THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) – Complete Cue List

By John Takis

Over my winter vacation, I had a chance to examine a hardcopy of the original handwritten manuscript of John Williams’ score for The Empire Strikes Back. I secured permission to share my findings with the JWFan community. Please note: I did not receive a copy of the manuscript to take with me. Thus, it is useless to write and ask me to share or distribute the manuscript (which is proprietary, anyway). Any questions that arise from the examination of my notes may be directed to a specially created thread on the JWFan forums.



Darth Vadar’s Theme (1)
Yoda’s Theme


1M1 Main Title (2)
1M2 The Imperial Probe (3)
1M2 New Start
1M2 Insert Bar 80
1M2 Insert #2 Bar 109
1M3/2M1 Luke’s Escape
2M2 Ben’s Instructions
2M3 Luke’s Rescue
2M4 The Probe Scanner
3M1 Drawing The Battle Lines
3M2 Leia’s Instructions
3M3 The Snow Battle
3M4/4M1 Luke’s First Crash
4M2 The Rebels Escape Again
4M3 The Asteroid Field
5M1 Crash Landing
5M2 Yoda Appears
5M3 Yoda’s Entrance (4)
5M3 End Fix
5M4/6M1 Solo And The Princess
6M2 Yoda’s Teaching
6M3 This Is Not A Cave
6M4 Training A Jedi
6M5/7M1 The Magic Tree
7M2 Attack Position
7M3 Yoda Raises The Ship
7M4/8M1 Vadar’s Command
8M2 City In The Clouds
8M3 Lando’s Palace
9M1 Luke To The Rescue
9M2 Vadar Shows Up
9M3 Putting ThreePio Together
9M4 Trouble In Prison
9M6/10M1 Carbon Freeze (5)
9M6/10M1 Insert Bar 57
10M2 Luke Pursues The Captives
10M3 Chewie Chokes Lando
11M1 Through The Window
12M1 Losing A Hand
12M2 To Hyper-Space
12M3 Finale (6)
12M4 End Credits (7)
12M4 End Credits Insert

(1) Throughout the manuscript, Williams consistently misspells Vader as “Vadar.” Other idiosyncrasies in the score notes include spelling “tauntaun” as “Ton Ton” (and once, “Horse”), referring to an AT-AT simply as “monster,” and references to Han and Leia as “the kids.” Williams’ predilection for double-exclamation points is also apparent (e.g. “Vadar!!”).

(2) “Main Title” (1M1) is not in the manuscript. It is possible that Williams simply reused his score pages from Star Wars, which if true would foreshadow his later re-use of the Episode I “Main Title” recording for Episodes II and III.

(3) Both “New Start” and “Insert Bar 80” are present on the 1997 Special Edition CD. “Insert #2 Bar 109” is a minor tweak of the transition between bars 109 and 110; it does not appear to have been used, although I may be mistaken.

(4) “5M3 End Fix” is the film-version ending of “5M3 Yoda’s Entrance” (aka “Luke’s Nocturnal Visitor”) … with one interesting quirk. “5M3 End Fix” contains a timpani solo that is either absent or buried in the film mix. This timpani solo does appear in the album version, however, over the original ending of 5M3. This easily accomplished change was almost certainly made from the podium during the recording sessions.

(5) There is no 9M5, possibly because Williams wrote “Carbon Freeze” earlier in the process and chose a higher-than-necessary number to represent it. “Insert Bar 57” is the alternate portion of the cue heard on the 1997 Special Edition CD.

(6) This is the longer version of the “Finale,” with the full quote of the love theme. The shorter film version may have been created via instruction from the podium. Williams also notated an alternate ending featuring an additional harp overlay and instructions to hold the final note. This would explain the version of the cue heard on the Star Wars: Crimson Empire audiobook.

(7) Interestingly, “12M4 End Credits” was originally labelled “12M3.” This was either a simple numbering error, or (as seems more likely) Williams composed the “End Credits” earlier in the scoring process but did not choose a high enough number to represent it. “End Credits Insert” accounts for the variant film version heard on Disc 4 of the Anthology box.

— John Takis