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What do we know about JW's new main titles for The Phantom Menace?


artguy360
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I believe there is an interview where JW mentioned that he toyed around with a new main titles music. I don't recall where the interview can be found, if it was print or video. But he basically said that initially he and George Lucas were interested in a new Main Titles but then decided the original was best.

 

Do we know if it was ever recorded? How far developed was this thing? Is it just a bunch of notes on a page before it was abandoned? 

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I think I recall hearing something about the Star Wars theme is essentially "Luke's Theme" since he doesn't have one.  Since Luke didn't exist in the prequel story, it didn't make sense for that to be the same theme of the prequels.  But these ideas morphed as the theme became synonymous with the "A Long Time Ago..." story telling.  Additionally, what was "Ben's Theme" became the Force theme which is essentially Luke's theme in later iterations.   One can consider it a jedi theme of which both Luke and Obi-wan are rather than a force theme and this would make more sense on the double sunset using Ben's theme when we consider it is foretelling Luke is to be a powerful Jedi, like Obi-Wan once was.  On a practical level, sometimes directors like the mood a piece evokes and don't fully think of the motific implications unless the composer and director are the same person (Wagner) hence we get lots of mismatches where the motif doesn't match the situation and we force fit it (Leia being used at Obi Wan's death).  

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44 minutes ago, artguy360 said:

Do we know if it was ever recorded? How far developed was this thing? Is it just a bunch of notes on a page before it was abandoned? 

 

At most maybe he wrote a rough sketch. But it's not in the sheet music or any cue lists so it most definitely was not recorded.

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Things lost to the mists of time. I rather thing Duel of the Fates would have made a terrific opening crawl theme for the prequels. Those startling opening chords synchronised with Star Wars appearing on screen would have made a similar impact to the original brass chord I think. The actual piece might be a bit low key for its first couple of minutes as written but conceptually it could have been kinda cool.

 

Then again, I’m the person who thinks that Star Trek:TMP should have opened with the v’ger music over the opening titles to give it a more mysterious start… so what do I know?!

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I am not sure if it was based on any actual facts, but the general consensus 20 years ago was that it the new opening crawl music would be been a version of Duel of the Fates.  I think it would have been cool, but I also think we are not missing some unreleased theme--we have it.  

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21 minutes ago, Tom said:

I am not sure if it was based on any actual facts, but the general consensus 20 years ago was that it the new opening crawl music would be been a version of Duel of the Fates.  I think it would have been cool, but I also think we are not missing some unreleased theme--we have it.  

I don't recall the conversations, I think I always assumed it would be the original titles music, but it definitely feels like it could have been an exciting alternative way to start the prequels... if only the films that followed that opening had been as good ;-)

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It must have been something, that prominently appeared in the movie and I am quite confident, that it would not have been The Adventures of Jar Jar. So, either Duell of Fates or The Force Theme. Both would have made more sense than Luke's Theme. But it is like it is.

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Take the traditional Main Title. 


Keep the orchestration and March tempo. 

 

Begin with the trumpet blast and fanfare.   Then segue…

 

…into  Anakin’s Theme, adjusted to fit that tempo in a heroic and brassy major key. 


Then segue into the traditional crawl roll-up and “space” music. 
 

Boom! There’s your Prequel Main Title.  Anakin’s Trilogy!

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7 hours ago, BrotherSound said:

Hmm, no one’s mentioned The Flag Parade yet? It starts with a big blast of brass in B-flat major (perfect to follow the Fox Fanfare), then a broad, majestic theme with a march feel, a contrasting more lyrical section, and then returning to the first theme, this time even more dramatic. Notably, the secondary theme is considerably more fleshed out in the concert arrangement.
 

If this alternate main title idea ever made it past the conceptual stage and there’s some trace of it in the score, I’d bet this would be it

 

Yes! Completely agree. There are also a couple of other points I'd mention:

 

1) The scoring at the start has that "shimmering" quality with a high tremolo in the strings and winds

 

2) Really striking to my ears is the bit from 0:50-0:56 that sounds suspiciously like the opening fanfare of the original - a similar Bb quartal harmony arpeggiated and imitated among the brass. I've queued it up here for comparison:

 

 

It certainly sounds like it was modeled on the original main title, so I'd agree this may well have been considered for prequel main-title material.

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20 hours ago, karelm said:

think I recall hearing something about the Star Wars theme is essentially "Luke's Theme" since he doesn't have one.  Since Luke didn't exist in the prequel story, it didn't make sense for that to be the same theme of the prequels.  But these ideas morphed as the theme became synonymous with the "A Long Time Ago..." story telling.  Additionally, what was "Ben's Theme" became the Force theme which is essentially Luke's theme in later iterations.   One can consider it a jedi theme

 

Over time, I've moved away from calling leitmotives by name. Not that I go as far as Robert Bailey who refers to motives only insofar as he's referring to the circumstances in which we hear them. Rather, I prefer to instead of talking of "The Force theme" talk about it in terms of "The theme associated with the Force." Its a subtle difference, but it allows for more freedom in the reading of the theme and for change. The whole point of leitmotives is that they change, and not just in musical form but in dramatic association, and that happened to practically all the themes from the original Star Wars.

 

20 hours ago, karelm said:

On a practical level, sometimes directors like the mood a piece evokes and don't fully think of the motific implications unless the composer and director are the same person (Wagner) hence we get lots of mismatches where the motif doesn't match the situation and we force fit it (Leia being used at Obi Wan's death).  

 

The theme associated with Leia being played for Ben's death was Williams call: he explains it in the liners and even in a few interviews since: it just felt right to him, just like the theme associated with the Tarnhelm probably just felt right to Wagner when Waltraute tells Brunhilde that Wotan's Spear is broken: there's no straightforward, compelling "explanation" for why its there that I've ever read other than it sounds right (which it does).

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2 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Rather, I prefer to instead of talking of "The Force theme" talk about it in terms of "The theme associated with the Force." Its a subtle difference, but it allows for more freedom in the reading of the theme and for change. The whole point of leitmotives is that they change, and not just in musical form but in dramatic association, and that happened to practically all the themes from the original Star Wars.

I hope you realise how unnecessarily pretentious and overly specific that sounds?

 

3 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

like the theme associated with the Tarnhelm...

Good lord, man, have you ever consumed more than 4 groups of media in your life? SW, Tolkien, Braveheart and Wagner? ROTFLMAO

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Just now, Holko said:

I hope you realise how unnecessarily pretentious and overly specific that sounds?

 

Still better than Robert Bailey's "the theme we hear when x."

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5 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

 

Still better than Robert Bailey's "the theme we hear when x."

That may be true, but we're just guys talking about music in movies, we're not writing doctorial dissertations or legal text, there's leeway and shortcuts in language that we all understand and can commonly use.

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3 hours ago, Ludwig said:

 

Yes! Completely agree. There are also a couple of other points I'd mention:

 

1) The scoring at the start has that "shimmering" quality with a high tremolo in the strings and winds

 

2) Really striking to my ears is the bit from 0:50-0:56 that sounds suspiciously like the opening fanfare of the original - a similar Bb quartal harmony arpeggiated and imitated among the brass. I've queued it up here for comparison:

 

 

It certainly sounds like it was modeled on the original main title, so I'd agree this is probably, for the most part, a re-purposed prequel main title.

I always felt this cue was an homage to another blockbuster spectacle arena parade sequence, Ben Hur's Parade of the Charioteers.  So, I felt this had to be written for this sequence specific arena parade sequence.  

 

 

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1 hour ago, karelm said:

I always felt this cue was an homage to another blockbuster spectacle arena parade sequence, Ben Hur's Parade of the Charioteers.  So, I felt this had to be written for this sequence specific arena parade sequence.  

 

 

I agree. I think this was written with scene specificity.   While it has heavy brass and symphonic flourishes, I don’t think it was ever considered as a Main Title. 

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I always pictured the lost alternate titles being a major-key tweaking of the Force theme, or else something totally different and perfect. I agree that the Flag Parade is way too deliberately Ben-Hur and not science-fiction enough for a title crawl in a Star Wars movie. 
 

While we’re on the subject (sort of), the main blast of “The Submarine” would play pretty great over any set of opening titles, including the prequels (minus, of course, the “beans, bacon, whiskey and lard” section). Shame it didn’t get to shine that way in the source material…

 

 

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3 hours ago, karelm said:

I always felt this cue was an homage to another blockbuster spectacle arena parade sequence, Ben Hur's Parade of the Charioteers.  So, I felt this had to be written for this sequence specific arena parade sequence. 

 

That may well be! It does seem like the perfect spot to refer to Ben-Hur. But if that's true musically, it's odd that the portion of the Flag Parade that sounds like the Ben-Hur parade is a tiny transitional bit buried in the middle of the cue, and that the main Flag Parade theme has very little in common with the Ben-Hur march aside from a general modal-ish sound. But the funny thing is, that imitative quartal bit I mentioned earlier, if alluding to the original main title (taken along with the other similarities mentioned above), it would come from Williams channeling Ròzsa's Ivanhoe overture, which was the temp track for the 1977 Star Wars main title.

 

So one way or another, it's definitely Ròzsa-derived!

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2 hours ago, igger6 said:

I always pictured the lost alternate titles being a major-key tweaking of the Force theme, or else something totally different and perfect. I agree that the Flag Parade is way too deliberately Ben-Hur and not science-fiction enough for a title crawl in a Star Wars movie. 
 

While we’re on the subject (sort of), the main blast of “The Submarine” would play pretty great over any set of opening titles, including the prequels (minus, of course, the “beans, bacon, whiskey and lard” section). Shame it didn’t get to shine that way in the source material…

 

 

 

That is possibly my favorite thing that JNH has written.

 

So, we just watched Star Wars and Empire. Luke's Theme is used almost exclusively for Luke. There are other themes used for Luke. Ben's / The Force theme, Yoda's theme. I'll have to revisit Jedi to see if that holds true. (I'm thinking Return of the Jedi, there's a brief quote in the Rancor fight, Threepio's story time... What else?)

 

Then you get to the sequel trilogy. Is it EVER used for Luke? I know there's a quote when Han and Chewie board the Falcon.

 

And of course you have Solo where it's used to introduce the Falcon. I would complain if it wasn't so gorgeous!

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I wonder if it was a heroic, brassy version of Anakin's theme? I could see that more than the Force theme. Of course it could be a melody that was abandoned all together.

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My point against Flag Parade would be that it's just a thematically irrelevant "throwaway" piece, not something JW'd use to be the first thing we hear in a new trilogy, it'd have to be the introduction of something like the current one is to Luke's Theme .

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2 hours ago, Tallguy said:

Then you get to the sequel trilogy. Is it EVER used for Luke?


Yes, though quite briefly. When Luke sees R2 aboard the Falcon in The Last Jedi:

 

 

And for Luke’s speech in The Rise of Skywalker (“a thousand generations live in you now”):

 

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3 hours ago, Tallguy said:

Luke's Theme is used almost exclusively for Luke. There are other themes used for Luke. Ben's / The Force theme, Yoda's theme. I'll have to revisit Jedi to see if that holds true. (I'm thinking Return of the Jedi, there's a brief quote in the Rancor fight, Threepio's story time... What else?)

 

Its in Return of the Jedi that the theme starts losing its specific association with Luke and becomes associated more generally with heroics (the Rebel forces often get it), and that's how its mostly used in the following trilogies: my memory of the sequel trilogy is that this theme is often associated with Poe.

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The theme that, in the classic trilogy, we associated with the Rebels becomes very strongly associated with the Falcon: a prime example of a leitmotif changing its association.

 

Interestingly, in Star Wars' liner notes, that theme is dubbed the "Rebel spaceship fanfare", i.e. it was initially linked to the Blockade Runner. Williams typically doesn't read scripts, but in the case of Star Wars he made an exception and, at the time, the design of the Blockade Runner was the Falcon, so that may be the origin of this switch.

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2 hours ago, BrotherSound said:


Yes, though quite briefly. When Luke sees R2 aboard the Falcon in The Last Jedi:

 

 

And for Luke’s speech in The Rise of Skywalker (“a thousand generations live in you now”):

 

 

I would also possibly argue that Williams uses it to indirectly reference Luke at the end of TFA as it's heard right before the Falcon blasts off to try and find him. 

 

 

3 hours ago, artguy360 said:

I wonder if it was a heroic, brassy version of Anakin's theme? I could see that more than the Force theme. Of course it could be a melody that was abandoned all together.

 

Man, if that was the precedent set, then that means we would have gotten a big beefy rendition of Rey's theme to open each ST film. That would have been fantastic. 

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1 hour ago, Chen G. said:

The theme that, in the classic trilogy, we associated with the Rebels becomes very strongly associated with the Falcon: a prime example of a leitmotif changing its association.

 

 

But is it not lukes theme what is used when han and chewie enter the falcon in tfa, when luke enters the falcon in tlj, when solo sees landos falcon in solo and when they use the superfuel to boost the falcon in the maw, again in solo? 

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2 hours ago, Chen G. said:

The theme that, in the classic trilogy, we associated with the Rebels becomes very strongly associated with the Falcon: a prime example of a leitmotif changing its association.

 

 

In my opinion, the "theme associated with the Rebels" isn't really associated with the Rebels at all (except for its very first appearance), and it's actually a theme for our heroes of the story (and strongly associated with the Falcon). 

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On 20/03/2022 at 12:14 AM, artguy360 said:

I believe there is an interview where JW mentioned that he toyed around with a new main titles music. I don't recall where the interview can be found, if it was print or video. But he basically said that initially he and George Lucas were interested in a new Main Titles but then decided the original was best.

 

Do we know if it was ever recorded? How far developed was this thing? Is it just a bunch of notes on a page before it was abandoned? 

 

No Williams interview exists where he talked about such thing, at least to my knowledge. This was just fan speculation running rampant back in 1999 that was passed as "inside scoop" on several websites (oh, the early days of the internet).

 

Williams and Lucas agreed that using the classic main title them felt "obligatory", so it's safe to assume an alternate idea was never truly considered.

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13 minutes ago, oierem said:

In my opinion, the "theme associated with the Rebels" isn't really associated with the Rebels at all (except for its very first appearance), and it's actually a theme for our heroes of the story (and strongly associated with the Falcon). 

 

See, that's why I say its the "theme associated with the Rebels" because the Rebels are associated with our heroes, with derring-do, with the Falcon, with the Blockade Runner, etc... Its a way to express the plasticity with which leitmotives are used.

 

But its still used differently in the sequel trilogy, which is not a bad thing.

 

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Or just call it the Rebel Fanfare and understand that that does not mean that it can only be strictly used for the Rebel Alliance as an entity. The heroes are rebels, the Falcon is a rebel ship, or in the ST a reminder of the days of the rebellion etc.

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6 minutes ago, TownerFan said:

 

No Williams interview exists where he talked about such thing, at least to my knowledge. This was just fan speculation running rampant back in 1999 that was passed as "inside scoop" on several websites (oh, the early days of the internet).

 

Williams and Lucas agreed that using the classic main title them felt "obligatory", so it's safe to assume an alternate idea was never truly considered.

On the basis of no evidence whatsoever(!), my feeling is that any discussion about an alternative to using the original main theme would just have been one of those spitballing "there are no bad ideas" type discussions just to kick the idea around a bit before quickly returning to agreeing that it should just use the classic theme.

 

As I've commented elsewhere, for me the Force theme has essentially usurped the opening title theme as the "main" theme for the franchise. It better captures the mythical tone Lucas was aiming for much more than the straightforwardly heroic "main" theme. Having said that, I don't think it would make as effective an opening title as it would either have to be a bit more martial or grandiose, but it wouldn't have the driving momentum that makes the "main" theme so thrilling. It's almost a prelude to grab your attention and get the viewer pumped both audibly and plot wise with the crawl. On the other hand, a martial version like for The Throne Room, is fine as a brief statement, but is really being forced - as it were - into a martial setting, rather than being the tone originally intended. Although I'm sure JW would have done a great job had that been an option.

 

I'm not sure that The Flag Parade would have worked, it's a great track but was clearly meant to be a cute homage to Rozsa's Ben-Hur (perhaps musically it's closer to Ivanhoe, but it's clearly modelled on Parade of the Charioteers) than a theme to be used more extensively. The shape of Anakin's theme doesn't really suggest exciting adventure even though I concede that the fanfare version when he wins the Pod Race is pretty effective.

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1 hour ago, Tom Guernsey said:

for me the Force theme has essentially usurped the opening title theme as the "main" theme for the franchise.

 

It does.

 

After the classic trilogy, do we get the theme associated with Luke very often except in the opening and closing credits? I don't think so. But the theme associated with The Force we get A LOT, and that's yet another example of a theme that changed its association from being primarily associated with Old Ben, to really having no specific association at all apart from it being the "main theme": that's certainly how its used in The Last Jedi.

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8 hours ago, artguy360 said:

I wonder if it was a heroic, brassy version of Anakin's theme?

 

It totally would've fit.  After all, Anakin's Theme was derived from a March.

 

22 hours ago, Andy said:

Take the traditional Main Title. 


Keep the orchestration and March tempo. 

 

Begin with the trumpet blast and fanfare.   Then segue…

 

…into  Anakin’s Theme, adjusted to fit that tempo in a heroic and brassy major key. 


Then segue into the traditional crawl roll-up and “space” music. 
 

Boom! There’s your Prequel Main Title.  Anakin’s Trilogy!

 

2 hours ago, TownerFan said:

 

No Williams interview exists where he talked about such thing, at least to my knowledge. This was just fan speculation running rampant back in 1999 that was passed as "inside scoop" on several websites (oh, the early days of the internet).

 

Williams and Lucas agreed that using the classic main title them felt "obligatory", so it's safe to assume an alternate idea was never truly considered.

 

 

I believe TownerFan.... I think this is Fan speculation.  Back when the internet was Usenet groups, it was the Wild West, in a different way than it was now.  There was less cynicism, maybe more optimism, but it was hard to find documented proof to back things up.  So speculation became legitimized.

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Chen G. said:

The theme that, in the classic trilogy, we associated with the Rebels becomes very strongly associated with the Falcon: a prime example of a leitmotif changing its association.

 

Interestingly, in Star Wars' liner notes, that theme is dubbed the "Rebel spaceship fanfare", i.e. it was initially linked to the Blockade Runner. Williams typically doesn't read scripts, but in the case of Star Wars he made an exception and, at the time, the design of the Blockade Runner was the Falcon, so that may be the origin of this switch.

 

I think it's the other way around. Sure it's used in Imperial Attack but every other quote in Star Wars has to do with the Falcon. Do you know how many times it gets used in the Final Battle? ZERO. All of the music for the X-Wings is Ben's theme.

 

2 hours ago, oierem said:

 

In my opinion, the "theme associated with the Rebels" isn't really associated with the Rebels at all (except for its very first appearance), and it's actually a theme for our heroes of the story (and strongly associated with the Falcon). 

 

I'll go with that. Am I wrong or is it almost always associated with vehicles? Snowspeeders, the Flacon, blockade runners (and stretching the point, people fighting on blockade runners)? (This thread is just proving that I listen to / watch Star Wars and Empire WAY more than Jedi).

 

7 hours ago, BrotherSound said:


Yes, though quite briefly. When Luke sees R2 aboard the Falcon in The Last Jedi:

 

 

And for Luke’s speech in The Rise of Skywalker (“a thousand generations live in you now”):

 

 

I'd argue that proves my point as those are both less for Luke and more for "Hey! It's Star Wars!" Kind of like how he used it when Anakin jumped in the starfighter on Naboo.

 

It's funny that the Rebel theme came along for the ride because it's part of the End Credits "template" used in all 11 films.

 

I will always remember the delight I felt when I was waiting in line for Empire and the doors opened at the end of the previous show. We all heard: Star Wars! And then seeing the beginning of the film and realizing that THIS was how a Star Wars movie was always going to start and finish. So for the prequels and sequels I still think that was a good call.

 

If anything, you could argue why didn't Williams make an attempt to make the theme associated more with the Skywalker family? (You don't have to. But you could.)

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54 minutes ago, Tallguy said:

I'd argue that proves my point as those are both less for Luke and more for "Hey! It's Star Wars!" Kind of like how he used it when Anakin jumped in the starfighter on Naboo.

 

Beginning 1999 it certainly was. It changed.

 

54 minutes ago, Tallguy said:

If anything, you could argue why didn't Williams make an attempt to make the theme associated more with the Skywalker family?

 

Well, Star Wars became a tawdry soap opera very gradually...

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55 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Beginning 1999 it certainly was. It changed.

 

Sure. Yes. I'm just talking about post-OT.

 

And why were the Life Day lyrics to the theme never referenced again?!?

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On 20/03/2022 at 9:24 AM, Andy said:

Take the traditional Main Title. 


Keep the orchestration and March tempo. 

 

Begin with the trumpet blast and fanfare.   Then segue…

 

…into  Anakin’s Theme, adjusted to fit that tempo in a heroic and brassy major key. 


Then segue into the traditional crawl roll-up and “space” music. 
 

Boom! There’s your Prequel Main Title.  Anakin’s Trilogy!

 

Now THAT would have been one hell of a subversion/reworking! Now I hope somebody makes a mock-up of how that could've sounded.

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1 hour ago, Cameron007 said:

 

Now THAT would have been one hell of a subversion/reworking! Now I hope somebody makes a mock-up of how that could've sounded.

I'd love to hear that, but I can't help but feel that Anakin's theme is too lilting in nature for such a reworking. I can't help but feel it would sound a bit (sorry) forced into that kind of setting. I concede that the fanfare version for after the Pod Race is great (as I mentioned before I think) but I'm not sure it would stand up to a more sustained heroic version. It's meant to be rather more innocent, with darkness only really hinted at, but not really especially heroic.

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6 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

There is a heroic version of that theme somewhere in that score, I believe.

 

On the "Now this is pod-racing!" part, I think.

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Yes, it is in one of the cues written for pod racing, which was dialed out in the film, but then tracked into the Gungan battle.

 

It is lilting in its wishful, friendly concert arrangement, but it could be reworked into an epic galactic march.  I'm hearing it in my head, and humming it when I walk my dog, but I have no musical talent.  I've half a mind to hum it into Audacity and mix a poor acapella mock up, but I do have some pride.  ;)

 

 

 

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I get a feeling that the slightly strained trumpet leap in the melody was supposed to be synched with Anakin's pod visually passing Sebulba's. Unbelievable that Lucas decided to cut such wonderful moment, most exciting brass and string stabs (vide the trench run) and then a fanfare of a major theme, from a pivotal point for the main character of the prequels.

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Fantastic thread.

 

I've always wondered similarly about the Revenge of the Sith end credits.  I understand why the Throne Room caps it off, it's conceptually ending the 6 movies for it's fans, but story wise, it doesn't really make sense and signify hope.

 

Not sure who made that decision, but if we can talk hypothetical, alternate universes here, It'd be cool to hear something in a bit more hopeful direction.

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I think it was just something they recorded to fill time on the album.  Lucas didn't use it in the movie

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