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The Thematic Material of the Star Wars Saga (Possible Community Project?)


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Figured it would be nice to have a thread for this: THE PHANTOM MENACE Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1 CD)   Star Wars Main Title and The Arrival at Naboo   0:07 Main Theme

Hello all,   I've spent nearly all of this morning working on it, but here it is. Jerry decided to give a crack at a thematic breakdown for John Powell's Solo: A Star Wars Story. Bear with m

Hi all,    Just thought to let you know I've made a pretty major update to my leitmotif catalog, with improved formatting, a ton more links, and a whole new section on associative harmonic p

4 hours ago, Taikomochi said:

Has anyone pointed out that there is what sounds like a very soft rendition of Kylo's motif at :14 in "Torn Apart," with the additional woodwind coming in?  Am I the only one hearing that?

 

Are you hearing the "tragic/hesitant" motif for Kylo (as heard several times at the beginning of OST The Abduction) in Torn Apart, or is the "menacing/evil" motif (as in the Attack on the Jakku Village) what you are hearing in Torn Apart? After a couple quick listens I'm not hearing what you're mentioning, but perhaps that's because I'm not sure which motif I'm listening for.

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4 hours ago, Stefancos said:

Question, the melody that plays in The Scavenger when Rey takes her mask off (0:39) sounds very similar or identical to what Faleel refers to in his list as the Shmi and Anakin motif (Anakin is Free 3:54).

 

Is it in fact the same?

 

Sounds basically the same to me. Maybe someone who can read and write music could write out the notes from both moments and compare them. 

 

Side note: I adore the force theme moment at the end of that piece as Anakin leaves. What's playing in counterpoint to it though? Anything particular or just a lovely counterpoint?

On 3/23/2016 at 8:04 PM, Taikomochi said:

Has anyone pointed out that there is what sounds like a very soft rendition of Kylo's motif at :14 in "Torn Apart," with the additional woodwind coming in?  Am I the only one hearing that?

 

 

Yeah I hear a faint nod to Kylo's theme, just as I do at 0:32-0:40 in Han and Leia; acting as the connecting moment between Leia's theme before it and Han and Leia's theme after it.

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Ummm I strongly disagree. The Shmi's theme doesn't sound the same at all compared to that flute melody. Stylistically perhaps in the same ballpark but melody-wise no.

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I don't hear it. To my ears it is Williams just hinting at Rey's theme there.

 

I am more interested to know how that curious little melody from Talk of Podracing made its way to Finn's Confession theme-wise and if there is indeed any conscious subtext there beyond perhaps temp-tracking.

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Yes quite.

 

It is a beautiful little melody but I can't for the life of me figure out what it could represent thematically (if anything) in TPM or in TFA for that matter.

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9 minutes ago, Incanus said:

It is a beautiful little melody but I can't for the life of me figure out what it could represent thematically (if anything) in TPM or in TFA for that matter.

 

Right? It's such a random melody to pull out to quote identically that you think there has to be some intention behind it, but who knows what that could possibly be.  Probably nothing.

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6 minutes ago, BloodBoal said:

In TPM, I always associated that melody with Qui-Gon for some reason (even if the second time it appears, towards the end of the film, I don't think it's linked to him in any way).

Yeah in the Talk of Podracing it seems to relate to him the most but then again he has his own theme which bears no resemblance to this noble melody. The second time it appears it just underscores the wrapping up scene before Obi-Wan has been given permission to train Anakin if I remember correcly.

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53 minutes ago, Incanus said:

Yes quite.

 

It is a beautiful little melody but I can't for the life of me figure out what it could represent thematically (if anything) in TPM or in TFA for that matter.

I think of it as a "prophecy" theme rather than anything tied to one particular character.  

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I don't think there is any thematic connection between Shmi's theme and that brief flute bit in the lead up to Rey's Theme. That is surely one of those minor accidental coincidences JW has talked about.

 

Concerning the Talk of Podracing quote in Finn's Confession, that's a real puzzle. Outside of that music always accompanying conversations, I see no connection. I wonder if JW just wanted a small quote of prequel music and liked that music.

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On 26-2-2016 at 4:10 PM, Pieter_Boelen said:

The opening post is not supposed to be complete yet, is it?

There's definitely at least one thematic statement still missing for The Force Awakens (maybe more):

 

Rey Meets BB-8

01:09 Resistance March (matches with the melody at 01:45 in March of the Resistance)

So am I to understand from the lack of responses on this post that I am just hearing stuff that isn't there?

It sounds so very obvious to me. But I'd have to rewatch the film to see if there is any actual thematic reason for it. :huh:

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  • 1 month later...

I have analyzed the musical themes in The Force Awakens score and I have found following 20 new themes/motifs so far:

 

 

Rey's Theme - actually there are FIVE different themes/motifs for Rey, which is really awesome!

 

Kylo Ren's Theme - sinister fanfare first heard in "The Attack on Jakku Village"

 

Kylo Ren's Secondary Theme - 8-note motif, the most prominent in "The Abduction"

 

Poe Dameron's Theme - masterful (and my favourite) heroic theme first heard in "I Can Fly Anything"

 

Finn's Action Theme - actually it is more likely Finn's and Rey's action theme, heard in "Follow Me", "The Falcon", "The Rathtars!",...

 

March of the Resistance Theme

 

Snoke's Theme - but it is not completely new because of its reference to "Palpatine's Teachings"

 

Death Theme - heard in "Starkiller" and "Torn Apart"

 

Scherzo for X-Wings Theme

 

BB-8's motif

 

Map motif

 

Escape/action motif - ostinato heard in "I Can Fly Anything" and "The Resistance" (FYC promo)

 

Torn Apart motif - heard in "Torn Apart" and at the end of "Snoke" (album version)

 

First Order motif - heard in the begginning of "The Attack on Jakku Village, Part 1" and "Snoke" (FYC promo)

 

TIE Fighter motif + TIE Fighter pilot motif - heard together several times in "The Falcon" and then in "The Jedi Steps and Finale"

 

 

+ of course The Jedi Steps Theme which propably will become the real theme in Episode VII

 

 

Have anybody found another theme/motif I have missed?

 

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18 hours ago, E-Wan said:

+ of course The Jedi Steps Theme which propably will become the real theme in Episode VII

 

I think I'm siding with the common prediction that this was a theme for that one specific scene and will never be reprised.  I hope I'm wrong.

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On 6/1/2016 at 4:15 PM, E-Wan said:

 

 

BB-8's motif

 

Map motif

 

 

 

Isn't there just one theme representing both BB-8 and the map? If you believe there are two, can you give time stamps so I can listen to what you are referring to?

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On 6/1/2016 at 4:15 PM, E-Wan said:

I have analyzed the musical themes in The Force Awakens score and I have found following 20 new themes/motifs so far:

 

 

Rey's Theme - actually there are FIVE different themes/motifs for Rey, which is really awesome!

 

Kylo Ren's Theme - sinister fanfare first heard in "The Attack on Jakku Village"

 

Kylo Ren's Secondary Theme - 8-note motif, the most prominent in "The Abduction"

 

Poe Dameron's Theme - masterful (and my favourite) heroic theme first heard in "I Can Fly Anything"

 

Finn's Action Theme - actually it is more likely Finn's and Rey's action theme, heard in "Follow Me", "The Falcon", "The Rathtars!",...

 

March of the Resistance Theme

 

Snoke's Theme - but it is not completely new because of its reference to "Palpatine's Teachings"

 

Death Theme - heard in "Starkiller" and "Torn Apart"

 

Scherzo for X-Wings Theme

 

BB-8's motif

 

Map motif

 

Escape/action motif - ostinato heard in "I Can Fly Anything" and "The Resistance" (FYC promo)

 

Torn Apart motif - heard in "Torn Apart" and at the end of "Snoke" (album version)

 

First Order motif - heard in the begginning of "The Attack on Jakku Village, Part 1" and "Snoke" (FYC promo)

 

TIE Fighter motif + TIE Fighter pilot motif - heard together several times in "The Falcon" and then in "The Jedi Steps and Finale"

 

 

+ of course The Jedi Steps Theme which propably will become the real theme in Episode VII

 

 

Have anybody found another theme/motif I have missed?

 

 

 

Time stamps for some of the less prominent motifs would be appreciated.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 6 months later...

Okay, so I'm sure I'm not the first to notice this, but I just now realized something about The Empire Strikes Back score that has blown my mind. Check out the beginning of this:

 

 

And compare to this (at 5:10)

 

 

Two pieces of music I'm very familiar with and yet never realized were practically the same.

 

Anyway, I post here because I wonder, should this be considered an additional Imperial motif?

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That's not the same melody at all.

 

And that melody in the Carbon Freeze tracks occurs throughout the Cloud City sequence after the freezing, I called it the "Captured on Cloud City" motif, see here

 

http://www.jwfan.com/forums/index.php?/topic/25318-jj-abrams-on-working-with-john-williams/&do=findComment&comment=1124783

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I'm well aware that it occurs multiple times during the Cloud City sequence. I always associated it with the danger at Cloud City as you do but hearing these two together now it does sound to me quite similar to the walker bit. Saying it's not the same at all is pretty hyperbolic. There's a clear similarity there even if they melody or tempo isn't exactly the same. 

 

EDIT: Looking at the timestamps you have for the "Captured at Cloud City Motif," that's a different motif entirely than the one I'm talking about.

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Oh I definitely think they're connected, it's a similarity that's never been lost on me ......plus it wouldn't make much sense for them to sound too similar in a literal way as they're almost at opposite ends of the film when things are very different. I also consider them related to what is known as the Dark Side Motif, all really part of Vader's plans, goals and obsessions.

 

 

Another thing I like is what I call 'Han's quick thinking motif'.

 

Here it is when he looks at the dead Tauntaun and realises that he can keep Luke warm in it.

(about 5:40)

 

and here when he realises it's time to get out of the space slug ...fast!

(about 4:59)

 

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41 minutes ago, DominicCobb said:

I'm well aware that it occurs multiple times during the Cloud City sequence. I always associated it with the danger at Cloud City as you do but hearing these two together now it does sound to me quite similar to the walker bit. Saying it's not the same at all is pretty hyperbolic. There's a clear similarity there even if they melody or tempo isn't exactly the same. 

 

EDIT: Looking at the timestamps you have for the "Captured at Cloud City Motif," that's a different motif entirely than the one I'm talking about.

The first bit of music from The Battle of Hoth is intended to represent the mechanical terror of the huge AT-ATs. The second from the Cloud City sequence is more of a fateful, sorrowful motif, almost procession like for Han's carbonite body being transported and a sense of destiny as all these bad things happen. Originally, JW had the same motif playing when Luke controls Vader leading up to their actual lightsaber fight. I don't think the 2 are related to each other at all,

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I think for me it's because (imo) JW's music in these movies works in two ways, one is often quite literal and that can perhaps be the orchestration, the cold and declamatory heavy piano lines representing the walkers but secondly they're only there by command of Vader and his ground assault, to kill or capture the rebels ....but really he's only interested in Luke, which for me is what the movie is about. The cloud city versions are obviously much more grave as Vader's end game is coming to fruition, again like you say it's almost a funeral procession which does literally match what we're seeing of Han's fate but also serving the overall story as the situation for everybody is dire, or at least how it appears to us at that point. Luke confronting Vader is another perfect example, the fly to the spider ....."All too easy", Vader must be licking his lips at that point! ha

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1 hour ago, artguy360 said:

The first bit of music from The Battle of Hoth is intended to represent the mechanical terror of the huge AT-ATs. The second from the Cloud City sequence is more of a fateful, sorrowful motif, almost procession like for Han's carbonite body being transported and a sense of destiny as all these bad things happen. Originally, JW had the same motif playing when Luke controls Vader leading up to their actual lightsaber fight. I don't think the 2 are related to each other at all,

 

Their musical differences are obvious and both fit their very different situations well, of course. However, in my mind there does seem to be a melodic similarity. Coincidence is certainly possible but it's not like there's nothing in common with what the pieces are representing. The scenes are, again, very different, but all have a sense of doom brought on by the Empire. As you mention, the latter piece was written for the lightsaber duel (when they ignite and start fighting, I believe), which if anything only proves that musically that piece does not solely specifically represent the pseudo-funeral procession. If they are a related motif, I think one could comfortably call it a "dread" (or "we're fucked") motif, if we want to be more specific than just simply calling it an Empire motif (and I guess it wouldn't make sense to call it a general Imperial motif anyway, based on its minimal usage).

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3 minutes ago, steb74 said:

Yoda's theme in Cloud City should be obvious ......the heroism of Luke's own theme has abandoned him for pretty much the majority of the movie, Ben and the force are unable to provide assistance. Luke and we as the audience need something else to help us make it through the trials ahead. After everything that Luke has gone through it's the only theme with enough weight and (force) power to give us the determination to help us push Luke on. As Luke becomes less afraid, he (and we) need Yoda's theme less and the force (theme) naturally finds its way back to him.

 

Well said, quality post!

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That's a nice way of looking at it. I always sort of though that if the Force theme is actually Ben's theme, then Yoda's theme could be seen as sort of a second Force theme. In SW, the Force theme represents the Force as we know it, as taught by Ben. But in Empire, Yoda adds a whole other dimension to the Force through his teachings. So Luke running around Cloud City with Yoda's theme is him running around with Yoda's teaching in his back pocket (as with the unused section during the duel). The rest of the gang running around Cloud City to Yoda's theme is a bit harder to rationalize, but one could say that it's the gang falling under the very danger Yoda warned of. The usage of themes does not always have to come about through scenes directly pertaining to the theme's characters. Music is emotion and sometimes themes fit certain emotions that are related (I feel like I'm not explaining this well).

 

A good example would be the notorious usage of Leia's theme during Ben's death. In my mind Leia's theme doesn't only represent Leia. In the original film, it more generally represents romance, and not in the falling in love way, more in the romance of the adventure. So I think using the theme during Ben's death makes fine sense. Luke is swept into the romance of the quest to find Obi-Wan, the last hope, when he first sees the hologram, and Leia's theme plays. When Ben dies, he fears the adventure has died with him, that the quest has failed and the hope is lost. 

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I understand what you're getting at and regarding Yoda's theme over the gang so to speak, for me it's as simple as we are always meant to be in Luke's shoes.

When Leia is shouting ' ...it's a trap', etc, she's shouting it to 'us'. TESB is about 2 characters for me, Luke and Vader and the musical tapestry for that movie reflects that in my opinion. Yes at times we're quite intimate with the others but I always feel it's more of a case of us being a fly on the wall yet with Luke, we the audience are Luke.

Now I don't feel like I'm explaining well !! ha

 

As for your second paragraph .....I have to go out now (ughhh) but I'd love to chat about it as I not only believe the music used there is appropriate but it's the music that makes the most thematic sense. One thing though, Leia's theme plays 'after' Ben's death which is a massively important point to me ......uffff shit, gotta go!! lol

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15 minutes ago, steb74 said:

I understand what you're getting at and regarding Yoda's theme over the gang so to speak, for me it's as simple as we are always meant to be in Luke's shoes.

When Leia is shouting ' ...it's a trap', etc, she's shouting it to 'us'. TESB is about 2 characters for me, Luke and Vader and the musical tapestry for that movie reflects that in my opinion. Yes at times we're quite intimate with the others but I always feel it's more of a case of us being a fly on the wall yet with Luke, we the audience are Luke.

Now I don't feel like I'm explaining well !! ha

 

I get what you're saying and I half agree. I definitely see what you mean when you say we see that scene from Luke's perspective, especially it happens right after Luke gets his ass whooped (kind of like, "okay I'm failing, but I hope my friends are doing alright,"), but I disagree that the film's only about Luke and Vader. I think Leia and Han's relationship is very important to the film and its music, and note that after we hear Yoda's theme we shift into Han and Leia's theme.

 

Quote

As for your second paragraph .....I have to go out now (ughhh) but I'd love to chat about it as I not only believe the music used there is appropriate but it's the music that makes the most thematic sense. One thing though, Leia's theme plays 'after' Ben's death which is a massively important point to me ......uffff shit, gotta go!! lol

 

Saying "Ben's death" was just shorthand. His actual death was of course backed by his (the Force) theme, which makes total sense. It's Luke's reaction to it (and Leia telling him they have to go) that is backed by Leia's theme, which to me also makes total sense, emotionally.

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16 hours ago, steb74 said:

Another thing I like is what I call 'Han's quick thinking motif'.

 

Here it is when he looks at the dead Tauntaun and realises that he can keep Luke warm in it.

(about 5:40)

 

and here when he realises it's time to get out of the space slug ...fast!

(about 4:59)

 

 

 

Holy crap!!  That's awesome!!!

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19 hours ago, DominicCobb said:

 

Their musical differences are obvious and both fit their very different situations well, of course. However, in my mind there does seem to be a melodic similarity. Coincidence is certainly possible but it's not like there's nothing in common with what the pieces are representing. The scenes are, again, very different, but all have a sense of doom brought on by the Empire. As you mention, the latter piece was written for the lightsaber duel (when they ignite and start fighting, I believe), which if anything only proves that musically that piece does not solely specifically represent the pseudo-funeral procession. If they are a related motif, I think one could comfortably call it a "dread" (or "we're fucked") motif, if we want to be more specific than just simply calling it an Empire motif (and I guess it wouldn't make sense to call it a general Imperial motif anyway, based on its minimal usage).

There is a slight musical similarity but no thematic connection. Both bits of music serve distinct purposes. JW has written enough music in his life time that we fans could imagine a meta-lore of JW intention that connects every punch in Indiana Jones with every wave of the lightsaber in SW with every flick of the wand in Harry Potter because there are inevitable musical coincidences and repetitions of style and musical construction. But all of that would be reaching as is this instance. The AT-ATs on Hoth have nothing to do with the escape from Cloud City and neither does the music scored for either scene. And the escape from Cloud City motif is definitely not a secondary motif for the Empire. We are into silly season here.

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