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Music in Embedded into the Storytelling of Disney-Pixar’s COCO

We visited Pixar as a guest of Disney

In the upcoming Disney-Pixar film, COCO, they wanted the music to be an essential part of the storytelling. In the movie, Miguel wants to claim his destiny and tell his family that he is going to play music, and then everything goes wrong.

When creating the music, they looked at it in three different ways:

1. They talked about source music. Ernesto de la Cruz lived in Santo de Cilia, and all the musicians come to pay tribute to him

2. Score. To hold up the emotion of the film. They explored the environment, motivation of the character in the film.

3. Original songs created for the film. They wanted to give the characters performing an iconic voice. Original songs was a great way to do that.

They wanted the movie to smell like Mexico, and they had to do this through music. They focused on being as accurate as possible with the sounds and the rhythm. They wanted the sounds you would hear if you are in a small plaza. Sometimes you can hear one or two bands playing in the area at the same time.

Mexico has such a rich variety of genre of music. They wanted to go beyond mariachi music. The music feels like a world and also supports the emotion in the film. Some of the musicians who helped make the music could read music, and some of them did not. A lot of the musicians play by ear. Having recorded the music of local musicians they were able to filter it into the storytelling of the film. On all of the songs, they videoed the musicians performing. The animators took that and animated to the musician’s movements.

When it came to the iconic guitar, they wanted it to be beautiful, recognizable, iconic. They were inspired with how the guitar is incorporated in the storytelling. German Vazquez Rubio, a master guitar maker, created the guitar in the film.

The first thing they did is watch a rough cut. They thought about the emotions they were feeling. If they cried during the film, they wanted you to cry during the film. Then they had to figure out how to transform the emotion it into music.

They started working out all these ideas. What feels real, what feels authentic so they can translate their feelings. One of the first things they thought about was the character, and they wanted to think about what was going through his head. They were reminded of the feeling that ‘I want to do this thing, but I don’t know how to do it.’

A big part of the movie is about family history, and they wanted a sense of mystery, longing – to represent that idea. They wanted to create something that felt reverent. When it came to thinking about the family, they thought about how strong their love is for one another. They created something that represents that love.

‘Remember Me’ is the first original song. They wanted a song that expressed the star power and larger than life character Ernesto de la Cruz. It expresses his character instantly. It has a message that relates to the film about being remembered and how it is important to have people remember you. It is a song that everybody would know.

Then there is the ‘Un Poco Loco’ song that is played in the middle of the film. Miguel has to enter a talent show and win the talent show. All through the journey, he teamed up with Hector – the whole journey is frustrating for both of them even though they have a lot of character. They needed to create a song that speaks to their frustration. It’s about how the people close to you make you feel a little crazy, but you love them anyway.

The music in Disney-Pixar’s COCO will immerse your family into this magical world. Don’t miss seeing it in theaters now!

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