World Music Day: a master of movie music

Jun 28, 2019
Especially for World Music Day last week, here at PHMG we asked the talented staff from our composition team to share the tracks, artists or moments that sparked their passion. As a composer for film himself, Charlie Wilkins chose none other than the legendary John Williams as his biggest inspiration – explaining what makes his such a master of move music. 


Think of the blaring bass of Star Wars’ Imperial March, the wonder of Jurassic Park, and the spell-binding bells of Harry Potter (all the work of Williams), and you start to understand the sheer magnitude of what the right composition can bring. Music plays a massive role in film, without it, scenes are often bare and uncomfortable. I think the best scores are the ones you don’t notice at the time, but always remember.

This is exemplified in one of the most iconic scenes in cinema – Luke Skywalker standing on a rock looking towards out at the binary sunset. Williams’ accompanying score has since transcended the film and become amongst the most well-known pieces of not just movie music, but music as a whole. It pays homage to the golden age of cinema - with the music emulating the styles of both classical composers such as Bartok and Stravinsky, and the fathers of film music Eric Wolfgang Korngold and Max Steiner.

In the scene itself, director George Lucas has given the music space to breathe – allowing Williams to state what later becomes the ‘Force theme’ twice in full. Lucas’ editing technique here is something rarely seen in the fast-paced cuts of modern cinema – hanging on the shot of Luke and the larger backdrop would seem odd had there been only silence, but the score is allowed to give the viewer an insight into Luke’s feelings that we can only guess at by watching the film with no sound. The solo French horn personifies Luke alone in the world, an empty sonic landscape with a single sound cutting through the silence – before building into sweeping full orchestra as Luke looks to the horizon and dreams of a better life. This is film scoring at its best – showing the audience what they can’t see on screen and injecting a new layer of emotion to the actors’ performances.

John Williams influences me every day – not just in my work as a film composer for medieval fantasies like the Gaelic King, but in the work I do for PHMG. Just as I create tracks that capture the unique personality of a character in a movie, I work with composers across the globe to create tracks that encapsulate the identity and vision of a brand – constantly drawing inspiration from Luke looking out to the sunset. 

Read more:
In celebration of World Music Day, PHMG Founder Grant Reed shared his thoughts on the importance of music to all – along with the musical inspirations of our talented composers. Click here to take a look.