At Diggers Factory, we know that a good film is also a great OST. Why should you stop shivering once the movie ends? Today, we begin our blog series on our legendary OSTs with the iconic, timeless Star Wars saga!
A world-famous saga, turned into an iconic one, what’s left to say about Star Wars’ films ? Composed by John Williams, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’s official composer, we owe him the Jaws official soundtracks E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’s, Indiana Jones’ or the first three films of the Harry Potter franchise. Now, we offer an overview of the success of this historical OST.
John Williams is a genius composer who grew up in the musical world. Son of a drummer for the CBS radio (Columbia Broadcasting System), he learned to play the piano at sixteen and entered at just 23 the Columbia movie studios’ orchestra in Hollywood. Known as a prodigy, he quickly became a composer and drew the attention of Bernard Hermann, the Hitchcock’s movie composer with whom he soon became friends. Approved by Hermann, John Williams received more and more music commission for films.
Then 1973 arrived. During this year, it’s not Claude François but Steven Spielberg who made an entrance. John agreed to work with him for his first film, fostering a beautiful and lasting collaboration. Together, they would make films such as Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones or the Jaws, for which he would receive an Oscar for best soundtracks.
Totally under the spell of John Williams’ work, Steven Spielberg introduced him to another young filmmaker : George Lucas. He wanted to make a science-fiction film taking place in space. And he already had the name : Star Wars.
However, John Williams never could have imagined the scope of this project. Here is what he said about it at the time :
“I was thinking of it as a kind of Saturday afternoon movie...thinking that it would be successful, but never imagining that it would be this world-wide international success, and never imagining and even expecting that the sequels would be along and would be as successful as they all were”
All right, enough of the story. Let’s move on to what brings us all together : music !
We can hear the influence of numerous classical music composers in John Williams’ music. The first version of Star Wars was made with his inspiration Ravel’s Bolero. Looking back to 1977, choosing a soundtrack based on symphonic music was a bit more complicated… especially for a science-fiction film. The main feature of this amazing OST is the extensive use of a very specific musical process : the leitmotif.
Associated with Richard Wagner's famous operas, the leitmotif is a melodic phrase that represents a character, a place, a plot element, a mood, an idea, or a relationship between characters. It is commonly used in modern films as a device linking, in the viewer's imagination, certain parts of a film to the soundtrack. The main quality of a leitmotif is that it must be strong enough to be retained by a listener, yet flexible enough to allow for variation and development.
For each of the protagonists, John Williams composes a melody that will be associated with one of the characters, as for Princess Leia.
Princess Leia's Theme track 3.
In addition to this technique, John Williams also uses another process well known in the field of music to image: the mnemonic effect. The result of real cognitive studies on the use of music in the audiovisual field, this effect corresponds to a music that one remembers,; that potentially evokes a process of memorization (of a few notes or of an atmosphere). The imperial March is the ultimate example, a music that appears only a few times but that people have retained, sometimes even more than the original theme.
In fact, if you ask someone to sing the Star Wars soundtrack, there is a good chance that they will start singing it
Indeed, if we ask someone to sing the Star Wars’ soundtrack, they are likely to do so. ? Side B track 1 : The Imperial March
You would understand, the success of this soundtrack has nothing to do with luck. It is the work of a musical prodigy. Williams has won five Oscars for best music,4 Golden Globes, 7 BAFTA Awards and 21 Grammy Awards. With 52 Oscar nominations, John Williams remains the second most nominated person after Walt Disney.
A little bit of history? The existence of this orchestra can be traced back to the Film Symphony Orchestra (FISYO), which was founded shortly after World War II in 1947, as the in-house orchestra of the huge Barrandov Film Studios. After being separated and fully privatized, it was finally given its current name by music producer James Fitzpatrick in 1992.
The orchestra plays and records music for all types of orchestral projects, including CD albums, major international films, television series, video games (...) for worldwide clients and media productions. Each year, it participates in over 250 recording sessions, making it one of the most recorded and respected orchestras in the world.
In 2015 The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra offered us its Star Wars’ interpretation led by Paul Bateman and James Fitzpatrick.
The OST is still available on our website. And for Star Wars Day this week, not only have we concocted a giveaway, but it is also included in our monthly selection for the box
You have no more excuses ;)