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Star Wars Music Minute

Jun 11, 2021

Beethoven once called the trombone the "voice of God," but how does this low brass instrument factor into the music of The Last Jedi? From stings to stabs, pads, and more, trombonist Adam Liebreich-Johnsen explains various trombone textures and talks about the role of low brass in Star Wars scores. This set of Last Jedi minutes happens to have one of his favorite low brass moments!

Discussion topics/Highlights:

  • The various trombone colors, textures and other brass textures used in the score: block chords, French horn stings, trumpet stings, etc
  • "sting" = an accented hit that's often an interjection between other musical phrases. This is a common way to refer to that in jazz and commercial circles.
  • "stab" = similar to a sting.
  • The infamous iron (a reference to fan film "Hardware Wars")
  • Sounds favs: blasters being cocked, the iron steaming, BB-8 imitating the melodic mouse droids
  • "through-composed" music = essentially (in terms of this discussion), music that's relatively continuous and non-repetitive.
  • NOTE: In this episode, Adam nails the definition of "through-composed" (music that doesn't repeat its sections or stanzas) while I'm a bit off (music that's more bespoke and fits more specifically to what's going on in the scene rather than relying on patterns and big main themes). Ultimately, our assessments of "through-composed" music actually line up, but in the episode, I'm admittedly describing more of an effect/my interpretation of how through-composed music affects scenes rather than the technical elements that define it. Just want to clear that up!
  • Bass (singing) sub-harmonics
  • parallel and planar motion, specifically the planar triads we hear in one part during these minutes
  • Real trombones vs. in sample libraries

Themes Referenced (in order of appearance):

  • Main Theme
  • Kylo Ren 2 (Hesitant)
  • Kylo Ren 1 (Aggressive) - hinted in oboe
  • Snoke's Theme
  • Rose's Theme
  • Resistance March
  • 89. Subterfuge (incidental motif) throughout

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