Watch as the Oscar-winning composer Ludwig Göransson performs the theme from The Mandalorian. The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+.
This new music video places the composer in the world space of The Mandalorian, making use of the “Stagecraft” virtual set technology that uses giant LED display screens to create an immersive environment. It essentially works as an real-time dynamic green screen, but with a background that moves in perspective as the camera moves. The results are nothing if not magical. Have a look.
Ludwig Göransson, the Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer of Black Panther, faced a tricky assignment when he took on The Mandalorian, the newest addition to the Star Wars universe, now approaching the premiere of its second season on the Disney Plus streaming service.
The new series (the first live-action Star Wars TV series) is unlike everything that’s gone before – the Empire has fallen, and chaos is beginning to reign across the galaxy. The dystopian setting is very different from what’s gone before, so the romantic strains of the John Williams scores would have been a poor fit with the imagery of The Mandalorian. The lead character, portrayed by Pedro Pascal, is also a tacitern gunslinger whose face we glimpse only once in the entire first season, so the music has to step up and emote for him.
The Swedish-born, L.A.-based composer came up with a novel solution: He would play many of the key instruments himself — unusual woodwinds, drums, guitars, piano, percussion — add a 70-piece orchestra for that “Star Wars” touch, then apply modern production techniques for an even more alien soundscape.
He began work before shooting started in the fall of 2019, reading scripts and coming up with musical ideas — particularly the sound of a bass recorder for the mysterious, unnamed title character. He spent a month in his studio inventing the themes and musical colors for the rogues and renegades who live at the edge of the galaxy.
“I was closed off for 10 hours a day, just coming up with music and sounds, going from instrument to instrument,” he says. “There weren’t a lot of computers involved. It was just me playing, so it felt timeless.”
Executive producer Jon Favreau and his producing partner Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) immediately approved the echoing notes of the bass recorder for the lead character. Notes Göransson: “It’s a very original, distinct, lonely sound that follows this gunslinger on his journey.” The music provides “the facial expressions” that we never see, as the Mandalorian never removes his helmet — which, along with his armor, further inspired the composer to add “metal sounds” throughout the score.
As he began to see footage and compose to specific scenes, he combined his recordings of individual acoustic instruments with more modern sounds, including synthesizers and cutting-edge processing. “You take these organic drum sounds or percussion sounds or flute sounds and then make them sound different or modern using the tech,” Göransson adds.
He then recorded an L.A. studio orchestra, many of whose members were playing John Williams’ score for the upcoming “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” on different days of the same weeks during the summer months.
The primitive-sounding flutes, massive tribal drums, exotic plucked-string instruments and ugly metallic scrapings combine with airy synths and traditional strings and brass for a unique yet still unmistakably Star Wars ambience.
You can hear music from The Mandalorian on SCIFI.radio as part of our regular play library, so that’s one more reason to keep it tuned right here, to SCIFI.radio.