Thoughts: Should LucasFilm Explore More Upcoming Talent For Star Wars Scores?

Star Wars, it has probably some of cinemas best known and loved scores. The Imperial March, Binary Sunset, Duel of Fates, Battle of Heroes, the Opening Titles and many, many more.  You hear one of these scores and you are immediately transported to the Galaxy of far, far away. And we have the legend himself, John Williams to thank for that.

Yes, if it weren’t for him. Star Wars would have been very different. Without him, the film/s would have lost character. He has composed Star Wars for over 40 years now, with next year’s Episode IX being his last addition to the space opera. Since Disney’s purchased LucasFilm in 2012, two other composers (well three, Alexandre Desplat was originally the composer for Rogue One before the reshoots) Michael Giacchino and John Powell provided the scores for the Star Wars Stories: Rogue One & Solo. Both delivering some great additions to the soundtracks of Star Wars.

But who else could also score a Star Wars film? Or television series? Hans Zimmer maybe? What about Howard Shore or Danny Elfman? (look I know the Family Guy joke, but come on. Beetlejuice, Batman all great scores) But what if LucasFilm decided to go bold. And instead of already established composers, they instead sought after raw and upcoming talent?

Star Wars has jump started the careers of relatively new and upcoming Actors & Actresses before like Jake Lloyd, Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, John Boyega and the late Carrie Fisher. So why not music? Let someone new give it a go. See I have two friends (one of which I went to college with at Newcastle College and scores for webseries Doctor Puppet) the other currently studying his fourth year of Music Performance at Purchase College in New York. Scott Ampleford and Dennis S. Mowers, both are very talented individuals. I’ve attached both of their works, so you are more than welcome to give them a listen.

So I asked them both a series of questions on their thoughts on the idea of LucasFilm hiring new and upcoming talent for future material along with what their favourite Star Wars score is and what inspired them to pursue a career in music, especially in the field of composing. This is what they both had to say……

Question 1: What are your thoughts on the idea of LucasFilm looking into raw and upcoming talent for composing in future Star Wars material (Film/Television)?

“I think it’s a great idea, and not just because I fit in that category. Lucasfilm has always been known for hiring unknowns in its films. Hayden Christensen, Mark Hamill, Natalie Portman, Daisy Ridley, etc. Of course when anyone thinks of Star Wars music they think of John Williams, but there are already a lot of other composers for the franchise. Jeremy Soule and Mark Griskey did the music for the Knights of the Old Republic games, Kevin Kiner did The Clone Wars and Rebels, and there are a lot of others too. I’m a believer that sometimes you just need to give someone a shot, like 20th Century Fox did with George Lucas.”

– Dennis S. Mowers

“Of course, I think it’s brilliant. But also, it’s a necessity. John Williams IS the sound of Star Wars and that should never change. But as the franchise expands, so it’s sound should grow to encompass it. We’ve already seen sterling work on Clone Wars, Rebels and the latest movies. By bringing in new voices who can take the language that JW has been crafting over the last 40 years and build upon it, you can ensure that the story can be told forever.”

– Scott Ampleford

Question 2: What is your favourite Star Wars score and why?

“As a whole, definitely Revenge of the Sith. It’s so emotional, and of course I have a lot of nostalgia for it since it came out when I was a kid. The Immolation Scene is some of my favourite film music out there and the opening scene of the movie is my favourite out of all Star Wars opening scenes, mostly because of the music. But The Empire Strikes Back is a close second.”

– Dennis S. Mowers

“A New Hope, probably. We meet those characters and their themes for the first time and you can imagine those notes falling on virgin ears. When writing that score John Williams had nothing but his intuition and his thematic skill to create the sonic world of Star Wars, and he nailed it.”

– Scott Ampleford

Question 3: What was it that got you into music, that inspired you to want to become a composer?

“Like many, Star Wars is what got me into music. Eventually I started to branch out and arrange stuff from the Zelda games for my band to play, the theme from Skyrim, and some stuff from Doctor Who. But it always came back to Star Wars for me, and I think it had something to do with how much of an impact its music has on pop culture. Film music has always been important, but 9 times out of 10, if you find someone who hasn’t seen the Star Wars movies they’ll still know the main theme. And it’s that drive to create lasting impressions on people that inspired me to want to compose.”

– Dennis S. Mowers

“I’ve been into music for as long as I can remember. Picking out tunes on toy keyboards until my Grandmother decided to get me lessons. But I’d never actually considered it as an option for a career. For the longest time I wanted to be an actor. I made my own films as a teenager and to avoid YouTube copyright strikes, I started to compose scores to my silly movies. Of course, I grew up listening to all of the greats: Williams, Silvestri, Goldsmith. So once I’d entered that world, inspiration wasn’t hard to find.”

– Scott Ampleford

It is inevitable that LucasFilm will be looking into other composers after Williams finishes Episode IX. Most likely Michael Giacchino will probably take over. The man has proven to reintroduce audiences and fans to ongoing franchises before like Star Trek and Jurassic World.  Honouring not just the composers, but the films that came before them.

But sometimes you need (and sometimes want) more than just replication. Nostalgia is good, but you can’t just have a film’s soundtrack having to rely on old themes, it needs something new. Now Giacchino can do that. But every composer has a uniqueness to them. And this is why I agree with the idea of introducing new blood into the music of Star Wars.  They can give “their” Star Wars a fresh take. Both Rogue One and Solo whilst having a nod to Williams both composers Michael Giacchino and John Powell make it their own. We are getting new films, seeing new parts of the galaxy, thus it should be expected to hear these new additions differently.

I’d like to thank both Scott Ampleford and Dennis S. Mowers for their comments for this article. And all the best for the future.

Connor Heggie