Composer Dan Romer studied Italian music extensively to prepare for “Luca,” the new Italy-set film from Pixar. Enrico Casarosa, the film’s director, gave him playlists of Italian film scores and songs, which the composer then listened to over and over again to get the style ingrained in his head. While Casarosa wanted the film to reflect his own childhood growing up in Italy, he also wanted Romer to bring his own experience to the score. “He said, ‘I want a Dan Romer score to this film, but I want it to feel like an Italian version of it,'” recalls the composer in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. Watch the full video chat above.
The “Luca” score contains numerous instruments — on top of traditional piano and strings, it features the mandolin, classical guitar and the accordion, which are all commonly found in Italian film scores. What he added to that traditional sound was whistling, often deployed to reflect Luca’s dreamlike state on the shore. Romer also created distinct themes for the three main characters, Luca, Alberto and Giulia. For Luca’s melody, he wanted “a lot of large spaces between notes to highlight his longing for the outside world, for what’s above him,” while Alberto’s theme is more rousing in tone and Giulia’s has a classical Italian element. “I wanted to make all three of the themes fit together like puzzle pieces, harmonically.”
The track Romer is proudest of composing is the final one, “Go Find Out for Me,” which occurs as Luca and Alberto are bidding each other farewell. The composer compares the soaring number to “We Found Love” by Rihanna or “Only in Dreams” by Weezer, two songs that build to an almost extreme level. “The idea was to make a piece of music that just grew and grew and grew and grew, and you felt like, ‘This isn’t gonna grow more, this shouldn’t happen,’ then it keeps going until the very last second.” As Romer observes, “Go Find Out for Me,” which clocks in at just one minute and 39 seconds, has had the most positive response from the audience.
Romer looks back on his “Luca” experience positively, especially with how Pixar fostered a strong work atmosphere. “There was more opportunity to have back and forths with everybody,” he notes. “We had a lot of chances to be collaborative together, which is an incredible thing on a movie like this.”
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