Release date: February 6th 2012
Running time: 01:18:33 minutes
Composers: John Williams
When the first of a three-part prequel to the famous Star Wars saga was announced for release, fans across the world waited in anticipation – not only for the film, but also for the latest instalment from John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Reiterating many of the familiar themes which are renowned worldwide, the soundtrack to the re-release of Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace 3D also offers a variety of new material which will please fans old and new alike.
After opening with the Star Wars Main Title and The Arrival at Naboo variation, we are immediately presented with a dramatic change of style in Duel of the Fates. It is a full-on large symphonic orchestra and choir piece performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices. Using Ostinato motifs, the piece has a religious feel due to the use of the chorus. It is instantly an epic piece, with the orchestral parts of the score more subtly sandwiching the brash grandeur of the choral parts. It is a continuous hill walk in terms of dynamics, with crescendos and diminuendos throughout. It was immediately an instant favourite of mine, and a bold offering from Williams.
Anakin’s Theme then immediately changes the mood and style again; Played Grazioso, the instrumentation is that of a typical orchestra and could easily be a movement taken from a much larger piece of work. It combines high strings with long, lush melodies and pleasing cadences, as well as utilising rising and falling melodic motions. It is a complete contrast to the previous track. Jar Jar’s Introduction and The Swim To Otoh Gunga utilises playful call and response brass motifs, with pizzicato strings and chromatic ornamentation in the first part, accompanied by soft female chorus, leading into an orchestral section.
The Sith Spacecraft and The Droid Battle build into a mass of crashing percussion, pulsating strings, rhythmic melodies, high woodwind and string trills. It is yet again a complete contrast to the previous track – it is lively and driving. The Arrival At Tatooine and The Flag Parade combine sweet woodwind solos with pizzicato strings and bold brass melodies, before progressing into another climax of muted brass and percussion, like a fanfare. Many of these themes seem to be developed and extended throughout the following tracks, such as He Is The Chosen One and Anakin Defeats Sebulba.
Passage Through The Planet Core creates tension and anticipation through the use of low, discordant strings combined with high woodwind. The dynamics are very much pianissimo, and with the introduction of a bold brass solo, there is a slow crescendo to a build up of female choir, walking brass melodies and rising and falling woodwind motifs. Towards the very end it develops further, and you can clearly hear variations of some of the original themes from previous tracks returning. Queen Amidala And The Naboo Palace is yet again much a symphonic work, with clear, almost heroic melodies and effective use of dynamics and instrumentation.
The Droid Invasion and The Appearance of Darth Maul are introduced with percussion; building to a pizzazz of instrumentation, with intertwining motifs that create an unstable feel. The use of portamento towards the latter part of the track brings a more sinister feel to the music, and the introduction of a low combination of strings and male voice add to the creation of tension and suspense. The variation of instrumentation and continuation of the intertwining melodies maintain the feeling of unease through to the end.
Qui – Gon’s Noble End opens with the return of the melody from Duel Of The Fates played as a brass fanfare, and sees the return in part of several of the previous themes, as well as effective use of dynamics and voice. The High Council Meeting and Qui – Gon’s Funeral are portrayed in true Williams style with lush string melodies and epic brass against harp and orchestral accompaniment, before developing again into a choral section with a much more grave feel.
Augie’s Great Municipal Band and End Credits is again another complete contrast, and through the use of percussion Williams creates a tribal feel, and also a feeling of triumph and celebration through lively brass and vocal melodies. The music leads us into the return of the Star Wars Theme and then throws us rapidly back into a variation of Duel Of The Fates, and then leads us into a reappearance of Anakin’s Theme. The combination flows extremely well, and only Williams could do this with such effect and continuity. It is as if this track is a continuous demo of the soundtrack itself!
There is also a bonus track included at the end of the soundtrack, the dialogue version of Duel Of The Fates, which features quotes from the film. The presentation of the piece is different compositionally and is definitely worth a listen.
The soundtrack is epic with the variation of style, rhythm, pitch range, tension, release, continuity, coherence and shape making it a masterful work.
Phil is a 27-year-old classically trained musician from Sheffield with qualifications in Popular Music, Classical Music and a BA (Hons) in Creative Music Technology and Sound Recording. He likes nothing better than locking himself in the studio and composing music of all genres.
Phil became interested in composing after learning how to play the Cello and Clarinet at a young age, and has never looked back since. His favourite composer is Danny Elfman, whose unconventional harmonies and rhythms in scores such as Edward Scissorhands still manage to bring a tear or two to his eye.
You can find him on Twitter @PhilBlanckley.