Pixar Animation “Soul”: who composed the jazz music and how to play the soundtrack


31 December 2020, 09:12

We explore the musical score “Soul,” the new Disney-Pixar animation about a college band teacher with jazz aspirations.

Jazz takes center stage in new Pixar film Soul, the charming animation starring Jamie Foxx, about a college band teacher with jazz ambitions.

Foxx plays Joe Gardner, who finds himself in the fantasy realm The Great Before and must find his way by connecting to his true purpose on earth.

All the wonderful jazz sequences you hear in the movie are from Grammy nominated legend Jon Batiste and Late show with Stephen Colbert conductor.

But there are also some wonderful ethereal passages that you’ll notice, as Foxx’s character falls off a grid and enters an alternate universe.

Read more: The 20 best music for animated films>

Jamie Foxx plays music teacher Joe Gardner

Jamie Foxx plays music teacher Joe Gardner.

Image: Pixar / Disney

Who wrote the jazz music in Pixar’s Soul?

In music, Juilliard-trained musician Jon Batiste poured out his heart and – keep going, let’s have this one – the soul.

The animators even decided to meticulously animate Batiste’s real-life fingers when the main character, Jon Gardner, plays the keys.

Batiste explains in an interview with NPR: “The way I play, my hands – they’re an exact replica in the type of 3D animation, the way he moves his body. You will see. If you watch the movie and see me play it is kinda crazy.

His music also helps bring Pixar’s first Black to life. “I was almost in tears because you see your essence, and you think, wow, this is the lead role of Black Pixar. And we are spreading jazz culture in this massive way in the essence of this lead character.”

In a video on Pixar’s YouTube channel, director and screenwriter Pete Docter says, “Most of Pixar’s films, we’ve adopted the classic Hollywood grand orchestral score. [But] there was something about the history and the feeling of this place that demanded something else.

Co-director Kemp Power adds, “Jazz itself is almost like another character in the movie.”

Who wrote the score for “Soul”?

While the delicious jazz sequences all come from Batiste, Nine Inch Nails members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who won an Oscar for their work on Social network), wrote the score.

Being located in two separate worlds – the real New York City and what Disney / Pixar call the “Ethereal Cosmic Realms of The Great Before” – Soul needed two musical sound worlds.

You will hear the magical passages of Reznor and Ross enter the soundtrack as Joe Gardner enters the alternate world “Soul”, after falling through a grid on the road.

Jazz takes center stage in new 'Soul' animation

Jazz takes center stage in the new ‘Soul’ animation.

Image: Pixar / Disney

How to listen to the soundtrack of “Soul”?

Walt Disney Records released a vinyl version of Original soul music and Music by and inspired by Soul, both also available for digital download.

The soundtrack can also be downloaded or streamed online.

Soul is now available exclusively on Disney +.

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Henry R. Wright

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