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The Force Awakens Soundtrack

Discussion in 'Star Wars And Film Music' started by jeykey, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. Strilo

    Strilo Manager Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Aug 6, 2001
    That's so far off the mark. George Lucas completely recut the last act of TPM after the score was done and recorded. And HE didn't even bother to work with Williams to rescore and tweak the music. He just had people hack apart the cues and splice them together haphazardly with no thought for the music. This is completely evident on the TPM Ultimate Edition, which has all of the tracked in bits of Dual of the Fates, as well as all the bad edits. It showed such little respect for the music that John Williams sent Lucas a letter expressing his disappointment in how the music appeared in the film. And there were the same number of "cooks in the kitchen" for the original trilogy. Lucas directed only ANH. There were other directors for TESB and ROTJ, other producers and editors for each film.

    If anything, Williams' sound and plan for the score faired BETTER for TFA than for any of the Prequel films. The music was treated with more respect and presented in film in a wonderful and melodic way. I'm only aware of one place for a few seconds that music was substituted for something else entirely. Williams was actually allowed to write an end titles suite, instead of slapping in the concert arrangements of whatever and calling it good.
     
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  2. theMaestro

    theMaestro Jedi Master star 3

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    Oct 16, 2015
    First of all, that's just the last act, not the whole movie. Second of all, whether or not Lucas modified it doesn't change Williams' mindset when creating his compositions for those movies. When he was composing for those original 6 movies, he did so with the expectation that the way he scored it would be the way it would appear in the final film. Now that didn't end up being the case for the last acts of TPM or AOTC, but those films were still scored to picture in a way that's just not done with modern films. The mindset when composing for TFA was that the film would be constantly undergoing edits and so his music should be versatile.

    And what I mean by "cooks in the kitchen" is that with the original 6 films, there's no studio executives coming in with their research data saying "I know you guys edited it this way, but I think the higher-ups would like it done this other way because it will make more $$ that way". TFA, by the very nature of it being a non-independent film, was one in which Williams' mindset from the very beginning was to write more versatile music.

    Note: when I say "versatile", I don't mean "bad". I liked the music a lot. I just mean that a lot of it was probably composed around ideas and feelings rather than being made to match a very specific arrangement of scenes and events. Then, these initial compositions were edited and modified to be able to fit the final film, rather than being made to do that from the very beginning. For example, listen to "Ben's Death/TIE Fighter Attack" or the Battle of Yavin music; from those compositions alone, I am able to visualize exactly what's happening in the movie because, like I said before, those compositions were made to match the picture exactly.
     
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  3. Strilo

    Strilo Manager Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Aug 6, 2001
    Show me proof that Disney execs were coming in with research and changing the edit of the film.
     
  4. theMaestro

    theMaestro Jedi Master star 3

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    Oct 16, 2015
    Well I don't have an article I can link you to but these are just things I've heard from people with some inside knowledge on the process. The point, however, isn't so much that Disney executives came barging in to change up the edit. Rather, the point is that Williams' mindset going into this film was different than it was for the previous Star Wars films. In this film, his initial compositions (created without having seen the final cut) were more focused on ideas, themes, and characters rather than very specific moments. And while these elements were present in his previous Star Wars scores, those films also had compositions that were very specifically made to complement the exact visuals on screen.

    Here's an example. In the Battle of Yavin composition, there are very specific cues in the music for when Luke realizes that he's the only one left, for when the film cuts back to the Rebel base control room, for when Luke hears Ben speaking to him to "use the Force", during the final tense moments before the Death Star blows up, and so on. That was one big composition, was it not? And it was made to complement the very specific arrangement of scenes, facial expressions, and exact events unfolding on screen.
     
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  5. Darthmaul208

    Darthmaul208 Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Dec 29, 2013
    Or in the written word,
    Wah wah wah wah, wah wah wah (as the camera zooms down the trench showing Vader chasing Luke). (Now Blow this thing and go home) Do du du du du do do DO, (as the shot is fired). Pause, explosion, (great shot kid, that was one in a million.) lighter du du du du da da dah daah, (warm sprinkly jingle as the death star remnants dance around).

    I understand what you mean. I can't really think of any track that plays directly with the movie. He does it realy well with the Battle of Hoth as well.

    Maybe Rathtars!? That track kinda works, still no where near the matchup of thr batle of Yavin.

    Rey's theme for instance doesn't have a particular "twin suns" moment like Luke (which is kinda surprising) . It works to the music but I don't think it was written like the Battle of Yavin (BOY) was where it's second by second.


    Generally I miss that about alot of soundtracks these days.

    One good example is Prelude to War in Battlestar Galactica, composed by Bear McCreary. The music matches the scene perfectly.

    I noticed in the Captain America Civil War soundtrack it also matches when the strings go higher, then lower then higher in the airport fight scene as we follow the flying/air heroes.

    The space battle in TFA, lacks weight or "immediacy" that the BOY does. The camera for instance doesn't make us feel anything for the pilots. "There goes red x" but no du du du da da as the pilot sees the x wing crash into the Death Star. Also when Poe blows up Starkiller base it doesn't seem to have anything behind it. The battle was just empty CGI for me. Nothing like ANH which seemingly did it 1000x better.



    Speaking of which, the deleted Snow speeder chase, that could have had a track right? That would be an example of matching soundtrack to visual if it were possible.
    What happened to it?
     
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  6. theMaestro

    theMaestro Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 16, 2015
    Yeah, exactly! I have no idea what happened to the snow speeder chase though.

    And it's funny that what we're describing, if done too much, can be called Mickey Mousing. It was a term originally used to describe the musical technique in older Disney animated films whereby there would be musical cues for every little thing. Like if a cartoon character slipped and fell, there would be an accompanying "boing" cue to let the audience know that this was a silly moment. Star Wars, however, managed to do it just enough to make the score stand out while not doing it too much so as to insult our intelligence. I miss the days of those kinds of soundtracks as well.
     
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  7. Darthmaul208

    Darthmaul208 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 29, 2013
    Such as the waving of the wand in the Merlin/king arthur disney film- sword in the stone. Heck waving of the wand in any disney movie has a twinkle to it.

    It doesn't have to mimic it entirely though, it just really works well for battles. The cue in the Grievous vs Obi on boga chase for instance as they go around the corner, I can remember. It's stuff like that that give it weight and urgency.
    The AOTC Battle of Geonosis for instance messed up badly for me because good stuff was happening but the music was recycled from TPM and cut very badly. It should have been entirely new and unique because the dust clouds section is incredible. That also should have been longer.

    The cues have always bothered me- why doesn't every main character get one?
    TFA I think sorta suffers from this because the Rey theme becomes a Rey/Finn theme. Is this intentional?
    The Marvel films also do the same thing were the characters don't have themes, they have kinda little cues and motifs.

    Do you have any beginner links for this kind of stuff?
     
  8. Ancient Whills

    Ancient Whills Force Ghost star 6

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    Jun 12, 2011
    I was quite underwhelmed by the soundtrack in the movie, apart of a few rare instances like Rey on Jakku and the ending I barely heard it thanks to all the noises and the frantic pacing, it was really disappointing to me. I like it better when I listen to it separated from the movie.
     
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  9. Darthmaul208

    Darthmaul208 Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Dec 29, 2013
    I agree, the editing seemed a little off in thr film. The blasters and fighting seemed to be louder than the music.
    The best parts were the quiter scenes. Such as Rey's opening, Han's death, destruction of the New Republic.

    The Starkiller base scene was my favourite scene because the music and shooting was so sinister and beautiful at the same time. Poignant. It would have been better if we'd realise what was going on though on first viewing and some emotional attachment to it with Korr Sella.
     
  10. theMaestro

    theMaestro Jedi Master star 3

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    Oct 16, 2015
    Well I'm no expert, but the Star Wars Oxygen Podcast on Rebel Force Radio is highly informative and does a nice analysis of all of John Williams' Star Wars soundtracks (fun fact: one of the hosts of that podcast, David Collins, actually voiced a storm trooper in TFA). I think their conclusion was that Finn didn't really have his own theme.

    There was also this one podcast I listened to on The Extended Edition that featured Teague Christie (involved in some Star Wars fanfilms, and visual effects artist) and Ryan Wieber (of the Ryan vs. Dorkman series, and worked on TFA's visual effects) where they also get into some of the stuff I've talked about regarding the music (that's just a small part of it though since it's really just a commentary track). Warning, though: there might be some comments that can be constituted as "prequel bashing" in this podcast in case anyone's sensitive to that, but it is still very enlightening to hear an unfiltered opinion of people in the business (the Oxygen podcast above has more of a positive tone though).
     
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  11. kylorobes

    kylorobes Jedi Knight star 1

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    Mar 3, 2016
    I adore the "Torn apart" theme
     
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  12. darthtimetraveller

    darthtimetraveller Jedi Knight star 3

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    Aug 9, 2015
    The soundtrack for TFA was very disappointing. Just like TFA itself, there was nothing memorable about it. I'm a huge John Williams fan, don't get me wrong, the man is a genius, but the score for TFA was sub-par as far as Star Wars films go.
     
  13. TheAvengerButton

    TheAvengerButton Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    Aug 11, 2011
    I liked both TFA and the soundtrack. I think despite the different mode of composition the tracks still have that great John Williams writing--catchy, frantic, fun. I loved the new action cues we got (Follow Me, The Falcon, Scherzo for X-Wings are some of my favorites I go back to).

    Having said that, I hope that John Williams gets the opportunity with Rian to do his business as usual and score-to-film.
     
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  14. cwustudent

    cwustudent Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    Apr 25, 2011
    Good choices!
    I love I Can Fly Anything and The Falcon, especially when I'm driving! Pew pew pew! :tie:
     
  15. TheAvengerButton

    TheAvengerButton Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    Aug 11, 2011
    Oh, damn. Forgot about I Can Fly Anything. The little theme that plays when Poe is flying anything throughout the film is fantastic. Very much the musical translation of who Poe is as a person.
     
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  16. Howard Hand

    Howard Hand Jedi Master star 4

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    Feb 11, 2015
    Poe's theme is great little "victory anthem". It gets a satisfying amount of renditions despite Poe's relatively little screentime.

    I'd love to hear more of it in VIII, though I'm not sure if it'll be as applicable to the film's tone as it was for TFA (the allegedly "stranger" and more introverted tone may not allow for that kind of music)
     
  17. Strilo

    Strilo Manager Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Aug 6, 2001
    Not sure which TFA soundtrack darthtimetraveller was listening to... ;)
     
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  18. Porkins2099

    Porkins2099 Jedi Padawan star 1

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    Oct 31, 2016
    The TFA score is a mixed bag for me. Some nice themes and some others that are just unremarkable. Overall, my least favourite score of all the saga.
    My favourite themes are March of the Resistance, The Scavenger, Torn Apart, and Farewell and The Trip. I like Rey's Theme too, but my gripe with the released version is that it's missing the most beautiful part (when we see Rey cruising the desert in her speeder and when she arrives to Ahch-To).

    I really like Kylo's motif. Wish it was a full-fledged theme.
     
  19. Zejo the Jedi

    Zejo the Jedi Jedi Knight star 3

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    Nov 16, 2016
    Very disappointing score, my least favorite of the 7 movies, only few memorable tracks.
     
  20. Howard Hand

    Howard Hand Jedi Master star 4

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    Feb 11, 2015
    That statement of Rey's Theme is on the album in "The Scavenger". Anyway, TFA is the best Star Wars score since The Phantom Menace, and maybe even Return of the Jedi!
     
  21. cwustudent

    cwustudent Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    Apr 25, 2011
    My hope is that Williams will develop this motif into a proper theme for VIII. Unless he writes something more satisfying, like what happened with Vader.
     
  22. TheAvengerButton

    TheAvengerButton Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    Aug 11, 2011
    Glad to see my top 2 favorite Star Wars scores get some love from others. TPM and ROTJ both had fantastic scores that range from lighthearted and fun to dark and moody. The range of feeling alone makes both of them superior to everything else in the saga.

    Also, I don't know how I feel about TFA's score in comparison to those two, but it's definitely one I'm listening to a lot right now, so I guess in that sense it's probably third for me in favorites as of now (with Return in first place and The Phantom Menace in second).
     
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  23. Howard Hand

    Howard Hand Jedi Master star 4

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    Feb 11, 2015
    Return of the Jedi is pretty great. It's a shame that it isn't quite as well remembered by the public as some of the other Star Wars scores (with the exception of Yub Nub and the Emperor's theme, both of which are pretty well known). The music for the final duel in particular is spine-tingling; distinct from the action-based approach the other films took.
     
  24. Strilo

    Strilo Manager Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Aug 6, 2001
    I love the ROTJ score, but find it hard to listen to, due to the horrible sound quality of the original recording.
     
  25. Strongbow

    Strongbow Force Ghost star 5

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    Nov 6, 2014
    The TFA soundtrack is now one of my favs. I'm loving it even kore as time goes by. Can't wait to hear these themes repeated in VIII and IX.