The Mandalorian Score

In less than two weeks, the new Disney+ streaming service will launch, giving us the first episode of the highly anticipated live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian. But when the series arrives, it will be without one key component that has defined Star Wars over the years: a score from John Williams. But fans shouldn’t be worried, because Oscar-winning Black Panther composer Ludwig Göransson is behind The Mandalorian score, and the young, quickly rising talent sounds like the perfect man for the job.

The Los Angeles Times recently profiled Ludwig Göransson, who has had quite an incredible few years, composing scores for movies like Creed, Black Panther, and Venom, not to mention upcoming movies like Trolls World Tour and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. Plus, he won a Grammy for his collaboration with Childish Gambino (Donald Glover’s rap and R&B persona) and was nominated for two others for their work.

Göransson is always playing with sounds and giving himself new life experiences in order to do enhance his music. For example, he used sounds recorded in a boxing gym in his score for Creed, and he took a trip to Africa to inform his score for Black Panther. But since you can’t visit another planet for a Star Wars project, Göransson had to get a little more creative. In preparation for composing the score, he bought several recorders (the flute-like woodwind instrument) and took them into the woods to meditate and play around with the sounds he could make. Why? Göransson explained:

“I wanted to get back to that nostalgic childhood memory I had watching ‘Star Wars’ and the excitement of seeing these kind of really amazing visuals and with music that sounds like it’s coming from other planets. The way I approached it was to try something completely different. The loneliness of a single solo flute. The bass recorder became the sound of the Mandalorian. That’s how I started. … I wanted the core soul to be organic. Then I wanted to add a tech sound to it. And I also wanted to add on a cinematic orchestra, which makes it feel like ‘Star Wars.’”

Executive producer Jon Favreau wasn’t familiar with Göransson by name, but he had already heard his music through some of the aforementioned projects that Favreau had seen. It wasn’t until Black Panther director Ryan Coogler spoke so highly of the composer’s work that Göransson was truly on his radar for The Mandalorian score. Thankfully, Göransson’s style is exactly what Favreau was looking for. He said:

“I was looking for something that was a little grittier, a little edgier and a little more tech-oriented, something that felt half-tech, half-classic. It was quite impressive how [Göransson] was able to incorporate everything that I was concerned with and then bring his own personality to make it extremely catchy and iconic and have all of the quality and breath of a ‘Star Wars’ score.”

Star Wars themes are instantly recognizable, and they’re easily some of the most beloved pieces of music ever composed for the big screen. But when you’re doing something that is a little different from the normal Star Wars formula, you want at least some departure from the familiar musical style of John Williams’ iconic work. What Favreau likes most is how Göransson adapts to the projects he’s working on. The filmmaker added:

“He doesn’t necessarily have a signature style musically. His music adjusts to each story, and as a filmmaker that’s really compelling. … We have themes that recur throughout the eight episodes of the first season, but each episode is completely different. And he even recorded different end-credit music. We even loved the end-credit music so much that we built the whole visual language around the ending so that we can support the score that he would write.”

The new sounds of Göransson’s score for The Mandalorian can be heard in the marketing for the upcoming series, and you can hear that “half-tech, half-classic” style that Favreau was hoping for. But you can also hear that more organic sound that was inspired by his recorder sessions in the woods. We can’t wait to hear the entirety of Göransson’s work as the first season of The Mandalorian unfolds over the next couple months.

The Mandalorian premieres exclusively on Disney+ on November 12 and will debut a new episode weekly after that.

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