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Interview: Discussing the Score of ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3 With Composer Joseph Shirley

With The Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian – Season 3, composer Joseph Shirley inherited scoring duties from Ludwig Göransson. While speaking to Awards Radar on Zoom, Shirley explains how Göransson established “such iconic music. The Mandalorian theme and material written for seasons one and two are now a part of popular culture.”

In taking over the reins from Göransson, Shirley discussed how he wanted to “carry that torch and carry on with the message, tone, and arc of those themes in the world-building he had already created. But I also wanted to put my own stamp on it. Season three deals with many of the same characters while introducing new characters and expanding upon previously known ones. There was a lot of room for new material that I was very excited to supply.”

Shirley also explained the process of expanding some motifs Ludwig Göransson had written for the second season, such as Bo Katan‘s (Katee Sackhoff) theme: “Bo Katan plays such an important role in this season. She shows up in season two, just here and there, but a motif follows her throughout. Jon Favreau wanted me to expand upon that because this season more or less focuses on her. We needed to have a strong theme for her.

I took the five-note motif that Ludwig created in season two, inverted it, and extended it in certain ways that gave it broad strokes and orchestral tones. It was something that I could build on throughout the course of this season. It was very fulfilling to take that material and add my touch. You hear it along the way almost every time she’s on screen. But there are a couple of instances, like in episode eight, where she retakes Mandalore, and the theme gets reworked. That was a special moment, so we reworked her theme for that scene.”

Shirley also discussed his collaboration with Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, and Rick Famuyiwa, stating they “are very much involved in season three and are excellent colleagues and friends. We would sit down and watch the directors cut together and discuss their ideas for the season. There were several episodes in which they knew they needed to change the tone of the music, but they leave the door wide open. That’s what’s so great about working with people like that. They trust you enough to take their idea or pitch to you, run with it, and then come back with your ideas and present that to them. […] I feel very privileged to be in the spot to be able to collaborate with guys like John, Dave, and Rick. They really are masters at what they do and the world-building they’re able to come up with, and they are so clever with it all, but they also allow you the freedom to try new things.”

As with every season of The Mandalorian, there was much to discuss regarding the music. During our audio conversation, we also discussed the process of reinterpreting Coruscant for the third episode, scoring Plazir-15, which was a massive shift in tone from previous episodes of the series, giving a horror-like atmosphere to the Mines of Mandalore, and his approach to adding rhythm and energy to the show’s multiple action sequences.

Please note that the conversation contains FULL SPOILERS for The Mandalorian – Season 3.

You can listen to the full conversation below and see all episodes of The Mandalorian – Season 3 on Disney+.

[Some of the quotes in this article have been edited for length and clarity]


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Written by Maxance Vincent

Maxance Vincent is a freelance film and TV critic, and a recent graduate of a BFA in Film Studies at the Université de Montréal. He is currently finishing a specialization in Video Game Studies, focusing on the psychological effects regarding the critical discourse on violent video games.

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