout the first 4 minutes of the movie? It so gracefully told the story of those two soul-mates...both their meeting and their parting.

Dec. 17 2011 12:07 PM
Guy Quenneville from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada

If you had to pick one film composer who has been your primary influence, who would it be?

Dec. 17 2011 10:23 AM
James Gladue from Las Vegas

When I first read PRINCESS OF MARS 30 years ago, I always imagined Gustov Holst's MARS, THE BRINGER OF WAR in the background of some battle scenes. Any chance you might incorporate some of this in your score? (I realize that Williams borrowed a bit from it for STAR WARS.)

Dec. 17 2011 09:22 AM
Tim

Michael,

I first became a huge fan in high school, when I ripped your music from the CD-ROM of my Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault game. I've been a huge fan of classical film composers like John Williams since childhood, and even then as a kid I knew that based on Allied Assault's incredible Williams-esque compositions that you were going places. Since then, however, film scoring has changed significantly, and the classical John Williams style has fallen out of favor. Why do you believe Hollywood has trended away towards the Hans Zimmer/trailer tracks style?

Would you look forward to doing a classical adventure-movie score in the tradition of your Medal Of Honor soundtracks in the future, or do you feel you got it out of your system? Do any directors ask composers for that style, and do studios shoot this down?

Dec. 17 2011 05:56 AM
Derek Murray from Warfield, England.

Michael,
First, a word of thanks. For me, personally, ever since Jerry Goldsmith passed away, it seems there's been a diminished quality to the scores that have been coming out of Hollywood these past 7 years. Your compositions, however, have been the exception. Like Goldsmith, your music is perfect at evoking emotional responses from the listener, and has fun doing it. So, thank you for taking up the mantle that Jerry left behind. You are more than worthy of it.
Second, I'd like to know the path that led you to scoring for film, television, and video games, and who were some of your influences (If you even have any.) that inspired you to persue this daunting career.
Again, thanks for the great music. I look forward to listening to your work for many years to come.

Dec. 17 2011 05:49 AM
Johnny D from Arleta, CA

Hey Michael,

I was wondering will u ever put out a compilation of all of your work ? If so, is there any chance we can hear what you did for star tours?

Dec. 17 2011 04:47 AM
Felice from New York

Last year's New Yorker profile of your work on Lost mentioned that you were just as in the dark as to where things were going as the audience. That's very different from movies, where you get the whole story at once. Now that the show is done, do you wish you had known, and if you had, would that have affected some of your musical decisions? For example, in the article, you were working on the Sayid/Nadia episode, which turned out not to be his happy ending, and your Sawyer/Kate love theme was always so beautiful (it was the main reason I ever rooted for that couple).

Dec. 16 2011 10:07 AM
Richard Millward from Chicago

I've read articles about the "LOST Suite" that was performed in Honolulu, with visuals. Is there any chance you'll be releasing a recorded version of that, for those of us not lucky enough to have been in Hawai'i? Your score for LOST was so moving, it would be wonderful to hear it in a larger, more connective piece than the shorter tracks included on the soundtrack recordings.

Dec. 15 2011 09:02 PM
Stephen

Your chord structures and scales are awesome. Any recommended literature or listening for someone looking to think outside their supertraditional theory box?

Dec. 15 2011 07:17 PM
LOST Tattoo Guy from Honolulu

Michael, your music is INCREDIBLE! When I met you in Hawaii to show you the LOST sets I was too shocked to ask you anything. I think I told you I cry myself to sleep listening to your beautiful LOST music, and I thank you for that! I wanted to ask you how it felt writing or composing the final piece for LOST. Was it as emotional as it was for me hearing it?

Dec. 14 2011 04:13 AM
Peter Daley from Daegu, South Korea

Hi Michael. Is there any chance more of your Lost music will be published in sheet music form? I have a few pieces from the earlier seasons, but would love to try playing pieces from later seasons. Too much great music^^
Thank you.
Peter

Dec. 13 2011 09:19 PM
JEFF from Geensboro NC

How do you get ideas for writen movies?

Dec. 13 2011 11:39 AM
Antonio La Camera from Roma

Hi Michael!
I'm really excited for his next collaboration with Andrew Stanton for "John Carter" and I would like to ask you some questions about music. The film reveals itself as a science-fiction epic mvoie, with elements that refer to a kind of primordial nature of the representation of Mars and its inhabitants. I'd like to know what choices, in composition and orchestration, were carried out to reveal all this musically and if we find ourselves faced with a work thematically rich as we have become accustomed in the past with his music.
Thanks!

Antonio

Dec. 13 2011 10:03 AM
Kevin from Ringwood, NJ

Hi Michael,
I am a huge fan. Aside from your film, television and videogame work, You have also done alot of work for the Pixar Shorts Department. I was wondering how that came about and if that workflow is any difference for you than other genres(one man Band for example). Love your work dude! -Kevin

P.s. Is it possible you will ever release the Score to Partly Cloudy?? I would gladly pay for it.

Dec. 11 2011 12:52 PM
Simon from Toronto

What was the process when working on Space Mountain and Star Tours? How did you get involved and how was the music implemented into the rides?

(How many different Space Mountain rides did you work on?)

Dec. 10 2011 07:22 AM
Alexander Watson from Brisbane.

Hi Michael.

Massive fan of your work and looking forward to your score for Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol and was wondering why when scoring movies you go for the emotional (LOST's finale ; Super 8's extremely awesome ending) rather than the cerebral ?

(In contrast to minimalist/orchestronica composers such as Cliff Martinez/Hans Zimmer / Craig Armstrong)

My other question is more of a statement - THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOURS & STEVEN M DAVIS HILARIOUS PUNNY CUE TITLES !

Alex.

Dec. 09 2011 08:45 PM
Lars from Denmark

Hi Michael! You are my favorite film composer, and I can't wait for M:I 4 and John Carter...

Are you a soundtrack fan yourself and do you collect soundtracks? If so, what is the latest score that you bought (not including your own stuff :))?

As a creative person myself, one of my worst fears is "burning out" creatively, not being able to bring something new to the table. Do you have similar worries? And if so, have you thought of what you might do, if that ever happens? Would you take a break from composing, change your carreer or something else? :)

Hope that never happens, though... :)

Dec. 09 2011 07:06 PM
Justin Bielawa from Connecticut

You've mentioned in notes for Speed Racer that you grew up on the original series and that was one of the things that attracted you to the series. Was it hard jumping that nostalgic hurdle? And what was your working relationship with the Wachowskis who are the most enigmatic directors in the industry today?

Dec. 09 2011 11:10 AM
Mike Weiser from New York City

Hi Michael,

I've been a fan of your work for quite awhile. I'm a composer myself and I'm glad to see you are appearing on Movies on the Radio with David - my favorite radio program!

Can you talk about how you develop a melody or theme throughout a movie or game?

How do you make each cue sound unique but connected to all the other music?

What makes a versatile theme?

Lastly, do you do all the arrangement and orchestration yourself, or is this an area of collaboration?

Thanks!

-Mike Weiser
http://www.mikeweisermusic.com/mikeweisermusic/welcome.html

Dec. 09 2011 10:32 AM
chris from West Virginia

What is your writing process? Do you play into a computer program or do you hand write you music. And, do you write out all of your parts or do you use a condensed score? Love the Super 8 score.

Dec. 09 2011 07:54 AM
Justine Jeninga from San Diego

Hi Michael! You probably don't remember me, but I met you last year at San Diego Comic Con. I was wondering if you'll be coming back in 2012? I'm a huge fan, and it'd be great to see you again! And also, are there any plans for a LOST concert? Keep up the awesome work.

Dec. 09 2011 03:28 AM

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