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"
|Single by London Symphony Orchestra and the London Voices|
|from the album Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (soundtrack)|
|Recorded||February 1999 Abbey Road Studio 1, London|
"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 of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace by the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and the London Voices. This symphonic piece is played with both a full orchestra and a choir. The lyrics are based on a fragment of an archaic Welsh poem Cad Goddeu (Battle of the Trees), and sung in Sanskrit. The piece debuts during the final lightsaber duel in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. With the music video for this theme, the LSO became the only classical group to ever have a video debut on MTV’s Total Request Live. "Duel of the Fates" lasted 11 days on the countdown.
"Duel of the Fates" was composed by John Williams and recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and the London Voices for the Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace film soundtrack. The symphonic piece is played with both a full orchestra and a choir. The lyrics are based on a fragment of an archaic Welsh poem Cad Goddeu (Battle of the Trees), and sung in Sanskrit. The translation was loose and Williams arranged it by ear, while rearranging the syllables, so the pronunciation of the Sanskrit isn't accurate and the meaning of the stanza is lost in the actual singing.
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. 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". 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.
Appearances in Star Wars
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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. The beginning portion used on the soundtrack is replaced with the beginning of a separate track titled Qui-Gon's Noble End; however, the full version of the original recording is used during the film's end credits. 
The piece "Battle of the Heroes", which was played in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, during the battle sequence between Yoda and Emperor Palpatine in the senate chamber on Coruscant, and the simultaneous battle between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar, had a piece of "Duel of the Fates", but rewritten in a tragic mode. Lucas had expressed in a documentary of The Phantom Menace that he wanted to use “Duel of the Fates” in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith as he liked the feeling of the work. However, he decided not to use it mainly because it did not match the tragic mood of the duel between Obi-Wan and Vader. “Duel of the Fates” makes an appearance during the Yoda/Palpatine fight scene. For this instance, John Williams re-recorded the choir and layered it over the vocal-less recording from Episode I.
"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, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Angry Birds Star Wars II. 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”, in which Darth Maul hums along with the music while declaring how "awesome" he is.
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 that “Duel of the Fates” is his theme song, to which Asajj Ventress replies "Can somebody say diva?".
"Duel of the Fates" can also be heard softly in the background when Maul appears in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Despite only being slightly used in the film The Phantom Menace, the theme "Duel of Fates" has gone on to define the music of the prequel trilogy. It was so loved by fans and viewed as a redeeming quality of the first film, that it went on to be blended into the theme "Battle of the Heroes" in Revenge of the Sith.
Use outside of Star Wars
"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.
"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.
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