Lin-Manuel Miranda’s contribution to 'Star Wars’ and how he's changing entertainment

According to 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' director J.J. Abrams, 'Hamilton' composer Miranda helped out with the soundtrack to the upcoming movie. Miranda has already had a huge influence on musical theater, with 'Hamilton' becoming a phenomenon.

Evan Agostini/Invision for Pivot/AP
Lin-Manuel Miranda performs at Pivot's Freestyle Love Supreme premiere event in New York.

Another major talent has been revealed to be part of the behind-the-scenes “Star Wars” crew. 

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams recently said in an interview that “Hamilton” composer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda contributed music to the film. 

Abrams said there is a scene in “Force” that is “basically our version of the cantina scene.” “Star Wars” fans will remember that in the first “Star Wars” film, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) meet Han Solo (Harrison Ford) for the first time in Mos Eisley Cantina, where a band is playing a cheerful tune. That music was composed by John Williams, who famously created the “Star Wars” score. 

But for this new take in “Force,” Williams decided not to do this particular piece of music, so Abrams contacted Miranda to ask if he was interested in working on the music for the scene. “He’s like, ‘I’ll drop everything,’” Abrams remembered.

Miranda himself later discussed the collaboration on Twitter.

The original cantina music stands out from the score for the rest of the 1977 "Star Wars" film, which is often sweeping and cinematic. According to the liner notes for the “Star Wars” soundtrack, director George Lucas suggested, “Can you imagine several creatures in a future century finding some 1930s Benny Goodman swing band music in a time capsule or under a rock someplace – and how they might attempt to interpret it?” 

Based on Miranda’s past work, his music will most likely stand out from a standard movie soundtrack, too. Miranda’s musicals “Hamilton” and “In the Heights,” both of which he composed and wrote the lyrics for, are known for their blending of musical genres, including hip-hop, Latin pop, rap, and R&B, among others. 

“He’s such a genius,” Abrams himself said of Miranda during the same interview. 

While many most likely still associate Broadway soundtracks with the style of music seen in 1940s and ‘50s chestnuts like “Oklahoma!” and “My Fair Lady,” the soundtracks of Miranda’s shows contain more modern musical genres.

“Hamilton” has become a phenomenon, with tickets selling out and the cast recording of the show debuting the highest on the Billboard 200 album chart of any cast album in more than 50 years. It's rare now that a musical has this massive presence in pop culture.

Miranda is credited with changing the theater genre, so it seems a safe bet his “Star Wars” contribution could prove influential to the world of film music, too.

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