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This article is about Darth Vader's Theme. You may be looking for the "Imperial Motif" from A New Hope or the in-universe song.
Imperial March
The Imperial March
General information
Composer

John Williams

Written

1980

Represents

The Galactic Empire, Darth Vader

Performed by

London Symphony Orchestra

Genre

Film score

Musical details
Key

G minor

Usage information
Movies

I, II, III, V, and VI

Samples
Versions

TESB 
RC 

"The Imperial March," also called "Darth Vader's Theme," is a recurring musical theme of the Star Wars movies. It was composed by John Williams and first appeared in the film The Empire Strikes Back. The theme is based on the well known funeral march from Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor and on "Mars, the Bringer of War" by Gustav Holst.

One of the best known symphonic movie themes, it is a classic example of a leitmotiv, a recurrent theme associated with characters or events in a drama. "The Imperial March" is the theme music that represents the authoritarian Galactic Empire. As Anakin Skywalker is stripped of all individuality, he, in essence, becomes one with the Empire as Darth Vader; hence the reason the march is often associated with him as well. "The Imperial March" represents all that is the Empire; therefore, it is nearly equivalent to a galactic anthem. To the Galactic Empire, "The Imperial March" represents strength, order, and control. However, to the Rebel Alliance, it is symbolic of tyranny, oppression, and hate.

Although played by an orchestra on the movie soundtrack, it is often played by brass bands; military bands are particularly effective in delivering the theme's martial stance. "The Imperial March" was also played by No Doubt at some of their live concerts.

For the game Star Wars: Force Commander, the menu music was a "March" remix with a rock/metal flavor.

In the movies (except for A New Hope), the march is played when Darth Vader appears, or when he is mentioned.

On a few occasions, "The Imperial March" has been used to introduce Mr. Burns on the television series The Simpsons. Additionally, it has been used as a background musical piece by radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh when discussing subjects relating to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. In some National Hockey League games, the music is used at the beginning of powerplay opportunities. The march is also used when an opponent enters the field at a Cleveland Browns, Indian or Cavaliers game. The music is also played at home games of the New York Yankees when announcing the players of the opposing team (in contrast to music heard during the Rebel Alliance's Award Ceremony in A New Hope being played to announce the home players.)

UseEdit

In the moviesEdit

"The Imperial March" is first heard in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader is re-introduced as Death Squadron assembles. It is played throughout the film nearly every time the Death Squadron or Darth Vader appears, most notably during the track 'The Battle of Hoth' as the Executor is seen approaching Hoth and as Vader enters Echo Base after the battle. It is then used in the beginning of 'The Asteroid Field' as the Millennium Falcon tries to evade the attacking Star Destroyers and, in a more powerful form, during 'Han Solo and the Princess' as the Death Squadron blasts its way through the asteroid field and as the Executor emerges from the asteroids. Later the tune is shortly heard during the end of 'The Training of a Jedi Knight', as the bounty hunters assemble on the Executor, 'Yoda and the Force' when Captain Needa departs the Avenger to apologize to Darth Vader, 'Imperial Starfleet Deployed' as the Falcon is seen hanging on the back of the Avenger's command tower. Then, in a more Dramatic form, was played during the duel between Vader and Luke, known as 'The Clash of Lightsabers', when Vader uses the force to throw objects at Luke. It also appears in 'Rescue from Cloud City/Hyperspace' when Darth Vader reveals to Luke that he is his father.

It is used in its most powerful form in Return of the Jedi, when Emperor Palpatine is seen arriving on the Death Star II. As Luke unmasks Vader at the end of "Jedi", the theme is carried somberly by high-range strings; as Vader dies, the tune is heard one last time as a dirge played by the harp.

"The Imperial March" theme appears scarcely in the prequel trilogy, but is often used to hint at Anakin Skywalker's future as Darth Vader. Its usage increases through the trilogy.

A few notes of "The Imperial March" are played in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in a scene between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda when they discuss the future of Anakin Skywalker on Naboo. The main few notes of "The Imperial March" are heared in "The Droid Battle". It is also heard at the sinister end to "Anakin's Theme," played during the end credits.

In the next film, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, "The Imperial March" is played subtly and so faintly that it's barely audible when Yoda senses Anakin's slaughter of the Tusken Raiders. The first notes of the march are heard again, slightly louder this time, after Anakin confesses the deed to Padmé. At the end of the movie, the full version accompanies the deployment of the Grand Army of the Republic, hinting at the eventual link between clone troopers and stormtroopers, and as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is shown observing the deployment of the Army from a balcony, foreshadowing his becoming the Emperor.

In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, "The Imperial March" is first played when Anakin rebukes the Jedi Council for denying him the rank of Jedi Master, although being appointed to the Council. It is later played when Anakin is dubbed as the Sith, Darth Vader, shortly after the death of Mace Windu. A few notes of the March are played when Vader confronts the Separatists on Mustafar. The piece is played more clearly during the "Battle of the Heroes" scene between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader at the movie's climax and in the simultaneous battle between Yoda and Palpatine. It is also played when Darth Vader receives his armor and when he looks up at the first Death Star.

In the EUEdit

The soundtrack to Shadows of the Empire by Joel McNeely samples a small part of "The Imperial March" in the "Night Skies" theme. Here, it is played as a contemplative piece, designed to show Darth Vader mulling over information about the Falleen, Prince Xizor and feeling that his son is close by in Imperial Center.

In Star Wars: Rogue Squadron a more synthetic and somewhat eerie version of "The Imperial March" is played during the battle with Kohl Seerdon. Several bits were more ominous during the World Devastators' rampage over Mon Calamari.

The "Imperial March" is played often during the Star Wars: Empire At War game series, usually when playing as the Galactic Empire.

In-universeEdit

In popular cultureEdit

  • A muzak version of "The Imperial March" is used as elevator music on board the Death Star in the Family Guy episode Blue Harvest, which is a parody of A New Hope and derives most of its plot from the film.
  • The New York Yankees plays the theme when presenting players from the opposing team when at Yankee Stadium.
  • In The Simpsons, "The Imperial March" is occasionally used to introduce Mr. Burns.
  • In an episode of "The Big Bang Theory", Raj plays "The Imperial March" while entering a comic book store to show that he is "awesome and to be feared."
  • The Crossbone Vanguard theme from Gundam F91 is based on "The Imperial March," mostly because the creator of the anime movie, Tomino, really liked Star Wars.
  • The symphonic metal band Epica made a cover of "The Imperial March" in their 2009 live album The Classical Conspiracy.
  • Before being replaced with a new theme around mid-2010, "The Imperial March" was the opening theme song (played at the "top of the hour") for The Alex Jones Show. While the theme played, an announcement then followed:
    • "Big Brother, mainstream media, government cover-ups. You want answers? Well so does he. He's Alex Jones...on the GCN Radio Network. And now, live from Austin, Texas...Alex Jones."
    • Parts of this theme is still played in the aforementioned The Alex Jones Show at the "top of the hour" and after returning from commercial breaks.
  • Also, the Montreal Canadians Hockey team play "The Imperial March" whenever they have a power play at games.
  • Certain NPCs in The Witcher PC CRPG can be heard whistling the theme.
  • In 2012, Volkswagen has teased a Super Bowl commercial where a chorus of dogs barked the march, each dressed up as different characters in the films.
  • Ryan Bader has used a remixed version of the theme as his entrance music at UFC 144.
  • In 2007, the Band of the Welsh Guards notoriously played the Imperial March to greet Saudi Arabian King Abdullah when he visited the UK on a controversial state visit.
  • An episode of The Big Bang Theory titled "The Cooper/Kripke Inversion" includes the theme as Sheldon's "I'm unhappy and about to destroy the planet" music.
  • The first TV trailer for the 2013 Japanese superhero crossover movie Kamen Rider × Super Sentai × Space Sheriff: Super Hero Taisen Z opened with a brief piece of music highly reminiscent of "The Imperial March" to introduce another space empire, Space Shocker.

AppearancesEdit

BibliographyEdit

External linksEdit

Compositions and motifs
Introduced in Episode I
"Duel of the Fates" · "Anakin's Theme" · "Qui-Gon's Theme"
"Funeral Theme" · "Droid Invasion Theme" · "Jar Jar's Theme"
"Darth Maul's Motif" · "Shmi's theme" · "The Arrival at Tatooine" · "Escape from Naboo" · "The Flag Parade"
Introduced in Episode II
"Across the Stars" · "Separatist Theme" · "Kamino motif" · "Mourning Theme" · "The Arena"
"Republic Motif" · "Jango's Escape" · "Bounty Hunter's Pursuit" · "The Meadow Picnic"
Introduced in Episode III
"Battle of the Heroes" · "General Grievous's theme"
"Anakin's Betrayal" · "Padmé's Destiny" · "Padmé's Ruminations"
"Immolation theme" · "Mystery of the Sith motif" · "Anakin's Dark Deeds"
Introduced in Episode IV
"Star Wars Main Title" · "Princess Leia's Theme" · "Rebel Fanfare" · "The Throne Room" · "Binary Sunset"
"Imperial motif" · "Death Star motif" · "Jawa Theme" · "Here They Come!" · "The Final Battle" · "Tusken Raider Theme"
Introduced in Episode V
"The Imperial March" · "Han Solo and the Princess" · "Yoda's Theme" · "Droids motif" · "Boba Fett's motif"
"Lando's Palace" · "Betrayal at Bespin motif" · "The Asteroid Field"
Introduced in Episode VI
"Parade of the Ewoks" · "The Forest Battle" · "Jabba's Theme" · "The Emperor's Theme" · "Luke and Leia"
"Victory Celebration" · "Yoda's Revelation" · "Jabba the Hutt" · "Ewok Celebration"
Introduced in The Clone Wars
"Ahsoka's Triumphant Theme" · "Padmé's Theme" · "Clone Wars Victory Theme" · "Ahsoka's Theme"
Introduced in Shadows of the Empire
"Xizor's Theme" · "Dash's theme"
Introduced in The Force Unleashed
"Kota's Theme" · "Force Unleashed Theme" · "Juno Eclipse's Theme" · "Redemption Theme"
Introduced in Rogue Squadron
"Rogue Squadron Main Title"
[edit]


Real-world music
Soundtracks
The Phantom Menace · Attack of the Clones · Revenge of the Sith
A New Hope · The Empire Strikes Back · Return of the Jedi
Ewoks · The Clone Wars · The Clone Wars S1-6
Shadows of the Empire · Republic Commando · Knights of the Old Republic
Knights of the Old Republic II · Forces of Corruption · The Force Unleashed
The Force Unleashed II · The Old Republic
Original Soundtrack Anthology
Composers
John Williams · Joel McNeely · Clint Bajakian · Peter Bernstein · Jesse Harlin · Mark Griskey
Frank Klepacki · Jeremy Soule · Joseph Williams · Jerry Hey · Kevin Kiner · Michael Giacchino · Chris Hülsbeck
Performers
London Symphony Orchestra · London Voices
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra · Maurice Murphy · Royal Scottish National Orchestra
New London Children's Choir · Seattle Sinfonia Orchestra
Sheet music books
The Phantom Menace · Attack of the Clones · Revenge of the Sith
Music from the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition · Selections from Star Wars
Star Wars: A Musical Journey: Episodes I-VI · Star Wars Episodes I, II & III Instrumental Solos
Star Wars for Beginning Piano Solo
Music Videos
"Lapti Nek" The Music Video from Jabba's Palace · The Duel of the Fates · A Hero Falls
Other
Bantha Music · Christmas in the Stars · Tusken Music
[edit]


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