A Brief History of Science Fiction Film Music

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Created by Jessica Rooney

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Last updated 5/1/06





Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

The Leitmotif for the Darkside of the Force

The leitmotif for the Darkside of the Force contrasts directly with that for the Force. This theme is very rigid, only able to act as a signifier without leading into musical development. Tonally, it is not necessarily chromatic or dissonant, but by oscillating between a minor I and minor VI chord, ambiguous harmonies are created that abolish any sense of dominant (Buhler 46). This avoidance of natural progression is perceived by the audience, and the audience feels that the Darksides’s leitmotif is trying to force the music into a rigid structure that is almost mechanical. This unnaturalness is later emphasized in the melody’s use of minor sixth chords where major chords are normally harmonically used, and when a major chord is used the lack of correct harmonies seem to make even major tones “sardonic” (Buhler 46). This difference between the leitmotifs for the Force and the Darkside show again how music serves as another dimension in a film and can clarify what is “ambiguous in the story,” which in this case is the “confrontation between the ideals of social harmony” (Buhler 47).

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