In A Galaxy Far, Far Away
For fans all over the world, the Star Wars saga was definitely one of the most anticipated episodes in their lives. In a nutshell, George Lucas’ unique blend of fantasy, futuristic ideologies, magic & yet classic war between good and evil set in a galaxy far, far away was what made the franchise so popular. Especially for those who grew up with it. And the ones we are so familiar with, the Original Trilogy with Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader set in 1977 to 1983 as well as the Prequel Trilogy that went from 1999 to 2005. Yet whether a fan or not, when asked or shown, almost everyone will be able to recognise 2 things from the Star Wars franchise. The first, is Darth Vader’s trademark breathing(we all know how it sounds like).
But the second is far more impactful, the one that is as legendary as the saga itself. The music.
When composer John Williams penned down the sheet music for all the six episodes, he was looking for the perfect orchestra to blend in with the movies: A perfect piece for every scene. From the action scene to the serene ones, the moments of nervous anticipation to affection, Vader’s rise to power to Anakin Skywalker having his last moments with his son Luke. It was this blend, exposed as we were to them since the premiere of Episode IV: A New Hope(1977) all the way until Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith(2005), that allowed them to be stuck with us.
The moment we hear the trademark music, we know instictively that it is related to Star Wars. And the two most famous pieces are most probably the introduction piece “Opening” and that melody we hear every time Darth Vader, or any Sith for that matter, appears.
The Musical Saga Returns
The love for the themes, good & evil(as well as in between) were the main factors in the music going Platinum, selling over 150,000 in Cananda & an even greater number over 2 million in the US. Even more so the famous scores have such a high demand that John Williams & Lucasfilm decided to have live orchestras set in tours all around the world. And that was how the first concert began in 2009, at the O2 Arena in London, England seated by an audience of over 20,000. Narrated by Anthony Daniels with Dirk Brossé as the conductor, the heart of the music is courtesy of the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, while in the background is a large screening of various scenes, defining moments & character appearances that will accurately correlate with the music being played at the moment.
Jedi Grand Master Yoda absorbs the bolts of Force Lightning during his duel with Sith Lord Darth Sidious, with the orchestra playing the trademark music of this famous duel from Episode III.
Music that plays an active part in the movie and is heard by the characters themselves rather than ordinary background music is termed as “Diegetic”.
With the music linking us back to the moments within the saga, it feels truly magical, as if we are being held in sway by the Force. All joking aside, this powerful weaving of audio & visual imagery that leaves such an impact on our minds as unforgettable memory stems from the fact that Williams deliberately composed his music to be synonymous with what happens on the screen to rouse our emotions. Meaning that at a danger scene, the music will have a fast, heart-racing tempo. When the Sith make an entrance, the music turns ominous. During an epic battle between Sith & Jedi whose victory could decide the fate of the galaxy, the music is apocalyptic.
This deliberate mix is actually a musical technique called “Leitmotif”. By linking melody with individual characters or specific moments in the storyline over & over, exactly like some sort of audio-visual signature.