Dec 20, 2021
When Luke looks out at the Burning Homestead, we hear an overt
reference to the first four notes of Dies Irae. What is the meaning
of this musical meme? Where else does the Dies Irae show up in Star
Wars? Alex Ludwig AKA "Dies Irae guru" joins us today to help us
gain a deeper understanding of this foundational musical trope.
- 00:00 - Hello there!
- 03:33 - What is Dies Irae?
- 04:56 - "Dies Irae" Gregorian chant clip.
- 06:05 - Dies Irae in the "Burning Homestead" clip.
- 08:10 - The 3 types of Dies Irae references.
- 08:20 - Type 1: full chant statement.
- 11:13 - Type 2: four-note statement, most common type.
- 14:04 - Type 3: ostinato pattern
- 16:26 - Why is type 3 the most controversial?
- 17:26 - Sensitivity vs. specificity.
- 19:20 - Assessing the Dies Irae-ness of "Alternate Binary
- 21:08 - If we're steeped in modern Western tonal language (most
of us are), Dies Irae can sound like it outlines a minor triad,
with sadness coded into it.
- 24:38 - Xanthe thinks "Burning Homestead" example is hopeful,
while Alex does not. (Music interpretation is subjective!)
- 27:36 - Rhythmic displacement and John Williams planting the
seeds of tension prior to the actual Dies Irae instance.
- 31:39 - Does the music sound sad, or is it sad, because we are
connecting it with the story? Chicken or the egg.
- 32:02 - Chaotic listening experiment #1: Gregorian chant
- 34:00 - Original characteristics of Dies Irae.
- 37:46 - Frank Lehman shoutout. We are fans.
- 38:33 - Chaotic listening experiment #2: Star Wars edition.
Would you consider those "Dies Irae" or not?
- 41:33 - Coincidences.
- 43:38 - Would we diagnose the music in Obi-Wan's hut with a
case of Dies Irae? (listening example). Alex and Xanthe have
- 45:42 - The Force Awakens, Rey's journey, answering the hero's
call, how Dies Irae might play in.
- 48:48 - Rogue One Dies Iraes.
- 50:40 - Multiple transformations of Dies Irae, Mozart, Verdi,
Romantic programmatic music, etc. From chant to sacred setting to
secular spooky piece to Hollywood.
- 55:13 - Late 19th century composers influenced the first wave
of film composers; Dies Irae may have been passed down.
- 58:41 - Catholic perspectives on Dies Irae. The "Dies Irae" was
actually dropped by the Vatican because it was thought to be too
frightening. However, some Catholics find it awe-inspiring, as it
invites them to a "deeper, more serious faith," grasping that
"choices and actions have eternal consequences."
- 1:04:47 - Is Dies Irae a meme, a trope, or both?
- 1:08:48 - Do you think the Dies Irae will be played out pretty
soon? Is it too cliche now that it's blown up so much?
- 1:09:53 - A question for listeners!
- 1:15:04 - Overview of the soundscape in the rest of these 5
minutes. "Close your eyes and you know exactly where you are."
- 1:21:00 - SWMM Questionnaire
Stuff from the episode:
- 3. Force
- 13) Dies Irae
- 5. Death Star
- 6a. Imperials (Motif)
- 4. Leia
- Note: I use the theme names and numbers established in Frank
Lehman's Complete Catalogue of the Musical Themes of Star Wars. You
can download it free at his website: https://franklehman.com/starwars/.
- "The Return Home"
- "Mos Eisley Spaceport"
- "Shootout in the Cell Bay/Dianoga"
- "Cantina Band"
STAR WARS MUSIC MINUTE QUESTIONNAIRE:
1. In exactly 3 words, what does Star Wars sound
- triumphant brass fanfares
- ominous contrapuntal warblings
2. What's something related to Star Wars music or sound
that you want to learn more about?
- What it's like for new composers (Michael Giacchino, John
Powell, Ludwig Göransson, etc) to play in the playground of Star
Wars music -- to have all these themes at their fingertips, get to
use them and take them to new places. "What is it like to get the
keys to this kingdom as a composer?"
3. What's a score or soundtrack you're fond of besides
anything Star Wars?
- The Social Network (composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
and Sunset Boulevard (composed by Franz Waxman)
Star Wars Music Minute: