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The Imperial March

1.2 Prequel trilogy

This article is about the John Williams composition. For

the musical work by Edward Elgar, see Imperial March
Further information: Star Wars music
"The Imperial March (Darth Vaders Theme)",[2] is

The Imperial March appears on a few occasions in the

prequel trilogy, most often used to foreshadow Anakin
Skywalker's future as Darth Vader. An innocent theme
for the nine-year-old Anakin in The Phantom Menace is
thematically based on The Imperial March. The Imperial March is also heard towards the end, as Yoda acknowledges Anakin as Obi-Wan's apprentice in saying
The chosen One, the boy may be. Nevertheless, grave
danger I fear in his training. It is also heard softly at the
end of the nal credit roll, where it fades into the characters signature breathing. In the second prequel, Attack
of the Clones, The Imperial March is sometimes played
subtly when an event foreshadows Anakins future: It is
rst played when Yoda senses Anakin slaughtering a tribe
of Tusken Raiders to avenge his mother's death and later
with more force when Anakin tells Padm Amidala what
he did. It is played most prominently and recognizably
during the nal sequence when clone troopers assemble
and depart Coruscant, foreshadowing that they will become the Imperial stormtroopers. Although Across the
Stars is featured most prominently in the lms end credits, several notes from The Imperial March are heard
beneath it near the end. In Revenge of the Sith the piece
can be heard in "Battle of the Heroes" when Darth Sidious and Yoda clash.

The March of the Empire.[1] Play

a musical theme present in the Star Wars franchise. It

was composed by John Williams for the lm Star Wars:
The Empire Strikes Back. Together with "Yoda's Theme,
The Imperial March was premiered on April 29, 1980,
three weeks before the opening of the lm, on the occasion of John Williams rst concert as ocial conductorin-residence of the Boston Pops Orchestra.[3] One of the
best known symphonic movie themes, it is an example of
a leitmotif, a recurrent theme associated with characters
or events in a drama.[4]

Use in Star Wars

The Imperial March is sometimes referred to simply

as Darth Vaders Theme. In the movies (except for the
original Star Wars), the march is often played when Darth
Vader appears. It is also played during Palpatine's arrival
on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi, though it does
segue into the Emperors own theme as he appears.



Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The Imperial March has inuence in short but dark moments revolving around Anakin. For example, in episode
62 Citadel Rescue, Anakin and Captain Wilhu Tarkin
both mentioned during their escape their good relationship with the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Anakin
shakes hands with Tarkin at the end of the episode,
while Tarkin said he would inform the Chancellor of
Anakins good performance. During that handshake, a
hint is to be heard in the music referring to The Imperial March. Other episodes that feature the theme
include Brain Invaders (when Anakin strangles Poggle), Voyage of Temptation (when Anakin kills Merrik), Overlords (multiple times), Ghosts of Mortis
(multiple times), Kidnapped (when Obi-Wan talks with
Anakin then Ashoka), Deception (multiple times) and
Friends and Enemies (multiple times), Crisis on Naboo (when Anakin argues with Obi-Wan), The Lawless (during Darth Sidious scenes), The Jedi Who Knew
Too Much (multiple times). The theme is used promi-

Original trilogy

The Imperial March is rst heard in The Empire Strikes

Back in low piccolos as the Galactic Empire sends probe
droids across the galaxy in search of Luke Skywalker. Its
major opening occurs as Star Destroyers amass and Darth
Vader is rst presented in the lm, 18 minutes into the
movie. The theme and related motifs are also incorporated into tracks such as The Battle of Hoth" and The
Asteroid Field. Return of the Jedi makes similar use of
the theme, though its nal statement is signicantly different, making quiet use of a harp as a redeemed Anakin
Skywalker dies in his sons arms.

nently during the sixth and nal season.


Star Wars Rebels


Sydney Rabbitohs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers,

Cleveland Cavaliers, and New York Yankees games at
the Stadium Australia, United Center, Staples Center,
Quicken Loans Arena, and Yankee Stadium respectively.

In Empire Day, the episodes title referring to the Empires anniversary, The Imperial March is heard dur- 2.2 Use in music
ing the parade. It is also heard in Call to Action when
Ska punk group No Doubt did a live cover of the
Grand Mo Tarkin arrives on Lothal, in the nal scene
song for their Live in the Tragic Kingdom DVD.
of Fire Across the Galaxy when Darth Vader arrives on
Lothal, and multiple scenes in The Siege of Lothal.
The progressive metal band Bigelf use it in introduction of their concerts. In addition, their singer,
Damon Fox, has a Yoda decal on his keyboard.


The Force Awakens

In the 2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens, several bars

from the brass motif of The Imperial March are played
in undertone as antagonist Kylo Ren clutches the charred
remains of Darth Vaders helmet, vowing to nally succeed where the Galactic Empire failed.


Rogue One Trailer

Canadian band Barenaked Ladies performed a version of the Imperial March on their Maroon tour,
with multi-instrumentalist Kevin Hearn singing a set
of parody lyrics based on Britney Spears' hit song
Oops! ...I Did It Again.
The Dutch symphonic metal band Epica did a live
cover of the song which is found on The Classical
Conspiracy live album.

Celldweller did an Electronic Rock cover of The ImIn the trailer for the yet unreleased lm Rogue One: A
perial March.
Star Wars Story the rst notes of The Imperial March
can be heard at the end of the trailer as the letters turn
to reveal the name of the upcoming movie. Prior to this, 2.3 Other uses
Darth Vader can be heard breathing and his appearance
In 2012, Volkswagen released a commercial for
is seen in the reection of the oor. It has also now been
Super Bowl XLVI, featuring several dogs barking to
conrmed numerous times that Darth Vader will appear
the tune of The Imperial March.[8]
in the movie with James Earl Jones returning to provide
his voice.
Shortly before the Scottish independence referendum, a pro-independence campaigner rode a
rickshaw alongside a group of anti-independence
2 Uses outside Star Wars
Labour party politicians, who had travelled by train
from London to Glasgow for a highly publicised
visit, as they paraded through the centre of the
2.1 Uses in sport
city, playing the Imperial March and announcing to
Glaswegians: Your Imperial Masters have arrived.
The music has been used as emblematic of sporting riBow down before your Imperial Masters!"[9][10][11]
valries. Numerous high school and college marching
bands have taken to playing the march during football
games, particularly when a home teams defense is on the
eld or has made a big play or to question a penalty call
made by the ocial. The rst regular use of The Imperial March was in the 1980s, when John Thompson
led the Georgetown Hoyas mens basketball team onto
the oor with The Imperial March being played by the
Georgetown band. Rather than shy away from the badguy persona, the Hoyas embraced the image, perpetuating the sullen, intimidating identity of the Hoyas.[5] In
January 2003, during Super Bowl XXXVII, ABC Sports
took to using The Imperial March as a leitmotif for
the Oakland Raiders.[6] Three-time World Professional
Darts Champion John Part uses the theme as entrance
for his matches.[7] The Montreal Canadiens of the NHL
also use the theme when they go on the powerplay. The
song is also used for the visiting teams intro during South

3 See also
"Duel of the Fates"
Star Wars music

4 References
[1] Larsen & Irons (2007), p.171.
[2] Michael Matessino, booklet for original soundtrack
recording for Empire Strikes Back, Special Edition, page
17. RCA ASIN B000003G8G. "The Imperial March
(Darth Vaders Theme) is the now famous signature theme
for Darth Vader.

[3] Michael Matessino, booklet for original soundtrack

recording for Empire Strikes Back, Special Edition, page
6. RCA ASIN B000003G8G.
[4] Irena Paulus, "Williams versus Wagner or an Attempt at
Linking Musical Epics" International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 31 2 (2000): 153. John
Williams used leitmotifs in the genuine sense of the word.
He has come very close to the practice of Wagner in the
various procedures in which he varies and transforms his
themes, and in using the idea of the thematic image (the
arch-theme that is the unifying element of the musical material). However, the similarity of Williamss and Wagners leitmotifs is greatest in the area of kinship of themes
(a series of new themes or motifs derive from a single motif or theme) on the basis of which both of them create
a web of mutually related leitmotifs. The closeness of
the procedures of the two can also be found in the area
of melody, rhythm, form, harmony, instrumentation, and
even in the domain of the ratio of the old and the new
in their music. The ultimate objective of Richard Wagner was to create the music drama, music for the stage
based on the old roots of opera, in which all the musical
elements were subordinated to the drama. The ultimate
aim of John Williams was to take part in the creation of
a lm in which his music would serve to dene the lms
substance and help all the other elements of it to function
[5] Wiley, Ralph, Darth Vader of G'Town
[6] Urbanski, Heather (2007). Plagues, Apocalypses and BugEyed Monsters: How Speculative Fiction Shapes Our Nightmares. New York: McFarland. pp. 132133.
[7] Professional Dart Players Walk
Darts501.com. Retrieved 2008-03-21.



[8] Volkswagens 'The Bark Side': Dogs Bark The 'Star

Wars Imperial March For Super Bowl Commercial
(VIDEO)". The Hungton Post. 2012-01-19. Retrieved
[9] http://metro.co.uk/2014/09/12/
[10] http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/
[11] https://uk.news.yahoo.com/video/


Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses



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