Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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“An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”

John Willliams' music for the Star Wars trilogy contains some of the most popular and recognizable film music in history. Much of this is because of the monumental social impact that the film series had, becoming the reigning mythology for an entire generation (and swelling both George Lucas' bank account and ego to Death Star-like proportions). The thematic material is well known not just to film music fans, but to the casual man on the street. Luke's theme, the Force theme and the Imperial March are cultural icons unto themselves now.

It was perhaps inevitable after seeing Harmy's Star Wars Despecialized Editions that I would have Star Wars on the brain. I realized that my Star Wars compilation was nearly six years old, and while it had remained amongst my personal favorites of of my own mixes, I felt that there was some room for improvement. Between the new software I employ, better techniques I have developed, and better sound quality sources I could use, that it was perhaps time to revisit one of my first compilations and correct some of the problems I have noticed over the years.

What those familiar with the earlier versions can expect from this revision:

  • A more flowing and balanced listening experience that better explores the themes of the trilogy while retaining the swift pace and excitement of the previous editions.

  • A return to the wider, warmer, more analog sound for Star Wars.

  • The dynamics of The Empire Strikes Back are now more consistent with that of Return of the Jedi (both are different from Star Wars, but that was more the result of the acoustics of the different venue).

  • Smoother edits and transitions.

The first and most prevalent change is that of sound quality, which, despite a variety of sources, is much more consistent on this album. Star Wars in particular had a overly aggressive sound which I was able to temper with good results. Several tracks in Empire suffered from clipping or balance issues, and dynamic was a constant issue. I was able to correct issues that I couldn't before, such as the skips in “Brother and Sister” and “The Throne Room and End Title” (the latter track appears whole on the RCA/Sony version, but I wanted to use the take and mix that appeared on the Arista). The transitions and edits have all been completely redone from scratch, and they are much smoother than was possible before.

Another change is in the overall structure of this version of the disc. On the whole, I wanted to use an “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” approach to this assembly, and I wanted to keep it as close to what I knew worked as I could. However, there were a few changes I wanted to make, the most significant perhaps being the elimination of the cue “The Return of the Jedi” which has appeared on all previous incarnations of this album. This track came in the middle of an extended action suite which I felt went on too long, and it consisted almost entirely of variations on Luke's theme and the Rebel Fanfare, both of which are well-represented elsewhere on the album. By dropping this track, I was able to both smooth out the listening experience and flesh out the rest of the album.

Between the expanded palette size I have and the space made available by removing “The Return of the Jedi,” I was able to expand the scope of the album a bit. Several new tracks have been added. “Luke's Nocturnal Visitor” establishes Yoda's theme early on, allowing the variations on his theme that appear later to be more effective. “The Scavengers” presents the memorable music for the Jawas. “The Ewok Battle” provides symmetry for “Heroic Ewok.”

Ultimately, however, my mission statement has been the same for all but the initial revision of this disc — I based this album on two overarching concepts, and I think that is part of what makes it work; the first was the film's representation of good versus evil, in this case represented by the Force theme in conflict with the Imperial March, while the second is the music's representation of the mythic elements that made the films so successful. The Imperial March is heard often and quite stridently at the beginning of the album, but becomes less aggressive as the album goes on, eventually giving way to the diabolical choral theme for Emperor Palpatine; whilst the Force theme begins in a more meditative place and becomes more noble by the end of the disc, reflecting the defeat of tyranny and the restoration of Ben's values to the galaxy.

I received two of the best complements I ever could receive 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 music had re-ignited his interest in the originals after having been brutalized by the prequels. The other one was from Art, who, upon receiving 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. I was therefore very careful when replacing or moving material not to deviate to much from the structure that I know works.

Index markers appear at several points on this disc (the same places they have appeared in previous versions). If anybody actually has a CD player that still recognizes index markers (let me know, I'm curious if there are any left), they're still there.

I felt that it was time to revisit the cover art, which I had changed only slightly after the initial revision. In creating cover art for the discs I burned for myself of the Despecialized Editions, I found myself gravitating toward the original poster art for each of the three films. These images were not only vintage representations of the films in question, befitting the restoration aspect, but they were also the artwork used on the 1992 Widescreen Edition VHS box set, which contained an abbreviated version of ‘The Creative Impulse’ and From Star Wars To Jedi: The Making of a Saga (Star Wars featured the 1985 sound mix), that I have a personal attachment to because it was the first time I'd seen Star Wars in widescreen since seeing it in the theater. I felt that this collage of all three one-sheets featured in the 1993 THX CAV Definitive Collection laserdisc box set — until ehowton's gift of the 1995 CLV “Faces” editions, and now the Despecialized Editions, that was my go-to presentation for Star Wars — was the best presentation for this version of the album.

While I did want to create smoother transitions, make more seamless edits, and present the scores in cleaner sound, the primary impetus for taking up this project again was to better balance out the overall listening experience. This edition better communicates the scope of Williams' music for this historic trilogy: the swashbuckling adventure, the white-knuckle tension, the romantic passion, the exotic creatures and locations, and most importantly, the fun!

Star Wars: Music from the Original Trilogy


3. THE EMPEROR ARRIVES (Return of the Jedi) (0:43)
4. THE EXECUTOR (The Empire Strikes Back) (2:12)
5. TALES OF A JEDI KNIGHT (Star Wars) (2:09)
6. HAN SOLO AND THE PRINCESS (The Empire Strikes Back) (2:21)
7. HEROIC EWOK (Return of the Jedi) (1:01)
8. LUKE’S NOCTURNAL VISITOR (The Empire Strikes Back) (1:22)
9. INTO THE TRAP (Return of the Jedi) (2:30)
10. THE PRINCESS APPEARS (Star Wars) (4:03)
11. THE ASTEROID FIELD (The Empire Strikes Back) (4:06)
13. CITY IN THE CLOUDS (The Empire Strikes Back) (1:39)
14. BROTHER AND SISTER (Return of the Jedi) (3:04)
16. YODA AND THE FORCE (The Empire Strikes Back) (3:48)
17. REVELATION AND SULLUST (Return of the Jedi) (0:34)
18. BLASTING OFF (Star Wars) (2:09)
19. THE DUEL (The Empire Strikes Back) (3:26)
20. THE SCAVENGERS (Star Wars) (2:00)
21. THE EWOK BATTLE (Return of the Jedi) (2:19)
22. ATTACK POSITION (The Empire Strikes Back) (1:02)
23. THE RESCUE OF THE PRINCESS (Star Wars) (2:55)
24. THE CONFRONTATION (Return of the Jedi) (2:39)
25. HYPERSPACE (The Empire Strikes Back) (3:57)
26. FINAL DUEL (Return of the Jedi) (2:50)
27. THE LAST BATTLE (Star Wars) (8:49)
28. THE LIGHT OF THE FORCE (Return of the Jedi) (3:18)
29. THE THRONE ROOM AND END TITLE (Star Wars) (5:29)

Music Composed and Conducted by JOHN WILLIAMS

Recording Engineer: ERIC TOMLINSON
Recording Supervisor: LIONEL NEWMAN

Star Wars
Produced by GEORGE LUCAS
Recorded at ANVIL RECORDING STUDIOS, Denham, England

The Empire Strikes BackReturn of the Jedi
Recorded at EMI/ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS, London, England

John Williams conducting the London Symphony Orchestra at the
Star Wars sessions at Anvil Recording Studios in March of 1977


    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
    Each film begins with this classic piece by Alfred Newman, the legendary head of Fox music (his brother, Lionel, was the recording supervisor for the Star Wars trilogy). 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. Star Wars opened with Newman's own 1954 performance, but this particular recording was done by Williams himself with the London Symphony during the sessions for The Empire Strikes Back.


    “Did you hear that? They shut down the main reactor. We'll be destroyed for sure. This is madness.”
    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 saga as a whole (so much so that it still served as the main title for the prequels, despite the fact that the character the theme is for doesn't appear in them until the very end), 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, which would be replaced in all of the sequels by the Imperial March, but would play a central role on this album. I mimicked the segue from “Blockade Runner” that appears in the film and made a slightly smoother version of the same edit that occurred on the original LP to cut out the pause before the stormtroopers board. The frenzied and desperate nature of the latter portion of the piece considerably darkens the opening of the album. An index marker appears at the transition from “Main Title” to the “Blockade Runner” section, and not at the cue transition. The cue plays out until the first appearance of Darth Vader, where we segue to…

  3. THE EMPEROR ARRIVES (Return of the Jedi)

    “Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.”
    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, only to return again at the album's endgame. For the new version, I was able to create a much cleaner conclusion to the track that leads directly into…

  4. THE EXECUTOR (The Empire Strikes Back)

    “The Rebels are there, and I'm sure Skywalker is with them.”
    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 relentless 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/Sony special edition — but 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 that cue. This makes a sort of miniature version of the concert arrangement 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. The sound quality of this track was most inconsistent on the previous version because of the different sources involved, so I was very pleased to be able to recreate this track with much better and consistent sound.


    “You must learn the ways of the Force, if you're to come with me to Alderaan.”
    This was perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the RCA/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 made up of the same components as its incarnation on previous versions of this album, but I have been able to take advantage of the more sophisticated programs and experience I've amassed over the intervening years to make this a tighter, more musically sound presentation. This is also a case where the somewhat harsher sound of the original has been considerably softened. 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.

  6. HAN SOLO AND THE PRINCESS (The Empire Strikes Back)

    “Scoundrel? Scoundrel? I like the sound of that.”
    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 Han finds Leia responding, albeit reluctantly, to his advances, and they kiss for the first time. The scene then switches to the Executor with an authoritative statement of the Imperial March. The opening of this track served as the basis for Williams' concert arrangement “Han Solo and the Princess” (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).

  7. HEROIC EWOK (Return of the Jedi)

    “I'm afraid our furry companion has gone and done something rather rash.”
    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. Despite their teddy-bear appearance, Williams' music for them is a great evocation of Sergei Prokofiev, and a primary theme of the third film, making its absence a glaring one. This track was introduced on my second revision, where I felt that it was a great introduction to the theme, but felt that it started a thread that didn't go anywhere; this is something I corrected with the inclusion of “The Ewok Battle” (track 21).

  8. LUKE’S NOCTURNAL VISITOR (The Empire Strikes Back)

    “Mudhole? Slimy? My home this is!”
    This track represents a major correction to any previous version of this album. I always had included “Yoda and the Force” and “The Duel,” both of which feature dramatic variations on Yoda's theme. As such, the album had the “pay off” versions of the theme without every having established it in the first place. This wonderful concoction for woodwinds, pizzicato strings and bells introduces Yoda in a playful and friendly manner.

  9. INTO THE TRAP (Return of the Jedi)

    “How can they be jamming us if they don't know… if we're coming?”
    One of the most exciting cues from Jedi is heard as Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and Admiral Ackbar (Timothy M. Rose/Erik Bauersfeld) lead the Rebel Fleet into battle above the Endor moon. Williams builds the track from repeating tonal cells, similar to minimalism but the repeating phrases tend to be longer, punctuated by familiar themes. As with minimalism, interest is maintained through alteration of orchestration and melodic accompaniment, although the added level of tension doesn't detract either.


    “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.”
    An ethereal setting of Leia's theme is heard as Luke “accidentally” access part of the recording Leia made for Obi-Wan. 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 suns 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/Sony special edition, although an index marker appears at the transition point between the two cues on this disc.

  11. THE ASTEROID FIELD (The Empire Strikes Back)

    “Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1!”

    “Never tell me the odds!”
    This one deserves special mention; not only is it one of my favorite cues in this trilogy, it's one of my favorite cues ever. 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 relentless version of the Imperial March that opens it is one of my favorites in the trilogy. This splashy, exciting track featuring stunning orchestral acrobatics and a grand fanfare for Han Solo and the Millenium Falcon that is unique to this moment in the trilogy.


    “I want to come with you to Alderaan. There's nothing for me here now. I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father.”

    These two cues abut one another in the film and I recreated their joining here with the original 1977 Dolby Stereo optical mix as my guide, but performed a cleaner edit than the one that appears in the film (the cue is altered and embellished with unused music from the trash compactor sequence in all versions of the film since 1997). Both are notable for their powerful readings of Obi-Wan's theme, though there is also a bouncing “traveling” motif Williams composed for Luke's landspeeder that is heard in the 'celli and a hint of the Princess' theme when she is revealed in her cell. The first part of this track has been on the soundtrack 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 Eisley to be a very iconic moment in the film. An index marker appears at the transition between the two cues.

  13. CITY IN THE CLOUDS (The Empire Strikes Back)

    “You have your moments. Not many of them, but you do have them.”
    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 a similar edit as I used on my original takes, but I extended the opening to include the ethereal strings that precede the love theme in the film, and I blended in the LP mix so as to take advantage of the more prominent choir for the sequence in which Cloud City is revealed, better reflecting the siren-like quality that Williams intended for the cue.

  14. BROTHER AND SISTER (Return of the Jedi)

    “The Force runs strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. And… my sister has it.”

    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, with elements of Luke's theme as well. This is one of the most beautiful moments, musically speaking, in the trilogy; Luke and Leia's theme is not introduced as a something to be developed — it will only appear once again in the score before the end credits — 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. While this track has appeared on every incarnation of this album, this is the first time I've had the ability to correct a jarring skip that appears in the source material.


    “Here they come!”

    In composing Star Wars, Williams used a leitmotif approach, but it is here that demonstrates the fact that sometimes a film score demands bending the rules; when Vader strikes down Obi Wan, Williams opted 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 from the Death Star, and after a brief, mournful interlude reprising Obi-Wan's theme, the fanfare becomes the basis for the ensuing battle with the sentry fighters. The rousing performance of the theme here stands in striking contrast to its desperate presentation in “Imperial Attack.” An index marker appears at the beginning of “The TIE Fighter Attack.”

  16. YODA AND THE FORCE (The Empire Strikes Back)

    “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.”
    A plaintive version of Luke's and the Force themes are heard 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 avocado — er — Force. This is another extremely iconic moment in the trilogy, one which demonstrates the great power of Yoda; it is the most dramatic reading of his theme heard in the trilogy, and I feel it works better now having had his theme introduced earlier in “Luke's Nocturnal Visitor.” (track 8). The opening sequence featuring the contemplative version of Luke's theme would be tracked in several times in Empire and Jedi.

  17. REVELATION AND SULLUST (Return of the Jedi)

    “Your insight serves you well. Bury your feelings deep down, Luke. They do you credit, but they could be made to serve the Emperor.”
    What can I say, this is just one of my favorite transitions ever in a film. It is also one of the few places in Return of the Jedi where we hear Leia's theme, as Luke deduces from Obi-Wan's narrative and his own instincts that she is his sister. While the appearance of this piece on the original mix was entirely a sentimental inclusion, I have never removed it because not only does it work well as a transitional piece, but it keeps Leia's theme alive for this portion of the album.

  18. BLASTING OFF (Star Wars)

    “Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star, or bounce too close to a supernova and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?”

    After a brief statement of the Imperial motif from the first film begins one of the most tension-filled moments in Star Wars as Han Solo engages in a firefight with several Imperial stormtroopers and the Millenium Falcon blasts out of Mos Eisley 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 as the tone gets more intense. Once again, the Death Star motif appears at the conclusion of this piece, leading directly into…

  19. THE DUEL (The Empire Strikes Back)

    “I never doubted him for a second! Wonderful!”
    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 as they attempt to 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 a personal favorite.

  20. THE SCAVENGERS (Star Wars)

    This is a new addition for this compilation; the evocative music for the Jawas. This theme has always been a favorite of mine, but I didn't have room for it on the former editions. This track combines elements from “The Little People Work” and “The Robot Auction,” and concludes with a statement of Luke's theme for the introduction of the character. One of the biggest problems I had with the flow of the previous versions of this mix was that I had too much action too close together, which would tire the listener out. This track helps solve that problem; in addition to adding a new dimension to the existing album, this track also serves as a respite between the two adjacent multi-track action sequences.

  21. THE EWOK BATTLE (Return of the Jedi)

    This track was introduced on my first revision, but abandoned on the second because of space limitations. It is re-instated here as the beginning of a three-track action suite, and as a pay-off to “Heroic Ewok” (track 7). This is the film cue, but I incorporated a few nips and tucks I to make it play out a bit more like Williams' concert piece “The Forest Battle,” including at one point, a short segment from the album track. As with “The Executor,” I compare it somewhat to the reconstruction of the album arrangement “Breakout” on Intrada's Capricorn One disc.

  22. ATTACK POSITION (The Empire Strikes Back)

    “The odds of successfully surviving an attack on an Imperial Star Destroyer are approximately…”

    “Shut up!”
    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 reminiscent of “The Asteroid Field.”


    “He certainly has courage…”

    “Yeah, but what good will it do us if he gets himself killed?”
    Why was Star Wars so successful? There are any number of reasons people can cite, but the ultimate truth is that the first 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 run into “a few old 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. As always, I shortened 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 segued into “The Last Battle,” and that pause just kept me waiting for the proud statement of Ben's theme that will soon be heard (track 27).

  24. THE CONFRONTATION (Return of the Jedi)

    “Your overconfidence is your weakness.”

    “Your faith in your friends is yours.”
    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.

  25. HYPERSPACE (The Empire Strikes Back)

    “Ben… Ben. Why didn't you tell me?”
    This was one of the most glaring omissions from the initial CD release of this score, despite being prominently featured on the original LP. 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. The quiet conclusion to this piece is the graceful exit from this compilation for the Imperial March.

  26. FINAL DUEL (Return of the Jedi)

    “Give yourself to the Dark Side. It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for… sister. So, you have a twin sister. Your feelings have now betrayed her, too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the Dark Side… then perhaps she will…”

    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. 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 consciousness.

  27. THE LAST BATTLE (Star Wars)

    “Red Five, standing by.”
    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 throughout the internet when the DVDs were released that the fanfare was dialed down was very surprising to me (this has been corrected on the Blu-rays). 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 and dire variations on Luke's theme. 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 as the Death Star is destroyed, bringing hope to the Rebel cause.

  28. THE LIGHT OF THE FORCE (Return of the Jedi)

    “They did it!!!”
    “Luke and Leia” is heard for a second and final time as Leia explains their relationship to Han, followed by a happy statement of their love theme as Han realizes that means… the true centerpiece of this sequence is the Force theme, heard first in an extremely dramatic reading (from an alternate version that was included as part of “Rebel Briefing” on the original LP) and then in a serene contemplative arrangement (which is heard in the final film). The edit that appears here is heard almost exactly what is heard on the RCA Victor/Sony releases, but with better sound.


    “The Force will be with you… always.”
    The Force theme is heard in its most triumphant form as Leia presents Han and 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. An index marker appears at the beginning of the end credits. On previous versions of this mix, I utilized the RCA/Sony master of this track, which is a different take and mix than what appeared on the original album and in the film. I wanted the freshness of performance and clarity of sound of the correct film take, but unfortunately the master had a few drop-outs I was not previously able to compensate for; this is no longer the case. While the wider mix from the original album may not have been quite as natural as the one on the Special Edition version, it had better dynamic range and was more accurate to what the music was recorded to sound like than the remix. I feel that my choice paid off; the end title has a less aggressive and more lyrical sound now, which leads the album off on a more adventurous note. 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 music of the the first real cinematic trilogy. 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, I decided that this would be the last track on my Star Wars mix. And so it is.

May the Force be with you.
Tags: film music, john williams, my mixes, sandy courage, science fiction, star wars
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