This month on Hyperspace Theories, we discuss how the music of Star Wars enhances the storytelling in The Force Awakens. Joining Tricia, B.J., and Kay for the episode is Sarah Woloski, who co-hosts Fangirls Going Rogue with Tricia and Teresa and Skywalking Through Neverland with her husband Richard. All four of us have instrumental musical backgrounds, and we share how our experiences learning and performing music have shaped our appreciation of the music of Star Wars.
In previous episodes, we’ve used the meta segment – where we talk about how to speculate wisely – to analyze the impacts of some of the foundational figures in Star Wars storytelling, including George Lucas, Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and more. This month, we add maestro John Williams to the list. Of course, his amazing career spans dozens of famous movies and numerous famous musicals themes – Jaws, Indiana Jones, Superman, E.T., and Jurassic Park, to name only a few – but just as Star Wars is in a class by itself in cinema history, so too is Williams’ iconic Star Wars music. As much as anyone, Williams has added to the language of Star Wars storytelling with the themes, melodies, motifs, and other musical details weaved throughout the Star Wars films. From the powerful tones of the “Main Theme,” “Imperial March,” and “Duel of the Fates” to lyrical refrains like “Han Solo and the Princess,” “Yoda’s Theme,” and the “Force Theme,” the music adds considerable depth and emotional weight to the story.
In the worldbuilding segment, we consider how the soundtrack of The Force Awakens elaborates upon the characters and storytelling in the movie. Williams has described his use of deliberate musical connections to the previous films in some respects, while also shaping new music for other places in the film. Among the tracks we discuss are “The Scavenger” and “Rey’s Theme” for the new heroine, Kylo Ren’s motif for the new villain, “Torn Apart” for the fateful showdown, “March of the Resistance” and “Scherzo for X-wings” for the new heroes fighting back against the First Order, and “The Journey Home” and “The Jedi Steps” that bring the movie to a close.
With so much to say about Williams and his music, we’ll resume with our other usual segments in the next episode. Stay tuned for more analysis of The Force Awakens and the future of Star Wars storytelling.
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- The Force Awakens soundtrack listing
- Soundtrack files released by released by Disney for awards consideration
- Lucasfilm video (Feb. 22, 2016) with John Williams about the music of The Force Awakens
- New Yorker article “Listening to Star Wars” by Alex Ross
- fan version of “The Imperial March” in a major key
- John Williams interview in LA Times
- Hyperspace Theories: Twitter @HyperspacePod
- Tricia Barr: Twitter @FANgirlcantina; email Tricia@fangirlblog.com
- B.J. Priester: Twitter @RedPenofLex; email Lex@fangirlblog.com
- Kay: Twitter @Geek_Kay; email Kay@fangirlblog.com
- Sarah Woloski: Twitter @JediTink
Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.