Carl Verheyen : Star Tours

| January 11, 2011

Those of us old enough to remember the first time they saw the original Star Wars movie would have enjoyed the session I did today.  As of next summer they will finally replace the “trip,” and therefore the music to the Star Tours flight simulator attraction at Disneyland, and I got to play with a huge orchestra at the Fox Scoring Stage redoing the music.

Back in 1977, that movie was something so new and different; we were all pretty blown away. Over the years it has become deeply imbedded in our culture.  Besides the amazing visuals, the thing that really knocked me out was John Williams’ score. Most of us can hum the main title, the Darth Vader theme, and a few of the various other catchy riffs from the soundtrack.  So it was a pleasure to hear that music loud in the room and analyze the chord changes and melodies as they went by on the page.  I can see why John Williams is truly brilliant and I was amazed at the simplicity of his themes. This music, like the best of the classic movie scores, has definitely stood the test of time.

I played my old Gretsch 6120 guitar on a lot of it.  They wanted big, reverb-soaked chords with a little vibrato bar shaking.  The music also called for a “spaghetti western” tone played on the low strings, and the Bigsby tailpiece on the Gretsch was perfect for this.  I got to see a lot of the visuals, like big airport arrival/departure boards (Flight 1358 to the planet Tatooine: On Time) and some of the music we played was airport lounge music using familiar Star Wars themes.  There were rumbas and bossa novas as well as majestic fan fares.
The Disney contractor called the orchestra to order in one of those white storm trooper helmets.  The conductor used a light saber instead of a baton and wore a Darth Vader helmet . . . until he realized headphones wouldn’t fit under it.  I should have brought my R2D2 cookie jar; it would have looked so cool on top of my amps!

--Carl Verheyen, January 2011

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