Look and Find #6: Empire Strikes Back – R2D2 and C3PO

Welcome to the sixth 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 will look at the music for both droid characters.



It is debatable whether or not one could consider this a theme for C3PO exclusively, since it appears during scenes which feature R2 as well. That being said, 3PO is always the dominant of the two in conversation (since R2 cannot even speak). The melody is similar in structure to R2’s theme below, but the dividing factor is the staccato, playful rhythm of the lower voices (notated underneath the melody).



Again, similar in shape to 3PO’s theme. However, the lower voiced rhythm is absent for R2. To compensate, the melody is slower and features an easily heard pulsation.

Specific time stamps of these themes:

6:49 – Introduction of both characters, 3PO theme.

29:52 – 3PO theme, but without 3PO. Just for R2 being loaded onto the X-wing.

42:31 – R2’s theme, which alternates between being funny and suspenseful.

1:22:31 – This one is a stretch, but I swear I hear R2’s theme as 3PO investigates the noises he hears.

1:31:32 – 3PO is repaired by R2.

1:57:25 – R2 theme, showing just how clever R2 is. He is the only one who is aware of what’s up with the hyperdrive.

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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