My thanks to fellow Beatles and Star Wars fan Matt Blick, of The Beatles Songwriting Academy, for pointing out a similarity between John Williams' "Rebel Motif" as heard in Star Wars: A New Hope and Leighton Lucas' score to the 1958 movie Ice Cold in Alex. A clip from the latter may be found below.
This music bear striking similarities to Williams', particularly towards the end, around 1:40 - a transcription of which is provided below.
Now compare with the opening scene from A New Hope, as heard at the beginning of the third track from the soundtrack.
Although Alex is fast (a tempo of roughly 180 bpm) and Star Wars is slower (about half as fast), both feature a Mars-inspired ostinato in the lower strings, with a fanfare consisting of two major chords a minor third apart heard in the treble voices. Furthermore, in both, this fanfare opens with a very short anacrusis (think of the "ta" in "ta-da") followed by a long held chord that resolves to the lower chord, which is shorter in duration than the held chord, but longer in duration than the anacrusis.
I think it's a safe bet that Ice Cold in Alex was on John Williams' temp track for Star Wars!
Two of the more important musical elements of "A New Hope" are the Main theme and the Rebel motif - and they are clearly related. At the end of the first phrase of the Main theme are the chords A-flat, G, and F. These same chords are used near the end of the Rebel motif, indicated in the graphic below with red lines.
Furthermore, the chord progressions used throughout the Rebel motif are identical to the one borrowed from the Main theme. The technical description would be two major chords, the latter a minor third lower pitched than the first. In the Main theme, the G chord functions as a neighbor chord; and in the Rebel motif, the G chord functions as a passing chord, which is to say that in both instances the G chords are of secondary importance. Rather, the chords of primary importance are A-flat and F - and there is the seminal pattern of two major chords where the second is a minor third lower.
The Rebel motif then takes that descending minor third and uses it a total of four times (as indicated below with red boxes) - thrice from F to D, plus the A-flat to F borrowed from the Main theme.
Lastly, also notice that the final two boxes overlap - the F serves as both the bottom of the progression from A-flat to F, and as the top of the progression from F to D.
All of this is to say that the heroic Main theme is strongly related to the Rebel motif. In other words, from the music alone we know that the Rebels are the "good guys".
This concordance of the music heard in the Special Edition DVD release of "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope" dictates precisely what themes and motifs (as defined in my previous blog "A New Hope" Index of Musical Themes and Motifs") are heard in the film and when (give or take a few seconds). Mixed in, of course, is a great deal of incidental scoring that is NOT based on those repeated themes or motifs, and is thus not included in this timeline, which is only concerned with recurring musical material. For reference, approximately simultaneous quotes are listed on the right-hand side.
Episode IV: A New Hope
0:00:00 20th Century Fox Fanfare
0:00:30 Main Theme, parts a & b Main titles
0:02:08 Rebel motif
0:02:28 Rebel motif
0:02:43 Rebel motif "Did you hear that?"
0:03:46 Imperial motif
0:04:17 Rebel motif
0:04:54 Force theme "R2-D2, where are you?"
0:05:07 Leia's theme
0:05:33 Stormtrooper motif
0:06:18 Leia's theme "There's one. Set for stun."
0:06:43 Imperial motif "You'll be deactivated for sure."
0:07:30 Imperial motif "Darth Vader. Only you could be so bold."
0:08:51 Death Star motif "There'll be no one to stop us this time."
[0:09:01-0:10:29 No music]
[0:11:24-0:12:31 No music]
0:12:31 Jawa theme 1 "Utini!"
0:13:10 Jawa theme 2
0:13:38 Jawa theme 3
0:15:10 Imperial motif
0:16:08 Jawa theme 1 "We're doomed."
0:16:32 Jawa theme 2 "Will this never end?"
0:16:54 Jawa theme 1
0:17:15 Main theme, part a "Luke? Tell uncle if he gets a translator..."
[0:17:48-0:19:17 No music]
[0:19:41-0:21:08 No music]
0:21:40 Leia's theme "I think she was a passenger on our last voyage..."
[0:23:02-0:25:12 No music]
0:25:12 Main theme, part a "Owen, he can't stay here forever..."
0:25:39 Force theme Binary sunset
0:26:11 Rebel motif "What are you doing hiding back there?"
0:26:31 Main theme, part a "That R2 unit has always been a problem."
0:26:46 Force theme "How could I be so stupid?"
[0:27:22-0:27:47 No music]
0:27:57 Tusken Raiders theme "Hit the accelerator."
0:30:16 Force theme "Come here my little friend."
[0:30:46-0:31:04 No music]
0:31:04 Force theme "Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time."
0:31:51 Tusken Raiders theme "I think we'd better get in doors."
[0:32:43-0:34:09 No music]
0:34:09 Imperial motif "How did my father die?"
0:34:39 Force theme "The Force is what gives a jedi his power."
0:35:12 Leia's theme "Years ago you served my father int he Clone Wars"
[0:35:52-0:36:12 No music]
0:36:35 Force theme "Learn about the Force, Luke."
0:36:54 Imperial motif "You must do what you feel is right, of course."
[0:37:08-0:39:05 No music]
0:40:04 Force theme "Wait, Luke, it's too dangerous."
0:40:36 Force theme
0:40:48 Dies irae
0:40:55 Death Star motif
0:41:02 Imperial motif
0:41:04 Leia's theme
0:42:13 Force theme "I want to learn the ways of the Force."
0:43:27 Imperial motif "How long have you had these droids?"
0:43:59 Force theme "Move along."
[0:44:08-0:44:51 No music]
0:44:51 Cantina Band 1
[0:47:00-0:47:15 No music]
0:47:15 Cantina Band 1
[0:47:33-0:47:40 No music]
0:47:40 Cantina Band 2
[0:49:53-0:49:56 No music]
0:49:57 Cantina Band 2
[0:51:13-0:51:42 No music]
0:52:13 Main theme, part a "Alright, give it to me. I'll take it."
0:52:42 Jabba's theme "Solo!"
0:54:12 Main theme, part a "If the ship's as fast as his boasting..."
[0:54:40-0:55:03 No music]
0:55:03 Imperial motif "Hello, sir."
0:55:23 Force theme "Stop that ship! Blast 'em!"
0:55:46 Force theme "Our passengers must be hotter than I thought."
0:56:59 Death Star motif
[0:57:18-0:58:09 No music]
[0:59:30-1:04:27 No music]
1:05:24 Rebel theme "There are alternatives to fighting."
1:05:49 Stormtrooper motif "To your stations. Come with me."
[1:06:10-1:07:14 No music]
1:07:23 Force theme "Boy, it's lucky you had these compartments."
1:07:44 Imperial motif "If the scanners pick up anything, report it immediately."
[1:08:21-1:08:53 No music]
1:08:32 Imperial motif fragment "Take over, we've got a bad transmitter."
1:08:51 Main theme, part a "Between him howling and you blasting..."
[1:09:05-1:12:30 No music]
1:13:54 Main theme, part a "This is not going to work."
1:14:43 Main theme, part a
1:15:55 Rebel motif "Luke, we're gonna have company."
1:15:58 Leia's theme "Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper."
1:16:11 Main theme, part a "I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm here to rescue you."
[1:16:25-1:17:07 No music]
1:17:22 Imperial motif
1:17:39 Rebel motif "Looks like you managed to cut off our only escape route."
1:18:36 Imperial motif "Get in there you big furry oaf."
[1:19:08-1:22:15 No music]
1:22:27 Imperial motif "Look! There!"
[1:24:35-1:24:58 No music]
[1:25:42-1:25:55 No music]
1:27:00 Main theme, part a "There she is."
1:27:35 Stormtrooper & Imperial motifs
1:28:24 Main theme, part a
1:28:42 Main theme, part b
1:28:58 Main theme, part a "Here they come."
1:29:08 Leia's theme
1:29:18 Stormtrooper motif "We think they may be splitting up."
1:29:32 Main theme, part a "Where could they be?"
1:29:45 Stormtrooper & Imperial motifs "Close the blast doors"
[1:30:10-1:32:17 No music]
1:32:20 Force theme
1:32:30 Leia's theme
1:32:59 Rebel motif "I hope that old man got that tractor beam..."
1:33:27 Force theme "Coming up on their sentry ship."
1:34:33 TIE Fighter attack & Rebel motif "Here they come."
1:35:57 Death star motif
[1:36:07-1:44:59 No music]
1:45:59 Death Star motif
1:46:33 Force theme "This is Red 5. I'm going in."
1:46:56 Imperial theme "We count 30 rebel ships, Lord Vader."
1:48:44 Force theme "Whatch your back, Luke."
1:49:07 Force theme "I can't shake him."
[1:49:38-1:53:26 No music]
1:53:59 Imperial motif "What about that tower?"
1:55:19 Main theme, part a "Hang on R2."
1:55:38 Force theme "Use the Force, Luke."
1:55:56 Main theme, part a "Luke, you switched off your targeting computer."
1:57:33 Rebel motif "Remember, the Force will be with you. Always."
[1:57:40-1:58:24 No music]
1:58:24 Throne Room, part a (Force theme) Medal ceremony
1:59:20 Throne Room, part b (independent)
1:59:37 Main theme, part b
1:59:53 Throne Room, part c
2:00:09 Main theme, part a End credits
2:00:20 Rebel motif
2:00:47 Main theme, part a
2:01:05 Main theme, part b
2:01:28 Main theme, part a
2:01:45 Main thee, part b
2:02:03 Main theme, part a
2:02:25 Leia's theme (+ Rebel motif)
2:03:11 Main theme, part a
2:03:27 Main theme, part b
2:03:43 Rebel motif
Here is a list of all the musical themes and motifs (i.e. recurring musical patterns - I am not including the extra incidental music that is heard once and then never reprised) used in "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope", with a brief musical score excerpt included for reference, roughly in order of significance.
Tusken Raiders Theme (no score, but audio example):
NOTE: Throne Room, part a is not included here because it is identical to the Force theme illustrated above.
The Music of Star Wars
These posts will help focus and develop my analyses of John Williams' film scores.