One of the most iconic things about the Star Wars franchise is its music, and The Mandalorian now on Disney+ is no exception. The John Williams song that opens each of the original films is the stuff of legends, which punctuates the Star Wars opening crawl. Now, The Mandalorian soundtrack joins the franchise’s musical arsenal, which is scored by Swedish composer Ludwig Gransson.
According to a Disney+ press release, new tracks will drop in tandem with each new episode (which come out on Friday). As such, two albums are currently available to stream “Chapter 1,” which features nine tracks, and “Chapter 2,” which has eight. The score is also available in one complete playlist, which is streaming on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube, among others.
But while The Mandalorian is a Star Wars score, it’s vastly different than its predecessor. Gransson is following in John Williams’s sizable footsteps, who has scored every Star Wars film since 1977 and is responsible for iconic themes like “Imperial March” and “The Force.” In fact, many of the orchestra members recording The Mandalorian score were also recording the upcoming Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker during the same period of time, per Variety.
However, Gransson is more than qualified to score the Disney+ series. He got his big break composing for the NBC comedy Community, per the same press release, where he met Donald Glover. The two men have since collaborated on several Childish Gambino (Glover’s stage name) projects, including the critically acclaimed Awaken, My Love and the viral song “This Is America.” Gransson has won two Emmys for his work with Childish Gambino and one for the Black Panther soundtrack.
Speaking of the 2018 Marvel movie, Gransson is best known for his soundtracks for director Ryan Coogler, scoring Fruitvale Station, the aforementioned Black Panther (for which he also won an Oscar), Creed, and Creed II. The composer will also score Christopher Nolan’s next film, Tenent, which premieres in 2020. The Mandalorian, however, was a unique challenge. “I was closed off for 10 hours a day, just coming up with music and sounds, going from instrument to instrument,” Gransson told Variety. “There weren’t a lot of computers involved. It was just me playing, so it felt timeless.”
Per the same article, he scored four hours of music for the series, which is the most he’s ever done for one project. “For any film composer, Star Wars is the holy grail of film music because it’s the most well-known music. Period,” he told the L.A. Times. “The way I approached it was to try something completely different. The loneliness of a single solo flute. The bass recorder became the sound of the Mandalorian. That’s how I started…. I wanted the core soul to be organic. Then I wanted to add a tech sound to it. And I also wanted to add on a cinematic orchestra, which makes it feel like Star Wars.”
Indeed, the music often features instruments like flutes, recorders, and drums alongside the traditional, cinematic orchestra. Gransson then layered more sci-fi sounds over top to enforce the alien-like components of The Mandalorian, per Variety. “Ludwig has one foot in traditional score and another foot in technology, creating sounds that feel very musical even though he’s using nontraditional methods and instruments to achieve that,” showrunner Jon Favreau told the publication.
But while The Mandalorian may have a more modern, 21st century soundtrack, there are still elements of the beloved franchise. As Gransson told Variety, “It still has the soul of Star Wars.”
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