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Star Wars Music Minute

May 20, 2022

Dan Golding is back, and ahhh OKAY, we need to talk about the fact that Luke's theme plays like a pop anthem when Han lays eyes on the Millennium Falcon (!!!) In this episode, we examine the musical devices that contribute to that epic reveal, discuss John Powell's internal logic, evaluate Powell's underscore, talk about nostalgia in the Star Wars franchise, and more. Turns out there are lots of great conversation starters in minutes 61-65 of Solo: A Star Wars Story!

Discussion Guide:

  • 00:00 - Hello there!
  • 03:56 - Listening to the beginning of the minutes.
  • 09:43 - Do various Solo themes all kinda sound the same?
  • 17:36 - Harry Potter + Nightmare Before Christmas vibes when they're walking up to the Millennium Falcon.
  • 24:43 - Listening to the Millennium Falcon reveal moment.
  • 25:38 - Luke's theme (the Star Wars Main Theme), John Powell's internal logic in using it, reminiscence therapy.
  • 31:50 - Pop chords, The Rise of Skywalker trailer.
  • 38:12 - The Solo trailer.
  • 41:26 - Anthemic Main Theme. Augmented melody, metrical shift that emphasizes strong beats, simple harmony, suspensions, violin tremolo upper pedal point, choir "ahhh"... it's full bore!
  • 45:16 - Dan's out-of-the-box personal choir, ongoing debate in film music re: mixing real instruments in a way that purposely makes them sound like digital instruments.
  • 55:45 - Effortless weaving of themes.
  • 57:47 - Enfys Nest briefly shows up, percussive 3-note pattern, hear me out: Shostakovich String Quartet No.8 Mvt. 4?
  • 1:09:55 - Thumbs up to John Powell's underscoring.
  • 1:15:07 - Donald Glover's vocal performance.
  • 1:21:43 - Does the Millennium Falcon deserve its own theme? Discussion about leitmotif-based film scoring, how it's not always necessary.
  • 1:35:40 - How media can cheat death, memorializing characters, nostalgia, Kodak's (unpublished) Death Campaign of 1932.
  • 1:42:10 - SWMM Questionnaire
  • 1:44:48 - Laying down the gauntlet for Frank Lehman :)

Things Mentioned + Things to Check Out:

Musical Themes:

  • 1a. Main Theme (A Section)
  • 5. The Gang
  • 7a. Enfys Nest 1
  • 2b. Young Han Solo (Searching Variant, comp. JW)
  • 1. Young Han Solo (Heroic, comp. JW)
  • 8. L3-37
  • 2a. Young Han Solo (Searching, comp. JW)

Where are we in the soundtrack(s)?:

  • "L3 & Millennium Falcon" or "L3 & Millennium Falcon (3M26)" - whole thing
  • "Family Stories (4M27)" - whole thing



1. In exactly 3 words, what does Star Wars sound like?

  • Nimble orchestral nostalgia.
  • Previous answer: Mythic orchestral memory

2. What's something related to Star Wars music or sound that you want to learn more about?

  • What will Natalie Holt's soundtrack for the Obi-Wan Kenobi series sound like? (this episode was recorded prior to the Kenobi premiere)
  • Previous answer: Given all the new directions that various Star Wars scores have gone since John Williams was at the helm (ex. Solo: A Star Wars Story, The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, etc), will we ever return to the original sort of orchestral sound? If so, how will we get there? It takes a specific set of talents to make this kind of music. Trying new things is great, but will Star Wars ever be able to return to the sound in that same way?

3. What's a score or soundtrack you're fond of besides anything Star Wars?

  • Watership Down (composed by Angela Morley)
  • Previous answer: Vertigo (composed by Bernard Herrmann)


Guest: Dan Golding


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