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Analysis - New Themes in The Rise of Skywalker


Ludwig
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Very interesting stuff!


However, I am surprised you don't have a section for the Ben Solo theme / redeemed Kylo theme / Heoric Kylo theme / whatever you want to call it.  The theme from the end of the movie when Kylo/Ben shows up to help Rey and concludes when he defeats the Knights of Ren.  The theme that Williams didn't include on the OST but we got in two FYC tracks (Parents and Coming Together)

 

Is it just because you consider it a modification of Kylo's original theme?

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6 hours ago, Jay said:

Is it just because you consider it a modification of Kylo's original theme?

 

On this topic, I'll defer to anyone with a better understanding of musical theory than I, but why is the modification of Kylo Ren's theme in TROS considered a new motif, while the transformation of Rey's chimes motif at the end of The Last Jedi isn't treated similarly?

 

 

I can't define JW's treatment of the chimes motif here. Is it just the same notes moved to a different key? I figured the transformation of Kylo's theme in TROS was essentially the same technique, just moved upwards to a more heroic/major key.

 

Or is it simply that the chimes motif only appears this way once in the trilogy, hence it's not a recurring motif.

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I honestly don't consider a new theme either. Simply because it is an evolution. It has the same general shape and note structure. It is still so easily identifiable that it does not merit being called a new theme. Because it would then set up an arbitrary standard - where do we draw a line where something is a theme variation and something is a new theme. I think unless it can be precise, we risk injecting randomness into theme identification.

 

I am fine either way, but personally to me it is not a new theme.

 

I have two other questions - 

 

1. The Poe's Heroics motif is said to occur 4 times, but how many times was it intended? Because most of the times it appears tracked. So we could have a case where a fanfare might have been intended to be a one time only thing by Williams but became a motif because the editor put it in multiple times without the composer wanting it to be motif.

 

2. And the second is, and I was thinking about this since seeing the film - I really do think Anthem of Evil is entirely extraneous and disposable. It is a nice enough theme but really unnecessary. I think if you have established Emperor as your big bad, use his theme for the evil actions. What's the need for another theme? I say this because Anthem really does not make any significant impact in the film. 

 

I think CC on filmtracks might dock a few points off for this theme. He noted the same thing about Rouge One - that Gia seemed to create themes for concepts that already had themes. It harms the cleanness of design when you have extraneous material. In a beautiful tight and well thought design, you won't have multiple themes representing the same concept - because what is the point. So did we really need another bad guy theme here?

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Nice analysis. I had the exact same insight with Anthem of Evil, hence why in the end credits suite, the Maestro segues the final note of Anthem of Evil right into The Imperial March. It makes perfect sense. I also felt that Anthem of Evil perfectly encapsulated the Sith Fleet and Palpatine's plan to regain control and return to full form.

 

Also, I believe Anthem of Evil makes one final statement in the film before the end credits. It is an unreleased cue. I need to know how to do a spoiler tag so I can refer to the scene in question. It has to do with Palpatine and something he does; it is during the climax.

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1 hour ago, TheUlyssesian said:

I honestly don't consider a new theme either. Simply because it is an evolution. It has the same general shape and note structure. It is still so easily identifiable that it does not merit being called a new theme. Because it would then set up an arbitrary standard - where do we draw a line where something is a theme variation and something is a new theme. I think unless it can be precise, we risk injecting randomness into theme identification.

 

I am fine either way, but personally to me it is not a new theme.

 

That's certainly your prerogative! It's all arbitrary standards at the end of the day; I just try to be extremely explicit and consistent with mine. Until TROS, there weren't any "transformed" themes I considered leitmotivic in character in all the other SW scores.

 

If it makes any difference to you, there's plenty of precedent in the realm of leitmotivic analysis of this kind of thing. All of the many thematic catalogues I know of for Wagner's Ring, for example, list the various recurrent transformations of the opening Rhine motif as their own autonomous leitmotifs -- Twilight, Erda, Wotan's Frustration, the World Ash, etc... -- and the process there is really not too different than Williams's.

 

1 hour ago, TheUlyssesian said:

 

I have two other questions - 

 

1. The Poe's Heroics motif is said to occur 4 times, but how many times was it intended? Because most of the times it appears tracked. So we could have a case where a fanfare might have been intended to be a one time only thing by Williams but became a motif because the editor put it in multiple times without the composer wanting it to be motif.

 

I'm not sure I'm hearing it as tracked. The first & second instances are manifestly different renditions, the third may be a pitch-altered version of the first, but it's extremely hard to tell from these poor recordings, and the 4th is the peppy Speeder Chase variant that's kind of its own thing. (And there would have been a whole lot more renditions had the originally written Speeder Chase cue been used, I think).

 

But don't take my word for it!: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1aPnXG5G80juHXdbyNdx7SHmU0ov4n6DB

 

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9 hours ago, TheUlyssesian said:

Isn't the first instance in after the quote "they fly now" tracked from Falcon Flight FYC track?

 

Like I said, if it is tracked, it's been pitch adjusted up a minor third for no clear reason. The statement in Falcon Flight is in Bb major, the statement after "they fly now" is in Db-maj. Extremely hard for me tell whether it's a new performance/arrangement beyond the difference in key, given the quality of the recordings we have.

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Great discussions here!

 

It is indeed unusual for a Williams score, especially a Star Wars score, to have a leitmotific idea that is derived from another theme very closely, yet clearly serves a different leitmotific plan.  I think in my own mind, I'll started calling it "Kylo's Theme (Redeemed)", though I do kinda of like the poetic qualities of calling it "Ben Solo's Theme".

 

Also, I have no proof or inside knowledge or anything, but I'd suspect the Anthem of Evil originally had more prevalent use in the full complete score as originally conceived, and then got whittled away from the final cut of the film, and the OST album.  But who knows.

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To me Anthem of Evil is like a darkside temptation theme, often played when a character is feeling the pull of the darkside. This is a different purpose than the Emperor's theme or other people existing major themes. Listening to its occurrence in Join Me and Destiny of a Jedi among others, I think it works very well and serves a unique purpose.

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Honestly, I suspect, considering Abrams was clearly interested in churning up as much surface-level Star Wars iconography as possible for cheap nostalgia points, that Abrams, unsatisfied with not having a big, evil theme for this trilogy as opposed to the shorter ideas for Ren, asked Williams to make a new bad guy theme to give this trilogy it’s own Imperial March, even though there wasn’t any need for one. That would explain why the idea is so nebulous in what it represents and why it’s not developed in a typical manner. But it could just as likely be it was whittled away in post.

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But the "Anthem of Evil" situation seems similar to "Luke & Leia" in ROTJ, right? In ROTJ the theme appears... ¿2, 3 times? and we could also argue that since both Luke and Leia had themes, Williams didn't need a "brother and sister" theme. 

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At least we knew what Luke and Leia represented as a theme. I don’t think anyone here is completely confident what Anthem of Evil specifically represents except “bad!”

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It could be a theme for the rumored Matt Smith character that was eventually cut. Since I would assume JW begins is writing process by definining the main themes, he was probably a much more relevant character at the start of production

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15 hours ago, artguy360 said:

To me Anthem of Evil is like a darkside temptation theme, often played when a character is feeling the pull of the darkside. 

 

It's most prominent statement is when the villains blow up a planet. No temptation going on there. It is a straight evil bad guy theme - just not used very well and kind unnecessary.

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Frankly, there's now way to know if anytime it is playing in the final film is intended to be there by Williams, or tracked in from somewhere else by JJ

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45 minutes ago, Jay said:

There's now way to know if anytime it is playing in the final film is intended to be there by Williams, or tracked in from somewhere else by JJ

 

We're slowly getting to the point where we can almost say that about the entire film. 

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And the film was edited even after the final scoring sessions. So basically Williams did not even get the opportunity to intend for some scenes, much less actually write or record.

 

I wonder though if he is consulted for tracking purposes. It is his music after all.

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Is anyone else surprised that there wasn't a mutation of the Emperor's theme into Rey's theme, or vice versa?  From a story POV, it makes complete sense, and the two themes already share a few notes in common.  I'm assuming this wasn't covered in the unreleased material (??).  I was hoping for something ala Short Round's theme and Indy's theme at the end of TOD.

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18 hours ago, bondo said:

story POV

maybe it's because Rey calls herself a Skywalker in the end. I'm actually surprised that there wasn't a theme like Rey, the Skywalker

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Thanks, that increases my appreciation of this score somewhat. I still think it is a bit of a strange and insufficient thematic approach, but cannot be helped in a film that was flailing all over the place with its inherited ideas.

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