For week 2 of my project, I finished researching Wagner’s leitmotifs, this time studying more of their use in film. Bribitzer-Stull observes that “Layering of associations throughout a film make themes more powerful at the film’s conclusion. It is thus the musical development of themes rather than the crafting of the themes themselves that should comprise the bulk of a film composer’s work.”
With that in mind, I made it my goal to make a good deal of headway writing themes for my scoring of the film. I fleshed out much fuller versions of the main theme (used in the opening crawl), Han Solo’s theme, Han and Leia’s love theme, and the space/flight theme, once I decided that they were indeed what I wanted to use. In addition, I wrote and orchestrated themes for Obi-Wan Kenobi and the droids. The main theme received the most attention of any of my themes this week. Since it opens the film, I wanted to make sure it was well written and grabbed the attention of the listener. I studied Williams’s opening theme very closely to see ways in which he achieved such an iconic sound, and I tried to implement some of these concepts, such as triplet rhythms, soaring strings, driving percussion, and a fanfare from the brass.
Dr. Moser and I discussed source music in films, where a classical piece or previous film score is inserted into an unfinished copy of a film in order to give the composer an idea of the style the director wants to imitate. We found out some of the source pieces used for Star Wars (Rite of Spring, New World Symphony, The Planets) and decided to get together next week to discuss source music to use in certain scenes. Dr. Moser will choose romantic and post-romantic music that he finds appropriate, and insert them into the film. It will be my job to study these pieces and their role in the movie scene, and to then imitate its style while keeping within the confines of my own themes and scoring techniques.
I also worked in depth on creating a “cue sheet” for my scoring of the film. In this sheet, I outlined the precise count in the movie (i.e. 00:13:48) in which specific events happen (i.e. Vader walks into the room). This way, when I begin scoring, I can mark exact timings in my music where I want to highlight an event. The cue sheet must be detailed and accurate in order to make the score line up as perfectly as possible with the film itself. I am roughly two-thirds of the way through my cue sheet for the film.
A good bit of my time for the week was spent studying Williams’s own orchestration techniques. He is considered a master of orchestration, and although I am pioneering my own score with no use of his music, it wouldn’t be right to study the best composers of this genre without studying him as well. I have tried to make note of what instruments are used, what type of notes these instruments play (trills, rhythms, melodies…), and how often they occur. This, more than any textbook, gives me a good idea of what instrument combinations work well together. Anytime I want to achieve a specific sound, I turn to his music and see how he did it.