star wars the force awakens trailer music

If you’re anything like me, you’re watched and rewatched the final Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer more times than you care to admit. You may have even broken down the trailer, shot by shot to see what secrets were hidden in each frame (oh, was that only me?). One aspect of the trailer that I admire every time I watch it is the music. Is it a new John Williams score? Who created this music? After the jump, I try to get to the bottom of that question. Plus: Watch a great music-only version of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer.

The music-only version of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer was released by Disneyland and revised by Tim Gonzales to take away to drops in music during the dialogue bits:

Who Composed The Force Awakens Trailer Music?

No, it’s not newly composed music by John Williams as some others have reported (we haven’t heard that yet, trust me). But it is remix and reworking of mostly previous music, along with some new material created just for the trailer, and not by Williams. I don’t know exactly who arranged the music we hear (you probably know by now that there are a bunch of composers who create music just for trailers).

However, we do know some of the people involved: Frederick Lloyd says he has contributed music to the latter half of the trailer, namely the “Force Theme,” while John Samuel Hanson of Confidential Music worked on the first half of the trailer music. Trailer editors Josh Dunn and Brent Rockswold helped complete the edit of the trailer you see before you. But we’ve heard there are others involved with both the edit and the music.

john williams conducting star wars

The Music of the Trailer

So if the music is largely reworked themes from previous Star Wars films, what do we hear? The first half of the trailer features a reworking of Han and Leia’s love theme. Salon has a great article breaking down the music. They are wrong about the new John Williams music, but otherwise they have better ears than I ever will. They point out that in the first half, if you listen closely, you can hear some of the whispered words in Sanskrit from “Duel of the Fates” from The Phantom Menace mixed in. Here is an excerpt from their analysis:

Then come the timpani, and we are taken to the bridge of a star destroyer: At the center of the shot is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), our mysterious villain, surrounded by a red glow emanating from what seems to be an explosion in space. We hear the same theme as before. It’s a full-on orchestral version this time, heavy on the bass and percussion, still sad but this time threatening. Does this hint at a connection between Kylo and Rey, a familial one? If so, who are their parents? Just as we ask this question, this new theme blends into a brand new arrangement of Han and Leia’s love theme from The Empire Strikes Back. Now, John Williams reverse-engineered a number of the themes from the original trilogy for the prequels (see the final celebration music in The Phantom Menace as well as the final few notes of the “Trade Federation March”). Could this seamless musical transition in the trailer hint at something more?

The scenes that follow are scored with “a slower, more regal version” of the “Force Theme.”

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