New Musical Themes and Their Meaning in The Last Jedi — 9 Comments

  1. It is fascinating to trace the arc of the story & it’s characters in the music! It adds depth & understanding. Though I’m not a very schooled (as in Theory)musician (am a singer), I love to learn the ‘fabric’ of music. Thanks for this opportunity.

    • Glad you found it useful, Claire. I always try to aim these posts so they can be for more than just specialists in composition or theory. Thanks for the comment!

    • If you want, there are plenty of YouTubers who talk about music theory – 12tone, Adam Neely, 8-bit Music Theory, Rick Beato and Aimee Nolte, to name a few. I recommend you check them out.

  2. Hi, Mark, I am enjoying reading your comments and analysis of film music. I teach a unit called, “Music in the Movies” for my 5th graders and we’re in the middle of our discussion on leitmotif. Yes, I know, it’s pretty sophistocated stuff for 10-11 year olds, but they love the concept of telling the story of a character through music. I found your site when I was looking for more info on the Harry Potter (Hedwig’s) theme and want to thank you for your intelligent, succinct and enlightening viewpoints. Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks very much, Teresa! I had no idea this material could be adapted for such young minds. Williams scores in particular are great for leitmotif, especially because they usually capture so perfectly what they are associated with on the screen. Best wishes for the movie music unit!

  3. This is a very interesting and enjoyable analysis!

    I’m wondering about another phrase that seems to be related to the Luke in Exile theme. It appears as a third element in the track “The Rebellion is Reborn”, along with Rose and Luke in Exile. It also appears in the track “Ahch-To Island”, and in the finale it “sandwiches” the Luke in Exile theme. Due to its placement it seems related to Luke in Exile, and to my ear it seems related in the progression of notes, but it’s a different time signature I think and it sounds more forceful. Would you consider it a sub-theme to Luke in Exile?

    • Hi Matt – great question. I did not include that part of the theme because I’m aiming to keep posts on the shorter side. But it’s certainly part of the Luke in Exile theme and seems to act something like framing material for the more central sarabande-like portion I show in the post. But it is more connected to the main melody than simple introductory or bridging material since it is essentially a variation of the main melody, similarly winding its way down from scale degree 5 all the way to 1. And as you point out, the time signature has changed. So has the rhythm, which is rather disjunct, making it sound less melodic and therefore less significant than the sarabande melody. In short, we could probably say it’s somewhat analogous to B sections of other Williams themes. That is, its purpose seems to be to separate statements of the main material, and in this case, that’s especially important because the main melody here is built on successive statements of a single motive, which could easily become tiresome. Its status as a kind of variation of the main melody, though, is unusual for Williams but is another aspect that places the theme in line with sarabandes, which were often used as a theme for variation (well known examples being Bach’s Goldberg Variations and the Sarabande movement of Handel’s Keyboard Suite in D Minor).

  4. Mr. Richards,
    Thank you for sharing your work here. Similar to Theresa above, I am using it with a middle school student learning English who composes electronic pieces and posts on his website. My objective is for him to describe his own music. Your articles here are the only ones I have found online that has the approach and language we need. I am fascinated with the analysis and it is really helping my student express himself.

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