Is the galaxy far, far away… full of nods?

Item: Music From the Star Wars Trilogy (Call Number 94.7 W673 A3)

When we think about big blockbuster movies, we might remember them by their soundtrack. Movies like Jaws, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Superman, and (everyone’s favorite) Star Wars have rich underlining soundtracks that push their characters’ stories to the next level. In honor of “May the Fourth be with you,” we want to give you the scoop on the many nods to classical and jazz composers you can find in the Star Wars soundtrack.

Item: The planets / Gustav Holst. (Call Number 61 H737 P6)

John Williams uses leitmotif as a major way to develop his compositions while nodding to major influences through his work on Star Wars. For example, the Star Wars “Main Theme” contains several nods towards different composers. The most commonly-known is Gustav Holst’s “Mars” from his symphony “The Planets”. Williams makes this one very obvious since he even uses the passage in the same key and with a similar rhythmic pattern.

Item: Star wars : suite for orchestra (Call Number 94 W673 St2)

He was similarly influence by Eric Wolfgang Korngold’s “Main Theme” from the TV show Kings Row, which is an opening measures are the inspiration for the Star Wars “Main Theme”.

Another fan favorite can be spotted in “Cantina I” from A New Hope. The music is heavily influenced by jazz composer Benny Goodman. Goodman’s “Love Me Or Leave Me, a song originally written by Walter Donaldson and featured in the musical play Whoopee!, directly influenced the cantina music. The music proved so popular that it has been dubbed its “own genre” in the Star Wars universe. Williams’ “new genre” establishes a different and less serious atmosphere for our main characters on their journey.

Item: Music From the Star Wars Trilogy (Call Number 94.7 W673 A3)

Item: Broadway musicals show by show : 1917-1929 : a musical and historical look at Broadway’s biggest hits based on the best-selling book by Stanley Green ; piano-vocal (Call Number 93.7 A2 B73)

In conclusion, we all know that John Williams’ work on the Star Wars films is a cornerstone to his legacy. However, when we look deeper, we see his deep appreciation and knowledge of classical and jazz music. His use of nods, reference, and leitmotif have created depth in the Star Wars musical canon. Dig deeper and discover even more shades to his brilliance.

Happy Spring, and May the Fourth be with you!