Music has always been an integral part of the “Star Wars” universe, dating back to John Williams’ scores for the original film trilogy. So will Emmy voters recognize one, two or all three of the recent “Star Wars” TV series in the rating categories?
Competing for consideration: 12-part “Andor,” featuring music by Emmy Award winner and Oscar nominee Nicholas Britell (“Succession”); “Obi-Wan Kenobi” in six parts, with a new theme by Williams and a score by English composer Natalie Holt (“Loki”); and the eight-part third season of “The Mandalorian,” with music by Joseph Shirley. All aired on Disney+.
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Britell spent more than two years on “Andor,” the backstory of “Rogue One” hero Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), including several months creating music that played on set during filming, based on cues from Time Grappler’s hammer on Ferrix. to the alien electronica in Morlana’s clubs and the amateur funeral band playing a dirge for Cassian’s mother in the finale.
“The role of music really evolved throughout the series, as Cassian learns about himself,” says Britell. “It really grows in scope throughout the 12 episodes.” The score combined traditional orchestra (up to 80 players), synthesizers, sampled sounds, and advanced production techniques.
Unlike most series, the main title music changed every week depending on where the story took place and what was happening in Cassian’s life. “It was a constant feeling of discovery, because each new episode was often a new planet, a new chapter unfolding,” says Britell.
Cassian’s homeworld of Kenari, for example, needed “a forest texture, percussion, the sound of leaves rustling.” Ultimately, Britell wrote seven and a half hours of music, recorded over the course of a year in London—”more work than I’ve ever done in my life,” she says. She is now working on season 2, scheduled to debut next year.
For “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy persuaded Williams to return one last time to the “Star Wars” universe he helped originate. “It turned out that Obi-Wan was the only major ‘Star Wars’ character he hadn’t written a theme for,” says the five-time Oscar winner (although Williams’ Force theme doubled as music for the Obi-Wan original). Wan played by Alec Guinness in the 1977 film).
The challenge, adds Williams, was to create “a musical signature that would capture the essence of this great Jedi warrior, mentor, friend and spiritual guide, one of George Lucas’s most brilliant and enduring characters.”
He wrote a four-minute piece that hints at Obi-Wan’s loneliness and restlessness, and an Emmy nomination in the main title theme category may be the only sure thing between any of these entries.
This complicated Holt’s task, as she had already begun the score weeks before Williams signed. “His involvement with her unlocked the use of those heritage themes,” she explains, referring to key Williams pieces from the original trilogy, including music for a young Darth Vader, which became especially appropriate later in the series.
But new characters like The Inquisitors offered a chance to write something new, he adds, “making them really edgy, with synths and a driving rhythmic element underneath.” Similarly, the young Princess Leia depicted was a brave girl and not the elegant diplomat we remember from the movies, so she earned her own new musical motif.
Holt enlisted two of the world’s greatest classical soloists, violinist James Ehnes and cellist Caroline Dale, to contribute solos, and while beginning work in London, he flew to the United States to write and record most of it with a 75-piece Los Angeles orchestra. Swedish folk musician Ale Möller also played “a huge old hunting horn” in parts of the score.
“Mandalorian” Season 3 composer Shirley assisted Ludwig Göransson during the previous two seasons (each of which won Emmy Music Awards) and composed the music for “The Book of Boba Fett” using Göransson’s themes . So he was ready to take on the mantle for the final adventures of Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) as they prepare to retake their homeworld.
“Bo-Katan has a theme that follows her throughout the season, and she plays a pivotal role. Jon [Favreau, showrunner] he wanted a more substantial sound to accompany his ride.” Little Grogu, once again known as “Baby Yoda,” has two themes: one, “a day in the life” and the other, “Grogu saving the day,” Shirley notes.
“This season has a bit more solid orchestral foundation” than previous seasons, says the composer. “As we get deeper into episodes 7 and 8, it’s a bigger orchestral sound.” Mandalore has his own music: “musically, a sad, faded, desolate aesthetic,” he says. “It’s a very dark place.”
Shirley even wrote songs for the pubs, including “a weird little blues song, me singing in this robot voice,” in the classic Corellian parlance of “Star Wars,” “music they might be listening to over a beer.” ”
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