Up is one of Pixar’s most beloved movies from the last 20 years. And one of its highlights is the Academy Award-winning music. “Married Life,” the theme from Up, is an absolutely beautiful piece of film music that features the piano. In this tutorial, Kevin Castro will teach you how to play the theme from Up on piano with step-by-step instructions. Get ready to cry, because this piece is a tearjerker!
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Quick reminder: we’re in the key of F Major, which means that by default, all Bs are played with flats. Do pay attention to accidentals, however, as this piece has quite a few.
It may be helpful to learn the left-hand part first because it will anchor us to the beat. The left hand accompaniment pattern is a standard waltz rhythm, 1-2-3 1-2-3. Practice these chords and comping rhythm a few times to get the hang of it.
The right hand melody (main theme) starts on a few pick-up notes, which means we don’t begin on the on-beat. If it helps, break down the counting into eighth notes (1 + 2 + 3 + ) and write this down on the sheet music. You can even draw lines on the sheet music to match up the left and right hand parts.🎹 BEHIND THE AWARD-WINNING MELODY: The much acclaimed theme from Up was written by composer Michael Giacchino. Giacchino, who won an Academy Award for his work on the film, shares that the secret behind the music’s success was its repetitive yet varied use of the main theme. The theme starts off upbeat and optimistic, but as the trials and tribulations of marriage inevitably happen, more complex harmony, different orchestration, and other changes in the theme’s mood portray this complexity.
Quite a lot happens in the middle section of the song. So take things slow if you need to.
You’ll notice an “8va” symbol with some dotted lines. This means to play the right hand notes under the lines an octave higher.
There’s a little run at measure 41 that looks complicated because there are so many accidentals. But this is just a chromatic scale. Think of it as hitting all the white and black keys between the beginning and end notes.
The first scene that I did in the movie was ‘Married Life’ and it was a very complicated theme. You need to follow this very emotional story. The thing about it is, as we were recording it everyone’s crying each time we did it! You look at a scene like that and you see that this is something that we’re all gonna go through in our lives. It really gets you thinking beyond just the fact that you’re watching a Pixar movie. That emotion naturally went into the scoring of it, for me, anyway.
Michael Giacchino (Empire)
As the song progresses, things slow down. The 1-2-3 waltz rhythm turns into 1-2, then dotted half notes, and then tied dotted half notes. This part of the song is all about expression. If you’ve seen Up, this is the part of the montage when everyone cries! So pay attention to dynamics, play your pianissimos as softly as possible, and be delicate with those high notes.
We hope you enjoyed this tutorial on “Married Life”! If you’d like more lessons like this, be sure to check out our Song Tutorials section for free tutorials and resources. Members can also access a wide variety of downloadable sheet music in our Members Area song library, and play along with our Practice-Along feature.
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