Emily Phillips ’17

Project TitleThe Score is Strong with this One: A Musical Analysis of the Star Wars Saga
Mentor – Frank Chiou

With the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the Star Wars franchise began a new, three-part narrative arc. It introduces new characters and plot elements, many of which are shrouded in mystery. With only the first installment of the trilogy having been released thus far, fan theories have arisen in an attempt to address unanswered questions, particularly those about Rey, the lead character of The Force Awakens.  Theories have been proposed to explain how Rey fits into the storyline of Episodes 1–6, linking her to other characters through both similarities in personality and/or circumstance.  However, few have looked at the music of Star Wars as a basis for analysis.  Given how important the music is to the each of the films—in terms of the outsized role the music plays and how iconic it continues to become—it seems natural that important elements of the story and characters might be embedded in the music.  And since all the existing films have been scored by John Williams, they exhibit a great deal of musical consistency. I argue that the score for Episode VII suggests a link between Rey and characters from the earlier films.  By analyzing themes associated with Luke Skywalker, Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Rey, as well as some less familiar motives, I have developed a theory that connects Rey to one of the central characters of the franchise and positions her in the grand scheme of the Star Wars narrative.