Arts

Exploring The Evolving Themes In The ‘Star Wars’ Soundtrack

Like the rest of the films in the series, John Williams composed the soundtrack for the upcoming "Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens."
Like the rest of the films in the series, John Williams composed the soundtrack for the upcoming "Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens."
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As excitement ramps up for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” fans anticipate not only an exciting film but also a riveting soundtrack from film composer John Williams.  WABE film music contributor and host of “Strike Up The Band” Dr. Scott Stewart joined Lois Reitzes to discuss some of the anticipated music for the film.

Legendary composer John Williams composed the music for the “Star Wars” series, and he and the musicians wrapped up their final recording for the new “Star Wars” movie last week. There will be no pre-release of the soundtrack, which is unusual for movie studios.

Stewart said the reason for no pre-release was past “Star Wars” mistakes.

“The main reason is spoiler alerts.” he said. “Track titles can often reveal story lines, and ‘Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace’ was marred by the track title ‘Qui-Gon’s Noble End.’”

In Williams’s “Star Wars” scores, we hear the sweeping and grandiose sounds of the large Romantic-era orchestra, with special attention to a high correlation of music to what is happening on the screen.  Williams also uses a technique made popular in late Romantic-era opera – the leitmotif.

“Leitmotifs – or themes – have the nifty quality of being Play-Dohlike, in that they can be manipulated by the composer to reflect change, growth, mood and state of the thing it represents,” Stewart said.

One of the primary leitmotifs in Star Wars follows Luke Skywalker. As a character, he develops from a farm boy on Tatooine to a full Jedi knight.

“And the music helps tell this story.  In ‘Episode IV’ we become familiar with Luke’s theme as the primary ‘Star Wars’ theme that we hear from the opening crawl.” Like Luke, the theme changes and adapts throughout the series.

Stewart explores other leitmotifs in the “Star Wars” repertoire beyond the main theme in the interview above.

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