Luke Skywalker Music Analysis

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The main title music to the Star Wars films is probably the most recognizable cue in film music history. Ever since its 1977 debut in Episode IV: A New Hope, it has remained enduringly popular among filmgoers of all ages and no doubt played a substantial role in catapulting sales of the film’s soundtrack to over four million copies after its initial release. With its opening orchestral blast, John Williams’ famous cue tells us that we are in for is a tale that is larger than life, something extraordinary, something from the realm of myths. The cue, which functions both as main title music and as a theme for Luke Skywalker, retains this mythic feel throughout its entirety and yet is surprisingly diverse in its musical material. It begins with an introductory fanfare of fast and overlapping lines, then moves into a “big” tune that is slower-paced and more majestic, then sounds a gentler melody for a middle section before returning to the big tune. Yet somehow it all hangs together incredibly well, drawing us through from start to finish in an engaging and remarkably cohesive way. So besides the superficial…show more content…
Remarkably, the big tune that follows has this very same harmonic outline (as does the tune’s return after the middle section). It begins with a blast of B-flat tonic harmony, which then alternates with the same quartal chord on F before coming to a close on the dominant chord. This dominant chord gives the music a sense of forward drive since what we really want to hear after it is a tonic to close out the phrase. When a phrase is deprived of this tonic closure, we feel that the music must press on in order to attain it. And in fact every phrase in this main title ends on a dominant—we never get to a tonic conclusion. In mythic terms, this could be viewed as a fitting musical reflection of the superhero whose job is never entirely

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