Baby Yoda makes good memes, but not easy melodies, says ‘Mandalorian’ composer

3 December 2019, 12:00 | Updated: 3 December 2019, 16:42

By Rosie Pentreath

‘Star Wars: The Mandalorian’ composer, Ludwig Göransson, loves Baby Yoda as much as the rest of us – but it turns out the adorable character isn’t as easy to turn into music as he is memes.

Baby Yoda is everywhere – plastered across your favourite meme accounts, sprinkled down Twitter feeds as GIFs, and pretty much dominating chat around Disney+’s new TV series, Star Wars: The Mandalorian.

The character, who we must admit is pretty cute, may have captured hearts, but wasn’t the easiest to create music for, The Mandalorian composer, Ludwig Göransson, admits.

Speaking to Collider, the Oscar and Grammy Award-winning composer says, “It was probably one of the most difficult parts of the musical language… the baby is so extremely cute, right?

“My first pass was like a little bit more kind of a Star Wars-y sounding theme for the Baby Yoda character.”

Read more: Composer John Williams knows how ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ Star Wars film ends – and says you’ll love it >

Baby Yoda may make the best memes, but his cuteness didn’t do any favours for scoring, according ‘Mandalorian’ composer
Baby Yoda may make the best memes, but his cuteness didn’t do any favours for scoring, according ‘Mandalorian’ composer. Picture: Disney+ / YouTube

The show’s creator, Jon Favreau had a close eye on the music, and felt a “cute” theme bringing the cute character to life may actually be overkill.

“Jon kept telling me, ‘Hey, no, no, he is already visually so overly cute. So if we make the music cute as well, it’s going to be too much.’ He was very adamant that the show, musically, is almost always being told from the Mandalorian’s perspective,” says Göransson.

Read more: Oscars soundtrack winners 2019: who won best music and how can I download it? >

What is The Mandalorian about?

The Mandalorian, played by Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones, Narcos), is a lone gunfighter and bounty hunter, based in the outer reaches of the galaxy in the Star Wars-verse, far from the authority of the New Republic that’s set up after the fall of the Empire (Stars Wars fans will be able to follow).

His perspective is one of a wander; a lone wolf who, according to show creator Favreau, is of “questionable moral character”.

If we go back to the music, then, and think how his perspective on first seeing Baby Yoda may sound, it would indeed be darker and less “cutesy” than we might at first expect.

“What does the Mandalorian think the first time he sees this little creature?,” composer Ludwig Göransson asks in the Collider interview. “He’s not like, ‘Oh what, is this cute little thing?’ He’s like, ‘Oh sh*t, this is not what I signed up for. I don’t even know what this is.’”

He continues: “All the music throughout the show is coming from the Mandalorian’s perspective, and it’s what puts his facial expressions on screen because you don’t see his facial expression.

He’s wearing a helmet the whole time. So musically I need to tell the audience what his facial expressions are saying.”

How does The Mandalorian music differ from other Star Wars scores?

Göransson is only the fifth composer to take on scoring the Star Wars franchise who isn’t John Williams.

Read more: Ten of the best John Williams film soundtracks >

Thinking about Williams’ wonderful scores, they’re very much of the golden age of film scoring that is descended from the late 19th-century operatic works of Richard Wagner.

Wagner invented the leitmotif – a musical device or passage that represents a particular character or situation in the action – and it’s something adopted by the great film composers. Examples of John Williams’ leitmotifs in Star Wars include the beautiful ‘Princess Leia’s Theme’ and ‘Yoda’s Theme.’

Read more: The best leitmotif themes from Star Wars >

Göransson’s scoring strays from the traditional leitmotif idea where he has to gear the score to representing the emotions behind the Mandalorian’s helmet .

“I think it’s something that’s so cool about the show,” says Göransson. “You’re basically just following this lone gunslinger the whole time. There’s only one storyline, and you don’t see his face ever. You don’t see an emotional reaction to anything.”

The show relies on the music to create this emotion.

From the very first meeting about scoring the show, apparently creator Favreau made it clear the composer would have “a lot of work to do.”

Well, if anyone’s worth that work, it’s that little cutie Baby Yoda.

Star Wars: The Madalorian is out now on Disney+.