It is not often that a new Star Wars series releases totally unannounced and without much fanfare whatsoever, but that’s what happened on Wednesday.
Lucasfilm released the miniseries Star Wars: Galaxy of Sounds on Disney+, and it’s very similar to Biomes and Vehicle Flythroughs, which were both released earlier this year. Galaxy of Sounds consists of seven episodes, each around eight minutes long, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a tribute to the many great sound effects in the Star Wars saga.
The episodes splice together various clips from all the live-action Star Wars material (including the saga films, the anthology films, and The Mandalorian) but with any dialogue and music removed. This leaves only the sound effects and the visuals, and though that probably doesn’t immediately stand out to you as being that interesting, it’s actually quite relaxing to turn on and have playing, taking in the incredible sounds.
And really, that’s what makes this so cool: it’s a testament and a tribute to the rich legacy of sound design in this franchise. At the end of each episode, there’s a card that says as much: “Galaxy of Sounds is a tribute to the visual and sound artists who have helped create the lasting legacy of Star Wars.” And what that really means is that this is a testament, by and large, to Ben Burtt.
He might not be the biggest household name, but his legacy and influence in Star Wars is impossible to ignore. He was the sound designer on the first seven Star Wars films (spanning nearly four decades) and creating so many of the iconic sounds that are littered all over the franchise, including (but certainly not limited to) R2-D2’s sounds, lightsaber sounds, Darth Vader’s breathing, blaster fire, and so much more. Burtt also was the sound designer on all four Indiana Jones films, as well as Willow and many others. He helped create the voice for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and was sound designer of WALL-E while also voicing the titular character. He is the recipient of two Special Achievement Academy Awards: one for his work creating the alien, creature, and robot voices of Star Wars (1977), and the other for sound effects editing for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
In more recent years, Matthew Wood, who is a protege of sorts to Burtt, overseeing the sound editing for the most recent Star Wars films, in addition to his longtime work on the saga dating back to the prequel trilogy. Wood also worked on the sound editing for WALL-E alongside Burtt, in addition to other projects. Both Wood and Burtt are currently Supervising Sound Editors at Skywalker Sound, which is a division of Lucasfilm.
The sounds of Star Wars have been lauded for as long as the franchise has been around, with A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker all receiving various Academy Award nominations for sound, sound editing, and/or sound mixing. It’s really hard to imagine Star Wars without the genius of John Williams, whose brilliant scores are really well known. And granted, the absence of his music is felt in these scenes – but so too is the presence of the myriad sound effects, and it’s a fantastic testament to the foundational legacy of the saga. There are so many sounds that are so intrinsic to Star Wars that we don’t even think about it, but that are incredible and have left a massive influence on the saga.