Orchestration Secrets from Star Wars

November 30, 2016

In my work with the Academy of Scoring Arts, I’ve been leading lots of orchestration discussions on both film music scores and on classical music works, and as a professional exercise, one day I decided to sit down and sequence the first two pages of the Star Wars Suite by John Williams. What this means is: I loaded up my orchestral template, and literally played in every single note in the score, so I could see how it was put together.

The video below is a narrated version of the exercise, which takes just under an hour. I strongly encourage composers of all stripes and fans of film music to take the time to watch it to see the puzzle come together one note and one instrument at a time. There are a lot of orchestration techniques used in the piece that are revealed as you hear them in an isolated context.

For the technically inclined, I am using MOTU’s Digital Performer 9 in this video along with Native Instruments Kontakt as my sampler, and a whole host of orchestral sample libraries including offerings from EastWest, 8Dio, CineSamples, and ProjectSAM.