John Williams is recording Star Wars: The Force Awakens in LA

star wars episode vii the force awakens

By George Shaw

There’s no doubt what a huge fan of Star Wars I am. I was so inspired by Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars, that I made Star Wars Musical, a fan film that mashes up Disney and Star Wars. Of course what initially drew me to Star Wars as a youngster was John Williams’ music, some of the most iconic music in the history of film music.

Today I was stoked when I spoke to a friend involved with recording Star Wars Force Awakens with John Williams this week over at Sony scoring stage. I’m told he’s a brilliant musician and conductor to work with, though Bill Ross (aka William Ross) was doing the majority of the conducting. Which is no surprise, as Bill worked with John Williams on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Bill is an incredible talent too, and a super nice guy. When I was a recent college graduate trying to figure out how to work as a composer, Bill invited me over to his studio and chatted with me.

In traditional Williams fashion, most of the conducting is done freely to picture and streamers, unlike the majority of modern composers who generate click tracks off their computers. Though some of The Force Awakens‘ action scenes have been recorded to click to make aligning to picture much easier.

Funny story: as the orchestra was recording, a cell phone went off (which can get a musician fired), but it was J.J. Abrams’ father who forgot to silence his phone. Guess he has the right connection to not get thrown off the Sony lot.

Traditionally the London Symphony has recorded all the Star Wars films, but with editing and visual effects happening on the West Coast and Williams’ old-school approach of composing with pencil and paper, the recording sessions will be spread out over the course of 3 or 4 months. Which makes it easier to record in LA, rather than traveling back and forth to London. However it’s recorded, I’m mostly just excited to hear that opening fanfare in the theater once again on December 18th, and embark on the next chapter in the Star Wars saga!

Synth Keyboard sheet music for Randy Kerber, a legendary LA session keyboardist.

Woodwinds and Timpani. I believe John Williams’ brother, Don Williams, is playing Timpani.

Brass section recording Force Unleashed.

See more behind the scenes photos at the Star Wars recording session over at makingstarwars.net.

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