Darth Vader’s heavy breathing voted most iconic Star Wars sound by Wigan movie fans

Dave Prowse as Darth Vader
Dave Prowse as Darth Vader
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Film fans in Wigan have voted Darth Vader’s heavy breathing the most iconic sound of the Star Wars movies.

The sound of the Sith Lord’s breathing beat R2-D2’s whistles and beeps and Chewbacca’s roar to take first place in the survey.

Local people voted the Star Wars theme tune the second most quintessential sound, with the humming noise of lightsabers coming third in the vote.

Summayah Eldin, Audiologist at the Wigan branch of hearing specialists Amplifon, who commissioned the survey, said: “Some of the sounds from the Star Wars movies are amongst the most recognisable in cinema history and really enhance our enjoyment of the films.

“Darth Vader is synonymous with that heavy breathing sound and there’s no question it makes him a more intimidating character. It emphasises he’s more machine than man.

“What this list illustrates is sound effects and music can evoke emotions in a way that pictures alone simply can’t, making us laugh, cry or, in the case of Darth Vader, feel uneasy.

“Amplifon customers often tell us one of the best parts of having their hearing difficulties addressed is being able to hear and enjoy their favourite films again.”

Sound designer Ben Burtt created the sound of Darth Vader’s heavy breathing by placing a microphone inside a regulator on a scuba breathing apparatus and breathing into it in different ways.

The dulcet tones of C3PO also claimed a place in the Top Ten, alongside The Cantina Band who provided the soundtrack for the bar scene in the original film Star Wars: A New Hope.

The survey of 2,000 people, conducted by leading hearing specialist, Amplifon, has been released ahead of the launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on DVD to highlight how important good hearing is to the movie experience.

Summayah added: “More than 11 million people in the UK suffer from hearing loss, and it’s estimated around 6.7 million people could benefit from hearing aids – that’s a lot of people who could be missing out on the full cinematic experience.”

The Top Ten Most Iconic Star Wars Sounds:

1 Darth Vader’s heavy breathing

2 The Star Wars theme tune

3 Light sabers in battle

4 R2-D2’s whistles and beeps

5 Chewbacca’s roar

6 Yoda’s voice

7 Darth Vader’s theme tune

8 C3PO’s voice

9 The Cantina Band

10 Voice of Jabba the Hutt

Star Wars sound effects and their origins

1 Darth Vader’s heavy breathing

Sound designer Ben Burtt created the sound by placing a microphone inside a regulator on a scuba breathing apparatus and breathing into it in different ways.

2 Lightsabers in battle

Burtt recorded the sound of an old motor on a cinema projector to create the general thrum of a lightsaber. The ‘vvvwing’ or the sound of a lightsaber in motion was created by swinging a microphone next to the picture tube of a television.

3 R2-D2’s whistles and beeps

Burtt initially used a synthesizer to capture the droid’s voice but the sound was ‘too electronic’ and didn’t convey any emotion. He then tried a 50/50 mix of electronic synthesizer-generated sound and his own voice making funny inflections. The combination camouflaged the two sources and brought R2 to life.

4 Chewbacca’s roar

Chewbacca’s voice was created from sounds Burtt collected from animals such as bears, badgers, and walruses. He took segments from each recording, categorised them by emotion, and stitched them together to make Chewie’s speech.

5 The Cantina Band

The band in the bar scene in the original Star Wars movie was actually called ‘Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes’. Their most famous composition, an up-tempo instrumental, is named on the original soundtrack as ‘Cantina Song’, and is credited to the composer John Williams.