Review – Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian Episode 7 “Score” Details the Creation of the Show’s Brilliant Soundtrack
The seventh episode of the eight-part behind the scenes documentary has arrived, and it’s one that I’ve been very much looking forward to. Perhaps one of the most divisive elements of the show initially, the music of The Mandalorian has become one of the most iconic television scores in recent memory. This week’s Disney Gallery takes a sneak peek behind the curtain into Ludwig Göransson’s (Creed, Black Panther) studio as he reveals some of the instruments and the methods he used when composing the show’s brilliant score.
Like all Star Wars music, the music of The Mandalorian is a character in itself, and like all good characters, Mando’s score underwent some serious character development throughout the progression of the show. Holed up in his studio for a month and surrounded with nothing but instruments, Göransson got to work, bringing his unique sound to the world of Star Wars.
As producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni remind us in the episode, the music of Star Wars is a unifying element of the franchise. Fans can agree and disagree on many things, but when it comes down to it, no one argues that John Williams’ Star Wars scores are not some of the most iconic compositions in cinematic history. That being said, they didn’t want to rely too heavily on previous Star Wars themes for the show, opting instead to go in a new direction, and I for one applaud them in this decision and most of all for their choice of composer.
Favreau was first introduced to Göransson through Black Panther’s director Ryan Coogler and actor/musician Donald Glover (whom he worked with on The Lion King). Favreau was impressed with his techno-organic style, hoping the artist could bring a distinct dystopian/ western/ samurai feel to the new Star Wars show while still making it feel like it belongs in the same galaxy as the rest of Star Wars’ music. I would say that Göransson was a success on every possible level.
Personally, it didn’t take me very long to warm up to the music of The Mandalorian (ask me what my ringtone is), but even among those who were more skeptical of the show’s unique sound at first, there were many who were pumping their fists in the air a few episodes later when the more heroic aspects of the score really started to come to the forefront.
From the humble earthy tones of the recorder in the intro to the climactic orchestral performance in the show’s epic finale, Göransson’s score is a fully developed and fleshed out character on its own, and it was fascinating to get a brief look into the process behind its creation.
Before I go any further, I just want to point out how incredibly down to earth Göransson seems to be as a person. The guy just seems like he wants to make music, and he loves experimenting with new things, an aspect of his creativity that shines through in the final product. Taking cues from the western and samurai film genres, he played around with a lot of organic sounds in the beginning and later added some more techy elements to give the music a dystopian flair. Later on, a full orchestra was brought in to give off a hint of that classic Star Wars vibe and the rest is history.
This episode is a must watch for all fans of the show, but especially for those like me who were really taken by Göransson’s score. Göransson’s first instrument is the guitar, and as a guitar player myself, it was really cool to see how he used it along with the bass guitar to accent the breathy sound of the recorder and the classical sound of the piano. The 70’s era guitar synthesizer was probably my favorite thing I’ve heard in a while, and the soundboard on the wall (that could be compared to the control panel of a 747) was also pretty cool. But perhaps the best thing was just seeing how much fun he had playing each instrument.
There’s really not much more I can say about this episode other than the fact that it needs to be watched. I have loved every little attention to detail that the creators of this show have paid, and I love that so much attention was given to the show’s music as well. Music in Star Wars is always important, but perhaps for The Mandalorian, it’s even more important than ever. Göransson understood that the music was vital to help the audience connect to the main character, giving us insight to his emotions when we can’t see his face.
Stunt performers Lateef Crowder and Brendan Wayne showed us the physicality of Mando and Pedro Pascal gave us his voice. But it was Göransson that cracked open the armor and let us peer inside Mando’s soul, and in the end, that may be the most important aspect of how we connect with him as a character and as our own avatar while we experience the story from his perspective.
The musical score of The Mandalorian is the culmination of one man’s love for music and his desire to experiment with new and exciting sounds, and for that, this Star Wars fan is grateful. He may not be John Williams, but I’m perfectly fine with that. His name is Ludwig Göransson, and I hope he’ll be around for a long long time in a galaxy not too far away.
Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian episode seven, “Score”, is available to stream now on Disney +.
Jordan Pate is Co-Lead Editor and Senior Writer for Star Wars News Net, of which he is also a member of the book and comic review team. He loves all things Star Wars, but when he’s not spending time in the galaxy far far away, he might be found in our own galaxy hanging out in Gotham City or at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, NY.