Talk:The Imperial March

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Really, I'm surprised there's no talk of the theme not being completely original, it's obviously based off the traditional funeral march melody which I assume is by Chopin but I've never heard the movement in the context of the sonata.

For a while I thought that it was Williams's own Throne Room music from Episode IV that inspired him with the theme of the Imperial March. But the Chopin Funeral March connection is very interesting. If you have an album of Chopin's greatest hits (such as Naxos's), it might have the entire movement, (though most likely not the whole sonata), giving you a better idea of context. I will certainly be listening to that. Del arte 21:04, 23 May 2005 (UTC)
It is often said that the Imperial March is "based on" other songs, especially Chopin's "funeral march", but the differences are in reality smaller than they seem. Both are marches in minor key, and the first two bars have similar rhythms and chords, but that is as far as the resemblance goes. It could certainly be said that the IM sounds similar to the Chopin march, Mars from Holst's Planets suite, or several other songs, but to conclude that it is based on one of them is overstating the similarities. 05:37, 27 October 2006 (UTC)All I know is that when I thought of the funeral march just now, it turned into the IM unintentionally. That led me here. Not to the article, but to this talk page. Thetrellan (talk) 19:18, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

A Spoonful of Sugar[edit]

I was told this one a while ago, and it's stuck with me ever since; the Imperial March sounds like it's got a few bars of A Spoonful of Sugar from Disney's Mary Poppins musical in it. Specifically, it's the tune for the lines "...helps the medicine go down, helps the medicine go down". I can't listen to the Imperial March any more without hearing this :)

Astatine 11:08, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
I have never noticed this before. There are indeed two bars in each song with almost identical rhythms, although the melodies are quite different. It's quite an amusing coincidence. 05:37, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
My god, tell me you didn't just ruin my favorite leitmotif. To quote Darth Vader in Attack of the Clones, "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"--Varkman (talk) 23:27, 19 December 2015 (UTC)

Metallica "Cover"[edit]

I am certain Metallica covered it because if youve ever seen a lucas arts documentary it tells you so. Alex Fisher worked with Williams.


Can we verify the key of the given sheet music on the page? Given that I'm a pianist, and I don't know how to change the graphic... I have a few issues with the graphic as it is right now. The melody is fine, but I'm pretty sure the key is supposed to be F# minor (three sharps), not D major or B minor (two sharps, as current), given the current notes. The other thing my ear tells me is that the piece is actually supposed to be an entire semitone higher; so the key, consequently, should actually be G minor, and all the notes should be transposed up a semitone. Can I get some verification on this? Thanks. TheProject 23:12, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

You have a good ear. My source for this, the 'consumer' piano sheet music for Episode II, has this music notated in E-flat major (three flats). I chose to make the graphic in D subconsciously thinking that this somehow reduced the possibility of legal problems. But now that I think more on it, we can claim "fair use" as long as the excerpt is short and not a photocopy of the sheet music. Del arte 23:44, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)
This theme occurs like a hundred times in Episode V. I may not have perfect pitch, but I'm pretty sure it's played in a few different keys. Otherwise, it would be monotonous, literally! Anton Mravcek 18:04, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I'm surprised it's in E-flat major/C minor, as it begins and ends on G (minor), but like I said, I haven't seen the original score. However, when I talk about the "theme", I'm talking about the main Vader theme: the theme that plays when he shows up. The theme may be transposed etc. as a musical developmental trick to give it a different feel or mood, or to expand an idea, but I would be really surprised if the original Vader theme came back in a different key. TheProject 19:21, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Stating themes in different keys is more than a developmental trick, it's a necessity. But as far as Wikipedia is concerned, themes should be quoted in a key in which they first or most often appear. If this particular theme is never stated as given in my illustration, then the key of the illustration needs to be changed to one that is. Del arte 22:59, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Maybe it's in a modal key. If that were the case, then it would be in G phrygian, which would explain why it start/ends on g, and has a 3-flat key signature. Just speculation. Xunflash 03:38, 8 August 2005 (UTC)
The concert suite version of the Imperial march is in G minor (either natural or melodic), with frequent accidentals. It occurs in other keys at various points in the saga. The member who posted this image of the written music was most likely trying to convey the relationships between the notes in the melody, nothing more. It's okay that it's not in the "right" key because there is no right key for the Imperial March. Although I must say, I'm partial to both the G minor of the suite and the Ab minor that can be heard as counterpoint to the funeral music at the end of ROTS. Datameister 06:25, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
For what its worth, uses G minor.
I have perfect pitch, its home key is definately G minor. Whether or not it is modal, which is possible, if we notated it in G minor, it would be a start. It should therefore have two flats, unless someone can say that it is definately in a particular mode, in which case, they would need to show what mode it was, and sheet music with that mode. Artvandelay 16:24, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

The melody is in G Phrygian, which is *a* minor mode. The 'parent' Inonian (major) mode is Em but that's not the key, the key is G Phygian: G is the 3rd scale degree of Em and Phrygian is the 3rd mode (ie uses the 3rd degree as the tonal centre). However, the tonic (G, B, F, whatever) isn't really important (you could transpose it to any key) so much as the fact it's Phrygian. (talk) 15:44, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

I just edited the page under the heading "Orginal Trilogy" about when Han Solo is lifted out of the carbonite. I want to know if it should be removed, since I think it is stridently clear as the camera cuts to the black crane coming down.

Danny sepley 03:21, 5 April 2007 (UTC)


Hello... I do agree it's similar to Mars the bringer of War. But also, please add to the main article another possible inspiration because to me there are some notes that remind me of the most famous Swan Lake song, it is: Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake - NR. 10 Scene: Moderato ( II. Act 2 ) Listen to that carefully. I can feel it in the most dramatic part, a similarity to the Imperial March, when there's a part when the song goes slower. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:03, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

It is said in the article, that the IM is based upon the Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 in B minor but to me it sounds much more like "Mars, the Bringer of War" by Gustav Holst (The Planets). I've borrowed a Chopin's CD from the library and couldn't figure any similarities with the IM. Can anyone explain me this (especially the similarity with "Mars")? --Koveras 19:10, 17 July 2005 (UTC)

The similarities with Chopin's Op. 35 are without a doubt coincidental as well. The only real similarity I can spot is the rhythm, and that can be explained by the fact that they're both marches. Without a source stating explicitly that this was inspired by Chopin's march, claiming that there's any relation between the two is quite bold, and I'm therefore removing that claim from this page and Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat Minor (Chopin). EldKatt (Talk) 20:23, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
I thought that John Williams based the Imperial March on a low quality recording made during a British military parade in London from about a hundred years ago. Whenever the British conquered a new city, their military paraded through the city playing this sort of music...called an imperial march for obvious reasons. Ultrazenith.

Sounds like a part of music in Betty Boop - Chess-Nuts, 1932 (sec. 32) -- (talk) 17:27, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Anyone knows the possible relationship to "March of the Meanies" by George Martin. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:23, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Less an inspiration, more like a shameless copy if I recall correctly seeing a b/w cartoon from the 30ies or so, where this theme has been used 1:1 (no not the Betty Boop reference from above, but very similar sort of cartoon - if not another episode). AFAIR the soundtrack had its crackles and the frequency spectrum typical of that time. Unfortunately I have not the title. But if it turns out that this is genuine, either this article has to be changed and/or Mr. Williams would have to explain - but perhaps he did and we don't know? LinguistManiac. —Preceding unsigned comment added by LinguistManiac (talkcontribs) 15:51, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

d minor in Chapter 16 of TESB when DV first appears[edit]

and the notation example (supposed to be b minor) is full of enharmonic (maybe some audio-to-MIDI program?) mistakes.

Others have complained about the notation example not being in the right key, but you're the first to complain about "enharmonic mistakes". As I've already said, the music was notated with three-flat key signature in the Episode II sheet music and I arbitrarily transposed it to two sharps. I have no problem with someone changing the notation example to match, say, the very first appearance of the theme. Del arte 23:38, 15 August 2005 (UTC)
The "enharmonic mistake" is in the third measure. The F-natural should be an E-sharp. They're enharmonic equivalents (i.e. they sound the same) but for sundry technical reasons, it should definitely be notated as an E-sharp. (To call it an F-natural implies that it is a lowered tonic, where it is actually a leading tone--part of a Vb9 chord (C#-E#-G#-B-D), which makes sense. If it were a lowered tonic, the chord would be something really screwy like a Vsusb4b9, which would be silly.) -- 03:33, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
If the key isn't crucial, it might as well be put in A minor. It's as good as anything because there are no sharps or flats. It would also avoid the pesky E-sharp; tones with accidentals that are enharmonic to natural tones can cause confusion. As a wind player, I like to see G minor, but the theme itself (as opposed to a specific track built on the theme) doesn't require any particular key, so it might as well be something simple. -- 03:33, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
Also, the excerpt is cut off (in the middle of a measure!). I doubt that it would be any more infringing (regardless of whether or not it is currently fair use to post the whole theme; it's not like people only buying the soundtrack because the theme on Wikipedia is incomplete, and anyone can write it down from a recording. -- 03:33, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Appearance In A New Hope Special Edition?[edit]

In what scenes in the special edition of A New Hope does the Imperial March appear? JayMan 03:16, 06 February 2006 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure that statement in the article is a mistake, or wishful thinking. I'm not absolutely certain, though -- only about 90% certain. (I seem to recall that John Williams has expressed regret over the years that the Imperial March is absent from Episode IV.) Gildir 21:38, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

I removed that line from the article, as I too am virtually positive that it is nowhere to be found in any current versions of ANH.

I'm not allowed to include a link to the footage on youtube, but if you check clips from Episode 4, Vader's first appearance on the Tantive IV, you will notice a few notes from Imperial March. Doesn't this count as inclusion in A New Hope? Can anyone locate this scene from an original, non special edition copy to see if this was added by the special editions, or if it was really there all along. Shannonlowder (talk) 15:06, 24 January 2012 (UTC)shannonlowder

Useage in Revenge of the Sith[edit]

I removed this section from the article:

"Finally, the first nine, and most memorable notes of The March, are played near the end of the films soundtrack song "Enter Lord Vader," yet another reference that the theme does, for the most part refer to or belong to Darth Vader."

This is the same cue played when Vader prepares to assasinate the Seperatist leaders, as mentioned just previously in the article. --JayMan 10:56, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

Rage and Leviathan mix[edit]

Ok first thing the link no longer works as Lucasarts has removed some of their older games' websites. I edited the article and removed the link. Does anybody else know of anywhere to get either the rage or the leviathan versions of this song.

Last does the name of the Rage version actually refer to the band Rage Against the Machine, I have never seen any evidence showing that they have performed this song, but it does sound like it could be based on their style of music. Darth vader 007 21:08, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Imperial March[edit]

The other music example was better

July 3, 2007 tags[edit]

I came along here just out of curiosity and was dismayed enough by the tone of the article that I put the tags on. There's some good stuff here; the article needs to be less interpretive and more factual. Citing some sources would, I think, be a huge help. Daniel Case 04:37, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

Comedic parodies[edit]

I discovered this "cover"(or parody) to the theme on this video(which is very funny by the way):

I was wondering if someone knows the name of the artist, I find this one really funny and I was hoping someone here might aid me in finding the author of song. Thanks in advance


Other Uses[edit]

Guys, The march being played at horseguards was actually newsworthy and widely commented on, as it was an example of the tune being used as a subtle note of protest at the visit of a very unpopular monarch, all the rest of the stuff that piled in after (the tune being played at football matches for example) was pretty inconsequential. It's inclusion also mirrors the way in which the page for the Colonel Bogey march (i.e., the theme tune to a Bridge over The River Kwai) has a list of uses. FOARP (talk) 12:37, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

This fact would be better placed if incorporated into Abdullah's wiki page as an example of decent to Abdullah's reign. Its inclusion here seems more reminiscent of a trivia section and not particularly relevant to the March itself... leading the way for another user to include a "Simpsons" reference in "other uses." FortunateTheognis (talk) 00:06, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

But without any context or explanation as to what the song is it is fairly meaningless, I too don't like the way that people simply list every instance in which the piece has appeared - in fact, the rest of this article is pretty much just a list of occasions in which the tune is used in Star Wars. Continually deleting references which are not directly linked to Star Wars makes this a page which is not about the tune, but about the use of the tune in Star Wars - perhaps you would like to make a separate page lisiting the scenes in Star Wars which feature this tune? FOARP (talk) 15:35, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Your right. Musically, there's not much that can be said about the march itself other than how its used. It's usage in the Star Wars films is, of course, it's primary attribution so I would think all that info should remain directly on the March page. Perhaps a section on its use to illustrate totalitarian leaders in the real world would be a good place to include the Abdullah reference. Also, this way it wouldn't seem like a bulleted list of trivia notes. FortunateTheognis (talk) 00:08, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

Are you sure that the YouTube video is authentic??? Another video, taken from CNN shows much the same scenes, without the imperial march - and I think it's a long shot for the British to play that music at any state visit. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:00, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

It seems to be authentic. I judged this by the shots of the band being in sync with the music. FortunateTheognis (talk) 23:08, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

This discussion predates the blog that was used as a source, which clearly points out that it was played as "their warm-up-the-crowd music before the King arrived" [original italics]. If you check this BBC video, it's clear that there was some highly suggestive editing going on at the other networks. Tradition and diplomatic dignity alone was more than enough to bar any unsubtle musical criticism of a foreign head of state on an official visit. I removed the current mention because it was simply misleading. If this should be mentioned in the article at all, it has to be done with more attention to details and with more appropriate sources than a blog. And it certainly can't go under "political commentary".
Peter Isotalo 20:55, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

Unreferenced Removed[edit]

There is now a reference so I have removed the tag. However we still need more of them. --Stealth500! (talk) 23:45, 1 January 2008 (UTC)


Can anyone provide citations for the piece meant to foreshadow one character's action, indicate the Empire's might, etc. etc.? Right now, all the material about its use in the movies is description and uncited conclusions/analysis. --EEMIV (talk) 00:42, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

It's not really OR. It's too much plot description, and that would be so easily backed up with a careful reading of Matessino's CD booklets. What needs to be done here is to trim it down to the most important appearances of the theme and back that up with a Matessino quotation. There's nothing original to be said here. Del arte (talk) 22:38, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Some people don't understand the difference between original research and reading something in a book, or maybe they don't want to understand. I'm going to make one last valiant attempt to explain it:
Original research. You buy a thousand widgets, test them at home, publish the results. That's original research.
Not original research. You buy a copy of Consumer Reports, read it at home, publish quotations from what you read but neglect to give page numbers. There's things to complain about here, but original research is not one of them.
If you want any more examples, let me know. They're very easy to come up with. Cromulent Kwyjibo (talk) 14:45, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
In the absence of substantiating citations, all the inferences and analysis in this article appear to be original research. Rather than widgets, and CR, how about digging up some citations for this article? --EEMIV (talk) 14:50, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
Try telling Matessino, Paulus, Ramadge, Urbanski et al, that this article is our "original research," see what they think about that! Ridiculous. ShutterBugTrekker (talk) 23:54, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm probably wasting my breath, but I'll too make an attempt to explain this to EEMIV.
Looking up something in something someone else did is not original research.
In this specific case, who did the original research? John Williams. When did he do it? In 1982, 1984, 1999, 2002 and 2005? So when John Williams decided to use this theme for Scene A with Darth Vader but not Scene B also with Darth Vader, he was doing original research. To say, John Williams used the theme in Scene A but not in Scene B is not original research, just as it's not original research to quote a line from Shakespeare. Anton Mravcek (talk) 00:48, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
It looks like we're talking past each other or, more likely, I wasn't being clear. Assertions that a piece of music plays when a character appears or during certain scenes isn't OR -- but is summary/description. The encyclopedic content -- that music foreshadows an event or symbolizes a particular character -- needs citations from substantiating secondary sources; otherwise, it APPEARS TO BE (see my earlier edit summary)/might as well be just some amateur's original research (as much as I may agree with it). --EEMIV (talk) 03:45, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
Anyone who knows the films or reads the synopses in the films' articles will also agree that playing that playing this leitmotif at such and such times foreshadows some ominous event. As for a leitmotif being attached to a particular character, it's enough to cite the OST liner notes or even the track listing. And if that's for some reason still not good enough for you, there's the Paulus article, already linked in the references section. Jindřichův Smith (talk) 01:06, 26 March 2008 (UTC)


It seems more likely to have been inspired by Chopin's Funeral March than Holst's Mars. In fact it sounds almost like plagiarism. David Bergan (talk) 16:44, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Well, there's all those repeated notes. But what do you make of the great speed difference (I don't know what the proper musicolological terms are for some of these things), the difference in the distance between the notes (aside from the repeated notes), the changes to a slightly brighter mood between the statements of the more famous melody, the supporting by the other instruments, etc.? ShutterBugTrekker (talk) 22:32, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Also, neither the melody nor the harmonies of the two pieces match in any sense. Just compare the first two bars. The Chopin march has a minor third rise, while the Imperial march drops by a major third. You might as well cite Beethoven's 5th symphony as a closer inspiration for the imperial march: three repeated noted and then a major third drop for the fourth. The harmonies: Chopin has alternating Bb minor/ Gb major whereas the Imperial march would have Bb minor / Gb minor in the same key.
Even less the "Mars" parallels. There are almost direct quotes from "Mars" in the Main Title of the score for Episode 4, but not 5, where the Imperial march was featured. If you got the Signature Edition score of the "Star Wars Suite", it's on page 19-22, bars 82-97: exactly the same repeated chords (C-G-Ab-Db) as in the final bars of "Mars", followed by similar fast triplet rhythm (in 3/4, however) as in the main theme of "Mars". But no Imperial March in sight at this point (or in any other place in Ep. 4) (For CD owners, its on Track 1 (Main Title) of the Episode 4 CD, 1:41-2:06) These are more or less direct quotes from Holst's "Mars", but without the Imperial March, which, to me, doesn't seem borrowed from either Chopin or Holst. -- megA (talk) 13:07, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Alternate Names[edit]

Though not official. I've heard many people in real life and on websites call it The Death March. Maybe we should link that to this article and mention it. (talk) 01:50, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

Al Bowlly[edit]

I have also encountered some people who claim that it sounds like Al Bowlly's "My Woman". [1]. Stonemason89 (talk) 03:27, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

Cut and Paste[edit]

This article is mor or less cut and pasted from the Star Wars wiki. Wikipedia does not hilight trivia like the theme's similarities to various songs and fans' opinions of it. Wikipedia hilights only what has been officially stated. I nominate this page for a major clean-up. (talk) 19:22, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

Use in Games[edit]

I've played a lot of Star Wars games, and I can say from personal experience its at least in Star Wars Trilogy Arcade AND X-Wing VS. TIE Fighter. All I have to say on this is... "I am your father."

Trivia, trivia, trivia -- HUGE clean-up needed[edit]

The mentions of where and when the theme has been used outside the films throughout the years are entirely unsourced, wholly trivial, and completely impossible to be exhaustive. They just need to go. JayHubie (talk) 01:07, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Play file dead link[edit]

I don't know if there's an ogg file out there or how that even works, but it's a redlink under the sheet music.--Varkman (talk) 23:25, 19 December 2015 (UTC)

Hidden at the end of Rogue One[edit]

The article misses the instance of the theme in it's Rogue One section where Darth Vader massacres the rebel soldiers in the hallway. When the music for that scene is sped up one can hear most of the Imperial March clearly. The music in that scene is pretty much a marriage of the chorus from Revenge of the Sith with a slowed down Imperial March. (talk) 20:50, 28 March 2017 (UTC)