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Analysis Video - The Force Theme

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Hi all!   Film Music Notes will now be offering videos of some of our most popular blog posts on our very own YouTube channel. Here is the first video, analyzing John Williams’ Force theme f

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"Why do you listen to that Binary Sunset music so much?"


"I enjoy marches."


Firstly I like to single out what the moment that truly makes a theme is. For instance, with E.T.'s flying theme I noticed the critical aspect of melody and harmony was from the II - V transition, that leap from the note B to a high B resolving on V.


With The Force Theme, I feel the prime area to note is the first four measures, the build-up from chords i to IV. So I can set the rest aside at first.


Distinctive qualities of the first two measures:

- The melody first holds on the degree 1, 2, and then before even holding on 3, it lightly passes by 4 in an off-triplet. What this does is give the impression that an initial harmony has been present before even getting to i: the looming emotional obstacle of the note degrees 1 2 and 4, forming something that has been suspended with Luke this whole time. The degree of 4 breaks into our subconscious before the minor gets a chance to, and is not until the 3rd degree is emphasized in measure 2 that finally represents Luke's conscious attention noticing this emotional dilemma, in the new light of the G minor chord. Relisten to these first two measures and you can hear the power of the 3rd degree making Luke's conscious transition to his predicament.

- The first two measures assume a i - V7 - i - V7 characteristic at the beginning, but drops the V7 to form this identity of suspense and contemplation around the 4th degree being in light of something other than V7.

- It's finally when the piece arrives at the IV chord that represents Luke's epiphany, something he determined he wants to do to remedy, or a ray of hope, and it was that 4th degree glimmering before and predestining his conscious decision--you see the light of the 4th degree break through just before the G minor chord has a chance to get in: Luke provoked the transition from i to IV (whatever his initial thought became) it shows he has always seen light in the darkness.

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In the video exercise, we see how The Force Theme using the 4th degree (note of C) is inherent to its melodic metastructure: the foundation of a suspended 1-2-4 arpeggio which foreshadows the 4th degree being held in measure 4, during a IV chord.


Example 1 removes one small note, which proves a pivotal disruption to its overall character.

Example 2 removes the whole rhythmic mannerism, yet in keeping its melodic identity intact, resembles something much closer to the Force Theme in overall character.



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