Music of Star Wars

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John Williams, composer of the music of all nine Skywalker Saga films.

The music of the Star Wars franchise is composed and produced in conjunction with the development of the feature films, television series, and other merchandise within the epic space opera franchise created by George Lucas. The music for the primary feature films (which serves as the basis for the rest of the related media) was written by John Williams. Williams' work on the series included the scores of nine feature films, a suite and several cues of thematic material for Solo and the theme music for the Galaxy's Edge Theme Park. These count among the most widely known and popular contributions to modern film music, and utilize a symphony orchestra and features an assortment of about fifty recurring musical themes to represent characters and other plot elements: one of the largest caches of themes in the history of film music.

Released between 1977 and 2019, the music for the primary feature films was, in the case of the first two trilogies, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and, in select passages, by the London Voices chorus. The sequel trilogy was largely conducted by Williams and William Ross, and performed by the Hollywood Freelance Studio Symphony and (in a few passages) by the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

Additional composers have since contributed music to other movies and media within the Star Wars universe. The music for several animated and live-action television series spin-offs has been written by Kevin Kiner, Ludwig Göransson and Ryan Shore.[1] Music for the spin-off films, other television programs, and video games, as well as the trailers of the various installments, were created by various other composers, with this material occasionally revisiting some of Williams' principal themes (and, with one spin-off film, with Williams actually writing a new theme for the composer to use).

The scores are primarily performed by a symphony orchestra of varying size joined, in several sections, by a choir of varying size.[2] They each make extensive use of the leitmotif, or a series of musical themes that represents the various characters, objects and events in the films. Throughout all of the franchise, which consists of a total of over 18 hours of music,[3] Williams has written approximately sixty or seventy themes, in one of the largest, richest collection of themes in the history of film music.



Year Title Composer Conductor Orchestrator/Arranger Orchestra Choir
Saga films
1977 Star Wars John Williams John Williams Herbert W. Spencer London Symphony Orchestra
1980 The Empire Strikes Back London Voices (women)
1983 Return of the Jedi London Voices (men[4])
1999 The Phantom Menace Conrad Pope
John Neufeld
London Voices (SATB)

New London Children's Choir

2002 Attack of the Clones Conrad Pope
Eddie Karam
London Voices (SATB)

Boy choir (synth)

2005 Revenge of the Sith London Voices (SATB)

Boy choir (synth)

2015 The Force Awakens John Williams
William Ross
Gustavo Dudamel[5]
John Williams
William Ross
Hollywood Freelance Studio Symphony[6] Hollywood Film Chorale (bass)
2017 The Last Jedi John Williams
William Ross
Los Angeles Master Chorale (SATB, bass)
2019 The Rise of Skywalker John Williams
Anthology films
2016 Rogue One Michael Giacchino
John Williams (Original Themes)
Tim Simonec William Ross
Tim Simonec
Brad Dechter
Jeff Kryka
Chris Tilton
Herbert W. Spencer[7]
Hollywood Freelance Studio Symphony Los Angeles Master Chorale
2018 Solo John Powell
John Williams (Han Solo Theme, Original Themes)
Gavin Greenaway (additional music and arrangements)

Batu Sener
Anthony Willis
Paul Mounsey

London Session Orchestra
Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles (Han Solo Theme)
Animated films
2008 The Clone Wars Kevin Kiner
John Williams (Original Themes)
Kevin Kiner
Nic Raine
Kevin Kiner
Nic Raine
Takeshi Furukawa
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra


Kevin Kiner composed the score to the film Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), the predecessor to the animated TV series of the same name. Both properties loosely use some of the original themes and music by John Williams. Kiner's own material for the film includes a theme for Anakin Skywalker's Padawan learner, Ahsoka Tano, as well as a theme for Jabba the Hutt's uncle Ziro. Kiner went on to score the TV series' entire seven seasons, which concluded in 2020. A soundtrack album was released in 2014 by Walt Disney Records.[8]

Kiner continued his work with the franchise for the animated series Star Wars Rebels (2014), which also incorporates Williams' themes.[9] He would later do the spin-off of Clone Wars, The Bad Batch in 2021.

Ryan Shore serves as the composer for Star Wars: Forces of Destiny (2017–present).

Year Title Composer Additional composers
2008–2020 Star Wars: The Clone Wars Kevin Kiner Takeshi Furukawa
David G. Russell
Matthew St. Laurent
Reuven Herman
Russ Howard III
2014–2018 Star Wars Rebels David G. Russell
Matthew St. Laurent
Jared Forman
Reuven Herman
2017–2018 Star Wars: Forces of Destiny Ryan Shore
2018–2020 Star Wars Resistance Michael Tavera
2021 Star Wars: The Bad Batch Kevin Kiner

The Mandalorian[edit]

For the Disney+ series The Mandalorian, Oscar-winner Ludwig Göransson composes the score.

Year Title Composer(s)
2019 The Mandalorian: Chapter 1 Ludwig Göransson
The Mandalorian: Chapter 2
The Mandalorian: Chapter 3
The Mandalorian: Chapter 4
The Mandalorian: Chapter 5
The Mandalorian: Chapter 6
The Mandalorian: Chapter 7
The Mandalorian: Chapter 8
2020 The Mandalorian: Season 2 – Vol. 1 (Chapters 9–12)
The Mandalorian: Season 2 – Vol. 2 (Chapters 13–16)

The Book of Boba Fett[edit]

For the Disney+ series The Book of Boba Fett, Oscar-winner Ludwig Göransson composes the main theme, while Joseph Shirley composes the score.

Year Title Composer(s)
2022 The Book of Boba Fett – Vol. 1 (Episodes 1-4) Ludwig Göransson

Joseph Shirley

The Book of Boba Fett – Vol. 2 (Episodes 5-7)

Obi-Wan Kenobi[edit]

For the upcoming 2022 Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, John Williams returned to write the main theme. Natalie Holt composed the rest of the score, making her the first woman to score a live-action Star Wars project.[10]


Star Wars: Visions[edit]

Various composers worked on the japanese anime anthology series Star Wars: Visions.

Year Title Composer(s)
2021 Star Wars: Visions - The Duel Keiji Inai
Star Wars: Visions - Tatooine Rhapsody Yoshiaki Dewa
Star Wars: Visions - The Twins Michiru Oshima
Star Wars: Visions - The Village Bride Kevin Penkin
Star Wars: Visions - The Ninth Jedi Nobuko Toda

Kazuma Jinnouchi

Star Wars: Visions - T0-B1 A-Bee

Keiichiro Shibuya

Star Wars: Visions - The Elder Michiru Oshima
Star Wars: Visions - Lop & Ocho Yoshiaki Dewa
Star Wars: Visions - Akakiri U-Zhaan

Video games[edit]

Year Title Composer
1995 Star Wars: Dark Forces Clint Bajakian
1996 Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire Joel McNeely
1998 Star Wars: Rogue Squadron Chris Huelsbeck
2001 Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader Chris Huelsbeck
2002 Star Wars: Bounty Hunter Jeremy Soule
2003 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Jeremy Soule
2003 Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike Chris Huelsbeck
2003 Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords Mark Griskey
2005 Star Wars: Republic Commando Jesse Harlin
2006 Star Wars: Empire at War Frank Klepacki
2008 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Mark Griskey
Jesse Harlin
2010 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Mark Griskey
2011 Star Wars: The Old Republic Mark Griskey

Wilbert Roget II

Gordy Haab

Lennie Moore

Jesse Harlin

Peter McConnel

Jared Emerson Johnson

Steve Kirk

2015 Star Wars: Battlefront Gordy Haab
2017 Star Wars: Battlefront II Gordy Haab
2019 Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Stephen Barton
Gordy Haab
2020 Star Wars: Squadrons Gordy Haab
Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge Bear McCreary

Joseph Trapanese

Danny Piccione


Year Title Composer
1996 Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire Joel McNeely
2019 Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge John Williams



The scores utilize an eclectic variety of musical styles, many culled from the Late Romantic idiom of Richard Strauss and his contemporaries that itself was incorporated into the Golden Age Hollywood scores of Erich Korngold and Max Steiner. The reasons for this are known to involve George Lucas's desire to allude to the underlying fantasy element of the narrative rather than the science-fiction setting, as well as to ground the otherwise strange and fantastic setting in well-known, audience-accessible music. Indeed, Lucas maintains that much of the films' success relies not on advanced visual effects, but on the simple, direct emotional appeal of its plot, characters and, importantly, music.[11]

Lucas originally wanted to use tracked orchestral and film music in a similar manner to 2001: A Space Odyssey, itself a major inspiration for Star Wars. Williams, who was hired to consult and possibly work on the source music, advised to form a soundtrack with recurring musical themes to augment the story, while Lucas's choice of music could be used as a temporary track for Williams to base his musical choices on. This resulted in several nods or homages to the music of Gustav Holst, William Walton, Sergei Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky in the score to Star Wars.[12] Williams relied less and less on references to existing music in the latter eight scores, incorporating more strains of modernist orchestral writing with each progressive score, although occasional nods continue to permeate the music. The score to Revenge of the Sith has clear resemblances to the successful scores of other contemporary composers of the time, namely Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings, Hans Zimmer's Gladiator and Tan Dun's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, with which the movie was most likely scored contemporarily.[a] However, his later scores were otherwise mostly tracked with music of his own composition,[14] mainly from previous Star Wars films.[15] Williams also started to develop his style throughout the various films, incorporating other instruments, unusual orchestral set-ups (as well as various choral ensembles) and even electronic or electronically attenuated music as the films progressed. Williams often composed the music in a heroic but tongue-in-cheek style, and has described the scored film as a "musical".[16]


Star Wars was one of the film scores that heralded the revival of grand symphonic scores in the late 1970s. One technique that particularly influenced these scores is Williams' use of the leitmotif, which was most famously associated with Richard Wagner's Der Ring Des Nibelungen and, in early film scores, with Steiner. A leitmotif (or leading motive) is a recurring, evolving musical theme for narrative elements such as characters, locations, ideas, sentiments, objects or other specific part of the film. It is commonly used in modern film scoring as a device for mentally anchoring certain parts of a film to the soundtrack.[17] Of chief importance for a leitmotif is that it must be strong enough for a listener to latch onto while being flexible enough to undergo variation and development along the progression of the story. The more varied and nuanced the use of leitmotif is, the more memorable it typically becomes. A good example of this is the way in which Williams subtly conceals the intervals of "The Imperial March" within "Anakin's Theme" in The Phantom Menace, implying his dark future to come.

Also important is the density in which leitmotifs are used: the more leitmotifs are used in a piece of a given length, the more thematically rich it is considered to be. Film music, however, typically needs to strike a balance between the number of leitmotives used, so as to not become too dense for the audience (being preoccupied with the visuals) to follow. Williams' music of Star Wars is unique in that it is relatively dense for film scoring, with approximately 17 themes used in each two-hour film, of which about 90% is scored.[18]


Williams re-recorded some of his suites from the first trilogy with the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra as an album. Several of his later themes were released as singles and music videos, and were later released a collection of suites from the six films as a compilation that played to a series of clips from the films, with sparse dialogue and sound effects. These became the basis for a series of hour-long concerts which featured Star Wars music to images from the films, Star Wars: In Concert, which took place in 2009 and 2010. First performed in London, it went on to tour across the United States and Canada, last playing in London, Ontario, Canada on July 25, 2010.

The scores of the first trilogy (in the form of its Blu-Ray release) and The Force Awakens are performed as Live to Projection concerts, but with greatly reduced forces. The performances follow the music of the finished film, with some of the music looped, tracked or omitted entirely, and do not feature any of the diegetic pieces and often omit the choral parts.[19]


John Williams sketched the score for his various orchestrations and wrote the music for a full symphony orchestra (ranging from 79 to 113 players overall[20]) and, in several passages, chorus (ranging from 12 to 120 singers overall) and a few non-orchestral instruments. The orchestration is not consistent throughout the different films,[21] but generally, the score makes use of a considerable brass section over a comparatively smaller string section, giving the series its heraldic, brassy sound.

Several of the scores require larger forces, including a large (over 100-piece) romantic-period orchestra, a mixed choir and even a boy choir, although none of the scores call for particularly immense forces compared to larger film or theater works.[22] Nevertheless, due to added high woodwinds and percussion parts, scores such as Empire Strikes Back and Attack of the Clones call for 106 and 110 players, respectively. The former called for a third harp and fourth bassoon, while the latter (and all prequel scores) utilized a fuller string section. Revenge of the Sith also utilized a second set of timpani. Comparatively, the original Star Wars trilogy and the sequel trilogy films call for much smaller forces of as little as 82 players, and small choral accompaniment in select cues.[23] The first spin-off film, Rogue One, followed the prequel trilogy's instrumentation, using a 110-piece orchestra and 90-piece mixed choir.

In live performances, the forces are usually greatly reduced: Official Star Wars Concerts were held with as little as 60-piece orchestras and 50-piece mixed choral ensembles or with the choir omitted altogether.[24] However, to recreate the nine scores as they were originally recorded, the following instrumentation would be needed:

  • Woodwinds: 3 flutes (doubling on piccolos and an alto flute), 2 oboes (doubling on a cor anglais), 3 clarinets (doubling on a bass clarinet and an E-flat clarinet), 2 bassoons (doubling on a contrabassoon).
  • Brass: 6 horns (doubling on Wagner Tubas[25]), 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba.
  • Keyboards: Piano, celesta, synthesizer.[26]
  • Timpani: 4–6 kettledrums.
  • Percussion: at least three percussionists playing bass drums, tenor drums, snare drums (including guillotine drums, side drums, military drums), timbales, toms (floor tom and hanging toms), triangle, tambourine, cymbals (suspended, sizzle, crash and finger cymbals), tam-tam, xylophones, vibraphone, glockenspiel, tubular bells, and anvil on all episodes. Also required are temple blocks (I), claves (II, V, VI), ratchet (V–VIII), marimba (I, IV, VII–VIII), bongos (I, IV, VII–VIII), congas (I–III, VI–VII), log drums (I, IV, VI–VII), low wood block (IV), bell plates, clappers (IV), steel drum (IV, VIII), boobams (I, IV, VII), medium gong (VI–VII), kendhang, rattle, sistrum, shekere, guiro, bamboo sticks, cowbells, hyoshigi (VI), bell tree (III), one medium Thai gong (VI), three medium chu-daiko drums (II–III, one for VII–VIII), washboard, goblet drum, caxixi (VIII).[27][28]
  • Strings: 2 harps, 14 first violins, 12 second violins, 10 violas, 10 violoncellos, 6 double basses.
  • Additional instruments: 1 piccolo, 1 flute, 1–2 recorders, 2 oboes, 1 clarinet, 3 saxophones, 1–2 bassoons,[29] 2 horns, trumpet, bass trombone, tuba,[30] set of timpani, five percussionists,[31] 89-piece SATB choir, 10 basso profundo singers, 30 boys, 1 Tibetan throat singer,[32] narrator,[33] 4 violins divided, 2 violas, 2 contrabasses, 1 harp.[34]
  • Non-orchestral instruments: Cretan Lyra and cümbüş (I), electric guitar (II), toy piano (VI), kazzo, highland bagpipes, didgeridoo (VIII).[35]

Musical themes in the scores[edit]

John Williams wrote a series of themes and motifs for certain characters and ideas in each of the Star Wars films. The multiple installments allowed Williams to compose some sixty or seventy themes and reprise some of them extensively, continually developing them over a long period of screen time.

Williams introduces a considerable, but manageable number of themes in each episode (seven themes on average), attempting to compose main themes that are distinct, long-lined and memorable. Connections between the themes are formed for narrative purposes or, more generally, in the favour of cohesion. As a result, some of the themes play very often: the Force Theme plays over one hundred times in the series.

Each score can be said to have a "main theme", which is developed and repeated frequently throughout the film, and represents the high and low points of the film itself as much as they do narrative elements within the film: for instance, the frequent use of The Imperial March in Empire Strikes Back.[36] Besides the main theme and a handful of other principal themes, Williams forged several smaller motifs for each episode, which are generally not as memorable and at times interchangeable. As a result of his compositional process, a large number of incidental musical material and themes that are specific to certain setpieces also occur throughout the piece. Williams had designated the music of the main titles to be the main theme of the series as a whole, but there isn't necessarily a main theme for each trilogy. Instead, each trilogy (and to a lesser extent, each film) has its own style or soundscape.[37]

Williams' Star Wars catalog remains one of the largest collections of leitmotifs in the history of cinema,[b] although – for comparison – it still falls short of Wagner's use of leitmotifs in the Ring Cycle or even Howard Shore's work on the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films.[38] Both works feature many more themes for a similar or shorter running time; and use the themes with greater specificity and variation; where Williams prefers to write fewer themes (to allow him to focus on them better) and use them in a more straightforward manner and sometimes, solely for their romantic effect. Shore and Wagner's themes are also inter-related and arranged into sets of subsets of related themes through various melodic or harmonic connections, whereas Williams prefers greater distinction between his themes.[39]

Williams scores the films one episode at a time and attempts to base each score on new material as much as possible. Therefore, the Imperial March makes no appearance in the original Star Wars, since Williams didn't conceive of it until he was scoring The Empire Strikes Back, and the same is true of Across the Stars and The Phantom Menace.[40] Other themes get abandoned, like the Droid motive from The Empire Strikes Back or the original Imperial motives of the original Star Wars. Between trilogies, Williams had often changed his way of using leitmotives, moving from long-lined melodies in the classic trilogy to shorter, more rhythmic ideas in the prequel trilogy.

The use of the themes in the scores[edit]

Williams doesn't always use his themes in a strictly narrative sense. In almost each entry, he will occasionally use a theme seemingly at random, purely because its mood fits the scene. Princess Leia's Theme is used for the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars, which has little to do with her character even though she is present in the scene.[41] Yoda's Theme appears several times during the Cloud City sequences in The Empire Strikes Back. The concert piece Duel of the Fates is used several times throughout the prequel trilogy, appearing over the entire final battle in The Phantom Menace (as opposed to just the lightsaber duel for which it was written); Anakin Skywalker's search for his mother in Attack of the Clones; and the unrelated Yoda and Darth Sidious's duel in Revenge of the Sith. Williams' original composition for the Geonosis Battle Arena in Attack of the Clones, a variation on the Droid Army March, was used for the Utapau assault in Revenge of the Sith. Multiple uses of the Force Theme are also non-thematic.[42]

This also happens through the use of tracked music. Attack of the Clones, the first film to be shot digitally, had major edits made after the scoring process, leading to the inclusion of tracked music over many of the digitally created sequences such as the Droid Factory on Geonosis or the Clone Army's arrival to the battle. These scenes used music such as Yoda's theme or incidental music from The Phantom Menace with little dramatic connection to what is occurring on screen. Musical similarities exist between the final scenes of The Phantom Menace with Finn's confession to Rey in The Force Awakens, probably a result of temp-track choice.[43] In other cases, the material was not tracked but rather lifted from the original composition and re-recorded, such as in the big action scenes of Return of the Jedi, both of which lift material from the Battle of Yavin and Ben's death. Other composers to have used Williams' themes in spinoff materials have likewise sometimes used them loosely.

Over the long period in which the films were made, many of the themes changed their initial meaning: By the time of The Empire Strikes Back, the Luke Skywalker material and the theme of Old Ben were already rebranded as the "Star Wars Main theme" and "The Force Theme", respectively, by Williams. The Rebel Fanfare[44] (initially, the fanfare of the Blockade Runner) eventually turned into the theme of the Millennium Falcon.


Listed below are about 67 leitmotives, based on primarily on Williams own notes and Frank Lehman's extensive catalogue, but also on Doug Adams et al analyses of the scores. Along with two themes Williams composed for Solo and two more for Galaxy's Edge, his work of the series had accrued as many as 71 leitmotives. The main new theme of each entry is highlighted:

Original trilogy[edit]

Star Wars (A New Hope)[edit]

The Empire Strikes Back[edit]

Returning: Star Wars Theme, Star Wars Secondary Theme, Rebel Fanfare, The Force, Princess Leia, Rebel Victory

Return of the Jedi[edit]

Returning: Spaceship Dogfight Motif; Star Wars Theme, Secondary Star Wars Theme, Rebel Fanfare, The Force, Leia, the Imperial March, Han Solo and the Princess, Yoda

Prequel trilogy[edit]

The Phantom Menace[edit]

Returning: Star Wars Theme, Stars Wars Secondary Theme, The Rebel Fanfare, The Force Theme, The Imperial March, Yoda's Theme, Jabba's Theme, The Emperor's Theme

Attack of the Clones[edit]

Returning: Shmi's Theme; Star Wars Theme, Star Wars Secondary Theme, The Rebel Fanfare, The Force Theme, The Imperial March, The Emperor's Theme, Young Anakin's Theme, Droid Invasion March, Duel of the Fates

Revenge of the Sith[edit]

Returning: Jedi Funeral Theme, Coruscant Fanfare; Star Wars Theme, Secondary Star Wars Theme, Leia's theme, The Rebel Fanfare, The Force Theme, The Imperial March, The Emperor's Theme, Young Anakin's Theme, Descent, Droid Invasion March, Duel of the Fates, Shmi, Across the Stars, Across the Stars (embryonic), Dark Side

Sequel trilogy[edit]

The Force Awakens[edit]

Returning: Star Wars Theme, Secondary Star Wars Theme, Millennium Falcon[76], The Force theme, Leia's Theme, The Imperial March, Han Solo and the Princess

The Last Jedi[edit]

Returning: Star Wars Theme, Secondary Star Wars Theme, Millennium Falcon, The Force Theme, Leia's Theme, Yoda's Theme, Luke and Leia, Han Solo and the Princess, The Imperial March, Spaceship Dogfight Motif, Death Star motif,[87] The Emperor's Theme, Poe's Theme, Rey's Themes, Kylo Ren's themes, First Order, Tension figure, Snoke's Theme, Jedi Steps

The Rise of Skywalker[edit]

Returning: Star Wars Theme, Secondary Star Wars Theme, Millennium Falcon, The Force Theme, Leia's Theme, Han Solo and the Princess, The Imperial March, The Emperor's Theme, Poe's Theme, Rey's Themes, Kylo Ren's themes, March of the Resistance, Luke and Leia, Yoda's Theme, Dark Side, Tension figure

  • "The Trio Theme"[47]
  • "The Rise of Skywalker (Victory) Theme"[47]
  • "Anthem of Evil (Psalm of the Sith)"[47]
  • "Poe's Heroics Theme"[47]
  • "Sith Artifacts"[47]
  • "Knights of Ren Motif"[47]

Incidental motifs[edit]

Since neither Williams nor his office ever provided a full list of the leitmotifs used in every Star Wars film, there is some controversy around the exact number of themes, with some taking an inclusive approach that identifies various leitmotifs, even where the composer probably never intended for,[92] and others taking an exclusive, reductive approach.

Some of the more inclusive analyses identify themes that don't actually recur either in discrete cues nor even strewn across one long stretch of music.[93] This is the result of Williams' propensity (in these scores and otherwise) to write material that is either melodic, rhythmic, harmonic or timbral specifically to an individual setpiece or none-recurring plot-element in the film, such as The Battle of Hoth, the Chase through Coruscant, or The Battle of Crait. These individual pieces of music – whether they consist of a full melody, ostinati, diegetic pieces or a certain timbre – have sometimes been described as having thematic significance,[94] occasionally (in fleeting comments) even by Williams himself,[95] but since they do not recur in a different part of the narrative, nor are transformed from or into another motif, they do not comply with the definition of a leitmotif.

Even when some of these figures do recur, it is often unclear whether they are substantial enough to be assigned with thematic significance, as these instances often includes material that is incidental in nature, such as several figures used in the finale of The Empire Strikes Back; material that is purely rhythmic or timbral like various "bouncing" horn figures for Luke's landspeeder search in the original Star Wars,[95] material that is of a generic nature, such as his use of "mournful homophonic" choir in The Last Jedi for climactic moments; or material that is part of Williams' stylistic choices as a composer, more than a thematic statement unique to the series. For instance, his use of tritones often denotes mystery, a device he uses for the droids landing on Tatooine and again in the concert arrangement of "The Throne Room."[44]

In fact, sometimes the supposedly recurring material is similar, but not in fact identical. A good example would be the variety of gestures relating to the dark side, following a piece of music used in the opera-house scene. Lehamn however clarifies that those alleged following statements are "similar but inexact" to the earlier gesture.[47]

Sometimes, the recurring material is question is not part of the original composition but is rather tracked after-the-fact, or at least lifted, from existing material into a different section of the film, or from material that is recapitulated in a concert piece or end-credits suite. This includes the Podracing fanfare and the ostinato accompaniment of the Rebel Fanfare,[44] which otherwise does not appear isolated from the unabridged theme more than once; the mournful writing for French horn at Shmi's funeral, the Arena March from Attack of the Clones[66][47] etc.

Themes in the Anthology films[edit]

Michael Giacchino, the composer of Rogue One

The first Star Wars Anthology score for Rogue One, written by Michael Giacchino, utilizes several themes (and recurring interstitial material) from John Williams, mostly for their Romantic sweep (such as The Force Theme and hints of the Main Theme). It has its own catalog of themes, independent from Williams' material, including a new, third theme for the Empire, although Giacchino also quotes both the original Imperial Motif and The Imperial March.

Rogue One[edit]

Returning: Luke's Theme; Rebel Fanfare; The Force Theme; Leia's Theme; Imperial Motif; Death Star Motif; The Imperial March

  • Jyn's Theme
  • Hope Theme
  • Guardians of the Whills Theme
  • Imperial Theme (Krennic's Theme)



For Solo, John Williams wrote and recorded a concert arrangement for a new theme for Han Solo. In the process of composing the theme, Williams ended up using two separate ideas, each conveying a different aspect of the character, and went as far as to spot the film for places to use each motif; all other leitmotifs and other material were written and adapted by John Powell, the main composer for the film.[98]

Returning: Spaceship Dogfight motif; Star Wars Theme; Millennium Falcon theme; Duel of the Fates; The Imperial March; The Imperial motif; Death Star Motif; The Asteroid Field; Imperial Cruiser Pursuit; Droids Motif

By John Williams:

  • Han Solo's Theme[98]
    • "Han Solo's Searching theme"[99]

By John Powell:

  • Chewbacca's Theme
  • Han and Qi'Ra's Love Theme
  • L3'S Theme
  • Crew theme
  • Enfys Nest Theme
  • Crime Syndicate Motif (Vos's Theme)

Concert suites[edit]

Instead of offering a full recording release of a particular film, Williams typically releases a condensed score on album,[100] in which the music is arranged out of the film order and more within the veins of a concert program. These album releases typically include several concert suites, written purely for the end credits or the album itself, where a specific theme is developed continuously throughout the piece. Williams also re-edited some of his existing cues after the fact in order to "concertize" theme on the behest of conductors such as Charles Gerhardt. Five of the eight films also have unique credit suites that feature alternate concert arrangements of themes and/or a medley of the main themes of a particular film.

Original Trilogy[edit]

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

  • "Main Title"
  • "Princess Leia's Theme"
  • "The Little People"
  • "Cantina Band"
  • "Here They Come!"
  • "The Battle"
  • "Throne Room and End Title"


Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back


Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi


Prequel Trilogy[edit]

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace


Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones


Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith


Sequel Trilogy[edit]

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens[111]

  • "Rey's Theme"
  • "March of the Resistance"
  • "Adagio"[112]
  • "Scherzo for X-Wings"[113]
  • "The Jedi Steps"


Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

  • "The Rebellion is Reborn"[114]

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

  • "The Rise of Skywalker"
  • "The Speeder Chase"
  • "Anthem of Evil"

From the spin-offs[edit]

From Rogue One

  • "Jyn Erso and Hope Suite"
  • "The Imperial Suite"
  • "The Guardians of the Whills Suite"


From Solo

  • "The Adventures of Han"[116]

Diegetic music[edit]

Diegetic music is music "that occurs as part of the action (rather than as background), and can be heard by the film's characters".[117] In addition to the orchestral scope that was brought on by John Williams' musical score, the Star Wars franchise also features many distinguishing diegetic songs that enrich the detail of the audio mise-en-scène. Some of this diegetic music was written by John Williams; some by his son, Joseph; and some by various other people.[118]

From Star Wars

  • "Cantina Band" and "Cantina Band #2". Written by John Williams, it is played in the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine. It is written for solo trumpet, three saxophones, clarinet, Fender Rhodes piano, steel drum, synthesizer and various percussion, including boobams and toms. According to the Star Wars Customizable Card Game, the diegetic title for the first Cantina band piece is "Mad About Me". The liner notes for the 1997 Special Edition release of the Star Wars soundtrack describe the concept behind these works as "several creatures in a future century finding some 1930's Benny Goodman swing band music ... and how they might attempt to interpret it". This piece also appears on an all the outtake easter eggs on the Episode I and Episode II and on the bonus disc of the 2004 original trilogy DVD set.

From Return of the Jedi

  • "Jabba's Baroque Recital". Mozart-esque John Williams composition (featuring a synthesized harpsichord) played while 3PO and R2 first arrive and play Jabba the message from Luke Skywalker.
  • "Lapti Nek". Written by Joseph Williams (John Williams' son) and translated into Huttese, this is played by the Max Rebo Band in Jabba the Hutt's palace (in the original cut of the movie).[g]
  • "Jedi Rocks" (composed by Jerry Hey). This was composed to replace "Lapti Nek" for the 1997 Special Edition of the film.
  • "Max Rebo Band Jams". Heard twice in the film, once after Jabba sends the Wookiee Chewbacca to jail, and again on Jabba's sail barge Khetanna (hence its title). A recording of the first can be found on the official Star Wars Soundboards.
  • "Ewok Feast" and "Part of the Tribe". By John Williams. Heard when Luke and company were captured by the Ewoks and brought to their treehouses.
  • "Ewok Celebration". The Victory Song, whose lyrics were written by Joseph Williams, can be heard at the end of the original release of Return of the Jedi.
  • "Victory Celebration". By John Williams. The Victory Song at the end of the Return of the Jedi 1997 re-edition.

From The Phantom Menace

  • "Tatooine Street Music". Joseph Williams wrote four separate pieces of unusual, vaguely Eastern sounding source music for the streets of Mos Espa, featuring a player on Cretan Lyra and Cumbus, and a solo, wailing female vocal.
  • "Augie's Municipal Band". By John Williams. Music played during the peace parade at the end of the film, it is a sped-up, attenuated trumpet and boy choir composition. It is closely related to the Emperor's Theme, but is not an outright quote of it.

From Attack of the Clones

  • "Dex's Diner"
  • "Unknown Episode II Source Cue". A second source cue is credited to Joseph Williams' name for Episode II, but is not heard in the film.
  • "Arena Percussion". Originally meant to accompany the Droid Factory sequence, Ben Burtt's attempt at composition is instead shifted to the arena, replacing the predominantly unused John Williams cue "Entrance of the Monsters."

From The Force Awakens

From The Last Jedi

  • "Canto Bight". Written by John Williams, it appears when Finn and Rose first arrive to the casino planet of Canto Bight. It is written in the style of big-band jazz and is stylistically akin to the "Cantina Band" music from Star Wars. The track features solo alto saxophone, two baritone saxophones, solo clarinet, trombones, kazoo, muted trumpets,[121] Fender Rhodes piano, bass, synthesizers, steel drums, and various percussion, including washboards and goblet drums. The track briefly quotes "Aquarela do Brasil" (which also features hi-hat and ride cymbals) by Ary Barroso as a reference to the 1985 Terry Gilliam film Brazil, and includes a brief piano statement of Williams' and Johnny Mercer's theme from The Long Goodbye.
  • "Caretaker party music": source cue of an unknown composition (possibly by Williams), which features highland bagpipes and a didgeridoo, and accompanies a deleted scene from the film.

From The Rise of Skywalker

  • "Lido Hey": Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and J. J. Abrams and performed by Shag Kava, a musical moniker for Miranda and Abrams. Plays as the main characters participate and traverse the Festival of Ancestors on the desert planet Pasaana.
  • "Oma's Place": Performed by Ricky Tinez and J. J. Abrams. Plays as the main characters enter a bar owned by Oma Tres (featuring composer John Williams in a cameo role) on the planet Kijimi.



In 2005, the 1977 soundtrack for Star Wars was voted as the "most memorable film score of all time" by the American Film Institute in the list AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores, based on the assessment of a jury of over 500 artists, composers, musicians, critics and historians from the film industry.[122]

Year Title Award Recipient Result
1978 A New Hope Academy Award for Best Original Score[123] John Williams Won
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score[124]
BAFTA Award for Best Film Music[125]
Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition[126]
Grammy Award for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special[126]
Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance[126]
Saturn Award for Best Music[127]
1981 The Empire Strikes Back Academy Award for Best Original Score[128] Nominated
BAFTA Award for Best Film Music[129] Won
Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition[130]
Grammy Award for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special[130]
Saturn Award for Best Music Nominated
1984 Return of the Jedi Academy Award for Best Original Score[131]
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Grammy Award for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special
Saturn Award for Best Music
2000 The Phantom Menace Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition[132]
2003 Attack of the Clones Saturn Award for Best Music
2006 Revenge of the Sith Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media[133]
Saturn Award for Best Music
2016 The Force Awakens Academy Award for Best Original Score
BAFTA Award for Best Film Music Won
Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Nominated
Saturn Award for Best Music Won
2017 Rogue One Saturn Award for Best Music Michael Giacchino Nominated
2018 The Last Jedi Academy Award for Best Original Score John Williams
Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
Saturn Award for Best Music
2019 Solo: A Star Wars Story Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition ("Mine Mission") John Williams, John Powell
2020 The Rise of Skywalker Academy Award for Best Original Score John Williams
BAFTA Award for Best Film Music
Other media
2020 Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition ("Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Symphonic Suite")[134] John Williams Won


The soundtracks to both Star Wars and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace have been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of at least 1 million units, with the albums for The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones being certified Gold (500,000 units).[135] The British Phonographic Industry certified Star Wars and Episode I as Gold for shipments of over 100,000 units in the UK.[136]


  1. ^ These inspirations are evident in some of the orchestration choices, including the wide use of an SATB choir and boy choir and even a soloist (including a woman singing mournfully in "Padme's Ruminations", similar to Lisa Gerard's vocal work in Gladiator). The orchestra was augmented with a second set of timpani as was the case with Shore's Lord of the Rings scores, and with taiko drums, which have been used extensively by Shore and Zimmer. In particular, Anakin's Dark Deeds with the humming boy choir opening leading into a Gothic piece for an adult choir, is evocative of "The Treason of Isengard". Several tracks, including the music to the opening of the film, evoke the rhythmic music of the Orcs. [13]
  2. ^ Williams themes for Star Wars have been classified based on Williams own comments on the LP release, Mike Matessino's Special Edition Liner notes, and further analyses provided by Doug Adams, John Takis et al. On FilmScoreMonthly. Ancillary sources include Frank Lehman's "Complete Catalogue of the Musical Themes of Star Wars", which includes a lot of "incidental motifs" including stylistic gestures and tracked material.
  3. ^ Williams commented to having originally written this theme as a love theme for Leia and Luke.
  4. ^ This motif was also re-tracked into the Special Edition of A New Hope from Return of the Jedi.
  5. ^ Other than the introduction fanfare, this theme is the first "none-pitched theme", based on whispering voices and percussion figures. The latter have been confused for a separate, secondary motif, specifically for Darth Maul or even for his probe droids, but Adams refers to them as mere "drum patterns" that are simply part of the theme.
  6. ^ This theme is written for voices in the Basso Profundo range, and has drawn tenuous comparisons to Palpatine's Teachings, although the latter is based rather on overtone singing.
  7. ^ Later used in the Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures episode "Jabba the Hutt – Galactic Gangster".[119]


  1. ^ "5 Highlights from Star Wars Forces of Destiny: "The Padawan Path" |". July 6, 2017. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  2. ^ Williams generally uses the choir for texture, as humming or wordless voices. Several sections rely on repeated syllables in Sanskrit, as is the case of Duel of the Fates or Snoke's theme. While the syllables are drawn from (loosely) translated texts such as Cad Goddeu or the writing of Kipling, Williams typically arranges them by ear and without heed to their meaning, so the choral text remains repetitive and meaningless. In other instances, the choir repeats a short albeit coherent sentence, such as with the Funeral theme or Anakin's Dark Deeds.
  3. ^ Including all the alternate takes of the recording, Williams has recorded about 21 hours of music for the series, although much of it remains unreleased.
  4. ^ Women were used for the special edition rescoring.
  5. ^ "Dudamel Conducts Some Music for New 'Star Wars' Film". The New York Times. December 15, 2015.
  6. ^ This orchestra consists of a group of individually contracted freelanced musicians, rather than being an organised orchestra that plays regularly as a group.
  7. ^ according to the closing credit roll
  8. ^ "'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' TV Series Soundtrack Announced". Film Music Reporter. November 4, 2014. Archived from the original on December 23, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  9. ^ "Kevin Kiner to Score 'Star Wars Rebels'". Film Music Reporter. April 21, 2014. Archived from the original on December 23, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  10. ^ Breznican, Anthony (April 22, 2022). "Obi-Wan Kenobi Composer Natalie Holt Reveals "Haunting" Approach". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on April 22, 2022. Retrieved April 22, 2022.
  11. ^ Burlingame, Jon (February 8, 2012). "Spielberg and Lucas on Williams: Directors reminisce about collaborating with Hollywood's greatest composer". The Film Music Society. Archived from the original on December 23, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  12. ^ That particular score was first intended to be tracked with existing music from the classical repertoire or from older film scores, as was the case of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which inspired George Lucas to write the film. After Williams convinced Lucas to have an original score (which would excel a tracked score in that it will have set themes for characters, Williams argued), those musical pieces were used as a temp track and Williams followed them closely, turning portions of the score into an homage to earlier film score and to romantic music in general.
  13. ^[dead link]
  14. ^ a b "Star Wars Episode 1 - the Phantom Menace : Interview with John Williams April9 1999".
  15. ^ "Episode 69: Rian Johnson On The Music Of Star Wars & Other Movies". audioBoom. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  16. ^ Star Wars, liner notes.
  17. ^ Using a leitmotif merely as a "stand-in" for a character would be a devolved form of using leitmotifs, compared to the operatic practice. A theme can be used symbolically, such as hinting at Darth Vader's theme when the decision to train Anakin is made in Episode I.
  18. ^ Williams full score often slightly overtakes the length of the film due to the recording of concert suites and several alternate takes. However, the amount of music written for the film proper varies from 80 percent, to scoring effectively the entire film. The finished film is always subjected to tracking, looping and muting (especially Attack of the Clones), so about 85% of each finished film is scored.
  19. ^ "Five-Time Oscar Winner John Williams Talks Bringing Star Wars Scores to the New York Philharmonic". September 12, 2017.
  20. ^ Episode III required 109 players (not including the conductor) due to expanded string and percussion sections. The Empire Strikes Back required 104 players, not including the conductor or synthesizer (r due to the inclusion of a fourth flute, and sections that required a third harp, five oboes overall, an added piccolo and eight percussionists overall. If the Empire Strikes Back is to augmented with the string section size of Revenge of the Sith or the Skwalker Symphony Recording, it would require about 112 players and a small women choir. A Star Wars in Concert production that would follow the orchestration of the recording, would have to feature some of the expansions of the various episodes, requiring about 110 players, as well as the mixed choir and possibly the bass choir.
  21. ^ Star Wars and the sequel trilogy film use an 84-piece arrangement, with the latter also incorporating a 24-piece men choir. Empire Strikes Back uses 106 pieces and about ten women vocalists, Return of the Jedi uses a 100-piece orchestra, about ten men, and a few women for the Special Edition; The Phantom Menace uses a 100-piece orchestra, 88-piece SATB choir and 30 boys; Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith use a 112-piece orchestra, 89-piece SATB choir and a synthesized boy choir.
  22. ^ Star Wars Concerts were held with as few as 130 performers, and some Live to Projection Concerts can therefore be played by as few as sixty players. By comparison, each of Howard Shore's Middle Earth scores require a minimum of 230 musicians to stage (ranging to as many as 500), and several stage works such as Gurre Lieder or Mahler's Eighth Symphony can range from 300 to over a thousand musicians. Nevertheless, amateur performances (like the NJYS Playathon) of Williams score, among other film scores (including the aforementioned Howard Shore ones) have utilized orchestral forces of 450-piece or more.
  23. ^ The Last Jedi used 101 instrumental players (including the diegetic band), probably a result of added percussion and high woodwind players, a 65-piece SATB choir, and a few additional pieces for the all-male choir.
  24. ^ Keyes, Allison (July 24, 2010). "'Star Wars In Concert' Puts The Force In The Music". NPR. Archived from the original on December 30, 2015. Retrieved December 30, 2015. The Live to Projection presentations also feature various reductions, namely in the brass section, in line with Williams' reduced orchestration for his "Star Wars Suite", and generally omit the unusual orchestrations of Empire Strikes Back and synthesize or remove the choral parts The roster is between 50 and 90 pieces.
  25. ^ Empire Strikes Back only.
  26. ^ Star Wars featured one player on a piano and a second player on celesta. The second player also doubles on Electric Piano. For select sections of Empire Strikes Back, both played on pianos. The scores also used synthesizers for electronic sounds and to mimic the Celesta (a real Celesta was not used since Return of the Jedi) and the Harpsichord (for Return of the Jedi and Attack of the Clones). In the Skywalker Symphony recording, one player doubles on all keyboards. From Attack of the Clones going forward, the synth is performed by the electric keyboard player.
  27. ^ Most of the episodes feature six percussionists, although sections of the prequels and Empire Strikes Back require as many as eight, including two Xylophone parts, etc. Star Wars, however, only requires only three and the sequel trilogy scores require only four.
  28. ^;;
  29. ^ Star Wars uses the original arrangement, but its two sequels call for an additional of one of each woodwind. The prequel trilogy scores use three flutes, oboes and bassoons, as well as four clarinets, and the sequel trilogy scores omit the fourth clarinet part. Sections of Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith and The Last Jedi call for expanded higher woodwind: four flutes and an added piccolo part and five oboes. The former score also calls for a fourth bassoon for Boba Fett's motif. Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace also feature recorders. Star Wars and The Last Jedi use three saxophones, as well.
  30. ^ Up to the sequel trilogy, Star Wars scores had utilized eight horns and two tubas, although the Skywalker Symphony recording omits those parts and adds a fifth trumpet. The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones also omit the second tuba.
  31. ^ In Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. A second set of timpani is used in the former, and in The Last Jedi.
  32. ^ The full SATB choir is used for the prequels: The Last Jedi only requires a 64-piece Tibetan Throat chanting is used in Revenge of the Sith. The boy choir is used in The Phantom Menace but synthesized in the later two scores. Empire Strikes Back uses a small women choir and Return of the Jedi uses a small male choir. The Force Awakens uses a 24-piece basso profundo orchestra, which is about ten more pieces than would be in a 90-piece SATB choir.
  33. ^ For Star Wars: In Concert.
  34. ^ Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi call for two added contrabass parts, and the former also calls for a third harp. The Skywalker Symphony uses a fuller string section, but omits the second harp. The prequels also use the fuller string section.
  35. ^ Williams is not usually keen to stray far from the orchestral instrumentation. The Cretan Lyra and Cumbus are used briefly for diegetic Tatooine music for Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, composed by his son, Joseph, and were originally played by one instrumentalist. Williams also recalls "reed flutes" (most likely referring to the ney flute) used in the score, probably for those cues. The prequel scores aren't performed live, but seeing as diegetic pieces are not played even in the scores that are performed live, these would probably be omitted under such circumstances, as well. The electric guitar is used in small inserts during the chase through Curoscant in Attack of the Clones (albeit muted in the film on the request of George Lucas). Williams also used three saxophones for the Cantina Band, although those could be doubled by the clarinet players. He also once claimed to have used Kazoos in that sequence, although the liner notes make no mention of it. Didgeridoos are used in the diegetic Caretaker party music, which scores a deleted scene. They are also featured in The Phantom Menace ultimate edition release, where they were originally used as diegetic sound effects, and layered over the soundtrack.
  36. ^ the theme recurs thirty times or more in a two-hour film.
  37. ^ The scores to the original three films are melodic and romantic, as is – largely – the score to The Phantom Menace. However, Episodes II and even III feature much more rhythmic music, and Revenge of the Sith, in particular, is more operatic in its use of choir and even solo vocals. The sequel scores feature another evolution of Williams' musical style, which is less obtrusive, with more lilting musical themes like Rey's theme, reminiscent of some of Williams' work on Harry Potter.
  38. ^ Williams wrote some fifty themes for over 19 hours of cinema, with an average of six new themes per film and an average 12 themes used in each film overall. By comparison, Howard Shore wrote over 160 leitmotifs for 21 hours of cinema in the Middle Earth films, of which he uses 40 or more in each film. Richard Wagner wrote 176 leitmotifs for the 15-hour Ring cycle.
  39. ^ In thematic works such as those of Wagner or Shore, all the leitmotifs which are thematically connected (e.g. all of Alberich's themes or all of the Hobbits' themes) are connected in melody, harmony, key and orchestration, so as to create sets and subsets of inter-connected thematic "families." This allows the composer to introduce new themes later in the work while having the new theme evoke associations that the audience already felt towards existing related themes. Williams' various themes do share certain connections, but they are basic enough as to nullify any attempts to categorize them except in the broadest of strokes, such as themes for the protagonists and themes for the antagonists.
  40. ^ a b c d "Filmtracks: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (John Williams)".
  41. ^ Since the princess is present at Ben's death, her theme is said to "represents Luke's and the Princess' reaction to leaving Ben behind" (Star Wars, Liner Notes) although the romantic explanation has been favored by Adams and Michael Matessimo, the author of the special edition liner notes.
  42. ^ Ross, Alex (January 3, 2018). "A Field Guide to the Musical Leitmotifs of "Star Wars"". The New Yorker.
  43. ^ However, some of the music in the later films was always intended to be acquired through tracking of pre-existing material, and some of the tracking choices are very deliberate.[citation needed]
  44. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Doug Adams, Sounds of the Empire: Analysing the themes of the Star Wars Trilogy, in: Film Score Monthly (Volume 4, number 5), pp. 22–47.
  45. ^ a b Larsen, Peter, and Irons, John (2007). Film Music, p. 168. ISBN 9781861893413.
  46. ^ a b c d e f g h Star Wars LP liner notes
  47. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm Frank Lehman, The Complete Catalogue of Musical Themes of Star Wars.
  48. ^ a b c d e Empire Strikes Back LP liner notes
  49. ^ a b c d e f g Michael Matessino, Star Wars: A New Hope Special Edition Liner notes.
  50. ^ a b c d Karol Krok, themes of the original trilogy, films on wax.
  51. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 20, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  52. ^ a b Larsen & Irons (2007), p. 170.
  53. ^ a b c d e f Michael Matessino, Empire Strikes Back: Special Edition liner notes.
  54. ^ a b "Williams: The Empire Strikes Back".
  55. ^ This theme was also used briefly in Williams' score of E.T. when the figure of Yoda (here a boy in a costume) appeared on screen.
  56. ^ a b "Filmtracks: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (John Williams)".
  57. ^ a b c d e Michael Matessino, Return of the Jedi: Special Edition liner notes
  58. ^ a b c d e f g h Doug Adams, A Return or a New Hope? In: Film Score Monthly, Volume 4, number 7, pp. 32–34.
  59. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 7, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  60. ^ a b "Filmtracks: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (John Williams)".
  61. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Karol Krok, The themes of the Prequel Trilogy, Films-on-wax.
  62. ^ In interviews, Williams mentions "Duel of the Fates", Anakin's theme, "Jar Jar's music", as well as Qui-Gon's theme and the Trade Fedeeration Droid Army March, from an interview in the making of the film.
  63. ^ "Star Wars: Star Wars Episode I the Phantom Menace". Archived from the original on October 13, 1999.
  64. ^ a b "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace". February 25, 2012.
  65. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 7, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  66. ^ a b c d e f g John Takis, Star Wars Episode Tunes: Attack on the Score, Film Score Monthly, pp. 18–23.
  67. ^ Mark Richards, Across the Stars: Analysis.
  68. ^ a b c "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 22, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  69. ^ Jon and Al Kaplan mention Archived October 22, 2016, at the Wayback Machine "minor-mode arpeggiations" as dominating this score, presumably referring to this motif. Adams also says that the leitmotives in that score were "rhythmic" in nature. While Williams himself has said little of the leitmotives of this score (outside of Across the Stars), Lucas is quoted on the album saying that Williams "heightens the mystery and suspense that drives the first half of the film", most likely referring to this motif, which is indeed confined to the first half of the film.
  70. ^ Mark Richards, Battle of the Heroes: Analysis.
  71. ^ a b Williams recalls to have written "three or four pieces of new material" for this installment, including "a couple of[...]lamentations[...]of Anakin's turn from the light to the dark", a "piece with a lot of percussion for Grievous" and "Battle of the Heroes[...]a motif based on four pitches." Ian Freer who was present at the recording, noted the lament and "variations to Qui-Gon’s funeral." Also based on the recording, John Crichton speaks of "the new theme" (Battle of the Heroes) which has "nine notes", the lament, Across the Stars, and "a reprise of a choral track from a previous score. This is probably the reprise of Qui-Gon’s funeral music."
  72. ^ a b "STAR WARS - Episode III".
  73. ^ a b "Williams: Revenge of the Sith".
  74. ^ This is a piece of music written originally for Qui-Gon's funeral in The Phantom Menace. It was reprised and repurposed here as a general "funeral" theme, being woven into the lament material in "Anakin's Betrayal" and used for Padme's death and her later funeral.
  75. ^ This fanfare from "He is the Chosen One", recurs Archived October 22, 2016, at the Wayback Machine in "Palpatine's Teachings" for a transition to the view of Curoscant from Padme's abode. It was used in the finished film rather for a shot of Obi-Wan entering Bail Organa's ship.
  76. ^ The Rebel Fanfare is often (but not always) used in the sequel trilogy scores with the Millennium Falcon. In his score to Solo, John Powell continued this trend, having said that in talking to Williams the former claimed that it was the motif's intended association all along.
  77. ^ a b "John Williams on 'Force Awakens' score: 'I felt a renewed energy, and a vitality'". Los Angeles Times. December 18, 2015.
  78. ^ a b c d e f g h Mark Richards, The Force Awakens themes.
  79. ^ a b c d According to an interview with Williams, he composed themes for Rey, Kylo, Rey, the Resistance, Poe and Snoke. His end-credits suite, traditionally used to recapitulate the entire thematic glossary of the film, features the themes for Rey, Kylo (both themes), Poe, the Resistance and the Pursuit ostinato. Snoke's theme is not visited, although it has a dedicated track on the album.
  80. ^ a b c d e f "STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS – John Williams". December 21, 2015.
  81. ^ a b "Film Score Icons Williams, Morricone and Horner Loom Large in Oscar Race". December 9, 2015.
  82. ^ a b "The Click Track". Archived from the original on May 28, 2018.
  83. ^ John Williams refers to a "more ruminative part" besides Kylo Ren's main theme, which he thought of as a "relative of Darth Vader." (the unabridged interview appears here: The arpeggiated material that often introduces this motif often appears as a shorthand for the entire theme, and Lehman classifies it as a separate motif and Maurizio Caschetto follows in his lead.
  84. ^ a b "Star Wars: The Force Awakens". December 20, 2015.
  85. ^ This theme is often used in conjunction with the character of Finn, and was therefore often mistaken to be his theme, as well as for the Millennium Falcon. Rather, it is a motif for the more comedic action sequences in the film, in which Finn's propensity to flee is used for comedic effect.
  86. ^ a b "Limited edition Star Wars: The Force Awakens vinyl sets available for pre-order - Syfy Wire". Archived from the original on July 12, 2017.
  87. ^ "STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – John Williams". December 19, 2017.
  88. ^ a b "'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Original Soundtrack Album: First Impressions – JOHN WILLIAMS Fan Network – JWFAN".
  89. ^ a b c Mark Richards, The Last Jedi themes.
  90. ^ Williams mentions a theme for Finn, but is most likely misremembering.
  91. ^ "John Williams is on Target to Set Yet Another Oscar Record". January 10, 2018.
  92. ^ Such an approach is taken by the programs to the live-to-projection premiere, which is seemingly not based on new insight from Williams himself. Such an approach was taken by the programs to the live-to-projection premiere of the Star Wars films, where numerous motifs were identified (seemingly with no new insight from Williams himself), including a rancor motif, a motif for the droids in the original Star Wars, etc... Others to have taken to such an approach are Alfred Surenyan and Aaron Krerowicz. Even Ed Chang does this with several minor motifs he attributes to the various Star Wars scores, including a "Imperial rhythmic motif", a " rhythmic Imperial skirmish motif", "exotic Bespin motif", "'one with the Force' motif", "trap theme", a "taking off motif", a secondary Droid march, an Utapau "motoric" motif, and a "Millennium Falcon rhythmic motif." Also see previous versions of this page.
  93. ^ For instance, a multitude of motifs identified in these reviews:
  94. ^ Alfred Surenyan describes themes for the Flag Parade, the Arrival on Tatooine, Jango's Escape, Taun We (which is mentioned in Takis analysis, but as a setpiece-specific piece), Anakin's Dark Deeds, The Dune Sea, The Emperor's Throne Room, Starkiller Base, etc. Ed Chung describes an "escape theme" from the opening space battle of Revenge of the Sith, an Utapau motoric figure appearing in the fight with Grievous, an "exotic Bespin motif" for the finale of Empire Strikes Back, a "taking off" motif from "The Phantom Menace", etc...
  95. ^ a b Williams refers to the use of "bouncing" horns in Star Wars as a "motif" for Luke's Landspeeder, although it is based on no fixed recurring melodic or rhythmic idea. He also once referred to the material for the Battle of Hoth as "thematic", but Matessino's notes ultimately conclude that "thematic material is deffered" in the piece. Lehman makes no mention of either motif, even as "incidental" motifs, and in fact stressed that "Themes for self-contained, non-repeating set-pieces are not included." Adams also does not list any setpiece-specific material in his thematic analyses, but did mention Archived October 22, 2016, at the Wayback Machine that "the walker attack on Hoth[...]was assigned a memorable and fully realized standalone melody" but, unlike the melody of "The TIE fighters chasing the Millennium Falcon away from the Death Star", which went on to recur in a later installment, this motif (like the Asteroid Field music) is used "with less thought toward a score-length arc of material than toward a series of self-contained vignettes." In the prequels, ostinati-based pieces such as Chase through Coruscant or Jango Fett's escape are described by Adams not as melodies but as "shorter, chunkier motives seldom longer than a measure or two, and often more rhythmic than melodic" and as "terse" and "episodic." Jeff Bonds also mentions that the former sequence features "no theme hitting them [the audience] over the head."
  96. ^ a b "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story". December 23, 2016.
  97. ^ a b "ROGUE ONE – Michael Giacchino". December 20, 2016.
  98. ^ a b "'Solo' Locks in Key 'Star Wars' Veteran (EXCLUSIVE)". December 30, 2017.
  99. ^ According to John Powell, "The Adventures of Han" contains two themes which Williams develops separately (to the point of spotting them for a couple of actual cues), one more heroic, the other – more reflective.
  100. ^ The first three scores received an expanded Anthology release and finally an effectively complete release in 1996. The Phantom Menace was also released in an "Ultimate Edition", featuring a lot of added cues but also multiple instances of tracked music, hence lacking a lot of original music that wasn't used as intended by the composer in the finished film. The Last Jedi received an isolated score release, albeit again not including unused material and maintaining tracked sequences.
  101. ^ "Filmtracks: Star Wars: A New Hope (John Williams)".
  102. ^ "Williams: Star Wars".
  103. ^ While the original track is a film cue, Williams created a new suite based on it in 2018.
  104. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 29, 2009. Retrieved January 15, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  105. ^ There's an alternate presentation over the end-credits, featuring a hint of Anakin's theme as an ending coda.
  106. ^ "Filmtracks: Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (John Williams)".
  107. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 29, 2009. Retrieved January 15, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  108. ^ "Williams: Attack of the Clones".
  109. ^ "Filmtracks: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (John Williams)".
  110. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 22, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  111. ^ a b As with other long-lined themes on this list, components of Rey's theme have been described as independent leitmotives, namely the wind and chime introduction figures of the unabridged theme. In his commentary on the score, Doug refers to the piece as a single theme. He also refers to the variation heard in the end-credits as "Rey's theme in counterpoint[...]with The Force theme."
  112. ^ Features a variation of "The Starkiller", premiered in 2019.
  113. ^ Features a variation of Luke's theme.
  114. ^ This suite uniquely features not one but two of the three thematic ideas that make up the entire score: Rose's theme, and Luke's Island motif, notably stressing the former.
  115. ^ "Filmtracks: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Michael Giacchino)".
  116. ^ This is a suite of Han's themes which was written by John Williams, and the suite was arranged and conducted by Williams, as well.
  117. ^ The dictionary definition of 'Diegetic' at Wiktionary.
  118. ^ Hutchinson, Sean (November 11, 2015). "Alien Musicians in 'Star Wars,' Ranked". Inverse. Archived from the original on December 30, 2015. Retrieved December 30, 2015. (Archived page contains a JavaScript that replaces article with page not found message. To prevent this stop page loading as soon as article text is visible.)
  119. ^ "Jabba the Hutt – Galactic Gangster | Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures". YouTube. May 3, 2019. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  120. ^ Raftery, Brian (December 21, 2015). "The 9 Best Songs Ever Played in a Star Wars Movie". Wired. Condé Nast. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  121. ^ The Kazoos were inserted into the mutes to produce a nasal sound.
  122. ^ "Star Wars Tops AFI's List of 25 Greatest Film Scores of All Time". AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores. American Film Institute. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  123. ^ "The 50th Academy Awards (1978) Nominees and Winners". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  124. ^ "The 35th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1978)". Golden Globe Awards. Archived from the original on April 15, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  125. ^ "Soundtrack 1978". BAFTA Awards Database. British Acacdemy of Film & Television Awards. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  126. ^ a b c "1977 20th Annual Grammy Awards". Past Winners database. Grammy Awards. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  127. ^ "Past Saturn Awards". Saturn Awards. Archived from the original on February 9, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  128. ^ "The 53rd Academy Awards (1981) Nominees and Winners". The Academy Awards of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  129. ^ "Soundtrack 1980". BAFTA Awards Database. British Acacdemy of Film & Television Awards. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  130. ^ a b "1980 – 23rd Annual Grammy Awards". Grammy Awards. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  131. ^ "The 56th Academy Awards (1984) Nominees and Winners". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  132. ^ "Final Nominations for the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards". Billboard. January 15, 2000. p. 73.
  133. ^ "Grammy Award Nominees". Billboard. December 17, 2005. p. 60. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  134. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 26, 2020). "Grammy Awards: Billie Eilish Sweeps Record, Album, Song & New Artist – The Complete Winners List". Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  135. ^ "Star Wars – Gold & Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on January 8, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  136. ^ Certified Awards Search – BPI

External links[edit]