Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Da daaa dump! Da daaa dump! Da daaaaaaa dun-dun-dun dunt daaaaaaaah!

I recieved two of the best complements I ever could recieve for my original Star Wars trilogy mix... the first was from Nate. I had given him a copy because he was somewhat interested. He called me a few days later from his car with it blasting and asked if he could borrow the DVDs of the trilogy. The other one was from Art, who, upon recieving my initial revision, viewed it with some skepticism, saying, "I don't know, man, you're fuckin' with the Mona Lisa here." That was big acclaim coming from somebody whose interest in these scores mirrors my own.

Unfortunately, he was right. I tried to do to much to it and ended up with a disc that was... okay. Not bad. Pretty good. Yes, I'm damning the mix with faint praise, and what was frustrating about it is that I used to listen to the original disc all the time, but I rarely approached the revision. I had hoped to clean things up, but all I did was just mess them up a bit more. Therefore, I determined to go back and redo this album, only this time treating it as something of a restoration of the original mix I had made. In the end, I feel I've finally accomplished what I had set out to do with the revision, which was preserve what worked about the original assembly, but cleaner and more polished.

And since I put the disc together and finalized the edit earlier this week, I've been listening to my Star Wars trilogy mix again. A lot.

27 Tracks - 81:25

Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare with Cinemascope Extension 0:21
(Alfred Newman; 1933/1954)

Main Title and Imperial Attack 4:12
A New Hope

The Emperor Arrives 0:42
Return of the Jedi

The Executor 2:12
The Empire Strikes Back

Tales of a Jedi Knight 2:08
A New Hope

Han Solo and the Princess 2:17
The Empire Strikes Back

Heroic Ewok 1:00
Return of the Jedi

The Princess Appears 4:00
A New Hope

Into the Trap 2:28
Return of the Jedi

The Asteroid Field 4:00
The Empire Strikes Back

The Return Home and A Hive of Villainy 4:33
A New Hope

A City in the Clouds 1:26
The Empire Strikes Back

Brother and Sister 3:05
Return of the Jedi

Ben's Death and The TIE Fighter Attack 3:39
A New Hope

Yoda and the Force 3:45
The Empire Strikes Back

Revelation and Sullust 0:31
Return of the Jedi

Blasting Off 2:08
A New Hope

The Duel 3:12
The Empire Strikes Back

The Return of the Jedi 4:33
Return of the Jedi

Attack Position 1:02
The Empire Strikes Back

The Rescue of the Princess 2:54
A New Hope

The Dark Side Beckons 2:34
Return of the Jedi

Hyperspace 3:55
The Empire Strikes Back

Final Duel 2:54
Return of the Jedi

The Last Battle 8:48
A New Hope

The Light of the Force 3:15
Return of the Jedi

The Throne Room and End Title 5:34
A New Hope

"A New Hope" Produced by George Lucas - "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" Produced by John Williams
Orchestrators: Herbert W. Spencer and Alexander Courage - Recording Engineer: Eric Tomlinson
Recording Supervisor: Lionel Newman - Mixing Engineer: John Neal - Music Editor: Kenneth Wannberg
Recorded at Anvil Recording Studios and EMI/Abbey Road Studios - Mixed at the Burbank Studios


Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare with Cinemascope Extension (Alfred Newman)
Each film begins with this legendary piece. The first portion was composed in 1933, but Newman returned to it in 1954 for the first CinemaScope production The Robe. I actually have opened quite a few of my mixes with different versions of this piece, including my Star Wars prequel trilogy mix, my Planet of the Apes album and my Alien Quartet disc. This particular recording was done by Williams himself with the London Symphony during the sessions for The Empire Strikes Back.

Main Title and Imperial Attack (A New Hope)
Over an expanse of space the title card appears to a bold presentation of Luke's (Mark Hamill) theme. This is, of course, the music that is most associated with the Star Wars trilogy as a whole, and I used the classic take from the first film. For the initial revision, I decided that I wanted to include the first part of "Imperial Attack" in order to establish both the Rebel fanfare and the "missing link" Imperial motif from Star Wars. I mimicked the seque from "Blockade Runner" that appears in the film and made a slightly smoother version of the same edit that occurred on the original LP that cut out the pause before the stormtroopers board. The frenzied and desparate nature of the latter portion of the piece considerably darkens the opening of the album. The cue plays out until the first appearance of Darth Vader, where we seque to...

The Emperor Arrives (Return of the Jedi)
I originally included this track on the revision for the grand setting of the Imperial March opens this track, thus replacing the more gradual buildup I tried with the use of "Approaching the Death Star" on the first version of this album, which I was never really satisfied with. While this idea never really gelled, I did like having the eerie male chorus that Williams concocted for Emperor Palpatine himself (Ian McDairmid) being heard here for the first time.

The Executor (The Empire Strikes Back)
This may be a bold statement, but I believe that Williams' Imperial March is perhaps his most effective composition. It immediately became fused with the concept of evil in the public mindset... this in a theme that only appears in the sequels. I was never quite satisfied with either "Approaching the Death Star" or "The Emperor Arrives" as the introduction to this theme, so I figured I'd use how the theme is introduced in the film, as the Imperial Fleet is first shown and Darth Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones) is shown on the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer Executor... except that cue never actually existed. A cue was written for the scene - it is called "Aboard the Executor" on the RCA special edition. However, in the film the opening of this track, which features two extremely intense renditions of the march, was replaced by the opening of Williams' concert arrangement "The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)," which had been recorded for the soundtrack album. For this disc, I re-created the edit that is heard in the film from the opening of "The Imperial March" to the body of "Aboard the Executor." However, where "Aboard the Executor" ends, my edit ramps back up with the progressively more dire presentations of the march heard at the beginning of "Aboard the Executor." This makes a sort of miniature version of the concert arrangment in a way, sort of like how on the Intrada Capricorn One, "Breakout (LP imitation)" arranged cues from Goldsmith's original score to match the album track. This is the most aggressive form of a very aggressive theme, and I found that it works brilliantly to introduce this theme in such a relentless form.

Tales of a Jedi Knight (A New Hope)
This was perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the RCA Victor (now Sony) complete releases. To contrast with the angry, martial sound of the Imperial march, this track contains some quite beautiful variations on Obi Wan's (Sir Alec Guinness) theme, which would in later installments of the series apply to the Force in general, emphasizing the mystical element. Leia's (Carrie Fisher) theme is also heard in a similar setting as her message is played out in full. The edit here is essentially the same as the one I created for the original album, although I changed a few things here and there to make them a little smoother. The bulk of this track (after the opening) didn't appear on either the original LP or the Arista box set, but it is a very important moment in the trilogy, and the music is very evocative. The track closes with the monolithic motif for the Death Star.

Han Solo and the Princesss (The Empire Strikes Back)
The love theme for Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia is a variation on the Princess' theme from the first film that was introduced in the previous cue. It is developed here as they kiss for the first time ("You like me because I'm a scoundrel"). The scene then switches to the Executor with an authoriative statement of the Imperial March. The opening of this track served as the basis for Williams' concert arrangement (sans Vader's interruption), but that piece only ever appeared on the (excellent) Gerhardt recording and a few Silva Screen compilations and is routinely ignored otherwise (including by Williams himself, who didn't include it in his Skywalker Symphony). On the revision of this album I had cut a short section out when Threepio (Anthony Daniels) interupts them, but I found the piece didn't really work without it.

Heroic Ewok (Return of the Jedi)
One of the biggest omission from the first version of this disc is the complete absence of any of the music related to the Ewoks. While I certainly am no fan of the furry little shits, Williams' music for the bastards is a great evokation of Sergei Prokofiev. While I attempted to include an edit of "The Ewok Battle" on the revision of the disc, I decided in the end that not only did that piece of music not fit where it was on the album, but that this one managed to present the sprightly thematic material in a more efficient - and fun - manner.

The Princess Appears (A New Hope)
This cue was abrided on the revision, and that was just a big mistake. It plays out in its original form here, with an ethereal setting of Leia's theme. If there is a moment from the trilogy that the Force theme is most often associated with, it is the moment when Luke watches Tatooine's binary stars set, in which the English horn carries Obi Wan's theme for the first time. While this is two cues in the film, it has always been joined as one in every album incarnation, including, surprisingly, the RCA special edition.

Into the Trap (Return of the Jedi)
One of the most exciting cues from Jedi is heard as Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) leads the Rebel Fleet into battle on Endor. Wiliams builds the track from repeating tonal cells, similar to minimalism but the repeating phrases tend to be longer. As with minimalism, interest is maintained through alteration of orchestration and melodic accompaniment, although the added level of tension doesn't detract either.

The Asteroid Field (The Empire Strikes Back)
While I think that the concert arrangement of this piece is, indeed, quite fun, it does not have the urgency that the original track does. Furthermore, the version of the Imperial March that opens it is one of my favorites in the trilogy. This splashy, exciting track features a grand fanfare for Han Solo and the Millenium Falcon that is unique to this moment in the trilogy. On the initial revision, I trimmed the piece back a bit at the beginning but never liked the effect, so the piece plays out unchanged here.

The Return Home and a Hive of Villainy (A New Hope)
These two cues abut one another in the film and I recreated their joining here; both are notable for their powerful readings of Obi Wan's theme. There is also a bouncing "travelling" motif Williams composed for Luke's landspeeder that is heard in the 'celli. The first part of this track has been on the album from the beginning, the second introduced for the first time on Arista's box set, which I always found interesting because I always considered that musical "hit" when Obi Wan introduces Mos Eisely to be a very iconic moment in the film. This is another cue that I had done some ill-advised editing on when I made the revision, and the original assembly is presented here again.

A City in the Clouds (The Empire Strikes Back)
A powerful reading of the Han and Leia love theme (heard in the film as the Falcon breaks off the Star Destroyer) introduces us to a wonderfully impressionistic soundscape Williams created for Cloud City on Bespin. This piece has an interesting harmonic quality to it, along with one of the few appearances in the trilogy of voices. This is the same edit as I used on my original disc.

Brother and Sister (Return of the Jedi)
As Luke reveals to Leia their true relationship to one another, and to Darth Vader, Williams introduces a new theme for them called "Luke and Leia" which is also based in Leia's theme from the first movie. This is one of the most beautiful moments, musically, in the trilogy. Luke and Leia's theme is not introduced as a something to be developed, but instead as a conclusion to the character's respective journeys. Han and Leia's love theme appears in a comfortingly familiar guise after this intimate moment.

Ben's Death and the TIE Fighter Attack (A New Hope)
In composing Star Wars, Williams used a lietmotif approach, but it is here that demonstrates that sometimes a film score demands bending the rules; when Vader strikes down Obi Wan, Williams opts to use Princess Leia's theme instead of his because he felt it "had the most sweeping quality of any theme in the score." The Rebel fanfare makes a triumphant return as the Falcon blasts off the Death Star, and after a brief, mournful interlude of Obi Wan's theme, the fanfare becomes the basis for the ensuing battle with the sentry fighters. The theme here stands in striking contrast to its darker presentation in "Imperial Attack." Williams' concert arrangement of "The TIE Fighter Attack," "Here They Come" is surprisingly minimally abridged.

Yoda and the Force (The Empire Strikes Back)
A plaintive version of Luke's theme and The Force theme is heard in a guise similar to that heard in "Tales of a Jedi Knight" as Yoda (Frank Oz) explains to Luke the California Zen precepts of the Force. Luke is skeptical, so Yoda lifts his X Wing out of the swamp to demonstrate the power of the avacado. This is another extremely iconic moment in the trilogy, one which demonstrates the great power of Yoda (one wonders where this brilliant wizard was during the prequel trilogy, they could have used him instead of that pussy CGI character who gets knocked around a little and quits). It is the most dramatic reading of his theme heard in the trilogy.

Revelation and Sullust (Return of the Jedi)
What can I say, this is just one of my favorite transitions ever in a film. It is also the only place in Return of the Jedi where you hear Leia's theme as Luke deduces that she is his sister.

Blasting Off (A New Hope)
After a brief statement of the Imperial motif from the first film begins one of the most tension-filled moments in Star Wars as the Millenium Falcon blasts out of Mos Eisely and past two Imperial Star Destroyers. The actual blast-off itself is one of the best examples of Williams' trademark "splashes." The track is for the most part self-contained, but there are some interesting variations on Obi Wan's theme here and there. Once again, the Death Star motif appears.

The Duel (The Empire Strikes Back)
A dramatic setting of the Imperial March is heard as Darth Vader roundly kicks Luke's ass on Bespin. We then switch to Leia, Lando, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and the 'droids escape from Cloud City. An adventurous variation on Yoda's theme is heard briefly, as well as a motif associated with Lando's governing of Cloud City. The tension builds until a fanfare brings us to a blossoming of Han and Leia's love theme as Artoo-Detoo (Kenny Baker) opens the door to the landing pad with the Falcon. The five note slam that concludes this track is one of my favorites.

The Return of the Jedi (Return of the Jedi)
To break the intensity of the previous tracks without letting up on the action, this piece which was specifically intended to invoke "The TIE Fighter Attack" and "The Last Battle" from Star Wars with heroic statements of Luke's theme and the Rebel Fanfare follows. In Jedi this outburst of energy comes after a very dark journey through Jabba's seedy court and served as a breath of fresh air for the protagonists.

Attack Position (The Empire Strikes Back)
The disc then returns to the white-knuckle tension of this selection, as Han turns the Falcon around to attack a Star Destroyer. In addition to scoring the desperation of our heroes, it also conveys Captain Needa's shock at the sheer ballsiness of the maneuver. This is a self-contained piece within the film, although the writing is remeniscent of "The Asteroid Field." There is a pause in the middle of the track that I shortened a bit.

The Rescue of the Princess (A New Hope)
Why was Star Wars so successful? There are any number of reasons people can site, but the ultimate truth is that the film was successful because it was fun. Well, this track is perhaps one of the most fun moments in the trilogy as our heroes prowl around the Death Star and make a few new friends. The first movie's Imperial theme gets quite a workout here, but it is the Korngoldian variations on Luke's theme (and the scoring for swinging across the chasm) that make this track so memorable. I once made a Star Wars mix without it. Somehow. The original version used the film edit of this track as opposed to the album edit, but I did shorten the pause between the crescendo of the Imperial theme and its iteration a second later, as on the original LP (and the Arista set), the opening of this cue sequed into "The Last Battle," and that pause just kept me waiting for the proud statement of the Force theme.

The Dark Side Beckons (Return of the Jedi)
An ominous variation on the Imperial March leads into the male choir for Palpatine introduced in "The Emperor Arrives." Most of this is from "The Emperor Confronts Luke," but the conclusion of the track is from "Luke and Vader Duel," the cue where Luke struggles with his desire to kill Palpatine and not fight his father. This is actually the same edit as on the revision, which was a bit tighter and more concise than that on the original disc. The tail end of this track leads into another sequence, but instead of following into the space battle, we go back to Empire, which picks up with the same kind of transition.

Hyperspace (The Empire Strikes Back)
This was one of the most glaring omissions from the initial CD release of this score. This is a very intense cue, with a the minimalist ostinato and some sickly sounding variations on both the Force and Darth Vader's themes. It is exciting but desperate, a description that could apply to The Empire Strikes Back as a whole.

Final Duel (Return of the Jedi)
This is it. The confrontation between the father and son reaches its climax as Vader goads Luke to giving in to the Dark Side and attack him. Even as a child, I never had any trouble understanding what was happening here, the struggle that Luke was going through. When I got older, I realized that much of what communicated this about the scene was indeed the music (it certainly ain't Mark Hamill's performance, folks). I remember the first time that the music for the scene really stood out for me; I was over at my grandparent's house in Connecticut and Jedi was on late at night. That flowing male choir as Luke finds out how seductive and easy the Dark Side is easily one of the most spine-chilling pieces of film music, as much for its musical quality as its association with the resolution of a mythic arc that tapped into the public conciousness.

The Last Battle (A New Hope)
Agitated but disciplined writing (similar to "The Asteroid Field" and "Attack Position" lead to the boldest statement of the Force theme heard in the entire trilogy. This particular iteration of the theme is in the form of a fanfare, and the outcry heard throught the internet when the DVDs were released that the fanfare was dialed down was very surprising to me. People who normally don't care about film music were mentioning how this alteration hurt the film, and I have to say that I do agree. Both the film and the score are building up to this moment, when the Obi Wan's theme becomes a powerful musical force in its own right. Over the course of the cue, the writing remains agitated, but the discipline breaks down. It also breaks down tonally, with dissonant textures introduced towards the end of the track. The original LP bridged the second and third halves of "The Last Battle" with a crossfade, which I mimicked here. A Holst-like build up brings us to a surprisingly light yet satisfying conclusion.

The Light of the Force (Return of the Jedi)
"Luke and Leia" is heard for a second and final time, followed by a brief statement of Han and Leia's love theme before the true centerpiece of this sequence is played out in full... the Force theme, heard first in an extremely dramatic reading (from an alternate version that was included on the original album) and then in a serene contemplative arrangement (which is heard in the final film). Though the edit that appears here is heard almost exactly in the RCA Victor/Sony releases, for sound quality purposes this track was sourced from two different discs from the Arista box set.

The Throne Room and End Title (A New Hope)
The Force theme is heard in its most triumphant form as Leia presents Han, Luke and Chewbacca with medals. This is followed by the finale of Star Wars, which features Luke's theme, the Rebel fanfare, Leia's theme and a bumpety-bump finale that I found impossible not to end this Star Wars album on. The exuberance heard here is unique to the first installment in the saga, and I feel it is the perfect way to end what I consider the basic primer on the Holy Trilogy of our time. I remember waiting at the end of each episode of the radio show with my grandfather for that final "bumpety bump." For that reason above any mature assessment of the Star Wars credit sequences (my critical opinion places The Empire Strikes Back as the best end credits of the trilogy - and that will be my menu track for the eventual DVD I will make of this disc and its successor), I decided that this would be the last track on my Star Wars mix. And so it is.

Tags: film music, john williams, my mixes, star wars

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