Leitmotivs in Star Wars

MONDAY, August 9, 2021 – 8:44 AM

A guiding motif:

A Leitmotiv (German for “guiding motif”) is a theme that announces characters. Wagner was famous for using this idea, although he did not use the word “Leitmotiv”, but perhaps the most famous use of the Leitmotiv is by John Williams in Star Wars.

Here are just a few of the iconic themes that were all used and well-known by the time the first three films were completed. Using the idea of “famous old popular music”, which in this case is more like “slightly older popular music”, we now come to something a bit different, since John Williams is still composing more music for Star Wars movies, some of which have not yet been released. How he writes these themes that we all know and can’t forget remains a mystery that I absolutely do not understand.

Darth Vader’s Theme

By the way, Darth Vader’s Theme uses only minor chords, moving from key to key.

Luke Skywalker’s Theme

Princess Leia’s Theme

Jedi Theme or Force Theme

This is also used for both Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi, so for this reason it is linked to “The Force”.

Yoda’s Theme

Yoda’s Theme is linked to Yoda from the first time he is introduced and appears again and again in the eight of the nine films in all three trilogies.


23 thoughts on “Leitmotivs in Star Wars

  1. Going back and reading all of your pages on the music in Star Wars has helped me spot and appreciate leitmotifs in things I like a lot more, especially in shows and games I love. Its really cool to play a game and notice the music overlap or watch something and see a melody used in a different way that I wouldn’t have noticed before.

  2. I have started to realize how many of these character themes became just themes for feelings or for situations. Things like the force theme and Leia’s theme stopped being tied to leia as a character and just played whenever romance was happening or whenever the movies felt like it. This is why I prefer the original trilogy sound track. Every piece has a purpose. Every tune is deliberate. Every song is good as heck.

  3. I recently went back and watched the sequel trilogy, and payed attention to the music. And there were a lot of weird musical decisions in them. I found a video were that same person I showed you last week went into detail about how bizarre the music was in these movies and he goes in depth about how it devalues the music.

    1. Addison, you should try watching the movie sometime. You might like it, or you might find it really out-dated. Special effects have gotten so much better. The first movie was made 42 years ago!

    1. Caleb, do you have a recording? Or do you listen to MP3s? I wish more people would give feedback, as you did, because this gives me an idea of what to suggest next for people to listen to. I think that reading about music is only interesting if you are also listening to music you like. I started off learning about music by reading record jackets, which of course no one does any more because no one buys records today.

    1. Toni, this is why very famous and popular music remains popular. It is because people love the music, and that makes them want to keep on listening. That could be five years later, or five hundred years later. Great music is always great!

    1. Logan, John Williams is a perfect example of a composer you just can’t put in a box. In fact, he is perfect example of why I am on a tirade against the term “classical music”, which is a phrase only used by people who know nothing about music or by people who DO know something about music, trying to communicate with people who know nothing.

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