Project May The Fourth

About the Researcher

My name is Cristy Rodriguez Rivas. I am a Communication & Performing Arts student with a lifelong love for all things Star Wars. I am also the Stage Manager for Arts Under the Stars. I had a lot of fun performing in 2016, running the show in 2017, so I thought it would be fun to try to present research for AUTS 2018. In Fall, I wrote my research paper with guidance from Dr. Lisa Barry of the Communication department and this Spring I collaborated with Jazz 2 and Professor Heather Castillo to present Project May The Fourth.

As a musician and Star Wars fan, I have always loved listening to film scores and soundtracks to connect with the kind of music being presented and how that music interweaves into a film. Orchestral and choral music has always fascinated my imagination and I love sitting down and picking pieces apart as I’m listening to them. Star Wars was part and parcel to my development while I was growing up to understand stories, music, and how film uses both to create emotion. Not only was this franchise elemental in my development as a musician but also as a person. I saw women being leaders, watched my heroes struggle with their destinies, learned that unexpected events could lead to grand adventures, and that I was never alone. Star Wars made me feel like I belonged to something bigger, grander and more beautiful. I was in this community of people that felt like a galaxy of individuals in one great spirit. Was this The Force? Maybe.

Project May The Fourth was born when I was at Celebration 2017 in Orlando last March. I was waiting in one of the overnight lines and thought to myself “I flew out here on a weekday and I have a hotel room. Why am I in a line for over 12 hours on the convention center floor?!” I realized that it was because Star Wars meant a lot to me. I looked around and saw people from all over the world that were gathered here. I knew Star Wars meant a lot to all of us and I wanted to dig deeper into what that meant on an individual level. How could a sci-fi movie from the 70s still have such a huge impact in film and pop culture today? I decided to look at something that was a universal language: music.

About the Research

Music in film is a collaborative process. There is a lot written about music in film and about the music of Star Wars but, I wanted to bridge the gap between the screen and the fans. I wondered how fans felt about the music of Star Wars and sought to demonstrate it in a visual context. I chose Star Wars because of its closeness to my own heart and after being inspired by the 40th anniversary celebration in Orlando, Florida.

I created an online interview-style survey where participants listened to 10 pieces of music that I selected from the Star Wars films and wrote about their emotions and memories associated with the pieces. What I found in my paper was that the same piece of music can have a similar effect on people but, the memories and experiences can be varied.

Movies and their music make us as an audience feel a certain way; excitement, suspense, peace, sorrow, heartache. All these things are emotions can be shown through the language of motion. In Arts Under The Stars, I wanted to present the emotions that my participants shared with dancers as a moving and breathing language. I thought that if I took away the visual of the film and had only the audio, the visual language of dance would speak to the emotion itself.

For more information and to read the research paper itself, please visit my website: