How to Play Married Life on Piano

In this short article, learn how to play the song Married Life from “Up” by Michael Giacchino on the Piano. 

Some compositions paint a picture, and others take you on a journey. Married Life from the Disney Pixar animation movie “Up” is a journey. 

In this article, we will teach you how to play Married Life by Michael Giacchino, including excerpts from the sheet music. 

About the song Married Life.

“Up” was produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures in 2009. The score was composed by Michael Giacchino, famous for other major animation films such as The Incredibles and Ratatouille. The musical piece “Married Life” won the 52nd Grammy Awards for Best Instrumental Composition. 

It is the film’s opening musical sequence, which shows a montage of scenes from the life of the protagonist Carl and his relationship with his wife, Ellie. These scenes don’t contain dialogue, so the music talks a lot. 

The score comprises only one musical motif that repeats itself in several variations. Its most prominent variation is light and cheerful as the couple falls in love. The theme is re-worked to be slow and gentle. This theme becomes Carl’s personality, metamorphosing through different emotions as Carl rides the highs and lows of life. 

Is Married Life an easy song to play on piano?

Are you kidding..have you listened to Married Life? (We’ll wait). 

It’s complex, but like many other film scores, Married Life was adapted into a more accessible piano version. It is a great song for an intermediate-level piano player. Additionally, it’s an excellent opportunity to practice playing piano in a 3/4 time signature. 

How to play Married Life on piano.

The music above is the first presentation of the Married Life theme. With a tempo of 175bpm, it is considered an uptempo piece, with instructions to play “lively.” When you’re playing the melody in the right hand, keep the fingers light and floating on keys with grace. 

Check out Keyboard Lessons for Beginners article to refine your piano technique.

The most important thing to master here is the 3/4 time signature, which we call a waltz feel. This is a pattern with the root note of a chord on beat one and then the third and fifth of the chord on beats two and three. The first note should be with emphasis and the second two with lightness. 

For example, the opening chord of Married Life is an F major. The F is on beats one and an A and C together on beats two and three. The next chord to know for Married Life is C major. Practice playing it with the waltz feel – C bass note on beat one and an E and G together on beats two and three. 

The second half of Married Life on Piano.

In the song’s second part, the tempo drops to 100bpm. The instruction is to play “expressively.” This means more emotion and sensitivity. 

You also may notice that the left-hand part drops the waltz feel. It is now just playing one dotted half-note per bar (the equivalent of three-quarter notes). This is much easier to play, and you can just focus on expressing the melody in the right hand. 

The melody begins with the iconic opening phrase, telling us that the theme is starting again in a different mood. What’s unique about this phrase is the way it ends on an E. This is the seventh of the F major scale, creating a bittersweet harmony that encapsulates Carl’s life’s twists and turns. 

Look at the last two bars of the excerpt above – a symbol is written “8va”. It indicates that you should play the phrase one octave higher. When the melody jumps to a higher octave, the gentlest of the whole piece is reinforced by the pianissimo dynamics. 

It’s all good and well to read about playing a song, but you’ll have to bring it down to earth at some point. If you want to learn to play Married Life on the piano, sit in front of the instrument with the sheet music, and play out the notes phrase by phrase, line by line, until they sit comfortably in your ears and under your fingers. 

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