I spent a large portion of my time this week writing music for the scene, “The Millennium Falcon.” Dr. Moser and I had discussed the importance of this scene in an earlier meeting. Since Han’s previous scenes were in the cantina with the diegetic music playing, this scene is his first “musical” introduction. His theme needs to be prominent in this scene so that the listener forms an immediate connection that lasts the entirety of the movie.
I had written earlier about my research of Wagner’s leitmotifs, and an important aspect of his presentation of a leitmotif is the “pre-appearance of an associative theme,” where the leitmotif is introduced before its associative character. I tried to make use of this technique for various themes in the film. For example, the “wars” theme is the first thing introduced, even when a war is not immediately present; Luke’s theme is hinted at in the opening crawl, and the Force theme is used many times before Obi-Wan finally explains the Force. However, this is not a possibility for Han’s theme. Many leitmotifs (in the spirit of Wagner) are based more on emotions or ideas rather than a “calling card” for a character. For example, Han’s theme at its core represents the spirit of adventure, a common man off on a journey. However, if this theme is introduced before the viewer meets Han, he/she may unintentionally associate that leitmotif with another character, such as Luke, Leia, the rebels, or Obi-Wan, all of which are adventurers, but who don’t encapsulate that same spirit. All this is to say that introducing Han’s theme is of the utmost importance to “The Millennium Falcon” scene. I introduce it in its “idealistic form” (another idea inspired by Wagnerian leitmotifs), and then use this theme in different variations throughout this scene to ensure the listener picks up the association.
“Attack of the Sandpeople” was a relatively easy cue for me to write, because I chose to make a large portion of it atonal whenever the Sandpeople were present. Once I experimented with a few timbres and decided on one, it was less important to me to choose the “perfect” notes, it was really more about the way it sounded.
“Your Father’s Lightsaber” was a cue I reworked this week; I threw out roughly 1.5 minutes of music that I had written last week because I decided it didn’t fit the tone of the scene. The new version is much more subdued, but also (in my opinion) more effective in matching the scene. It features the Force theme heavily, because the listener now is given the theme’s association. A slightly less important theme appearance is Leia’s theme when Luke and Obi-Wan view her message. Dr. Moser thought the music was really heavy immediately before and during this part, so he suggested a soft section leading into the hologram’s appearance, and then a noticeable change in timbre to represent the shift in the scene’s mood. I haven’t applied this change yet, but I liked the idea.
I diverged from my typical method of composing for “Han’s Departure” and wrote it at the piano. I wanted it to be a piano solo, and I felt that I could write better for the piano from the piano. I heavily incorporated his theme, but I altered it to switch between major and minor modes rather than its typical dorian mode. I think this scene turned out wonderfully and could be really emotional and impactful.
For “Dijarik Game” I wanted to make a piece that sounded like an arcade game that aliens might play. I made it very unstable, but I wanted it to sound playful and mischievous as well. I tried to walk the line between familiar and foreign sounding.
I particularly enjoyed writing “Lightsaber Training” this week. I came up with a four bar phrase that I really like, and I hope I can continue to bring it back in future scenes. It’s a noble sound, and could be used later to represent Jedi teachings. This phrase is what I focused on the most in this scene, with slight references to Han’s theme and the Force.