Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes was an all-Bith music band that specialized in the genres of jizz and jatz. The bandleader and organizer was the overbearing, compulsive "Fiery" Figrin D'an. The Modal Nodes were members of the Intergalactic Federation of Musicians (IFM) and maintained a reputable standing within the trade guild. The band's matching stage costumes were somber in tone and reflected the moody aesthetics attributed to their preferred style of music. Although the Modal Nodes enjoyed success on the intergalactic circuit, they never rose to great prominence beyond the Outer Rim Territories worlds, in part because they never incorporated vocalists into their act.
The membership roster of the band alternated over the years, adding and subtracting members whenever the situation called for it. They persistently maintained at least five permanent performers at any one time and sometimes as many as seven. The known members of the Modal Nodes included:
- Doikk Na'ts — Dorenian Beshniquel
- Figrin D'an — kloo horn, gasan string drum
- Ickabel G'ont — Double Jocimer
- Lirin Car'n — second kloo horn
- Nalan Cheel — bandfill
- Sun'il Ei'de — drums
- Tech Mo'r — Ommni Box
- Tedn Dahai — fanfar
Shortly before the Battle of Yavin, Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes had entered into an exclusive contract with the Tatooine crime lord Jabba Desilijic Tiure. They routinely gigged at both Jabba's Palace and his Mos Eisley townhouse. The Modal Nodes were not content with merely playing the Mos Eisley circuit, and it wasn't long before they all regretted entering into a contract with the opportunistic Hutt. Recognizing Jabba's penchant for executing underlings that displeased him at a moment's notice, the Modal Nodes began to fear for their lives. It would only be a matter of time before Jabba decided to make a snack of the musicians, by tossing one down into the dungeon abode of his pet rancor. Fortunately for them, a golden opportunity was fresh at hand.
One of Jabba's rivals, a Whiphid named Lady Valarian, offered the band 3,000 credits to perform at her wedding to the hunter (a fellow Whiphid) named D'Wopp. Figrin decided that the fast money would enable them to get off Tatooine and out from under the thumb of Jabba the Hutt. They arrived at the Star Chamber Café reception hall inside the Lucky Despot Hotel & Casino in Mos Eisley. During one of their set breaks, Figrin took the band's retainer and spent the bulk of it at the casino's sabacc tables. The other musicians grew gravely concerned. Thanks to Figrin's gambling, their chances of getting off Tatooine alive were quickly dwindling.
Jabba learned of the Modal Nodes' breach of contract and sent several of his bounty hunters to the casino to disrupt the festivities. As luck would have it, Imperial stormtroopers likewise raided the party, and a massive firefight broke out. During the confusion, the Modal Nodes met a party guest named Wuher, who showed them a quick way out. Wuher put in a good word for them with Chalmun—a Wookiee who owned a nearby cantina where Wuher tended bar. Chalmun hired the Modal Nodes to play a couple of gigs at his bar, the following evening . They were performing the day Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi entered the cantina seeking a pilot willing to ferry them to the Alderaan system. They continued to perform at Chalmun's on a regular basis. Occasionally, Chalmun's night-shift manager, Ackmena, would liven the bar's atmosphere by singing along with the Modal Nodes' rhythms.
One evening Imperial Intelligence suspected that subversive activity was taking place in Mos Eisley. As such, they placed a mandatory curfew on the port city, requiring everyone to return to their homes immediately. The Modal Nodes were just finishing up a set at the time the decree was broadcast. They were quite vocal about stopping the show early, but Ackmena assuaged their concerns by offering the group one round of free drinks.
Shortly after this event, Figrin D'an wagered the band's instruments and equipment on a hand of sabacc. He lost the bet, but the Modal Nodes soon convinced him to win their equipment back. He eventually succeeded, and the Modal Nodes agreed to finally leave Tatooine. They went on to play the intergalactic circuit, receiving lukewarm reviews.
In 1 ABY the Modal Nodes played at Nym's Stronghold on the planet Lok during Nym's Anniversary Bash. Later the same year the band gave several holiday concerts during Life Day festivities beneath the branches of giant Trees of Life in Coronet, Theed, Kachirho, Wayfar, Dearic and Doaba Guerfel.
In later years, the band performed in many places. They had a five-month stint at Shanko's Hive (which ended when a bad gambling debt forced them to escape by stowing away on a ship) and later the floating casinos on Dac, until the rest of the band got tired of Figrin's gambling habit and left for Bespin in 24 ABY, where the Modal Nodes were hired to work at the SkyCenter Galleria amusement park at Cloud City. Due to the presence and actions of Black Sun on Bespin, including the death of park co-owner Cojahn, the band left early for their own safety, going into hiding on their homeworld of Clak'dor VII. After the park's surviving co-owner, Lando Calrissian, tracked them down and learned why they left, he promised them that they would still have a place at the Galleria once Black Sun was taken care of.
All members of the Modal Nodes were born on the Bith homeworld, Clak'dor VII. The band was commonly referred to simply as the Modal Nodes, although Figrin D'an insisted on placing his full name before the band's name at every show. As a bandleader, "Fiery" Figrin D'an was extremely demanding. He was highly critical of every performance and criticized the band heavily if they were to miss even a single note. With the exception of Dorenian Beshniquel-player Doikk Na'ts, Figrin owned all of the band members' instruments and equipment. Figrin was never shy when it came to doling out orders to the others. As a general rule, the Modal Nodes refused to perform at weddings as they felt it cheapened them as a band. The Lady Valarian incident was a rare and presumably regrettable exception to this rule.
Although the members of the Modal Nodes were always able to conduct themselves professionally, tempers would occasionally flare creating instability within the ranks. Tech Mo'r, in particular, despised Figrin Da'n due to the latter's compulsive gambling.
The comlink number for contacting the Modal Nodes was 346.9876-Bithband.
Figrin D'an II and the New Modal Nodes often played the group's tunes.
Behind the scenes
Several Lucasfilm makeup artists, including Phil Tippett, Rick Baker, Laine Liska, Doug Beswick, and possibly Jon Berg, donned their own latex masks and played the roles of Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes in A New Hope. The artists were not given screen credit for these roles.
In 2006, Hasbro released a special Power of the Force series mail-in offer for a five-piece action-figure lot containing the members of the Modal Nodes. Included in the lot were Figrin Da'n, Doikk Na'ts, Tedn Dahai, Tech Mo'r, and Nalan Cheel. For reasons unknown, Ickabel G'ont Sun'il Ei'de and Lirin Car'n were not included in the set.
The two musical numbers performed in A New Hope were both composed and conducted by Oscar-winning composer John Williams. A CD single of the cantina tracks was entitled Star Wars: Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes. The tracks were listed as "Cantina Band #1" and "Cantina Band #2." Both songs are likewise included on many versions of the official Star Wars: A New Hope soundtracks. A disco version of "Cantina Band #1" appeared on the album Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk by Meco.
Three Bith musicians can be seen in the scene when Anakin meets Padmé on the streets of Coruscant in "Clone Wars Chapter 21." It is unknown if they were members of the Modal Nodes.
- Star Wars: Obi-Wan (Appears on billboard only)
- MedStar II: Jedi Healer
- A Hunter's Fate: Greedo's Tale webstrip
- "The Hovel on Terk Street"—Star Wars Tales 6
- Hammertong: The Tale of the "Tonnika Sisters"
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope (First appearance)
- "Spare Parts"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 11 (Mentioned only)
- We Don't Do Weddings: The Band's Tale
- And the Band Played On: The Band's Tale
- Empire Blues: The Devaronian's Tale
- Star Wars Journal: The Fight for Justice
- Star Wars Missions 10: Showdown in Mos Eisley
- The Star Wars Holiday Special
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided
- Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game – Squadrons Over Corellia (Festival of Love promotional scenario)
- The Mandalorian Armor
- Dark Forces: Rebel Agent audio drama (possibly)
- Slave Ship (Mentioned only)
- One Last Night in the Mos Eisley Cantina: The Tale of the Wolfman and the Lamproid
- Tatooine Ghost (Mentioned only)
- Young Jedi Knights: Trouble on Cloud City
- Star Wars: Chewbacca (In flashback(s))
- LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (only 3 shown)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (only 3 shown)
- LEGO Star Wars: Revenge of the Brick
- LucasArts Cantina
- Darth Vader and Son (On album cover)