Look and Find #5: Empire Strikes Back ‘Yoda’s Theme’

Welcome to the fifth post in the “Look and Find” series. The process is straightforward: look across the length of a film/video game for leitmotifs/themes, transcribe them, find other instances of them, detail them with instrumentation as well as notable characteristics and permutations, and post them here! Again from The Empire Strikes Back (1980), we have Yoda’s Theme.

Yoda’s Theme:


Yoda’s Theme is used every time the character is on screen (as you would expect at this point). It uses the repetition of the triad (notes C, E, and G for example) to climb higher and higher. Notice how it starts on a G, rises up to an A halfway through, and finally hold an E as the last note. The most important scene for this theme is when Yoda raises the X-wing from the swamp on Dagobah. To me, this theme symbolizes Yoda’s caring and peaceful nature. This is at odds with his outwardly strict demeanor towards Luke and allows the audience a glimpse of the real Yoda.

Specific time stamps of this theme:

During Yoda’s initial introduction the theme is not present, probably due to his identity being a secret from Luke.

56:30 – Yoda tells Luke what it means to be a Jedi.

1:05:32 – Here the theme is used as a transition, much like how the Imperial March is often used. We see Yoda’s reaction to Luke’s test in the cave.

1:12:00 – Yoda lists the X-wing out of the swamp, the theme slowly and slowly builds to a climax, where the theme is heard in its entirety.

1:17:33 – Up in the higher register you can hear the theme.

1:23:56 – Yoda is trying to convince Luke that his plan to save his friends may not be a very good idea.

1:39:11 – Now the theme is used for action purposes. There is a high level of uncertainty in Luke’s “rescue” mission

1:39:38 – Same purpose as above, the theme becomes more ominous as the audience realizes Yoda may have been right, leading to silence as Luke finds Darth Vader waiting for him.

1:47:03 – Again, used as an action theme and not a character theme. I am not sure why it is used at this part, maybe others could tell me in the comments?

Did you find other examples of the theme in the film? Thought this was boring? Let me know in the comments below!


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