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Star Wars Main Title

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Main title
Star Wars Main Title
General information
Composer

John Williams[1]

Written

1977[1]

Represents

The entire Star Wars saga, Luke Skywalker[1]

Performed by
Genre

Film score[1]

Musical details
Length

1:25[1]

Key

Bb Major[1]

Tempo/Style

Majestic[4]

Usage information
Movies

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, CW[1][5][6][7][8][9][3]

Expanded Universe

See below

Samples
Versions

ANH 
TCW 
TPM 

"When I thought of a theme for Luke and his adventures, I composed a melody that reflected the brassy, bold, masculine, and noble qualities I saw in the character"
―John Williams on writing the "Main Title"[src]

The "Star Wars Main Title", also known as "Star Wars Main Theme", "Star Wars Theme", "Luke's Theme", or simply "Star Wars", is the theme played at the beginning of all six Star Wars films and almost every other piece of Star Wars media (video games, TV series, etc.). The film scripts refer to this opening theme as "war drums." It was composed by John Williams and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. It quickly became one of the most recognizable theatrical motifs in the history of film.

The "Main Title" segues directly into a piece created specifically for each film. These are: "The Arrival at Naboo" or "Boarding the Federation Battleship" (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace); "Ambush on Coruscant" (Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones); "The Revenge of the Sith" (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith); "Rebel Blockade Runner" (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), which goes on to quote the ending of "Mars" from Gustav Holst's "The Planets"; "The Ice Planet Hoth" (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back); "Approaching the Death Star" (Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi).

The theme is described by John Williams as representing the ideas of heroism and adventure, both of which are prominent throughout the films. He used numerous musical phrases to accent certain steps in the hero cycle, depicting the tales of Luke Skywalker, the protagonist in the original trilogy. He used mainly brass to give the theme a majestic feel.

The theme seems to appear in-universe during a celebration of Life Day, in which Princess Leia sings a tune similar to the theme.

Conception and developmentEdit

John Williams was referred to George Lucas by Steven Spielberg to be the composer of the score for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (at the time just called Star Wars). When creating the main theme for the film, John Williams attempted to compose a piece with an "idealistic, uplifting but military flare [sic] to it." He wanted the theme to mainly feature the strong brass section of the London Symphony Orchestra, as he himself played brass when he was young. He tried to set it in the most "brilliant register of the trumpets, horns and trombones" in order to have a "blazingly brilliant fanfare" at the start of the piece, and thus the score. He also did this in order to have the title contrast with the second theme which was more lyrical, adventurous, and romantic in style.[10] It is possible that this "second theme" is "Princess Leia's Theme" as it is comes after the "Main Title" in the soundtrack for A New Hope.[1]

SymbolismEdit

MainThemeUB

A clip of sheet music for the "Main Title"

The "Main Title" is symbolic of many aspects of the Star Wars saga. The most prevelant of these would be the idea of heroism and adventure. The following phrases each represent a particular step toward heroism:

  1. Opening fifth=reaching upward
  2. Descending triplet=gathering strength for another try
  3. Triumphant lift to an octave above the opening note=attainment of the goal
  4. Repeating of last four notes=reassurance of achievement
  5. Rounding out of the phrase=task completed[1]

The theme is also used to represent the character Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy.[1] However, due to the non-existence of Luke at the time, the theme is not used for this purpose in the prequel trilogy.

The title is also referred to in the scripts as "war drums".[11]

SummaryEdit

"It's in my mind a very simple, very direct tune that jumps an octave in a very dramatic way, and has a triplet placed in it that has a kind of grab"
―John Williams in an interview with filmscoremonthly.com[src]

The "Main Title" starts off as a fast and rather complicated phrase for the brass. After the short intro, the theme goes into the most recognized melody, with the trumpets playing. The strings come in after the trumpet melody is played twice. The strings play a calmer, more peaceful melody before the brass comes back in with the main melody. The melody plays through twice before the strings finish the theme with a fast, decrescendoing phrase.[1]

Similarities with other compositionsEdit

Many people claim that John Williams' scores for the Star Wars saga (mainly the Original Trilogy) are very similar to (or even plagiarized from) other composers' works. One such connection has been made between the "Star Wars Main Title" and the main theme from the Golden Age film "King's Row" by Erich Korngold. The two themes share similar melodies and orchestration, with the first eight notes being identical, though the last three in "King's Row" are played slower than in the "Main Title". The two melodies then go in different directions. The "Star Wars Main Theme" resembles many "heroic" melodies, such as the "Siegfried Horn Call" from Wagner's Ring Cycle. Sections of the motif can also be heard in Carl Nielsen's Fifth Symphony. Curiously, the London Symphony Orchestra, who recorded the Star Wars soundtrack, had recorded the first complete Nielsen Symphony cycle under Danish conductor Ole Schmidt just the year before Star Wars. Also of interest is the Paramount Pictures 'logo theme' which shares the first (and only) six notes of this theme in a faster, sped up version.

UseEdit

In the moviesEdit

ESBOpeningCrawl

The opening crawl from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

The "Main Title" also occurs within the films themselves, notably: as a faster, dramatic variant in The Phantom Menace, when Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi fight B1 battle droids aboard Saak'ak,[12] when the CIS and Republic armies charge towards each other in Attack of the Clones,[13] when Obi-Wan delivers Luke to Tatooine in Revenge of the Sith.[14] during the chasm shootout in A New Hope,[15] when Luke flees from the wampa in The Empire Strikes Back,[16] and again when Luke fights Jabba the Hutt's henchmen over the sarlacc in Return of the Jedi.[17]

In the EUEdit

In Star Wars: The Clone Wars (both the film and the TV series), a shortened version with an altered rhythm appears as the main title sequence.[18][19] It also appears in the episode Slaves of the Republic when Anakin signals R2-D2.[20]

This theme is also played during the opening crawl of almost all Star Wars video games. Commonly they use the original version, segueing directly into "Rebel Blockade Runner." A notable exception is the opening crawl of Star Wars: TIE Fighter, which features a version of "The Imperial March."[21]

The theme appears in all three of the LEGO Star Wars games as well as all four Battlefront games. It makes an appearance in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds along with its expansion pack. The theme is also played in Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II and Jedi Outcast. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and The Sith Lords contain the theme. The theme also makes an appearance in Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, Star Wars: Starfighter, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, and Star Wars:The Clone Wars. The title also appears in the The Clone Wars games Republic Heroes, Jedi Alliance, and Lightsaber Duels.

Leia Organa sings a song for the Life Day celebration in The Star Wars Holiday Special, very similar in tune to the Theme. This is a superficial indication that "Star Wars Theme" exists in-universe. Some of the lyrics to this song include:

We celebrate a day of peace,
a day of harmony,
a day of joy we all can share together joyously;
a day that takes us through the darkness,[22]

In the first episode of the Star Wars radio drama adaptation, the theme is used as background music for an Imperial Academy recruitment commercial which Luke Skywalker listens to in his home on Tatooine.[23]

Similar indications exist with "Imperial March" (implied in The Paradise Snare to be the official in-universe martial anthem of the Imperial Navy)[24] and "Duel of the Fates" (heard from ghastly voices in the Ice Crypts of Coruscant).[25]

In the soundtracksEdit

WeequayLuke ST

The "Main Title" is featured during the Battle of the Great Pit of Carkoon scene in Return of the Jedi

The "Main Title" appears in each of the film's soundtracks during the opening crawl and the end credits.
TCW main title

Sheet music for The Clone Wars' "Main Title/A Galaxy Divided"

However, many of the films and their soundtracks contain snippets of the theme in the film itself. In the The Phantom Menace soundtrack, the piece occurs twenty seconds into "Panaka and the Queen's Protectors". The theme makes an additional appearance in the track "Fighting The Destroyer Droids" on the Ultimate Edition soundtrack.[5] In the Attack of the Clones soundtrack and Revenge of the Sith soundtrack, the theme only appears in the opening crawl and the end credits.[6][7] The theme appears in two tracks (excluding the opening crawl and credits) in the A New Hope soundtrack. These are "Rescue of the Princess" / "Tractor Beam/Chasm Crossfire" and "Land of the Sandpeople".[1] In the The Empire Strikes Back soundtrack, the piece is featured in "Luke's First Crash" and "Carbon Freeze/Luke Pursues The Captives/Departure of Boba Fett".[8] In the Return of the Jedi soundtrack, the piece occurs in *"The Pit of Carkoon" / "Sail Barge Assault" (1:35) or "The Return of the Jedi", "The Emperor Arrives" / "The Death of Yoda" / Obi-Wan's Revelation" (3:58), "The Battle of Endor", and "Sail Barge Assault (Alternate)" (0:51).[9]

The theme is also used in several Expanded Universe soundtracks. In the Shadows of the Empire soundtrack, the motif is used strictly in the first track and is performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.[2] In The Clone Wars soundtrack, the first and last tracks contain the only occurrences of the theme. This recording is performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.[3]

The "Main Title" segues directly into a piece created specifically for the event occuring after the opening crawl in each film. These are: "The Arrival at Naboo" or "Boarding the Federation Battleship" (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace); "Ambush on Coruscant" (Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones); "The Revenge of the Sith" (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith); "Rebel Blockade Runner" (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), which goes on to quote the ending of "Mars" from Gustav Holst's "The Planets"; "The Ice Planet Hoth" (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back); "Approaching the Death Star" (Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi).

In other merchandiseEdit

The theme is also used in several other forms of merchandise. This includes numerous audio cards and a Tooth Tunes tooth brush.

In popular cultureEdit

The "Main Title" has become one of the most recognized theatrical themes ever written.

On the January 21, 1978 episode of Saturday Night Live, Bill Murray's lounge singer character sang a version of the Star Wars theme with lyrics. Some of the lyrics include:

Star Wars,
Give me more Star Wars,
Nothing but Star Wars,
Don't let them end

Ah, Star Wars,
If they should bar wars,
Please let these Star Wars,
Stay!

And hey!,
How ’bout that nutty Star Wars bar?,
Can you believe all the creatures in there?,
And hey!,
Darth Vader in that black and evil mask,
Did he scare you as much as he scared me?

Star Wars,
Those near and far wars,
Star Wars![26]

The song was also performed after the 20th Century Fox Fanfare in set one of the international tour of Star Wars: In Concert. The concerts were conducted by Dirk Brosse.[27]

The theme appears in the end credits of the special Robot Chicken: Star Wars, where it is sung by chickens.[28] Disco artist Meco released a disco version of the theme in 1977 on the album Star Wars and other Galactic Funk. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 1. It held that position for two weeks. The single became the biggest-selling instrumental single in the history of recorded music, being the first to be certified platinum (2 million units) by the RIAA. Meco's version eventually was used officially in the Star Wars franchise with Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike, where it played in the arcade mode of the game upon approaching the arcade cabinets. Similarly, it also played when pressing certain buttons on Kamino in the game LEGO: Star Wars.

BibliographyEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

External linksEdit


Compositions and motifs
Introduced in Episode I
"Duel of the Fates" · "Anakin's Theme" · "Qui-Gon's Theme"
"Funeral Theme" · "Droid Invasion Theme" · "Jar Jar's Theme"
"Darth Maul's Motif" · "Shmi's theme" · "The Arrival at Tatooine" · "Escape from Naboo" · "The Flag Parade"
Introduced in Episode II
"Across the Stars" · "Separatist Theme" · "Kamino motif" · "Mourning Theme" · "The Arena"
"Republic Motif" · "Jango's Escape" · "Bounty Hunter's Pursuit" · "The Meadow Picnic"
Introduced in Episode III
"Battle of the Heroes" · "General Grievous's theme"
"Anakin's Betrayal" · "Padmé's Destiny" · "Padmé's Ruminations"
"Immolation theme" · "Mystery of the Sith motif" · "Anakin's Dark Deeds"
Introduced in Episode IV
"Star Wars Main Title" · "Princess Leia's Theme" · "Rebel Fanfare" · "The Throne Room" · "Binary Sunset"
"Imperial motif" · "Death Star motif" · "Jawa Theme" · "Here They Come!" · "The Final Battle" · "Tusken Raider Theme"
Introduced in Episode V
"The Imperial March" · "Han Solo and the Princess" · "Yoda's Theme" · "Droids motif" · "Boba Fett's motif"
"Lando's Palace" · "Betrayal at Bespin motif" · "The Asteroid Field"
Introduced in Episode VI
"Parade of the Ewoks" · "The Forest Battle" · "Jabba's Theme" · "The Emperor's Theme" · "Luke and Leia"
"Victory Celebration" · "Yoda's Revelation" · "Jabba the Hutt" · "Ewok Celebration"
Introduced in The Clone Wars
"Ahsoka's Triumphant Theme" · "Padmé's Theme" · "Clone Wars Victory Theme" · "Ahsoka's Theme"
Introduced in Shadows of the Empire
"Xizor's Theme" · "Dash's theme"
Introduced in The Force Unleashed
"Kota's Theme" · "Force Unleashed Theme" · "Juno Eclipse's Theme" · "Redemption Theme"
Introduced in Rogue Squadron
"Rogue Squadron Main Title"
[edit]


Real-world music
Soundtracks
The Phantom Menace · Attack of the Clones · Revenge of the Sith
A New Hope · The Empire Strikes Back · Return of the Jedi
Ewoks · The Clone Wars
Shadows of the Empire · Republic Commando · Knights of the Old Republic
Knights of the Old Republic II · Forces of Corruption · The Force Unleashed
The Force Unleashed II · The Old Republic
Original Soundtrack Anthology
Composers
John Williams · Joel McNeely · Clint Bajakian · Peter Bernstein · Jesse Harlin · Mark Griskey
Frank Klepacki · Jeremy Soule · Joseph Williams · Jerry Hey · Kevin Kiner · Michael Giacchino · Chris Hülsbeck
Performers
London Symphony Orchestra · London Voices
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra · Maurice Murphy · Royal Scottish National Orchestra
New London Children's Choir · Seattle Sinfonia Orchestra
Sheet music books
The Phantom Menace · Attack of the Clones · Revenge of the Sith
Music from the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition · Selections from Star Wars
Star Wars: A Musical Journey: Episodes I-VI · Star Wars Episodes I, II & III Instrumental Solos
Star Wars for Beginning Piano Solo
Music Videos
"Lapti Nek" The Music Video from Jabba's Palace · The Duel of the Fates · A Hero Falls
Other
Bantha Music · Christmas in the Stars · Tusken Music
[edit]

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