Hear the Star Wars cantina theme played by a pencil on paper

You don't need a giant alien head and a weird oboe-like instrument to perform the cantina theme song. You just need a pencil.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes rock the cantina song.


The cantina band theme is probably the jauntiest song in all of Star Wars. It's played by a group of funky aliens in the Mos Eisley cantina in the original 1977 "Star Wars: A New Hope." An intrepid Reddit user has now created a highly unusual take on the song using nothing except a pencil, paper and a good sense of rhythm. 

Redditor "smallgoblin" (real name Dani Ochoa) posted what looks like a complex set of math equations if you happen to watch the video with the sound off. Turn up the volume and it suddenly becomes very familiar. It's the danceable rhythm of the cantina theme. Your brain will fill in the actual notes for you.

If you need an assist, then check out Ochoa's YouTube video that adds the actual song over the scribbling:

The various numbers and mathematical symbols take differing amounts of time to write out, so Ochoa matched those up with the beats from the song. Ochoa tells CNET it took about 20 minutes to work out the basic song, but an hour to sort it into a more mathematically legible equation.

Ochoa says she has always enjoyed math and created the cantina pencil tune during a break from a grueling calculus study session. She also took the time to dish out a pencil version of Darth Vader's moody theme tune, "The Imperial March."  

Ochoa's efforts generated a brilliant response from Reddit user TCJulian, who offers up a lengthy, tongue-in-cheek math explanation for why the cantina music formula is actually the key to Star Wars-style hyperspace travel. It's worth a read.

If you're excited about the concept of pencils making music, then be sure to check out r/PencilMusic, an entire subreddit dedicated to making groovy tunes with writing utensils. It exists thanks to the popularity of Ochoa's post. She is taking her Reddit stardom in stride. "It's so interesting to post something you think is amusing and will go under the radar, and suddenly the entire internet has your back!" she says.

Let the occasion of Ochoa's musical triumph also be a sobering reminder that the Star Wars cantina band's style of music is known as "jizz." For real. Now go get a pencil and figure out how to write the theme song from the original "Star Trek."

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