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A Quart of Oil with Joe2-D2: Alas, No More Fanfare (Probably)

R2DECAF by Tom Carlton

R2DECAF by Tom Carlton

EDIT:  I fixed the embed code for the videos.  They should be working correctly now.  Sorry for the confusion.  Joe2

Contrary to what the title says, this blog is not going to be about the potential lack of the 20th Century Fox Fanfare that opened every Star Wars movie from the original in 1977 to the Clone Wars Movie in 2008. Nor will this be a discourse on my views of the Disney acquisition. Instead, this is going to be a discussion of some of the music from the movies. I’ll discuss some of the popular ones, and some of my favorites. And to remind everyone what the songs sound like, I’m going to include some videos. So pull up a chair, turn on your speakers, and prepare for some musical enjoyment!

The music from the Star Wars Soundtracks is probably as synonymous with Star Wars as lightsabers. So is John Williams. Each piece of music was so perfectly matched with it’s scene that when hearing that piece, we are able to visualize the scene in our minds. The music helps to stir up the corresponding emotion that the scene is conveying, even when there is no dialogue, and probably is better without speaking. In fact, with just a couple exceptions, the pieces that I’ve chosen are from scenes without dialogue. So here some of the pieces that I’ve chosen. I’ve also given a short sentence on what stands out to me personally.

20th Century Fox Fanfare

When this fanfare starts to play, we instantly recognize the piece and in some cases, we think that a Star Wars film is playing, even though it probably isn’t. Unfortunately, Episode 7 will probably not have this fanfare to open the film because 20th Century Fox will not be releasing this film. A little sad, but who would have thought we’d be thinking about this 2 years ago.

Main Title/Rebel Blockade Runner

This piece is instantly recognizable from the first notes. The brass instruments start out so crisp and loud that it commands your attention and combined with the classic Star Wars logo you are drawn to the screen to see what happens. The Main Title continues to play through the opening crawl and you are brought up to speed on what is happening and what is about to happen. The Main Title portion is only 1:30 and goes directly into a camera pan to a peaceful space scene, for a few seconds, before the other part of the piece, which will show a ship. This particular link is from the first film and shows the Blockage Runner being chased by an Imperial Star Destroyer in what has become one of the iconic opening scenes in movie history. The other 5 films don’t disappoint.

Also, having played the trumpet for most of my childhood and a little beyond, I love pieces that are trumpet-heavy 🙂

Hologram/Binary Sunset

This piece starts out while Luke is cleaning the newly purchased droids and stubbles upon the hologram from Princess Leia and begins to a start asking questions of his Aunt and Uncle. But it’s in the second half of this piece that is the meat of the piece. During this portion, Luke has been turned down by his uncle in his quest to join the Academy and huffs out of the residence and goes outside. Here he is on the edge of a pit staring off into the sunset and the mild tones of the solo horn that accompanies this part convey the longing that Luke has to leave the life that he currently has, but knows that his chances of leaving are pretty slim. This portion is only about 30 seconds long, but there is so much that goes on.

Again, the solo horn is what I like about this and I’ve probably tried to play this on my trumpet numerous times.

Cantina Band

This piece is the song that is heard when Luke and Ben enter the Cantina in Mos Eisley in order to find a pilot to fly them and their droids to Alderaan. What stands out to me is the kettle drum parts. It sounds more like something you’d hear on a beach in the Bahamas than cantina with a bad reputation. This piece has been played by countless Jazz bands, Brass groups and other bands over the 30 years and their have been a lot of different arrangements and instruments that have been used. I saw a brass band when I was in elementary school that used hoses, yes I said hoses, to represent the actual lengths of the various brass instruments and they played this piece. It was pretty cool. Also, a friend of many of the bloggers on this site, Bethany Hamilton Clearfield, sang a jazz rendition of this at Celebration 4.  You can check out her rendition here.  I wish we had played this when I was in Jazz band during High School.

The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)

This song is played when the Imperials first show up in Empire Strikes Back when they are viewing the transmission from the Probe droid, but it is also played during Darth Vader’s first appearance. Again, the brass section takes command of the piece for most of the song in a typically fast paced march, but there is a tiny flute section in the middle that seems out of place. The whole of this piece matches perfectly with the might of the Imperial fleet and the ruthlessness of Lord Vader. This is another piece that I wish we had played while in High School.

Yoda and the Force

This song is played when Yoda is describing the ways of the Force before he lifts the X-Wing out of the swamp. This is one of the times where the song enhances the dialogue. The peacefulness of the French Horn and the flutes helps to show subtleties of the Force in how it works and that it encompasses all life. The latter portion of this song is played while Yoda is pulling the ship out and Luke is looking at his ship. I enjoy the calmness of this piece. It helps to calm my mind when I’m stressed out.

Han Solo and the Princess

This is the ultimate love theme. This is the theme for Han and Leia’s growing love story. It’s another mellow theme with lots of horns and flutes. In this song there is character representation for each of the primary instruments. In the song, Han is represented by the horns, the deeper toned sound with a little of the brashness of a brass instrument whereas Leia is represented by the flutes, a much brighter tone but still soft.

This is some of the popular pieces from the Original Trilogy soundtracks. You’ll have to wait until October to hear my selections from the Prequel Trilogy films. Thanks for taking the time to read and listen to the songs. As always, please leave a comment on your thoughts and I will try to reply. Or, if you prefer, you can e-mail me at joe2@coffeewithkenobi.com and I will be happy to reply there.

R2DECAF image used with permission. Check out Tom’s other artwork at www.tomcarltonart.com.

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3 Comments

  1. Aaron Harris
    September 9, 2014 at 23:29 Reply

    Joe,
    I love the blog! John Williams’ score for the Star Wars Saga is contains some of my most favorite pieces! Every track you mention are on my iPod and listened to quite regularly. I do have to mention there are a couple pieces on the Return Of The Jedi soundtrack I enjoy as well. Luke and Leia’s theme is a great piece. The simple horn playing as Luke reveals to Leia that they are in fact related and that Vader is their daddy added only added to the intensity of the moment and what was at stake in what was to come. Plus there is a track entitled Battle of Endor II (I’m getting it from the special edition release of the ROTJ album) that covers part of the battle of Endor but also the fight between Vader and Luke. The intensity and shear emotion of the fight when Vader tells Luke that he will turn Leia if he doesn’t join the Dark Side, then Luke come barreling out of the dark at Vader driving him back down the bridge where he loses his hand is enhanced tremendously by the incredible work of Williams. I so can’t wait to hear what he has in store for us for Episode 7. Great job again and I can’t wait to hear what you have in store for us when it come to the Prequels.

  2. Melinda
    September 11, 2014 at 09:34 Reply

    Joe, it was so pleasant listening to the music while reading — and typing this reply 😉 — you chose some beautiful pieces of music. Thank you so much. 🙂

    John Williams is such a master! Tom and I are going to his guest conducting of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra later this fall. 🙂 I can’t wait!!!

    Until next month, MTFBWY! 🙂

  3. Becca Benjamin
    October 3, 2014 at 12:43 Reply

    Just Awesome! Seriously, if one has never seen the entire saga, the music alone is culturally recognizable.

    Beautifully done, Joe 🙂

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