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MUSIC OF STAR WARS

John Williams, composer of all seven Star Wars saga films.

Music of Star Wars 1977

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Music of Star Wars

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. Released between 1977 and 2017, the music for the primary feature films was written by composer John Williams and, in the case of the first two trilogies, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Williams scored the seventh episode, Star Wars: The Force Awakens,[1] and has composed the music for Episode VIII, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and is slated to score Episode IX as well.

Williams’ scores for the seven saga films count among the most widely known and popular contributions to modern film music. Additionally, music for animated television series spinoffs has been written by Kevin Kiner, and further music has been composed for Star Wars video games and works in other media. Michael Giachinno was the composer on the spin-off film, Rogue-One.

The scores are played by a symphony orchestra and, occasionally, a choir. They make use of a series of musical themes that represents the various characters, objects and events in the films. Throughout the film, Williams has written one of the largest, most rich collection of themes in the history of film music.

Year Title Composer Conductor Orchestrator Orchestra
Saga Films
1977 A New Hope John Williams John Williams Herbert W. Spencer London Symphony Orchestra
1980 The Empire Strikes Back
1983 Return of the Jedi
1999 The Phantom Menace Conrad Pope
John Neufeld
2002 Attack of the Clones Conrad Pope
Eddie Karam
2005 Revenge of the Sith
2015 The Force Awakens John Williams
William Ross
Gustavo Dudamel[2] John Williams
William Ross Hollywood Studio Symphony
Spin-off Films
2008 The Clone Wars Kevin Kiner
John Williams (themes) Kevin Kiner
Nic Raine Kevin Kiner
Nic Raine
Takeshi Furukawa City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
2016 Rogue One Michael Giacchino
John Williams (themes) Tim Simonec William Ross
Tim Simonec
Brad Dechter
Jeff Kryka
Chris Tilton
Herbert W. Spencer Hollywood Studio Symphony

John Williams sketched the score for his various orchestrators and wrote the music for a large symphony orchestra (ranging from 89 to 114 pieces[10]) and, in several passages, for chorus (ranging from 12 to 120-pieces). The orchestration is not consistent throughout the different films, but generally the score makes use of a considerable brass section over a comparatively smaller string section, giving Star Wars its heraldic, brassy sound. The climax of Episode III calls for a more balanced string section and an expanded percussion section, whereas sections of Episode V call for an expansion of the woodwind section. Episodes I-III unusually rely on choir besides the orchestra. Episodes IV and VII call for much smaller forces.

In Live Performances, the strings and voices may be augmented depending on the orchestra and choirmaster, and several vocal and wind parts can be omitted, doubled by other players or even synthesized. However, to properly stage the scores, the following instrumentation is required:

Strings: 14-16 Violins I, 12-14 Violins II, 10-12 violas, 10 violoncellos, 6-8 contrabass, 1-3 harps.
Woodwinds: 1 piccolo, 1-2 recorders, 3-4 flutes (all doubling on piccolo), 3-5 oboes, 3-4 clarinets (doubling on saxophones,[ bass and contrabass clarinet), 2-4 bassoons (one doubling on contrabassoon).
Brass: 6-8 horns (1-6 doubling on Wagner Tuba), 4-5 trumpets, 3 trombones, bass trombone, 1-2 tubas
Keyboard: 1-2 Grand Pianos, 1 Synthesizer.
Percussion: 1-2 sets (4-8) of timpani, 3-8 percussionists on bass drums, toms, tenor drums, snare drums, xylophones and glockenspiel, triange, tambourines, bell tree, and tubular bells, as well as woodblocks (Ep. I, VI), log drums (I), cowbells (VI), marimba, bell plates, clappers, boobams and steel drum, (IV) three medium taikos (II-III, VII) and anvil (III).
Voices: 88-piece SATB choir, 30-piece boy choir, 12 deep-bass singers (VII), 1 soprano (II, III), 1 Tibetan Throat Singer (III).
None Orchestral instruments: Cretan Lyra and cümbüş (I), electric guitar (II), toy piano (VI).

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