Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Music in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

In the midst of all the promotion, discussion, and excitement surrounding the premiere of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens in December 2015, there were several excellent essays/posts/comments on music and sound, in this film and in the series overall.

Frank Lehman analyzes the three (!) official trailers for the film: Musicology Now post. In addition to discussing themes and keys, he makes the general point that "In each preview, Williams’s recognizable melodies are offered as a kind of nostalgizing payoff, something awarded to the listener after a span of thematically ambiguous material."

Lehman also wrote a Mashable column called "7 Things we learned about Star Wars: The Force Awakens from its music." We won't tell you what those 7 things are, but they're almost all musical hints about individual characters. (Many others have speculated on different aspects of the themes and their presentation, especially Rey's.)

A relative newcomer that we can recommend to students and instructors is Film Music Notes, written and maintained by Mark Richards, a composer and music theorist (Toronto; Florida State University). He has a six-part series of posts on the new film.

And, of course, Stars Wars series composer John Williams has several interviews about The Force Awakens, a film that he says brought new energy and vitality to his writing. Here is one in the Los Angeles Times. And another on the BMI site: interview. And here are a couple youtube videos: Williams discusses the new film. Williams conducts the opening of the score.