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King Mark

Was the Rebel Fanfare originally a theme for the Empire?

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For the longest of time I thought the rebel fanfare was the Empire's theme for Star Wars because it is used in militaristic way in Imperial Attack and Approaching the Death Star.

Could it have a double use? Has Williams ever commented on it?

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The bellicose statement in Imperial Attack always seemed to me playing the scene from the perspective of the Rebel forces -- they're preparing themselves for the boarding party, hence the sense of dread.

Has anyone given a name for the motif that plays when the Star Destroyer moves over the screen and Luke fires into the Death Star - the chords lifted from Holst?

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The opening statement of the fanfare is curious because its association is certainly not unambiguous.

You could say it's one of those uses of a leitmotif that simply has the right emotional sweep for the scene, like how Leia's theme is used after Ben is killed.

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The theme in SW actually poses interesting questions to the audience?

Who are the rebels? Are they really the heroes? Or is is the Empire, forced to take drastic measures after decades of terrorism?

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It is used somehow in a menacing way in MainTitle/Rebel Blockade Runner, and its use in The Death Star/The Stormtroopers, a

Yes, especially as the falcon is swallowed by the death star, it plays the loudest of the film and sounds like a military theme. For a similar shot in TESB you'd have the Imperial March playing

I thought it was the Empire's theme (for Star Wars) for a long time, until it was explained in c.d. liner notes or read it online at some point.

It was briefly quoted in TESB but I still didn't make the connection to the rebels

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It was briefly quoted in TESB but I still didn't make the connection to the rebels

It's used more than just briefly in TESB...

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Given that it consists entirely of major chords, I think even its most militaristic statements carry positive connotations. Its (non antagonistic) use as counterpoint to Leia's theme in the end credits confirms the extramusical association.

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I'd say the Empire already had two themes all its own. The sinister, minor key theme used for the Stormtroopers, and heard when Ben recounts the story of Darth Vader to Luke. And the ascending 4 note motif used whenever the Death Star is shown (just after the Falcon goes to lightspeed, and before Vader interrogates Leia). I don't think the Rebel Fanfare was meant to be a third theme for the bad guys.

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Basically every time the 'good guys' are pulled in by a tractor beam, the Rebel Fanfare is played as as militaristic march. There is actually another Imperial motif I've forgotten - those chugging polytonal chords for the Stormtroopers - usually an accompaniment for their motif. It features in about two or three cues.

@1:21

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And its use throught the saga more than reaffirms this. Really, I don't think this is even open to interpreation. As for some less obvious or apparently incoherent uses of the fanfare, Williams has used themes outside their regular setting for pure dramatic effect (Leia's theme in Ben's Death, Yoda's theme when Boba Fett escapes from Cloud City, etc)

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It was briefly quoted in TESB but I still didn't make the connection to the rebels

It's used more than just briefly in TESB...

where? I only remember one quote when they fire the ion cannon

I don't think that KM was saying that the Rebel Fanfare was another motif for the Empire (at least, that's not I interpret his originally post), rather that the Rebel Fanfare is a "generic" theme not necessarily meant for one faction or the other. Some sort of "war" motif, or something like that.

Though, as Marcus pointed out, the fact that it's used in Princess Leia's Theme is an indication that it's for the Alliance.

I mistook it for a theme for the Empire in watching the film

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It was briefly quoted in TESB but I still didn't make the connection to the rebels

It's used more than just briefly in TESB...

where? I only remember one quote when they fire the ion cannon

There's also 'Betrayal at Bespin' at about 1.24 in the winds, it's also hinted at in the phrase before (IMO) but this one is obvious.

I also think the brass work and flourishes, etc in 'Hyperspace' when dealing with the pursuit of the Falcon are a variation on it, a less developed rag and bone kind of version for the most unlikely of alliances.

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This is a fascinating topic and is all the more reason to marvel still at this amazing film score 40 years on. The music continues to give up it's secrets. 

      I watched the old movie again last Friday and noticed that there is traction in King Mark's idea. I noticed that a tiny reference to the "rebel fanfare" is utilised (after biblical chords when the Death Star has exploded) as Vader regains control of his starship and flies off into space. The moment happens at 8:46 in the "Battle of Yavin". Truly fascinating. Listening to this music since I was 11 I must confess this connotation escaped me. Until now.

     John Williams is the daddy of them all and the day I met and worked with him is a treasured though bittersweet memory I shall never forget. How lucky are all of us now to know we'll receive a brand new Star Wars score by the master for Christmas. Happy days!

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The statement of the Rebel Fanfare with Vader after the explosion can be misinterpreted if viewed out of context. The theme is more than just a "good guy" theme, it's more of a "good guys in trouble" theme. This is how it appears in most statements in the film, especially the most prominent ones like in the opening sequence or as the Falcon gets caught in the Death Star's tractor beam. There are one or two statements where it appears with the good guys alone, like after the big Force theme statement in the binary sunset scene, but these only reinforce its good-guy association. With all this in mind, hearing it with Vader spin out of control at the end would only suggest how the Rebels have struggled against him, not that it somehow signifies the Empire.

 

By the way, in the liner notes to the original LP for Star Wars, Williams identifies several "themes" from the score: those for Leia, Luke, Ben, and the Death Star, but he also identifies a theme for Vader (by which I presume he means the music with Vader's entrance) and the Jawas. It's strange that he doesn't mention the Rebel Fanfare or the Imperial Motif (or even the Stormtroopers' music) but does mention music that probably doesn't register as a theme for most here (Vader) and another span of music that, while fulfilling the criterion of returning in the score, isn't one of the film's most prominent themes (Jawas). This is why the saga could really use a clear and comprehensive, Doug-Adams-style treatment of all its themes.

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47 minutes ago, Ludwig said:

 

 

By the way, in the liner notes to the original LP for Star Wars, Williams identifies several "themes" from the score: those for Leia, Luke, Ben, and the Death Star, but he also identifies a theme for Vader (by which I presume he means the music with Vader's entrance) and the Jawas. It's strange that he doesn't mention the Rebel Fanfare or the Imperial Motif (or even the Stormtroopers' music)

 

yeah so basically that is open to interpretation that the "rebel fanfare" could be the Empire's/Darth Vader's theme

 

rebel fanfare never plays when the Rebels are "winning" .It's heard as they flee the star destroyer, as they get captured on  the Tantive V, when the falcon enter the Death Star (with big militaristic orchestration) , when the TIE fighter shoot at them

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I think that interpretation wilfully ignores the incredibly heroic and romantic statements of the theme in the End Titles. It couldn't be further from villainy at the beginning of the credits, and that statement on strings/horns at 4:58 wraps up all the heroics and romantic action in a few seconds.

 

Considering it was the first major foray for JW (and many composers) into Wagner-esque leitmotif territory I don't think it's fair to assume that the themes of the score only represent what you're seeing on-screen. As many others have noted, it could be just as (if not more) easily interpreted as a "heroes in peril" kind of motif. The way it's structured (parallel major triads) also implies a more heroic idea - contrast that with the Imperial March which is comprised of minor triads.

 

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7 hours ago, DominicCobb said:

Also, I thought Williams's theme for Vader (in the liner notes) referred to the Imperial motif. 

 

Good call - I agree. It's strange, though, that he calls it Vader's theme when it doesn't occur with his big entrance and when it does occur with him onscreen, it's usually pretty subdued. 

 

Perhaps he thought the motif better suited to underscore than big presentations, especially since he seems to associate it with softer, muted sounds as he says in the notes. And that's probably why (in addition to Vader's larger role in the film, as he has said) he felt the need to write Vader a new theme for the sequel - thank goodness!

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