Video Response to "Who is Rey? John Williams might be giving the answer in The Force Awakens Soundtrack!"
I've created and uploaded to YouTube a video version of my blog from earlier today.
A popular recently-posted YouTube video posits that Rey's theme hints at a lineage to Darth Vader. Click below to watch:
The video observes that, “If we analyze some parts of 'The Scavenger' and 'Rey's Theme' cues, there is some curious stuff.” It goes on to cite the “reflective motive” as containing “The Vader Cadence”, and therefore concluding that Rey is descended from Vader.
Here is an excerpt from “Imperial March”, with that “Vader Cadence” highlighted in red:
And here's the “reflective Motive”, with the notes in question again highlighted in red (this is a transcription from The Force Awakens original soundtrack, track 2, 3:16-3:29):
No doubt there are similarities. The melodic contour (the shape of the melody – when notes go up or when they go down) is the same. In this case, it's three notes, the lowest of which is first, the highest of which is second, and the middle of which is third.
But that's where the similarities end – intervallically, Rey's Theme is largely unrelated to Vader's.
Furthermore, this argument is entirely predicated on the reflective motive, which is the least substantial part of Rey's Theme.
Rey's Theme consists of five intermingled musical segments: (1) the tip-toe motive, (2) the chime motive, (3) the main melody, (4) the regal motive, and (5) the countermelody. All 5 of those morsels are heard frequently throughout both the film and the soundtrack. (Click here to read my article analyzing Rey's theme.)
The video claims that the reflective motive “is also present in other parts of the album.” But it is actually found just twice on the original soundtrack: Track 2 from 3:16-3:29 (the example above), and track 6 from 0:47-0:58. And that's it! The reflective motive could be added as a sixth component of Rey's Theme, but it's insignificant (both in substance and frequency) in comparison to the other five components.
Of course, this does not necessarily mean that Rey is not a descendent of Vader – that could still turn out to be true, and we'll have to wait for the subsequent episodes to know that for sure. Nor does it mean that John Williams didn't intend such a musical relationship – only the maestro himself can confirm or deny that. What it does mean, however, is that the evidence supporting the conclusion is extremely tenuous.
* * * * * * * * *
Much stronger is the musical relationship between Luke and Rey – and how both of those characters are linked to the Force.
Used throughout all seven films, The Force Theme consists of four phrases, labeled 1 through 4 in the example below:
In “The Force Awakens”, the first three phrases are important, while the concluding fourth phrase is never heard – not even once.
If (as the title of the film tells us) the Force “awakens”, that implies that the Force had been asleep. Musically symbolizing this dormancy, The Force Theme is entirely absent from the first 1/3 of the film. It's heard for the first time at the 42-minute mark, during the scene where Rey and Finn meet Han and Chewie and Rey says something like, “You are the Han Solo who fought with the rebellion.” (For reasons I do not understand, this cue is not included on the original soundtrack). But, significantly, only the first two phrases of theme are heard – noticeably absent is the climactic third phrase, with its glorious high note. This is true throughout the film until the very end. (Disclaimer: The scene where Rey defeats Kylo Ren in combat features a possible exception to this claim. Listen for yourself: track 20, 2:39.)
Rey's Theme employs a chord progression identical to the first two phrases of The Force Theme (i to IV):
At the end of the film, as Rey finds Luke Skywalker, a new theme (Luke's Theme) is heard. Luke's Theme employs the same chord progression as the third phrase of The Force Theme (i to bVI), symbolic of how Jedi Master Luke is "further along in the Force" than rookie Rey. Here's Luke's Theme (track 23, 1:10-1:20) and how it is derived from The Force Theme:
Neither Rey's Theme nor Luke's Theme alone is sufficient to fully revive The Force Theme. But when their powers combine, the theme is heard in its full glory (track 23, 1:37-1:58).
What this means biologically is inconclusive, but clearly the two characters are strongly linked musically not only to one another but also to the Force. And by the end of the film, the Force has indeed awakened.
FYC Track 15: The Abduction
0:00-1:35 = OST track 14, 0:56-2:25
Another instance where subtle timing variations suggests these two tracks are different takes of the same musical cue.
FYC Track 16: Finn and Poe, United
0:00-1:37 = OST track 15, 1:13-2:51
1:37-2:01 = not in OST
Like so many of these FYC tracks, this one is largely the same as what is heard on the OST except for the coda.
FYC Track 17: The Bombing Run
0:00-2:07 = not in OST
This is a curious track. The music is mostly incidental battle score, though at the very end we get Rey's melody. Also, the title “The Bombing Run” implies that this music accompanies the Resistance's attack on Starkiller base – but the music actually used in that scene corresponds quite clearly to the OST's “Scherzo for X-wings”. So either this FYC track was not used in the film, or the title is misleading and the audio is heard elsewhere. There are several places where the latter could prove true: My best guess is at 101 minutes (after the Falcon arrives at Starkiller base but before Han's death), though it could also be at 112 minutes (after Han's death but before the lightsaber duel with Kylo Ren), or at 89 minutes (I don't remember what's happening plot-wise at that point, but we do hear Rey's melody).
FYC Track 18: On the Inside
0:00-0:45 = not used in OST
Since it's mostly incidental (no prominent themes or motives), it's very difficult to precisely place where this music is heard in the film – if it's even heard at all.
0:45-2:41 = OST track 18, 0:02-1:59
Another instance where there are subtle differences (see FYC 1:49 compared to OST 1:11), but they're similar enough that they're clearly comparable. And once again they appear to be different takes of the same musical cue, with one being a revision of the other.
2:41- = not in OST
It's yet another example where the very end is different from what's found on the OST.
FYC Track 19: Torn Apart
0:00-0:49 = OST track 19, 0:00-0:35, 0:59-1:19
Yet again, subtle timing differences imply that these two tracks are two different takes of the same cue – and that one is a revision of the other to accommodate the film's timing. Impossible to tell it is which is which.
0:49-1:08 = not in OST
Sad incidental scoring. Judging from what is heard immediately before and after, this is the precise point in the film when Ren murders Han. The question is: Which of the two soundtracks is actually used at this point. Something to pay close attention to during future viewings.
1:08-2:26 = OST track 19, 1:33-2:47
2:26-2:33 = not in OST
A few extra seconds are included here as compared to the OST. Once again, one of these tracks is probably a revision of the other to coordinate with the film's timing.
2:33-2:44 = OST track 19, 2:47-2:58
2:44-3:05 = not in OST
Again, a few extra seconds in this version.
3:05-3:25 = OST track 19, 3:32-3:52
3:25-3:48 = not in OST
Yet again, a few extra seconds in this version.
3:48-4:24 = OST track 19, 3:52-4:19
FYC Track 20: The Ways of the Force
0:00-0:13 = OST track 21, 0:00-0:13
0:13-0:19 = OST track 21, 0:21-0:27
0:19-0:38 = not in OST
There are similarities to OST track 21, but I can't call them comparable.
0:38-1:03 = OST track 21, 0:31-0:55
1:03-1:21 = not in OST
Again, similar to OST track 21, but I can't call them comparable.
1:21-3:58 = OST track 20, 0:46-3:16
Minor difference in timing imply that these two tracks are different recordings of the same musical cue.
FYC Track 21: The Journey Home
0:00-2:18 = OST track 22, 0:00-2:05
Slight differences in timing, and the coda of the FYC track is a little different.
FYC Track 8: The Rathtars
0:00-0:09 = OST track 9, 1:21-1:31
0:10-0:25 = OST track 9, 1:46-1:59
0:26-0:41 = OST track 9, 1:33-1:46
Loosely, not precisely.
0:41-1:01 = OST track 9, 2:07-2:29
1:01-1:19 = not in OST
FYC Track 9: Snoke
0:00-0:12 = not in OST
big horn riff as intro
0:12-1:04 = OST, track 17 0:00-1:02
Not exactly, but same melodic patterns in the low voices. FYC has some extra (string) bass notes around 0:26 not in the OST, but largely the same musically.
1:04-2:07 = not in OST
The basso profundo voices heard in the first minute of the track continue in the FYC, where in the OST they are replaced by instrumental playing.
FYC Track 10: You Got A Name
0:00-1:31 = not in OST
A salient romantic “Beauty and the Beast”-esque horn passage opens this track. I don't believe it's heard in the movie – something to listen for on my third viewing. Rey's melody is heard at 0:25 played softly by a flute, then again at 0:47 by the same instrument but a bit faster and with more presence.
FYC Track 11: I’m No Hero
0:00-0:53 = OST track 10, 0:00-0:53
0:53-1:06 = not in OST
Where the OST transitions, the FYC holds and concludes.
FYC Track 12: The Starkiller
0:00-1:52 = OST track 12, 0:00-1:52
FYC Track 13: Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle
0:00-0:33 = OST track 13, 0:00-0:33
0:33-0:46 = not in OST
A few extra seconds of incidental/transitional music. This is another case where it's likely the film needed a few more/less seconds of score, so one of these takes is probably a revision/edit of the other.
0:46-1:02 = OST track 13, 0:33-0:50
1:02-1:10 = not in OST
Again, one of these tracks is probably a revision of the other to accommodate the timing needs of the movie.
1:10-1:21 = OST track 13, 0:50-1:02
Same music, different timings suggests that these are two different takes of the same cue.
1:21-2:15 = OST track 13, 1:04-2:02
Slight differences in timing again suggests different takes.
FYC Track 14: The Resistance
0:00-1:35 = not in OST
This is the Resistance March, comparable but not identical to parts of track 16 of the OST. This clip is very likely used in the film at the 76 minute point as the first appearance of the Resistance March. This is something for me to listen carefully for during a third viewing.
FYC Track 21: The Journey Home
0:00-2:06 = OST track 22, 0:00-2:04
The end of the FYC track concludes by holding a long bass note, while the OST continues on without pause.
FYC Track 22: Farewell and The Trip
0:00-1:07 = OST track 4, 0:00-1:07
Minor differences, but clearly comparable.
1:07-3:49 = OST track 22, 2:12-4:56
FYC Track 23: The Jedi Steps and Finale
0:00-6:56 = OST track 23, 0:00-6:57
Minor differences in timing suggest these are two different takes of the same cue.
6:03-8:05 = OST track 16 0:00-2:02
8:05-9:58 = OST track 23, 6:57-8:49
FYC Track 3: The Scavenger
0:00-1:48 = OST track 2, 0:37-2:20
Also comparable, but not identical. Curiously, the english horn solo at the very beginning of the OST track is omitted from the FYC – as it was omitted from the film. Logic thus suggests that the FYC version might be the one actually used in the movie. Also, the FYC track fades out sooner (so the OST has additional music after the point at which the FYC track concludes).
FYC Track 4: Lunchtime
0:00-1:12 = OST track 2, 2:19-2:40, 2:50-3:41
I speak too soon! The end of the OST track 2 is found in the FYC, just on a different track. Also note that 10 seconds or so from the OST (2:40-2:50) have been edited out of the FYC.
FYC Track 5: I Can Fly Anything
0:00-0:42 = not in OST
Sneaky incidental music, presumably as Finn and Poe begin their escape.
0:31-0:46 = OST track 3, 0:15-0:30
0:46-0:59 = not in OST
Incidental escape music.
0:59-1:39 = OST track 3, 0:30-0:41, 0:47-1:14
Note the missing six seconds from the OST. Also, there are an extra couple of seconds around FYC 1:31 not found in the OST.
1:39-1:52 = not on OST
More incidental escape music.
1:52-2:02 = OST track 3, 1:18-1:28
2:02-2:12 = not in OST
More incidental escape music.
2:12-3:18 = OST track 3, 1:39-2:38
An extra couple of seconds in the FYC (around 2:25 and again around 2:36) not found in OST.
3:24-3:40 = OST track 3, 2:38-2:53
3:40-4:09 = not in OST
Different codas, though similar in character.
FYC Track 6: Finn’s Trek
0:00-1:35 = not in OST
As Finn walks from the crash site, the music is as sparse and dry as the desert landscape he traverses. It's somewhat similar to some of the Tatooine music from A New Hope. A new and important motive is introduced at 1:14. Not sure what to call it, or to whom the motive belongs. It's traumatic in character, and is heard frequently throughout the movie. More on this motive later.
FYC Track 7: Follow Me and The Falcon
These tracks have been heavily edited, making identification and comparison between soundtracks extremely tedious and difficult. Complicating things, several of the edits are copy/pastes, but it's impossible to tell which clip is the copy and which is the paste. I've done a pretty thorough job here, but this analysis isn't as precise as some of the other tracks comparisons in this series because of the extensive editing.
0:00-1:31 = OST track 5, 0:00-1:26
Same music, but different takes (which accounts for the 5 second difference in timings of the two tracks).
1:31-1:41 = not in OST
1:41-2:18 = OST track 5, 1:26-1:59
2:18- 2:25 = not in OST
A continuation of what came immediately prior. Again, this is likely a timing issue – either a few seconds more or less of music was needed to accommodate the visuals of the film.
2:25-3:02 = OST track 5, 1:59-2:35
3:02-3:08 = not in OST
3:08-3:50 = OST, track 7, 0:00-0:42
3:50-3:56 = not in OST
Minor incidental running music (but not the Running Theme).
3:56-4:37 = OST track 7, 0:42-1:27
Very similar, but significant differences: FYC features trumpets ascending at 4:01 (this sounds like a copy/paste edit from 4:57 or vice versa), OST features trumpets descending at 0:47 (sounds like a copy/paste edit from FYC 5:19 or vice versa). Also minor differences in timing.
4:37-4:42 = not in OST
A few extra seconds of the Running Theme.
4:42-5:17 = OST track 7, 1:27-2:01
5:17-5:20 = OST, track 7, 0:46-0:49
5:20-5:38 = OST track 7, 0:20-0:42
This is a repeat of what was heard earlier (FYC 3:32-3:50).
5:38-6:24 = OST track 7, 2:13-2:55
Differences at FYC 5:50, but comparable.
6:24-6:26 = OST Track 7, 1:49-1:51
6:26-6:39 = OST track 7, 2:56-3:09
6:39-6:49 = not on OST
6:49-7:09 = OST track 7, 3:14-3:34
FYC Track 2: The Attack on the Jakku Village Part 2
0:00-0:15 = not in OST
Incidental tremolo high strings with low hits.
0:15-1:34 = OST track 1, 5:03-6:23 OST
Not identical (horn parts are little bit different between 0:33-0:35 FYC and 5:21-5:26 OST; 0:50-0:54 FYC is omitted in the OST; and there are a few extra seconds from 1:04-1:08 in the FYC that are not on the OST), but certainly comparable. Presumably one is a revision of the other - maybe the film needed a few more/less seconds in particular spots, so Williams had to add/subtract a few measures from the original. Which is the original and which is the revision is impossible to tell until the film is released and I can study the actual soundtrack in great detail.
1:34-1:53 = not in OST
A little bit more of a tail to the track than in the OST. Mostly incidental bass rumbling.
JWFan.net posted an article about a promotional (“For Your Consideration”) release of The Force Awakens soundtrack. While the majority of the music on the FYC version is similar or identical to that of the original soundtrack (OST), it's not all the same. This blog will be the first of a series comparing and contrasting the two. On the left are the FYC tracks and timings followed by an equal sign (=) and the tracks and timings of the OST which feature comparable music. Boldface text is used to highlight music heard on the FYC which is not heard in the OST.
Track 1 FYC: The Attack on the Jakku Village Part 1
0:00-1:39 = OST, track 1, 1:25-2:59
Notice the timings are different (99 second in FYC compared to 94 second in OST). There are subtle variations between the two (especially the tempo at the beginning), so presumably these are different takes of the same cue.
1:39-2:09 = not in OST
Mostly incidental (no prominent themes or motives to report).
2:09-2:17 = OST, track 1, 3:07-3:15
2:17-3:15 = not in OST
Again mostly incidental. The first couple of notes of what could have been The Force Theme are heard in the high strings starting at 2:49, but it quickly progresses to more incidental music.
3:15-3:26 = OST, track 1, 3:51-4:02
3:26-4:13 = not in OST
More incidental music.
4:13-5:02 = OST, track 1, 4:07-5:02
Again notice the subtle differences in timings (OST is 6 seconds longer, even though it's the same music). Again, probably just a different take of the same musical cue.
5:02-5:27 = not in OST
Where the OST keeps going, the FYC track concludes on a long-held low note.
It is difficult to analyze anything when your experiencing it for the first time. Only through repeated exposure can a viewer/listener begin to understand the intricacies of the product. On Monday I saw Star Wars for the second time. Here's what I was able to gather from that second viewing, comparing the music if the film to the same music on the soundtrack:
0:00 main titles [track 1, beginning]
0:06 Ren's motive [ track 1, 4:20?]
0:08 Ren's motive (low horns) [not in soundtrack]
0:09 Ren's motive (horns in unison, higher than previous) [ track 1, 5:30?]
0:10 chromatic horns [track 1, 6:13]
0:11 Rey seen for first time (no music). Flute solo [track 2, 0:38] when she shows her face for first time. Curiously, the English horn solo that opens track 2 "The Scavenger" [track 2, 0:00-0:38] is omitted from the film.
0:12 first hearing of chime motive of Rey's theme [track 2, 0:56] as she slides down sand dune. Flute tiptoe motive [track 2, 1:09], horn melody [track 2, 1:31] - both firsts.
0:13 Rey arrives home (regal motive [track 2, 1:45] first heard, celesta plays chime motive [track 2, 1:59], tiptoe [track 2, 2:08].
0:14 pensive horn solo as she eats her portion [track 2, 2:22]. Flute solo plays Rey melody [track 2, 3:00].
0:15 no music as Rey free BB-8
0:16 noodling celesta as Rey and BB-8 chat [track 4, 0:20].
0:17 Ren interrogates Poe (no music until end of scene)
0:19 Ren's motive (stopped horn) "Ren wants the prisoner" [not in soundtrack] Main theme (flute) "This is a rescue" [not in soundtrack].
0:22 Poe's theme (?) as Finn takes out turbo laser [track 3, 1:21].
0:25 no music at crash site
0:27 Ren's motive [not in soundtrack]
0:28 attempted Droid-napping (no music). Music as BB-8 sees, chases Finn.
0:29 " Poe didn't make it" (descending clarinet solo) [track 5, 0:20].
0:30 running theme first heard [track 5, 1:10].
0:32 rebel motive first heard upon first shot of millennium falcon [track 5, 2:30]. More running theme [track 7, 0:15].
0:33 falcon takes off [track 7, 0:45]. more rebel motive [track 7, 1:02].
0:35 batman-like theme (not sure whose theme yet) [track 7, 2:35]
0:36 falcon escapes to safety (flute music similar to ESB?) [track 7, 3:23]. Rey's melody slowly [track 8, 0:23].
0:37 falcon is boarded [track 8, 1:08].
0:40 ascending brass reminiscent of death star motive from ANH [track 9, 0:10]. Main theme heard as Han and Chewie make first appearance [track 9, 0:50?].
0:42 main theme again when solo enters cockpit of falcon [track 9, 0:50?]. First force theme (1st two phrases only) "you are the Han solo who fought with the rebellion" [not in soundtrack].
0:48 running theme as good guys board falcon [track 9, 2:50?].
0:49 rebel motive as falcon escapes [track 9, 3:44].
0:50 first appearance of Snoke (low make choices, reminiscent of sith theme) [track 17?].
0:54 "it's true. All of it." (solo horn force theme - very similar to earlier force theme [ not in soundtrack]. Rey's melody played by flutes in octaves [track 10, 1:00].
0:56 "job offer" (flute solo plays Rey's melody) [track 10, 1:20?].
0:59 66 motive first heard (stopped horns in octaves) [not in soundtrack].
1:00 only appearance of imperial march [not in soundtrack].
1:04 Rey's melody (quiet horn) as she is drawn to Luke's light saber [not in soundtrack].
1:07 Jurassic park motive? [track 11?]. Force theme (horn, two phrases only) as Maz advises Rey [track 11, 2:15].
1:08 rey runs from Maz (Rey's counter melody) [track 11, 2:40].
1:10 star killer strings [track 12].
1:13 Ren's motive (brass in octaves, then unison horns) [track 13, 0:51 and 1:29]. Rey's melody (solo English horn) [track 13, 1:44].
1:15 first appearance of resistance march as the resistance comes to the rescue [not in soundtrack].
1:17 poe's theme (?). [not in soundtrack but similar to what is heard at track 3, 1:21]. Three iterations of 66 motive, progressively bigger [track 14, 0:20].
1:18 Ren's motive (stopped horns in octaves) [track 14, 0:48].
1:19 Rey's regal motive [track 14, 1:21], melody (strings in octaves) [track 14, 1:40], regal [track 14, 1:55].
1:20 first appearance of Leia's theme (flute) [track 15, 0:13]. princess theme [track 15, 0:42].
1:21 resistance march [track 15, 1:24].
1:24 bouncy bass clarinet [track 15, 2:59]. Leia's theme (flute) [track 15, 3:28].
1:25 66 motive x2 (quiet) [track 15, 3:46]. Force theme (horn) [track 15, 4:05].
1:26 66 motive? (very quiet) [not in soundtrack].
1:28 66 motive x2 ('x3?) [not in soundtrack].
1:29 Rey melody [not in soundtrack].
1:30 smoke (male chorus) [track 17?] 66 motive [not in soundtrack].
1:31 66 motive (loud brass) [not in soundtrack].
1:33 resistance march builds [not in soundtrack].
1:34 resistance march full. Leia's theme "I hate when you leave" [not in soundtrack].
1:35 princess theme [not in soundtrack].
1:36 falcon arrived at star killer (rebel motive) [not in soundtrack].
1:41 rey melody [not in soundtrack].
1:42 rey melody [not in soundtrack].
1:44 Han and Chewie set charges on star killer [track 18, 0:20]. Ren's motive [track 18, 0:47], ren again (slowly by muted trumpets) [track 18, 1:06].
1:49 han's death [track 19, 1:29].
1:50 Ren's motive (ff horns unison) [track 19, 2:48].
1:51 Ren's motive [track 19, 3:48]. 66 motive [not in soundtrack], Rey melody [track 19, 3:55].
1:53 Rey claims Luke's saber: Force theme, dies irae??? [not in soundtrack].
1:55 scherzo for x wings (main theme all over the place) [track 21].
1:56 66 motive [track 20, 1:11], ren's motive [track 20, 1:20], force theme [track 20, 1:53].
1:57 rey melody [track 20, 2:10], force theme (high note of this phrase for first time) as rey defeats ren [track 20, 2:39]. Ren motive (f horns) [track 20, 2:54].
1:58 falcon rescues Finn and rey: Rey counter melody [track 22, 0:10].
1:59 poe's theme (??) as star killer blows up [track 22, 0:36]. Force theme (trumpet rapid triplets) [track 22, 0:51]. Rey melody [track 22, 1:27].
2:00 Leia theme [track 22, 1:51].
2:02 force theme (horn, strings) [track 22, 2:16].
2:03 rey theme (slow and sad) [track 22, 2:43]. Leia's theme [track 22, 2:57].
2:04 main theme (horn) [track 22, 3:55]. Rey tiptoe [track 22, 4:04], melody [track 22, 4:08], and regal [track 22, 4:21].
2:05 Jurassic park motive [track 23, 0:06].
2:06 Luke's theme? [track 23, 0:19], force theme [track 23, 1:39].
With additional viewings, I will continue to hone and develop the relationship between the visual and audio components of the film.
The biggest new musical contribution of Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens is "Rey's Theme", the sixth track of the soundtrack.
The theme consists of five intermingled snippets, listed here in order of appearance on the track:
This modal motive is repetitive and sneaky, so I've dubbed it the tip-toe motive.
Less active than the tip-toe motive, this snippet is bell-like and thus dubbed the chime motive.
This is the main melody of Rey's Theme, and it's sweeping, ultra-romantic tune is classic John Williams.
The extroverted and royal character of this passage contrasts with the more shy and introverted character of the tip-toe and chime motives. I've dubbed it the regal motive.
And lastly, this tune is strongly related to the primary melody (same i-IV modal harmonies), but is heard just once in the track (as opposed to the melody, which is heard three times). Its secondary importance earns it the term counter melody.
With those five musical morsels in mind, here's a thematic analysis of the track:
Time Music Instrument(s) Tonality
0:00 tip-toe flute A minor
0:14 chime celesta A minor
0:23 tip-toe violins A minor
0:33 melody horn, strings A minor
1:00 chime horns A minor
1:10 chime flutes B-flat minor
1:15 chime flutes B minor
1:21 counter horns D minor
1:40 melody strings D minor
1:56 regal horns D minor
2:13 melody strings E-flat minor
2:24 regal strings, trumpets E-flat minor
2:39 chimes flutes E-flat minor
2:49 tip-toe celesta E-flat minor
The Music of Star Wars
These posts will help focus and develop my analyses of John Williams' film scores.