#writing #music: #PolarExpress by #AlanSilvestri

Hullo hullo, everyone! While most of the Midwest is buried beneath vast amounts of the white stuff, southern Wisconsin remains primarily bare. Cold, and bare. Cold, drab, and bare. Cold, drab, starless, and bare.

Whether you love Christmas for Christ or Claus or whatever else, the music of the season always carries an extra touch of magic. This year, I want to take you on a ride with that music, but not through carols or reindeer. This year, let’s take a train.

I first learned of The Polar Express via its Robert Zemeckis film adaptation in 2004. I got kids, and those kid love trains, so borrowing this film from the library was a no-brainer. The film came out during the 3-D craze, so there are several roller-coaster style sequences thrown in for…reasons.

Still, there’s a lot to love here. The original illustrations in the book are simple and elegant, so when the film brings those illustrations to life, the story glows on the screen.

From the book…
…and the film.

The brightest star, however, has got to be the score. Zemeckis recruits a composer with whom he’s been successfully collaborating for decades: none other than that time-traveling, alien-hunting, legend-wielding genius Alan Silvestri.

Silvestri utilizes the caroler element of Christmas music to build a majestic sound to compliment the orchestra: like “Carol of the Bells” or “Deck the Halls,” a portion of the choir sings onomatopoeia bell sounds while the others maintain a traditional harmony as they sing “Spirit of the Season.” When you combine the choir with a bit of brass and bells on top of sweeping strings, you have a song of majesty unbounded.

Of all the tracks, however, my favorite comes from near the film’s end. Will Santa Claus appear to these children after their adventures on the Polar Express? Do these kids truly, truly believe in the magic?

Unlike the opening to “Spirit of the Season,” Silvestri starts low, almost ominous. The bells aren’t quite traditional harmony–more like playing in fifths, perhaps, with the same low note playing over, and over, and over, so when the percussion and low brass begin it feels like a train slowly building steam to go. Something is building to happen…it picks up speed…and a melody. And drums.

Oh, those drums at 1:52 are my favorite. Like the pounding of reindeer hooves, the drums signal a change to a smashing of Christmas songs galloping by us, around us, spinning us like tops for Santa’s toy sack. While the choir dances in and out of these songs, the brass are the heroes in this track. Those trumpets nail the intense run from carol to carol with precision so perfect I fear many must have needed ice packs for their mouths after playing. 🙂 But back to the music. After the fantastic gallop of carols we return to the sweeping theme of majesty and flying magic. Santa cracks a whip made of the Northern Lights, and color splashes across the sky as his sleigh snaps out of sight into the night.

As you embark on your own seasonal adventures real or imagined, always keep the right music ready to transport you to the furthest reaches of snowy magic…or to return you to your home’s hearth of warmth and laughter.


Blondie’s excited to share her writing and reading updates with you! I’m also eager to share more music and storytelling joys. Oh, and if you’re interested in one of my 2020 Author Interview slots, let me know!

Lastly, if you haven’t written a review for your favorite writers in a while, please be sure to do so. No gift is as meaningful to any writer, indie or mainstream, like a review from a reader. I‘ve got my two books, sure, but this is a gift that means to world to ALL writers. x

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

25 thoughts on “#writing #music: #PolarExpress by #AlanSilvestri

  1. It’s very cold, bare and drab here as well. Your so right about music this time of year. Hopefully we are watching the Polar Express tomorrow night. Trying to watch one Christmas movie a day. Often we are so quick to move on to the next book before taking a few moments to review. So I’m going to spend sometime correcting this for this years books. Take care x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Concepts of winter crave their own music, their evolution born of avoiding the cold…an alternative, better put. An interesting genre, in ‘pop’ terms often appalling, in others the birth of classic classical with a hint of magic. Enjoy, Ms Lee. Yours, The Old Fool

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I’m betting you’ve heard his work without knowing who he was; I’ve known the Back to the Future scores for decades, but I only finally connected who wrote them to other things I loved in the last couple years. 🙂 He’s currently slated to do score the upcoming adaptation of Roald Dahl’s WITCHES–suuuuuper excited! xxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. According to Intrada, Warner Bros won’t budge on a proper score album for “The Polar Express”as long as the song-filled soundtrack album remains in print.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for this info! That is a shame. Silvestri is such a powerhouse of a composer. To be boiled down to a few tracks an a suite is pretty sad. (Especially when one of the tracks that must remain in print is Aerosmith singing a really lame rock song. UGH.) Thanks for responding!


  4. Wonderful film 🙂 you’re never to old to enjoy the magic, are you? And I love trains – both my dad and his dad worked on the railway.
    I’d really love to chat if you might have an interview slot for me… if you think me worthy, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

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