Variety Interview with John Williams Reveals Some Bits About the Score of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

john-williams1Variety today released an article on the upcoming Oscar race for Best Original Score and the possibility that it could contain some legendary names in the list of nominations.  Of interest to Star Wars fans was the information revealed in a very brief but illuminating interview with John Williams.


Williams discusses the difference in process between Lucas and Abrams as well as the shift from recording in London to recording in Los Angeles.  But of even more interest, Williams mentions a few specifics about the makeup of the score.


For the new edition, Williams has written a handful of themes for characters including Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Poe (Oscar Isaac), along with “a major march piece” for the Resistance and a choral fanfare for Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) that inspired by a Kipling poem translated into Sanskrit.


And while “there are a few short references” to themes from earlier films, nearly all of the two-hour-plus score is new, Williams says.


So, there is quite a bit of information in that little blurb right there.


  • Mostly new music
  • New themes for Rey, Kylo Ren, and Poe
  • A new march piece for the Resistance
  • And a new choral piece for Supreme Leader Snoke.


John Williams conducting London Symphony Orchestra

Lets take these one at a time.


New Music:  This to me is a good sign.  When Williams is at his peak, he is creating and not derivative of his past work.  The fact that he had the drive to write new themes and only reference previous music in a limited fashion makes me hopeful for a classic Williams score.  On top of that, mostly new music means he should be eligible for award consideration.


New Character Themes: For the new themes, we do not know if this list is fully inclusive.  But the immediate questions that spring to mind are would seem to be…Where is Finn’s theme?  Poe, who has seemingly been demoted to secondary character status in the marketing push, warrants his own theme?  Is Kylo Ren’s theme Imperial March style bad guy accompaniment or something more somber that might reflect a deeper character arc for the masked villain.


The Resistance March: A new march for the resistance.  So, what does that mean?  We’ve seen marches in Star Wars before.  We had a Trade Federation March.  An Imperial March.  What does it mean if Williams has written a march for the forces that are presumably the good guys of the galaxy?  Does this suggest a gray area for the motivations and tactics of the Resistance or is this just that armies get marches?  Time will tell…


Williams & Abrams


Supreme Leader Snoke:  A choral theme in Sanskrit, based on a Kipling Poem.  Well that description is just jam packed full of possibilities.  Choral themes in star wars have always reflected ominous situations.  Funerals, Sith Lords, Jedi touching the dark side of the force.  So that fits with the big bad supreme leader most expect.  So does the Sanskrit.  Sanskrit has been used in Star Wars before as well.  It was used for the choral lines behind Duel of the Fates and to accompany the actions of Darth Maul on Tatooine.


So, although Snoke may not be a Sith he would definitely seem to have something in common with Darth Maul if only in imposing presence and power with the dark side.  The Kipling part would also seem to give us some clues.  Kipling was fond of writing about Imperialism and War in addition to his more famous work centering on freindly jungle animals.  Without knowing which poem is being quoted, it is difficult to look for specifics, but a quick search through Kipling’s works reveals a library of possibilities riddled with references to oppression, cultural assimilation, and the burden of imposing the ways of one culture on another.  So, it would seem to line up with what we expect from the First Order.


However it is used, this does provide us with some early insight into what we can expect from the music of The Force Awakens.  Check out the full article over at Variety.

Source: Variety



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42 thoughts on “Variety Interview with John Williams Reveals Some Bits About the Score of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  • December 10, 2015 at 3:56 am

    So now Finn doesn’t even have his own theme? I hope it’s because he “shares” it with Rey. I’m sure he DOES have one though. I’m starting to think Rey is just more established than Finn, and Finn’s story wont really unfold till Episode 8 where it’s rumored hes more of a focus (Daisy will be on and off set) and he gets a love interest. The Force Awakens is Rey’s story. I’m okay with that. I just want them to both be force sensitive!

    • December 10, 2015 at 4:03 am

      “So now Finn doesn’t even have his own theme?”

      Not necessarily,” a handful of themes including… ” could also mean he didn’t reveal all the themes. I am certain Finn will have one.

      • December 10, 2015 at 4:11 am

        I’m sure he has a motif a least. There’s no ‘Finn’s Theme’ track like there is for Rey on the soundtrack, but Boyega did say something how hearing ‘your own theme’.

    • December 10, 2015 at 4:41 am

      Well there is Track 10: “Finn’s Confession” -as listed on the purported TFA soundtrack. So I guess….less a theme but more of a…. “moment” ???

    • December 10, 2015 at 5:39 am

      Ugh Fin dies at the end of this movie dude.

      • December 11, 2015 at 12:08 pm

        If Finn dies, I hope they give us an epic character for this film atleast, Hes the most Star Warsy character/actor in the film IMO. I’m buying every shot.

    • December 10, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      I noticed that too. But, then it occurred to me: I don’t think that Luke actually had a theme either. Not officially, anyways. Just because you don’t have a theme doesn’t necessarily mean anything. MAYBE it’s because he’s not in as prominent a role as the others, but maybe it’s just because Williams didn’t think his role needed further accentuation through music. Or, maybe he has one and Williams failed to mention it 🙂

  • December 10, 2015 at 4:04 am

    I cannot wait to hear this! New John Williams is almost as exciting as new Star Wars. Almost.

  • December 10, 2015 at 4:12 am

    Finn does, indeed, have his own theme.

  • December 10, 2015 at 4:12 am

    Duel of the Fates was also a Sanskrit choral piece.

    • December 10, 2015 at 4:17 am

      Correct. I mentioned that in the article.

      • December 10, 2015 at 5:56 am

        I suspect Snoke’s theme will be closer to the emperor’s. Although not choral, the tone of the emperor’s a still very reminiscent of a sanskrit prayer.

        • December 10, 2015 at 10:58 am

          The Emperor’s theme is actually a choral piece, though only a men’s chorus. Seems like Snoke’s theme is going in the same direction, according to the article: “Snoke’s theme was recorded by a 24-voice men’s chorus”.

  • December 10, 2015 at 4:15 am

    Williams’ theme for Indiana Jones is titled “The Raiders March” and he’s as heroic as heroes can possibly get.

  • December 10, 2015 at 4:22 am

    Of course Finn has a theme. Boyega himself talked about how crazy it was to get his own theme. They didn’t list off the entire track listing in the Variety article, just a handful of the themes.

  • December 10, 2015 at 4:53 am

    Not everybody gets their own theme. Han Solo never had a theme, just the love theme with Leia, which only came in Empire.

  • December 10, 2015 at 5:14 am

    Love or hate the prequels, the music was fresh and incredible.

    Think of Duel of Fates.

    I’m glad to hear it will be mostly new music.

    • December 10, 2015 at 10:51 am

      Totally agree, and actually I’m happy they changed the way to produce the music, making the process more organic. Attack of the Clones was forced to use recordings from The Phantom Menace to complete the films.

    • December 10, 2015 at 11:24 am

      I loved the trade federation march as well. But yeah, so much good music in the prequels. Duel of fates, anakin and padme theme, anakin and obi theme

  • December 10, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Considering how derivative f the OT the main film seems to be I find it interesting that the music will go in a new direction. Ironically I would have preferred the movie to be less derivative and the music more familiar, as I think that’s a better balance.
    But, that being said, if the movie is indeed derivative then I’ll take the new music as at least something fresh and going in a different direction to make the whole product not seem like an original trilogy knockoff. So, all in all, this is probably some of the most refreshing and good news about the movie to come out recently.

  • December 10, 2015 at 5:55 am
    New international trailer with tons of new footage..should I have watched this?! Probably not! Do I regret it?! HELL NO

    • December 10, 2015 at 6:45 am

      OMG. We just got a brand new trailer.. days away from release. I didn’t expect that. FUCK. I thought Finn would be my favorite going in but how can you not like Kylo Ren? I knew Adam Driver would nail it but.. The hype has never been this high and real for a film ever. I might have the goggles on, but this movie just feels like its going to be a classic. This was the best thing they put out so far. Has marketing ever been better?… for anything ever?

      • December 10, 2015 at 7:32 am


    • December 10, 2015 at 10:49 am

      Haha thought the same “should I have seen this?” but actually if you think about it, every trailer is mainly the same stuff, and still from first full trailer to now there’s almost no new stuff going on (despite Ren menacing Rey)

    • December 10, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      Is the music from the film though? Are they firing at another exhaust port too?

  • December 10, 2015 at 6:39 am

    As Lucas said, music in SW is not just a music, but the tool for storytelling.
    Snoke theme is Sanskirt choral, indicateing that Snoke has a strong connection with Sith.

  • December 10, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Weird that Han never got his own theme.

  • December 10, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Snoke’s theme is based on a Rudyard Kipling poem. hmm…

    Here’s hoping for a Star Wars take on Rikki-Tikki Tavi.
    Space hobo gets taken in my a rich family only to discover that the family is in serious danger of being killed by a reptilian villain-couple. It has potential.

  • December 10, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Finn already confirmed he has his own theme.

  • December 10, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Fantastic article Rebo… you certainly know far more about the scores that I ever hope to, and the depth of you knowledge has given us invaluable insight

  • December 10, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Don’t take the article of Variety as “everything about the new score”. Of course there will be a theme for Finn.

    For the resistance march, wouldn’t that be the first order march? could the article be mistaken? because as far as the trailers and story indicates, there are gray individual characters, but the big picture is still the same. Actually, I expect Poe’s theme to be kind of a “resistance theme”.

  • December 10, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Glad to hear it’s mainly new music. Can’t wait to hear what Williams has managed to create!
    I’m almost as exited for the score as the actual movie, just because it’s Williams composing it.. haha.

    • December 10, 2015 at 10:52 am

      Isn’t it great that we haven’t heard nothing about it? It’s the first time I’ll watch a Star Wars film without knowing the music prior to release.

      • December 10, 2015 at 10:55 am

        Yeah, I think that’s great aswell. There’s just going to be so much new when we actually see the film, that I dare to say it will be amazing.
        If there’s anyone working on this movie that I’m very confident will deliver, it would be Williams. So not having heard anything just makes me even more exited!

  • December 10, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    I hope they eventually release the full 2-hour score.

  • December 10, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    ‘Nearly all of the films two-plus hour score is new.’

    Whelp, think I know what I’ll be doing next Fri night

  • December 10, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Maybe the Kipling poem is “The Last of the Light Brigade” – a reference to the Battle of Balaclava (and the Charge of the Light Brigade) during the Crimean War. It fits because Kipling describes the desperate state of veterans of the battle some 36 years later. If Snoke is “damaged” maybe Williams decided to echo this theme?

  • December 10, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    ‘Nearly all of the two-hour-plus score is new’

    Whelp, think I know what I’ll be doing next Friday…

  • December 10, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    You can tell from what little we’ve heard of the finished score that this will be a lot better than the PT ones (Especially II which Lucas sliced to shit). I’m guessing Finn didn’t pass the marketing test by the story group hence the alleged secondary status demotion?

    • December 11, 2015 at 12:25 am

      You mean Poe? Finn has a theme (as confirmed by John Boyega), and he’s been about equal to Rey as far as marketing goes?

      • December 11, 2015 at 4:44 am

        No, I misread it actually. I saw the clip of him talking about his theme months ago and thought it was odd that he’s not on this list. I stand by my statement if they delete it though after the whole Chinese poster controversy.

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