There’s a certain type of person that enjoys film score and soundtracks: everyone. Now maybe everyone doesn’t realize how wonderful this genre of music is, but they should! Within the film score genre, there are–what sometimes feels like hundreds–many sub genres of sounds.
One of the main styles of emotions for music that many go searching for within the film scores family, is “what music is best to study to?” or “what should I listen to while I work?”, etc.
I’ve combined some of my personal favorite Disney scores–not the songs where the characters sing, but the underlying music that plays during the movie–that I enjoy listening to while I study or work. When peace and calming sounds are needed to help ease my mind, and inspire me with new ideas.
1 | Cinderella by Patrick Doyle
With silky and smooth sounds, this album places you straight in a fairy tale. It has many tracks, all on the softer side and very princess-like. Just by the chorus of “ohhs” that pop in occasionally, you can tell it definitely comes from a Disney movie.
Be careful; though it is an beautiful score, it can be a little too calm at times. So make sure to play when you’re not sleepy.
2 | Finding Nemo by Thomas Newman
Something I love about Thomas Newman’s style, is that it does give a watery sound, almost silky and ethereal. He was the perfect choice to compose for this underwater adventure. He captures wonder, both in a playful or terrifying way.
3 | The Lion King by Hans Zimmer
Even if you aren’t a fan of the movie, you’ll probably find at least one track to really love on this album. The instrumentals are beautiful and full of emotion, showcasing Hans Zimmer’s potential for composing.
And of course, if you are a fan of the movie, or just of Disney, you’re probably already adore this entire soundtrack. It brings on that good old Disney nostalgia and is considered one of Disney’s ultimate, musical achievements. It’s crazy to me that the mixture of orchestra, electronics, African vocals, rhythms, and Elton John songs works so well together, but it does! And it does so perfectly, in my opinion.
4 | Saving Mr. Banks by Thomas Newman
Oh this score! This score just sounds so homey to me. Honesty, most of what Newman composes, I love. He brings a feeling of classic vintage through his gorgeous orchestral melodies with those trademark quirky touches.
This score is no exception. There are songs that are totally heart melting, songs that are incredibly warm, others that are bouncy treats, and others that feel sadly sombre. The entire score is completely delightful!
5 | Pocahontas by Alan Menken
This is one that will make me weep. I'm talking buckets of tears. This soundtrack takes the listener on a journey of emotion.
And for that, it's one of my all-time favorites.
6 | Brave by Patrick Doyle
First of all, I'm a Celtic soul. And as this music is set in the mysterious and oh-so-green Highlands of Scotland, so I'm naturally a huge fan of this score. Actually, this entire soundtrack was the continual background music of my tip to Scotland last year!
With some animated movie soundtracks, the music score seems to sound like background sound effects just to feel the empty quiet space. It doesn't connect to the characters or storyline at all. However, that is not the case with Brave. The music is inspiring, and pulls you right into the Scottish Highlands WITH Merida.
7 | Up by Michael Giacchino
Throughout the soundtrack, the vintage jazz and waltz sounds really give the feeling of adventure from an elderly man's perspective. And because of this, the music feels home-y and familiar. Perfect as a backdrop to studying, reading, etc.
8 | Mulan by Jerry Goldsmith
This soundtrack is unique in the lineup of Disney scores. The music is dramatic (in the best way) and has elements of Chinese influence, which I think gives the soundtrack an authentic and vibrant feel. It's an easy listen, even during the more dramatic moments.
9 | Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by Harry Gregson-Williams
This is one of my top favorite film soundtracks, even when I'm not working or studying. The music is utterly majestic. It's almost Harry Potter-ish, but better (music-wise... not films). If you loved what this movie represented–the mature themes, the representation of good vs. evil, the change that will take place within a person–like I did, you'll want to listen to the music over and over just to relive the good feelings the movie left you with. This is one album I've played repeatedly, and have not gotten tired of it.
10 | Frozen by Christophe Beck
Something that I love about Beck’s score is that he musically explores the story’s Scandinavian roots. After some research, I found that he incorporated instruments such as the bukkehorn–an ancient wind instrument made from a ram’s horn–and Sami vocal techniques, such as kulning, which is a sort of Norwegian yodeling.
Aside from the Scandinavian-influenced parts of the score, the rest of the score tends to be more very string-led orchestral, a mix of melodies that feel dreamy, icy, and even twinkly. This makes the score an easy, yet inspiring one to experience.
Hopefully this list gives you a newfound love for Disney scores and how they can inspire you during those busy work days or late homework nights.
You're welcome to follow this playlist of mine of Apple Music, which features more songs and albums that I've found perfect for studying, working, etc. You're even welcome to follow me for all my obsessive Disney music playlists.