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Monday, June 29, 2009

Background Score - 62 is From

This piece is from Lajja. Composer – Illayaraja. It is the main theme of the movie and is the version that plays in the Title Credits of the movie. The movie in which the director himself claims to have gone for loud drama to make a greater impact, the use of full on symphony orchestra to elevate the drama is completely justified. And this haunting piece is an absolute gem. There is a pinch of sadness, melancholy and sympathy evoking feel in it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Michael Giacchino Scores UP

It would take atleast one or two months for me to move away from Michael Giacchino's 'UP' score. I already wrote in length about the score. Here is an interesting video on making of the score.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Background Score - 61 Is From

This piece is main theme of Mounam Pesiyathey. Composer – Yuvan Shankar Raja. It seems to be quite popular theme music. No one gave a wrong answer on this one. This piece is yet another sample showcasing Yuvan’s interest in doing background scores. A very breezy romantic piece it is. It is introduced right up in the title credits of the movie and again appears only after Surya falls in love. Listen to other versions of this beautiful theme in the videos below

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Most Wanted

Ever since I saw this promo of Univercell Vijay Awards 2008, the theme music that plays in the background kept ringing in my ears. The melody is so haunting and catchy that I have been constantly humming this melody for past one week. On Sunday, when I was reading the back issues of Film Score Monthly magazine, I came to know that this piece is from the soundtrack of ‘Wanted’ composed by Danny Elfman. One of the reliance advertisements also uses this melody.

Success Montage – Wanted

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Listening 'UP'

Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the movie ‘UP’ yet. I have tried to connect the music with the story of the movie that I read on the net.

With swinging rhythm, the mute trumpets, clarinets and xylophone tickles in ‘UP with Titles’ Michael Giacchino takes us back in time, sets up a laid back mood and builds curiosity in a listener’s mind who has just come back from listening to his music at his bombastic best in ‘Star Trek’. The moment the piano hits the first four notes of the gorgeous main (Ellie’s) theme on Piano in ‘We’re in the club now’, it is evident that this is the main theme of the movie that is going to be rechristened itself into various forms; that is going to be played on every single instrument of the orchestra and that is going to be hummed by every single member of the audience who come out of the cinema hall after watching the movie.

The main motif that is every bit nostalgic, romantic, touching, emotional, intimate, serene and simple is the heart and soul of the score of ‘UP’, which is so evident in the very next track ‘Married life’ where it is floated on a waltz rhythm, swaying its way through the emotional highs and lows of the life journey of Carl so far. Every soloist in the orchestra gets his few seconds of fame by playing the theme. The pace and the fact the theme has been played only on solo instruments thus far indicate Carl’s laid back, lazy and lonely life after his wife’s death.

In ‘Carl Goes Up’, for the first time in the score, the string section wakes up (so does we the listeners, wake up to the sudden appearance of an enchanting string section that sounds refreshing and uplifting after umpteen solo versions of the theme) to a brisk swirling and stirring for Carl gearing up to fly high with his house. Carl attempts to liberate himself from the loneliness and the darkness that has now completely engulfed his life. It is in this piece, the main theme moves on from solo instruments to a group of violins as Carl moves out from loneliness to an adventuresome journey in his life. After the initial hullaballoo created by string section for taking off, a serene peace sets in as Carl’s fly becomes steady and stable. The orchestra descends down in its volume playing its final notes and leaves its way to a solo guitar to play the main theme piece to sound that serene peace.

The full orchestra show up for the first time with a dominant brass section in ’52 Chachki Pickup’ playing an edge of the seat action cue. ‘Paradise Found’ is an ambient piece with soothing strings cascading one over the other to reveal a picturesque beauty of the place. ‘Walkin’ the House’ has a comical rhythm to it and feels like it is setup to the rhythm in which Carl’s floating house moves in air.

The moment I heard the pulsating rush in the riff that plays on strings in the beginning of the next track, I thought of Michael Giacchino’s earlier works ‘100 Mile dash’ from ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘100 Rat Dash’ from ‘Ratatouille’ and when immediately saw this track’s name I smiled. Yes, it is another dashing theme; it is ‘Three Dogs dash’ this time. Two of the other dashing themes are my all time favorites in term of orchestration and here is another one. There is at least one scene in every Pixar movie where things dash each other and Michael Giacchino puts a connecting link to all the movie scores through a similar musical riff.

In ‘Kevin Beak’n’ enters the bird Kevin, which is one of the principal characters of the movie. It has got its own beautiful theme which is established here, which sways to its characteristics. The Congo drums adding a unique rhythm to the way Kevin moves, piccolo and bass clarinet plays the main theme for Kevin’s salient features. Giacchino often uses different drums and Chinese percussions instead of usual Timpani’s in his action cues and such percussions work well in ‘Canine Conundrum’ where the Carl and Co seems to be in danger; the malicious flute theme further add to the effect.

Until I heard ‘The Nickel tour’ I was thinking of the theme that got introduced in ‘Up with Titles’ as a one-off piece. In this track, the theme reprises in its orchestral form and I understood the complete beauty of the theme in this track. In the immediate next track ‘The Explorer Motel’, the same theme turns darker. The first high rush, bombastic action cue arrives in ‘Escape from Muntz Mountain’, and from the name it is very clear that Carl is escaping from Muntz who wants the bird Kevin. The music slavishly twists and turns according to the visual action, and in spite of the randomness that could easily creep in such action cues the composer maintains coherence with catchy leitmotifs and travels on it throughout, keeping it as a one homogenous piece and easy listen even off the visuals.

‘Giving Muntz the bird’ starts on a happy note with Kevin’s theme and suddenly darkness spreads over as Muntz is chasing to take the bird from Carl. The Muntz’s theme (the theme from the track ‘Up with Titles’) turns completely dark in this track. As Muntz’s devilish intention become clearer, the theme gradually moves on from soothing string section to the darker parts of audacious brass section.

‘Stuff we did’ made me realize how terribly I missed the main theme of the movie thus far. The theme reappears to evoke nostalgia and the chords and counter melodies helps the theme in bringing the emotion to complete effect.

Don’t believe the negativity in the title ‘Memories can weigh you down’ of this track, the sound is anything but negative. All this while, I was lying on my bed and listening to the soundtrack on my iPod. When I heard the whole orchestra freaking and breaking out playing the reprise of the main theme that we didn’t hear for quite some time, in its most energetic form, I got goose bumps all over. The love theme is played like a fanfare theme in all its glory with brilliant counter melodies and harmonies. It sounds like Carl has pumped up all his energy from his memories of Ellie to fight Muntz. And that glorious streak continues in ‘The small mailman returns’.

‘He’s got the bird’ and ‘The Spirit of Adventure’ follows up with Carl’s high energy and his actions to encounter Muntz to win over Kevin. It is a freaking roller coaster ride of action music that alternates between Ellie’s and Muntz’s theme with the whole orchestra playing with an adrenaline rush, pumping more and more energy and pace into the music. I can’t wait to watch this final battle with this music on big screen.

‘It’s just a house’ starts with the theme we heard in ‘Walkin’ the house’ and soon moves on to a spirited orchestral version of Ellie’s theme. I couldn’t decipher the real meaning of this piece; it may be that Carl has finally learnt his lesson. I guess at the end of all things, after having realized that the memories of Ellie is more important than the house, Carl leaves the house behind. I think so because the theme as it progresses grows weaker and leaves way to the overpowering orchestral version of Ellie’s theme. In ‘Ellie’s badge’ the theme returns to its original simplistic form.

‘Up with End titles’ is a compilation of all major motifs from the movie. Ellie’s theme, Muntz’s theme, House theme is all connected into one seamless music piece. In spite of having listened to them in various forms all through the soundtrack, when all the major themes from the movie parade one after the other with a new orchestration, it is hard to skip.

The OST of ‘UP’ is one wholesome soundtrack. I can listen to each and every track of this score without skipping. The last Hollywood movie OST that I could say the same about was that of ‘Wall-E’. ‘UP’ music has created a lot of curiosity in me about the movie. I am sure my admiration and liking to this score will be even greater after watching the movie. My only grouse is that the score is not released in CD; it is only available for digital download on amazon.com and on iTunes.

Michael Giacchino – It’s time for an Oscar. Of course I expect something big from James Horner for James Cameroon’s ‘Avatar’. But considering that it is a sci-fi movie, I doubt if it could outdo the simplistic charm of your score for ‘UP’.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I Call off RRRC

I call off Re-Recording Raaja Contest. It is a huge flop. There was only one registered contestant. With my publicity skills, I couldn’t reach out to all those who would be interested in such a contest.

Thanks to all those who posted the link of my announcement post in their blogs.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Vijay Awards

Last year I wondered about the absence of an award category in Vijay TV’s Vijay Awards inspite of Madan (movie critic) being one of the jury members. But it seems this year; there will be a category for background score. Last Sunday, in one of the shows leading to the finale, the jury members discussed about the best background scores (they call it RR) in the Tamil movies released in 2008. Madan rightly pointed out two of my favourite background scores in 2008 – James Vasanthan’s score in Subramaniyapuram and Sundar C.Babu’s Anjaathey as note worthy scores in 2008.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Re-Recording Raaja Contest

Background Score’ Blog calls for musicians, composers and any music enthusiast who can create or recreate music to “Re-Recording Raaja Contest”. As the name implies to participate in this contest one has to Re-Create background score pieces of Maestro Illayaraja.


1. A contestant can be a single person or a team.
2. Minimum 7 minutes of music has to be produced by each contestant.
3. 7 minutes of music can made as a single track or multiple tracks.
4. Re-Create and don’t remix. Stick to the original.
5. New ideas are welcome but it should not harm the beauty of the original.
6. The themes should be from movies released on or before 1992.
7. The themes should not be a derived one from one of the songs of the movie.
8. No size limit on audio files, make music of best audio quality.
9. Contestants will have One month to re-create the music. The exact start and end dates will be announced shortly.

If you are interested

Register for the Contest

Send a mail to backgroundscore@gmail.com in the following format

Subject – “I am a RRR Contestant”

Names of the Team Members (if you participate as a team):
Website address:

Last Date for Registration: June 12, 2009


Total Cash Prize of Rs.10000 is to be won.

Spread the Word

Please post a link to this announcement in your blog or in any forum that you know and help me in spreading the word about this contest.

The Contest will be held based on the number of registrations. There should a minimum of 10 contestants for the contest to continue.

Send a mail to backgroundscore@gmail.com or post in comments section for any queries or suggestions or comments.

Background Score - 60 is from

This piece is title score from Vetri Vizha. Composer – Illayaraja. The piece sounds authentic to the visuals of the shores of Goa that fills the entire opening credits of the movie. I feel so relaxed and absolutely at peace when I listen to this mini flute sonata. The clip posted was edited to not include Illayaraja’s vocal parts; hear the complete title score piece here

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

RRR Contest

Re-Recording Raaja Contest

Cash prizes of upto Rs.10000 are to be won.

Coming Soon...

Happy Birthday Illayaraja