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Falstaft (hiatus til TROS)

Star Wars Villain Music Article

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"Williams’s material for the evidently unkillable Palpatine is aimed at making the character simultaneously repulsive and alluring".

 

I've headed with this quote to my text editor to a section of notes I have about the motif of seduction in music, and commented:

 

"it’s more like the siren song from ESB though, and not quite like Seduction of the Ring, which is clearly human. A siren song is about menace more than about seduction itself".

 

Only to then read further:

„Unlike the “Imperial March,” the Sith lord’s music is not overtly threatening, but mysterious and beguiling, like a dark siren’s call".

 

Beyond the initial chuckle of surprise at the irony of wording, @Falstaft (hiatus til TROS) I thought how lovely it is that "devil is in the details" in music. A lurking, or "phantom" menace is far from the same as something openly threatening in terms of possible subconscious musical impression (and expression, of course). :) 

 

Thanks for continuing to be a musicological inspiration.

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1 hour ago, Falstaft (hiatus til TROS) said:

Hi everyone,

I've been trying to steer clear of JWfan and social media until TROS comes out, for fear of musical spoilers. But I did want to drop in quickly just to share an article I wrote that I think JWfan may enjoy:

 

"How John Williams’s Star Wars score pulls us to the dark side"
https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/how-john-williamss-star-wars-score-subtly-pulls-us-to-the-dark-side/2019/12/13/be3ab50e-1b7d-11ea-87f7-f2e91143c60d_story.html

 

Most of what I cover here is stuff a lot of you will already know (Vader's death cue, the Emperor/Augie connection, the fantastic unreleased music in ROTS Opera Scene) but even if it's not news, I bet it will still be fun seeing it in print!

 

(Also, despite my better judgment, I checked the comments on the article, and most of them are really wonderful!)

May the force be with you all!

 

Wow!  Congratulations Frank!  I'll read the article later today, but man what a cool byline to see in the Post!

 

EDIT: Also you are too kind about the comments, I saw a lot of stuck-up prigs of the "Well film music isn't *real* music" and "He steals all his best stuff" variety.

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Thanks, Frank. Well written and a great read, as usual!

 

One thing that was new to me and quite convincing was the claim of Kylo Ren's theme as overcompensation for his weakness as an evildoer. From that perspective, his two themes make more even sense than I had thought: his "menacing" theme could be seen as his external theme, in other words a projection of how he would like to be viewed by others. His mask certainly plays on that idea, and that is how we see him when he is first introduced and it literally hides the face of someone who himself admits is not as filled with the dark side as he'd like to be. The music could be seen as having this same masking quality.

 

Kylo's "conflicted" theme then could be seen as his internal theme, a portrayal of how Kylo sees himself, which we all know is easily supported by Kylo's pleas to Vader's helmet the first time we hear this theme.

 

Since the film came out, I wondered why the character was given two themes, especially when the distinction between the two becomes blurred even in TFA. But with this new insight, I now think Williams' judgement has been even more bang on than I first thought! What could be more fitting for a character whose internal and external selves are divided than to give him two themes depicting these?

 

Clearly, Williams has still got it.

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Looks like I'm not the only one with thoughts on John Williams's contribution to Star Wars to make it into the Washington Post. This recent piece comes to rather different conclusions as to what counts as villainy in these scores. You can all judge for yourselves how convincing this analysis is.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/12/23/how-star-wars-reinforces-our-prejudices/

 

 

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55 minutes ago, Falstaft (hiatus til TROS) said:

Looks like I'm not the only one with thoughts on John Williams's contribution to Star Wars to make it into the Washington Post. This recent piece comes to rather different conclusions as to what counts as villainy in these scores. You can all judge for yourselves how convincing this analysis is.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/12/23/how-star-wars-reinforces-our-prejudices/

 

 

The historical background is interesting (I imagine not new to most members of this forum) but the most prominent "evil" themes in the Star Wars films are the Imperial March, Kylo Ren's themes, and the Emperor's Theme and all 3 are scored the the European tradition. I don't think the western = good, eastern = bad distinction is as clear as the writer argues. Nonetheless, the Star Wars scores are rooted in the classic Hollywood orchestral sound which does tend to treat things that are familiar to us in American and European orchestral language and more eastern sounds for things that are unusual, alien, mystical, and exotic. But the good vs evil = western vs eastern argument, I do not buy. Anthem of Evil and the Knights of Ren motif are two brand new examples that prove this argument to be heavily selective at best, plainly wrong at worst.

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