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Lacks continuity, coherence and even accurate development
• Posted by: Luke22   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Thursday, April 1, 2010, at 8:42 a.m.
• IP Address:

I thought Order of the Phoenix’s score was good but ultimately improvable; Hooper’s weak music contribution to the series in this second score is beyond defense. Most exasperatingly, his work lacks any sense of continuity or well managed development of his previous ideas. It is clear that he writes according to the needs of any scene without paying attention to both inner thematic and stylistic coherence. That’s why Slughorn lacks a definite theme or Death Eaters are associated with percussion rather than having a phrase for their own where a reprise of “Death of Sirius” main motif would have worked

Yes, I think Hooper should not give up his artistic searches and let Williams and Doyle’s material invade his. Yes, I know the movie has a lot of dialogue and little action to make big music for, but it’s no excuse for this poor entry in the series. I have been reading in this forum that there was some sort of conflict between the producers, Yates and Hooper, but is it just speculation or is there any reliable piece of evidence about it? If it is true, it would explain why “Fireworks” is used again in the film when there was obviously a new piece for Weasley twins’ shop (“Wizard Wheezes”). Though the latter lacks the ditty jig-like melody for the twins the former had it would have been nice to listen to some jazzy tune in the film. Incomprehensibly, the twin’s theme is used in “The Weasley Stomp”, a piece for which is given no sign to understand what was it meant for, since it is too hopeful and upbeat for the Barrow scenes or for the end credits. If both track 19 and 28 were pushed to the periphery due to producer’s will, Hooper might be excused but if not, what is the purpose of composing such nice music for such and dull appearance? Both tracks are not only disposed of during the film but also during default titles; they only appear once “Firework”’s reprise (which follows the first credits) has finished, once the screen has gone black. Incredibly, Hooper actually made two good pieces and proceeded to throw them away.

Other points that, in my view, make a clear statement of the discontinuity in Hooper’s work:

1) Why does “Harry & Hermione’”’s theme sound so akin to “When Ginny…”, being that there is not enough connection between these character’s relationships? And why is “H&H”’s theme so similar in its first 6 notes to Hedwig’s Theme? In the first case, the focus of the scene is Hermione’s sadness and anger, remaining Harry in a secondary place, so why not make a phrase for Hermione once and for all? Or, if not, why not reutilize Doyle’s exquisite Harry’s theme, making a variation and blending it with a melody for Hermione? In such case, the theme’s reprise could have been extended to “When Ginny…” and easily mixed with the motif played by the acoustic guitar; the score would not only have gained a sense of thematic continuity with previous entries but also beauty, since Doyle’s construct is tremendously more expressive than anything composed by Hooper. The latter has achieved some dainty tunes but not strong enough in both cases.
2) Hooper’s Possession theme is frequently used in this score but never showing up in a clear statement until “The Inferi in…”; it remains most of the times in the background played in bass, but being too difficult to grasp and being reduced in its expressive power. In track 24 it comes up in a magnificent execution but its implementation is, at least, questionable since there is no sign of Voldemort possessing Harry, which according to the composer was the original idea for it. Someone could argue that it can show Voldemort’s power dominating somebody (Dumbledore in the cave scene by the Dark Lord’s potion) but it sounds a little too strained to me.
3) And if Possession theme’s use is questionable, other reprises are completely out of place. Why did Hooper bring D.A and Umbridge’s themes back? It’s impossible to make the connections the composer intends (us) to make! In the movie, the second part of “Dumbledore’s Army” is used during Ron’s Quidditch audition. Why? No idea since it has little to do with the character in such a situation and since there’s a clear reference to Williams’ Quidditch music in “Ron’s Victory”. Was “DA” used instead of a new composition by Hooper? Was such composition “Of Love and War” (which also features the Quidditch fanfare) discarded by the producers? In that case, the ethereal beauty of “OLaW” would not fit since it sounds too militaristic for the aforementioned sequence.
4) And in the case of Umbridge’s theme, what is Hooper’s justification? Simply that like the toad-like teacher Slughorn hides some dark secret. Therefore, and magically, Umbridge’s march becomes an almost abstract phrase even though the composer originally meant it to reflect Umbridge’s duality in an “insistent and irritating way”. My question is, if Hooper crated a motif for Slughorn in track 21, why disposing of such an effective new construct? Wasn’t he able to make a mickeymousing tune out of it as he does with Umbridge’s? Why doesn’t he give further development of that idea in “The Slugh Party” instead of the charm-lacking melody he comes out with)? Why doesn’t he give Umbridge’s march enough development to state the “hidden secret” idea better? Well, maybe he just didn’t think Slughorn’s motif was versatile enough.
5) Another big musical issue is Dumbledore. The choral chant introduced in “In Noctem” (and the melody under the chorus) is intended to identify Dumbledore, as well as a secondary motif in “Opening” and “Dumbledore’s Farewell” does. But its implementation is not right as it seems to be associated with something more abstract, as Williams “Double trouble” did. Anyway, the problem is not it’s recurrent use, it’s that the construct is not strong enough and has not significant variation, being played almost the same way at any point in the score. ‘Where’s the climax?’ you might wonder. If it’s a phrase for the Headmaster, why doesn’t it appear on tremendously weak tracks 25 and 26 ? Incomprehensibly again, Hooper states great idea in “Journey to the Cave”, whose astounding possibilities he blatantly ignores. Had he used that idea as Dumbledore, Dumbledore and Harry or Horcrux’s Quest’s theme and developed it through the entire score, it would have been a tremendous success. When the melody starts in 1:30 it shatters the windows out as Hooper has never done; it can work as a tragic, nostalgic and heroic melody at the same time if appropriately played, therefore, why refusing to use such construct as a leitmotif for Dumbledore if it can express so many things?

It’s a little bit of a commonplace to point out that Hooper cannot match previous composers’ works. Had he disposed of previous constructs replacing it with powerful new material as Doyle did, I would be very pleased and would not complain. Instead, he has not only conceived extremely subdued music and underscore but also unengaging new ideas he does not even bother to develop. He tries to be simpler in writing and minimalist in color and orchestrations when he should have better been minimalist in writing if he does not feel comfortable with heavy theme-driven writing like Williams and Doyle do. Thus, he is in an inconvenient place between simpler (i.e. elegant) writing and the usual leitmotiv-driven symphonsm for productions like Harry Potter. The magic Hooper lacks is not in making sound every single timbral element (which he almost did in Order) but the cohesion and boldness which made Williams’ Prisoner and Doyle’s Goblet standout scores. In the meantime he’s lost some superb constructs by Williams as well as Doyle’s ones and the beautiful British sonority the latter achieved so effortlessly.

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rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. Scoreboard created 7/24/98 and last updated 4/25/15.