It seems some of the recent rumors about the recording sessions are panning out. I’ve done my best to refrain from posting everything we have heard and below is what we can verify amongst various sources we know and trust. Attempting to describe music is almost impossible, but I’m hoping to fill in what some of the “textures” might be like at best. Below is what I learned that was notable over the last two weeks.
Bill Ross is indeed conducting cues for John Williams, according to various sources of ours (and elsewhere). The previous rumors are indeed correct. It is important to note that while Ross is conducting, Williams wrote the vast majority of the music and is conducting the crucial sequences himself. When some hear this they think Williams isn’t responsible for the music but it is very much a John Williams score.
From what we have heard, tracks do not have names yet. It will simply say something like Reel 2 Scene 2 or something similar to that. There probably aren’t any tracks with epic names that give the sequences away (Qui-Gon’s Noble End, we’re looking at you!). Those names and titles will come later when the soundtrack is sequenced and edited into a piece of music for disc consumers. It is possible that a certain sequence could have a title before recording begins but that is rare and I haven’t personally heard of a specific example of such a case yet for The Force Awakens.
A lot of what has gone on for the film has been for sporadic sequences in the film but those sequences have covered a lot of different types of musical features than just the standard film score you would expect for a Star Wars film. One notable piece that everyone brings up is a jazzy swing/big band number that is supposedly really catchy. I presume that is for Maz’s pub sequence where Rey gets a bit tipsy, but no one would confirm the actual placement of tracks save for one sequence of the film involving the First Order.
Marches have been recorded but so far there is no “Imperial March,” but the “First Order March” is very much the “thing” they are recording. Just to elaborate, it is not really called the “First Order March” but the new march is for the First Order sequences in the film (and is not the classic theme associated with Darth Vader we know from the Original Trilogy). The sequence in question pertains to the “Parade Grounds” set where the First Order’s size and might is shown off and when their Star Destroyers approach the battle against the Resistance. Up to this point, the Imperial March has yet to be recorded in a big way, although that’s not to say it might be show up for a bar or two during a certain sequence with Kylo Ren in his chambers.
There is also a piece mentioned by multiple sources that is described as a cantilena, an operatic piece, with sustained lyrics dragged out over the melody. This piece is described as one of the most beautiful and emotional pieces of music John Williams have ever written for a Star Wars film and appears to be tied to the snow planet. I tried to get confirmation if this goes with the death of a hero, but I have not been able to get anyone to say conclusively yet. I tried!
What has been described as Rey’s introduction leitmotif was said to be Anakin’s Theme from The Phantom Menace meets Leia’s Theme from A New Hope. Admittedly this was the track with the most frustration to describe to me for our sources as it is the piece you would most expect from the scoring sessions. Sounds interesting, nonetheless.
Most importantly, every one I’ve spoken to recently has reiterated that this soundtrack is brilliant so far and that Williams has topped himself. The amount of enthusiasm for this music is absurdly high amongst several sources. The people I’ve spoken to are not new to this field or working with composers of Williams’ caliber. When they gush, it is extremely noteworthy. All have said that Williams has nailed the score for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and it is going to be a special collection of music. The word is that J.J. Abrams is really good at explaining what he has in mind musically and the partnership Abrams and Williams have formed is paying off big time. But lets not forget, there is still a lot of recording left to do. Right now the buzz is palpable and I’m dying to hear these tracks myself.