Study Guide

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Music (Score)

Music (Score)

Since 1977, Williams has returned to compose the score for every Star Wars film, making him a series mainstay along with R2-D2, lightsabers, and inflated expectations from the fanboys.

John Williams' score for the original Star Wars was widely praised, with some calling it the best film score of all time. The reason for this universal acclaim is because it's really, really, really good. (Source)

Williams is famous for his classic, orchestral scores, using his music to provide an "emotional anchor" to the events on screen. You'll find many great examples of this use of music throughout Williams' career, but if you're looking for some choice examples, we'd recommend Home Alone, Jurassic Park, and any of the Indiana Jones films.

And, of course, the original Star Wars soundtrack. Did we mention how good it is yet?

Back in the Saddle Again

For The Phantom Menace, Williams returned and continued to work with the London Symphony Orchestra. Some of his classic compositions return in the film, such as the "Star Wars Main Theme," which once again graces the opening crawl and gets the audience excited for the adventure to come.

Williams composed a bunch of new tracks for The Phantom Menace, too. Some felt entirely new to Star Wars at the time but have since become as beloved as the "Mos Eisley Cantina Song." Others drew elements from the original Star Wars trilogy tracks and reintroduced them in new ways.

Sampling

Let's consider "Anakin's Theme" first. The song plays when Anakin meets Padmé in Watto's shop, and we're being introduced to him.

The song uses lilting flutes and soft strings to create a soft sound for the character. He is, after all, an innocent child, but the strings have a melancholic quality in some notes, signaling the difficult life Anakin has had as a slave—a musical choice complemented by Anakin's line, "I'm a person [not a slave] and my name is Anakin."

Also, if you listen very carefully, you can hear that Williams has hidden a few notes from "The Imperial March" into the theme, foreshadowing Anakin's dark fate.

We should also consider the super-popular "Duel of the Fates," which debuted in The Phantom Menace but would find its way into all of the prequel films. The composition plays during the epic lightsaber duel between Darth Maul, Obi-Wan, and Qui-Gon. The orchestra opens with a slowly building combination of strings, horns and percussion to build a sense of excitement that bursts into a quicker tempo to match the adrenaline of the duel.

The London Voices choir provides the vocals with words in Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hinduism. The words Williams choose for "The Duel of the Fates" came from a Welsh poem by Taliesin called "The Battle of the Trees." Williams translated a part of the poem into Sanskrit, which read, "Under the tongue root, a fight most dread, / And another rages behind in the head." Seems appropriate, huh? (Source)

Later, the choir returned for "Qui-Gon's Funeral." This theme also uses Sanskrit to add a quality of religious mysticism; only this time the choir is more subdued. Williams also include a few notes of the "The Force Theme" (a.k.a. "Binary Sunset") in the funeral dirge. This theme has been included in every Star Wars film and signals that Qui-Gon's death is a pivotal moment in the larger saga.

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