John Williams On Composing Star Wars Music Again: “Like Visiting An Old Friend”
According to Daisy Ridley, this miniature documentary about John Williams’ work on Star Wars: The Force Awakens includes the moment when the pair first met one another — as well as the first time she heard the full orchestra playing Rey’s Theme. In addition to that adorable moment, this video also includes brief interludes with Williams describing his thoughts on revisiting the original material he wrote so many years ago, as well as his process for composing new pieces that would still fit within the expected aesthetic of Star Wars.
Kylo Ren’s theme, for example, builds upon pre-existing music and echoes the sentiments we’ve heard before; Williams hoped to “convey in a few short notes, as the Imperial March does, his evil power, strength, threat.” As for Rey’s theme, Williams took a different direction:
Rey — her theme has a musical grammar that is not heroic. It’s kind of an adventure theme that maybe promises more than resolving itself in the most major, triumphant resolutions. When we first meet her, she’s been alone, she’s without her parents — I felt a lot of empathy for that girl, and I think Rey’s theme needs to illustrate that.
When Williams composed and recorded the music for the first Star Wars, he explains, “I didn’t have any idea there would be a second one. None of us had any idea that we’d ever hear the music again.” Returning to the score and playing the songs again felt like “visiting an old friend.”
It’s incredible to think that Williams had no idea how iconic these songs would become at the time; there’s no doubt that his compositions helped contribute to making the first Star Wars movie into an unforgettable experience, and yet he still seems humble, grateful, and almost surprised by how much people love the music he’s made. It makes for quite a heartwarming watch. (No, I’m not crying about Star Wars music again, you’re crying.)
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