Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer Music (John Williams)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer Music by John Williams (2015)

Back in November, JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy gave the world a first look into the new and upcoming world of Star Wars – a look that included John Williams.  Listening to the trailer (just listening), it is very promising for fans of the original trilogy’s music.  The thing about it is that, although the music is new, it has a quality about it that points back to ‘classic’ Williams – but with a modern recording.  It is definitly action oriented.  But then, the main theme.  Let’s just say that, even though it was not recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra (nor will the film be), it still sounds like the great theme we all know and love.  Give a listen to the music only below:

(NOTE:  In an attempt to remove the vocals and focus on the music, the makers of the two following videos have slightly lessened the quality of the music.)

More recently, the new Star Wars Dynamic Duo (Abrams and Kennedy) released a second teaser trailer at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim in California.  Signs are pointing toward the music being a new recording for this trailer specifically by Williams himself.  This trailer’s music is quite intriguing.  First, it utilizes a familiar sound in the Force theme.  But after, it changes.  Although still in the same style of sound, it takes on a more powerful and less active place.  As it continues, a theme emerges.  Even though it is familiar music that we usually associate with triumph, there’s just something more powerful this time.  Not quite ominous, but powerful, dramatic, and impactful.  Now give it a listen as well to just the music (oh but fair warning – it is hard to listen to it and NOT hear Han Solo telling Chewie, and us, that they’re home).

Stay tuned for updates on new trailers and check out our Star Wars music series leading up to the release of the next film.  Do you think a teaser trailer for the Star Wars Spinoff film (now referenced as Anthology films) Rogue One will feature music by Alexandre Desplat?  Or do you think that will be held off until much later in the process, as with most films?

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (John Williams)

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones Soundtrack

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones Soundtrack

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones Soundtrack by John Williams

Get it:  If you would like to hear a classic Star Wars sound with a more modernized and slightly more intense quality

Don’t get it:  If you think the New Trilogy music is too much and needs to be simpler in style

Continuing with our schedule, it is time for the review of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.  First, let’s get a little context.  It’s been 3 years since Williams returned to the universe with The Phantom Menace, where he successfully created a new Star Wars sound while still staying true to the roots.  Now that he had created this new sound, he had freedom to either stay with that or get closer to the more familiar sound since the storyline was getting closer.  He decided to go in the middle.

The Phantom Menace had a definite sense of mystery involved, which makes sense given not only the title, but also the film’s plot regarding a new, unforeseen, and hidden threat.  Here, the mystery – while still there – is not quite as prominent.  Instead, there is more action going on as the characters unveil the mystery.  These battles will climax in the next installment, but that’s for later.

Not only is there more action that goes on, but there’s a whole different element which is also prominent – the love aspect.  This story sees the development of a loving relationship between two of the main characters.  Consequently, Williams, who is no stranger to romantic music, was tasked to come up with a love theme for Star Wars.  The result is the track Across the Stars.  Not only beautiful, but its power and, at the same time, gentleness are a fantastic combination. 

Even though Williams was able to stick to his fresh look at Star Wars, he also gives us hints of things to come, or references to the Original Trilogy.  He, specifically at the end, uses the Imperial March as a tool of story-telling.  He also uses The Force Theme.  These little hints, mixed into the new action/romance sound, are a treat for anybody, whether you like it for the Star Wars reference or just for the music itself.

Ultimately, this soundtrack is a bridge between the mysterious unknown and the epic drama that is coming next.  As beautiful as it is excellent, this score is yet another example of what John Williams can do.  If you aren’t familiar with this, give it a listen, regardless of your feelings about the film overall.

Coming next in this series –

Review of Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith in April, 2015.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (John Williams)

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Soundtrack Cover

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Soundtrack Cover

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Soundtrack by John Williams (1999)

Get it:  If you avidly enjoy the previous soundtracks of the Star Wars franchise but with a new era

Don’t get it:  If you are a strict fan of the original soundtracks and don’t like for anything to be changed

Film Soundtrack Center will be releasing a review of a Star Wars movie every other month until the release of The Force Awakens (Episode VII).  Here is the schedule:

December 2014 – The Phantom Menace

February 2015 – Attack of the Clones

April – Revenge of the Sith

June – A New Hope

August – The Empire Strikes Back

October – Return of the Jedi

December – The Force Awakens

The original trilogy of Star Wars films completely captivated the entire world, starting in May of 1977.  There was no anticipation for this film, it was relatively unknown.  In fact, 20th Century Fox was only able to get 43 theaters to show the movie it’s opening week.  As we all know, a lot has changed since then.  The next installment of the film, to be released December 18th, 2015, is estimated by some to be the highest grossing film of all time.  Fans all over the world have their opinions on each film and the ranking as to which ones are better than the other.  Some people say the prequel trilogy is better, while others say the original trilogy can’t be touched.  What is the one consistent element throughout the films?  The music of John Williams.  His score to Star Wars not only won him another Oscar, but it became the best selling score-only soundtrack of all time… and he did it as a favor to George Lucas’ friend and Williams’ collaborator Steven Spielberg.

16 years after the last Star Wars movie, Return of the Jedi, George Lucas once again tapped Williams to come back and compose for the galaxy far, far away.  Could Williams have just written another soundtrack just like the ones before?  Yes, but that wasn’t what Lucas wanted.  They were aiming for something familiar but also new, just like the film.  The film has new characters, new planets, new technology, and is a new experience.  Consequently, Williams had do compose something in the same fashion. 

Track one is the all familiar, completely majestic Star Wars theme.  However, after the glorious theme ends, the new style begins.  Instead of expressing suspense or a chase, as we were familiar with, Williams chooses mystery.  There are numerous elements mixed in, but they speak directly to the viewer’s subconscious since they’re in the background.  The ear mostly hears the new.  The soundtrack is not only an evolution of the franchise, but also of John Williams’ style. 

If you tried to fit this soundtrack on, say, Episode IV, would it work?  Partly.  There would be many similarities and parts would fit greatly, but something would just seem off.  The quiet parts seem darker and the action scenes seem to have more going on.  But, that is appropriate for the film. 

One of the most instantaneously recognizable pieces from this franchise is “Duel of the Fates”.  This is a perfect example of how Williams is able to create something new that is still Star Wars.  It is such an intense piece for the film.  Part of this is because Williams uses something he hadn’t in this way before – a choir.  This is just another example of John Williams reinventing the already outstanding sound he created.

It’s not quite the epic work we have near-and-dear to our hearts, but is it good?  It’s a masterpiece.  Here’s just one hint into the thought that Williams put into this is the final track.  The victory celebration at the end of the film.  The people think they just won a major victory and defeated the enemy.  The character named Senator Sheev Palpatine, later Chancellor, is watching this celebration.  Later, he is revealed to be the biggest villain, The Emperor.   Interestingly enough, if you speed up the Emperor’s theme, you get part of the celebratory music at the end of this soundtrack.  It is a sign of things to come, but is fairly unrecognizable. 

In the end, even if the film didn’t meet every fan’s expectations, the music surpassed it’s job.  An amazing job by the legendary John Williams.

Compare the first part of this final track

To this, the Emperor’s Theme

Oh, and feel free to go back and listen to the rest of the final track from TPM.

Click here or here to shop for the soundtrack

Sabrina (John Williams)

Sabrina Soundtrack Cover (John Williams)

Sabrina Soundtrack by John Williams (1995)

Get it: If you like a flowing score with great piano use

Don’t get it: If you are looking for a soundtrack that features heavy Williams brass or significant rhythm

This is going to be a short soundtrack review.  There isn’t much to say about a soundtrack that is the essence of beauty.

The piano solo featured is absolutely amazing.  The arrangement of the notes and instruments is somehow reminiscent of a waterfall.  It is all-to-easy to get lost in the music.  This is not a powerful or strong example of the usual John Williams brass, but it is not at all needed.  It is extremely elegant, sophisticated, and just simply beautiful.  The track, “Nantucket Visit” is an exquisitely well done track that emanates playfulness which, if personified, would perfectly match the dialogue and dynamics of the two brothers (Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear). The main theme is another perfect representation of the story and amazing to listen to just because it is worth it.  The track featuring Sting cannot be done much better than it was.

And that’s it.  There isn’t anything else to say.  In fact, trying to find something else to say would just be another understatement or redundant.  This is a prime example of a through-and-through beautiful collection of music.

Click here to listen to the Main Theme

Click here to listen to another clip

Click here to shop for the soundtrack

Jurassic Park (John Williams)

Jurassic Park Soundtrack Cover (John Williams)

Jurassic Park Soundtrack by John Williams (1993)

Get it: If you are looking for a soundtrack that combines intensity and suspense with beauty and majesty

Don’t get it: If you are hoping for a soundtrack that focuses on rhythm rather than notes, such as a style similar to Hans Zimmer

From the very first note of this soundtrack, you know you’re in for something good.  That isn’t too much of a surprise, though, since whenever Steven Spielberg and John Williams team up, the listener is usually more than satisfied with the result.  In 1993, Steven Spielberg astonished the world by bringing something new not quite like anything previously done.  Jurassic Park was a revolutionary film in its time.  The visual effects, done by Stan Winston Studio along with Industrial Light & Magic, were unprecedented.  The concept of placing the whole body of a dinosaur in a film without using stop-motion and still making it realistic was an amazing feat that many didn’t think could be done.  The film had a wonderful cast with Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum to name a few.  More than that, however, the feel of the movie set forth by the score is hard to be outdone.

Each moment of this soundtrack is saturated with feeling and emotion ranging from fear to awe.  Parts of it are a bit held back on the brass for John Williams, who instead makes wonderful use of strings such as the viola.  The occasional use of a choir in both the most beautiful and intense parts adds a sense of awe and power that would otherwise not be as prevalent.  The deepest moments of suspense make the listener/viewer beg the character to not look around that dark corner.  The unbelievably clear brass adds a new dimension  of fear during the “hunt” tracks.  At times, this soundtrack is very reflective of Star Wars: Episode VI.

Right when the suspenseful tracks are nearing an end, the tone switches to a light and almost playful, adventurous tune.  After that goes on for a bit, Williams switches again to his typical majestic brass and timpani.  When he does, it almost gives the listener a sense of walking without ground.  He masterfully changes between this brass and timpani to flute and strings, then back to brass and timpani again – the whole time doing it flawlessly.  Before you know it, you’re back to a light theme and then another deep, intense one.  There is no shortage of variety in mood in this soundtrack.

In parts, you do not want to listen while alone in an unfamiliar place at night.  At other parts, you want to listen to help make your day a little better.  An occasional use of piano, choir, and harp fill the listener with a sense of mysterious wonder and curiosity, such as Track 6, “Hatching Baby Raptor” which is a perfect fit for the scene.  The next track turns around to be inspiring.

Simply put, this soundtrack is beautiful, intense, majestic, suspenseful, powerful, subtle, and inspiring.  Okay, so maybe that’s not “simply” put, but that’s the best way to say it.  There could not be a better fit for the film.

Click here to listen to a clip of the Main Theme

Click here to shop for the soundtrack