Duel of the Fates

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"Duel of the Fates"
The cover of the one-track promotional release of Duel of the Fates
The cover of the one-track promotional release of Duel of the Fates
Single by London Symphony Orchestra and the London Voices
from the album Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (soundtrack)
Released 1999
Format CD single
Recorded February 1999 Abbey Road Studio 1, London
Genre Film soundtrack
Length 4:14
Label Sony Classical
Writer(s) John Williams

"Duel of the Fates" is a musical theme recurring in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and the Expanded Universe. It was composed by John Williams and recorded for the film soundtrack by the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and the London Voices. This symphonic piece is played with both a full orchestra and a choir. With the music video for this theme, the LSO became the only classical group to ever have a video debut on Total Request Live.[citation needed] "Duel of the Fates" lasted 11 days on the countdown.[1] The lyrics are based on a fragment of an archaic Welsh poem Cad Goddeu (Battle of the Trees), and sung in Sanskrit.[2]

Appearances in Star Wars films and Expanded Universe[edit]

The music had its debut during the final lightsaber duel between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (although Williams conducted "Duel of the Fates" to appear as a concert suite in the end credits, rather than the film, Williams did record similar cues using the ostinato motif, and in one instance, a 'cut down' version, labelled the "Great Duel"). John Williams stated the chorus was introduced to give a religious, temple-like feel to the epic lightsaber duel.[3] Williams compared the setting of the battle to a pagan altar, and that the duel itself "seems like a dance or a ballet, a religious ceremony of some kind, probably ending in the death of one of the combatants".[4] For Episode I, John Williams recorded a choirless version of "Duel of the Fates", then recorded the choir performing on its own, then layered the vocals over the choirless recordings.[citation needed]

An abridged version is played during Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones during Anakin's speederbike search for his mother.

The piece "Battle of the Heroes" that was played in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, during the battle sequence between the Jedi Master Yoda, and Emperor Palpatine, the Dark Lord of the Sith, in the senate chamber on Coruscant, and the simultaneous battle between Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) and Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar, was inspired by Duel of the Fates but rewritten in a tragic mode.[citation needed] Lucas had expressed in a documentary of The Phantom Menace that he wanted to use Duel of the Fates in his Part III liking how it portrayed the feeling of the doom of the dark side. But he decided not to use it mainly because it did not match the tragic mood of the duel between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi.[citation needed] However, Duel of the Fates does make an appearance during the Yoda/Darth Sidious fight scene. For this instance, John Williams re-recorded the choir and layered it over the vocal-less recording from Episode I.[citation needed]

"Duel of the Fates" can be heard in a number of Star Wars video games, including Star Wars Episode I: Racer, The Clone Wars, Lego Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith video game, Star Wars: Empire at War, Star Wars Battlefront II, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and Angry Birds Star Wars II.[citation needed] The theme also plays during Soulcalibur IV whenever The Apprentice fights within either of the game's three Star Wars-themed stages, as well as during his extended ending. "Duel of the Fates" also plays when Darth Maul appears during the Jedi Training Academy show featured at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland.

A special of Lego Star Wars called "The Empire Strikes Out" features a short section of Duel of the Fates. Darth Maul was humming along with the music while declaring how "awesome" he was.

Another Lego Star Wars special, entitled The Yoda Chronicles: Menace of the Sith, also featured Duel of the Fates. Count Dooku plays the music on a radio during a demonstration of the Sith clone Jek-14's power. Darth Maul complains of how Duel of the Fates is his theme song, to which Asajj Ventress replies "Can somebody say diva?".

It also appears in Star Wars: Rebels in the episode "The Future of the Force" when Ahsoka fights the inquisitors and then again in Twilight of the Apprentice when Ahsoka Tano duels Maul.

Use outside of Star Wars[edit]

"Duel of the Fates" has also been used to reference and satirize Star Wars. For instance, in The Simpsons episode "Please Homer, Don't Hammer 'Em", the song plays in a sequence parodying Star Wars, during an allergen-stick battle between Bart Simpson and Seymour Skinner.[5][6]

The song was also used as the theme for the 2003 Broadcast of the Drum Corps International World Championships on PBS.[citation needed]

"Duel of the Fates" was used in the original BBC broadcast of Top Gear Series 9 Episode 2 in 2007, during the segment in which host James May drives a Bugatti Veyron to its top speed at the Volkswagen test track at Ehra-Lessien.

Tottenham Hotspur F.C. uses "Duel of the Fates" to announce the appearance of the players from the tunnel.

J.P.Anderson`s Band Rabbit Junk used a sample of Duel of the Fates on the Song "Demons", it appears on the Album Reframe.

The Boston Pops performed the piece as the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins entered Gillette Stadium for the 2016 NHL Winter Classic.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The TRL Archive - Debuts". ATRL. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  2. ^ Richard Dyer (1999-03-28). "Making 'Star Wars' sing again" (PDF). Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  3. ^ Movie Music DVD Special Featurette, [2001]
  4. ^ Karlin, F. & Wright, R. (2004). On the Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring (2nd. ed.). New York: Routledge. 165-168.
  5. ^ "Please Homer, Don't Hammer 'Em". The Simpsons. Season 18. Episode 1803 F80147 SI-1720. 2006-09-24. FOX. 
  6. ^ "The Simpsons: - TV.com". TV.com. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  7. ^ "Habs, Bruins enter Gillette Stadium in style". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved 2016-01-01.