Pullman native helped create new Star Wars score

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PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — A Pullman native and Washington State University grad helped create the new Star Wars score with Academy Award-winning composer-conductor John Williams.

Paul Henning tells The Moscow-Pullman Daily News (http://is.gd/4OEuLp ) working with Williams to create the musical score for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was a long but gratifying experience.

It was hard to keep up with Williams, said Henning, who now lives in Los Angeles. The 83-year-old man works every day.

Henning was one of three people entering each handwritten note and musician's performance direction into a laptop computer using electronic keyboards.

Williams is considered by most the best modern composer of film scores. Along with the Star Wars films, he also created the music for "Jaws," ''Superman," ''E.T.: The Extraterrestrial" and all of the Indiana Jones films.

Hearing those scores had a major influence on Henning.

"He's a genius," said Henning, 39. Williams is "a perfectionist and very exacting. He revises extensively."

Williams' initial pencil sketches of each composition undergo revisions using red ink, then subsequent changes are in green ink. Later revisions have pieces of paper containing new material taped on older sketches.

"It's comforting to see someone, even at his level, know that he could do better," Henning said.

The seventh episode of Star Wars required about a year of musical work. Williams wrote more than 150 pieces of music for the movie, about half of which were used, Henning said.

Though working and reworking the score was part of the reason why the process was so long, there was heavy re-editing of the film that required the music to be revised to fit visual sequences. Director J.J. Abrams is also known as a perfectionist in his line of work, Henning said.

Final work on the music was completed by Thanksgiving.

"I couldn't tell people what I was doing in connection to the film until it was done," he said. "Everything related to it was shrouded in secrecy."

Henning was able to watch the pieces performed by an orchestra in Los Angeles. Williams also did much of the conducting.

He'll be working again with Williams on scoring the upcoming film "The BFG," which stands for Big Friendly Giant.

Henning started playing the piano at age 9 and took up the violin during his teens. He is also a composer-arranger, violinist and concertmaster for the Golden State Pops Orchestra. He continued performing as a violinist during the time he was working on Star Wars.

He returned to Pullman to visit relatives during the holidays. His first solo album, "Breaking Through" is expected to be released next year.


Information from: The Moscow-Pullman Daily News, http://www.dnews.com

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