The Musical World of Harry Potter

November 23, 2010 at 12:28 am | Posted in Composers, Music Reviews | Leave a comment
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Ok, so it’s no surprise to any who knows me knows what a movie buff I am, and what a fan of movie music I am. (See the previous article I wrote here!) While I am not a crazy Harry Potter fan, I have seen all the movies and generally do enjoy what they offer, especially on the musical side.

For me, the biggest let down was when John Williams stopped composing for the series. As with practically any movie franchise John has done, he sets up the musical vocabulary and tone for the films. However, once he no longer composed our musical vocabulary dried up.  From having all these wonderful melodies, we get instead quasi, wanna-be themes. They don’t stick with you cause they don’t have any substance.

So we went from the amazing soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, including such amazing music like this selection from “The Knight Bus”…

…which is arguable one of the most jazzy themes we’ve heard from JW in recent years, and a heck of a lot of fun to listen to!

Then we get our roulette of composers, staring with Patrick Doyle. All of them have done admirable, but writing music that is nothing but cool sounding at the time. Nothing offensive, but nothing that make you want to go buy the album. Of Doyle’s best is this cool brass band-inspired tune.

Next in line for the job is Nicholas Hooper, who writes even less memorable music than Patrick Doyle, save one track which has some potential, Professor Umbridge’s theme! It is the only thing I left humming.

What I really don’t understand about the HP folks is why they seem to hire someone less known for each  movie, and most disconcerting is that these composers just dont have the composing chops of a blockbuster franchise. A British movie with a room and a view of a pond, sure. Harry Potter, hmm, not so much!

The most recent addition to the composers of Harry Potter is the Alexandre Desplat, an odd if not random choice. His biggest claim to movie music is the soundtrack from The Golden Compass, as well as some of the Twilight films. When I heard the opening titles, I was excited. This has potential! Unfortunately, due to a creative decision I’m sure, there are long sections of the new movie sans music. It fits the mood, etc, but wish I would hear more of Desplat to get a good feeling for him. At this time, I imagine Desplat will return for the final movie. JW is only rumored, but I imagine with only 7 or so months until release, we’d know if it were him writing the music. I am looking forward to some cool battle music from Desplat, who at times was channeling a bit of Hans Zimmer, and at times, a little Williams. Of the tracks of the new movie, this one is one of my favs!

I hope he is given a nice canvas to do some good work on the final Potter film! So any movie music people out there? Which HP film soundtrack has been your favorite (or your favorite parts)?


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