Music From a Galaxy Far, Far Away
The music of the Star Wars galaxy that might first come to mind is the one-of-a-kind score written by the venerable John Williams. From the iconic opening theme, to so many other iconic pieces of music soundtrack history, the Star Wars soundtrack has it all. In honour of May the 4th or Star Wars Day, we're taking a look at another aspect of music in Star Wars.
In its 40+ year history, the Star Wars universe has also been host to some fascinating, some outright strange music of its own. I'm talking about music that not only we as the audience get to hear, but the characters get to hear as well. This is called diegetic music, and I wanted to share with you all some of my favourites.
As an aside, to clarify on the above term, diegetic music is music that can be heard by the characters as well as the audience. Diegetic as a whole simply means that it is a part of the world rather than being applied atop the narrative world.
We've all heard this particular piece, whether you've watched the Star Wars saga or not. It's hard to escape its iconic soundscape that evokes instruments somewhere in the range of clarinets to steel drums. In reality, that's exactly what's in the there. Williams brought in a saxophone, clarinet, Fender Rhodes, a steel drum, a snare drum, an ARP, and a bunch of other percussion instruments to create a sound that would be downright bizarre anywhere but its alien bar atmosphere. In universe, the titular cantina band is known as Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes, and the song as Mad About Me.
A fun anecdote, one which has become a favourite of Star Wars nerds with a low brow sense of humour (myself included). The genre, as it was officially christened by George Lucas and the charmingly out of touch team at Lucasfilms, is known across the Star Wars galaxy as jizz music. I'll save any further jokes for another time.
Another iconic piece of Star Wars music that actually exists in-universe, this one is a little more controversial than the last. This track was created for the special editions of the original trilogy in 1997, replacing the superior Lapti Nek. With full offence meant to this track, it is the inferior track to its predecessor. However, I cannot deny that it is unreasonably catchy. The singer is certainly a little nightmarish, though. Naturally, the band are also considered a jizz band, and this really calls into question just what jizz is anyway. If we were to try to set genre standards onto the jizz genre, I suspect I'd be here all day.
This track has the same name in-universe as it does on the soundtrack, and it was performed by the Max Rebo Band, who it seems did rather well for themselves after their gig performing for Jabba the Hutt, according to the expanded materials of the Star Wars universe.
This last track is the most modern of the ones I've chosen to look at, having been released along with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order in late 2019. This is a real song by a real band, performed in a fictional language just for the game. The band in question is the HU, and if you haven't given them a listen I can't recommend them enough. A metal band with traditional Mongolian throat singing and instruments, need I say more?
This track is featured when the protagonist is listening to it through headphones, and later on when he comes across the track being played on the loudspeakers of an arena. The track was not given an in-universe genre or band name, but the song shares the same name as its real life counterpart which you can find on Spotify!
As I think it goes without saying, this universe means a lot to me. It's far from perfect, I'll be the first to admit that. But there's something about all its quirks, details, and strange choices of genre names that always brings me back to that galaxy far, far away. With that, I think it's about time for me to complete my annual viewing of the original trilogy in honour of today's holiday.