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Harry Potter and the Nicholas Hooper
• Posted by: Vincent   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Sunday, July 26, 2015, at 1:53 p.m.
• IP Address: 180.80-64-87.adsl-dyn.isp.belgacom.be

It's important to note that the surround sound versions for films 6 and 8 are FAKE. They're just ordinary stereo WAV files you were supposed to burn on an extra CD and then run through a Dolby Pro Logic II decoder. The result was absolutely no different from the orddinary CD. The fifth score did reveal some interesting new instruments in its surround mix in the film, but in general you do have a point that this bland music doesn't even need a 5.1 surround sound release and especially that Goblet of Fire does need one.

I'm still wondering why the funeral had to be scrapped in order to make Deathly Hallows a better film, because it's possibly more brainless than Yates's two prior films.

The bit about the fifth score being functional leads me to another point. The score was indeed functional, but that's about it. It was music. It shows that brainless films can do without good scores. Yates dumbed down Rowling's story so significantly that it might be considered an excuse for a dumbed-down score. The music does lack emotional depth, but then again Yates's four films suffer from this problem. And let's also not forget that Yates might have had a say in Hooper's approach, though that argument doesn't really hold up for the sixth score because Hooper claims Yates kept pushing him to the last moment, and it's hard to imagine a score like this being the result of someone pushed to his limit: this score is so much worse than the first one. To call the fifth score large and careful is overdoing it a bit: cues like Papers, Death of Sirius (ending) and Breakout sound so incredibly non-large and non-careful.

You continue to focus too much on Williams' influence. I'm not denying his themes and sound in general were very memorable and important, but isn't the overall legacy of these scores (until Hooper came, that is) their orchestral grandness? In terms of power and complexity, Doyle did a great job, and his own themes were so good that the absence of JW's themes weren't that problematic for me. Desplat also wrote incredibly complex and powerful, grand music. Only Hooper fails here.

I wouldn't say Hooper's scores lack identity, though. They certainly have huge shortcomings, but Dumbledore's Army, Fireworks and In Noctem certainly give the scores identity. Ironically enough, Possession doesn't. I couldn't point out the problems with this score better than you did, but I think it's worth mentioning that this score is much more shallow and dull than the previous one, and not just during conversation scenes. The best example that comes to mind here are the memory sequences, underscored with non-thematic, loose string notes and very annoying timpani thumping or choir crescendoes. The aftermath of those memories, when Harry and Dumbledore are discussing Horcruxes, doesn't even contain Possession, just random notes. The performance shouldn't be called unengaging, though. Can you think of anything they could have done (except for replacing Hooper) to get engaging performances out of the orchestra?

Next: the possession theme... again. As you say, the cohesive touch is gone because it's being mingled with Dumbledore's theme, but another problem is this: what on earth does it symbolise now? In the first one, it symbolised Harry being possessed by Voldemort, but it only played in one of Harry's many visions, the others having music that could possibly have a horn theme for Voldemort. But the climax of the fifth book sees Voldemort fleeing Harry's body. In other words, he's no longer being possessed. Need I say more? Dumbledore isn't possessed by Voldemort, only by the thought he has to destroy him. So does this theme just symbolise any possession whatsoever? And if it does, why didn't they include it in the 'After' cue, the cue that plays just after Snape kills Dumbledore? Apparently someone else wrote that one (I wonder why...), but in that cue Harry was possessed by rage and grief, so why no possession theme there? And what does it mean when Dumbledore chases off the Inferi? Who is being possessed by what there? It's undoubtedly Hooper's most powerful cue in his two scores, and I'm normally not a person obsessed with themes and their usage, but when a score is that bad, I just start looking for things to nitpick about. Was Hooper just trying to give his theme one unique symphonic performance? It's certainly epic, but that's it. Or does it mean they're no longer being possessed? But then again, by what? Is it just a 'Voldemort's evil' theme? Shouldn't it have been in all the visions then, and in the attacks?

The same problems endure with Umbridge's theme. Why does it influence Living Death, and why is it included in a dialed-out cue that underscored the beginning of the Great Hall scene? The bitch isn't even there, has never taught Potions and they aren't talking about her at all.

Dumbledore's Army doesn't make an appearance in Hooper's original score, but it does in the film. One of many tracked cues, it underscores the Quidditch try-outs. Why? Probably because 'Of Love and War', the original idea, didn't really match the scene or wasn't bold enough.

I don't think you're right about In Noctem. You say it's too cerebral for Dumbledore, which I don't think it is. The real problem for me is that it doesn't play during the Dumbledore-Malfoy scene or just after Snape kills him. The only brief statement in those scenes is in Dumbledore's Farewell, and they're very hard to notice. In other words, it's a theme for Dumbledore that doesn't really play when it should. Hell, I just realised it didn't even play when Dumbledore is in agony in the cave! We get possession instead, so it might support my 'Voldemort's Evil' theory. Also, In Noctem doesn't get full treatment in the film either,
all its appearances are on the album as far as I know. I don't see it working very well in the farewell scene either. I wouldn't call the theme airy, but the undermixed choir, or as you say, lack of symphonic power, indeed makes it pass without much notice in 'The Cave'.

Malfoy's piano theme isn't that bad, but its huge flaw, of course, is that it doesn't play when it should, namely when Malfoy is debating whether he should kill Dumbledore or not. That scene receives strings that start emotionally enough, but when more Death Eeters arrive, the cue makes me lose interest because of a stupid and brainless repetitive crescendo.

Hedwig's theme. Does the B section really influence the horns just before they destroy the bridge? And then, its appearance in Ginny. Good God. Could it ever have made less sense in a scene? Ginny isn't a magical obbject (she isn't for me at least), doesn't perform magic or bring any shocking revelation with her, so why, WHY is the theme there? Harry's Wondrous World, Harry in Winter, please play there. Please. And as you point out, regardless of the fact that it's completely out-of-order here, it's ten times more noticeable than anything else in the score, even though the performers obviously can't handle it properly (I'm strongly reminded of the City of Prague Philarmonic here).

Did Hooper really insert Williams' notes in his Quidditch music? He reportedly listened mostly to Prisoner of Azkaban before starting on Order of the Phoenix (because the two prior scores weren't important at all, and, well, who gives a fuck about Doyle?) Doyle sort of re-wrote the Quidditch theme, but although Hooper's music is exciting and playful enough, it could do with more symphonic power, like 99% of his other cues. What's more, there's no connection whatsoever between 'Ron's Victory' and 'Of Love and War'.

Then, the problematic quote about handling cues based on their individual needs. If he really did do this, why is there no Malfoy's theme in The Killing of Dumbledore, Hedwig's Theme in 'Ginny', and for the love of God, why is the entire score lacking so much POWER?

The lack of continuity isn't really correct. It's there, but it doesn't make any sense most of the time, and when it isn't there, it still doesn't make any sense most of the time. The Great Hall music, which went unused, is horribly out-of-order, Umbridge's Theme is senseless or maybe unintentional, Possession should have played during the memory sequences if it stands for 'Voldemort's evil' and the whole score in general should have been at least as large as his previous one.

The romance. If one person knows how to convert the word 'romance' to music, it's Patrick Doyle. The ending of When Ginny Kissed Harry is romantic because of the strings that kick in far too late, but School, which underscores Harry and Hermione's love life talk lacks any romance. The beginning of Ginny does, but when they hug, we get an elongated Hedwig's Thee chord.

I think it's unfair to mention Fireworks here. The only reason why it's used in the film is because someone obviously was infatuated with it. Hooper wrote another piece of music for that scene, present on the album, and I think it's the perfect music for that particular scene. Fireworks also had to be cut down significantly because the electric guitar solo obviously doesn't work in the scene. It kicked ass in Fireworks, but Mr Yates didn't seem to understand his own composer there.

The Killing of Dumbledore is indeed very disappointing, but don't forget that the cue that underscored Dumbledore dying wasn't incluced on the album.

It's funny how you mention tightly-woven franchises. Hooper once mentioned something about the intricately-woven tapestry in OOTP. I haven't found it in his scores.

To say that Doyle's score wasn't as effective as it should have been is wrong in my opinion. I think it's still a very effective one, you call it impressive afterwards and it is, you just focus way too much on Williams. Your bit about 'without themes it makes him irrelevant' is so degrading that it's hilarious, but it's also quite a leap. Take away Doyle's memorable themes and the Yule Ball, Cedric's celebration or 'Underwater Secrets' still remain moving and/or magical, and that's because the orchestra is doing more than playing ambient music. Hannigan's music has the same effect and his themes are very memorable too.

If Williams had returned, he should have used Doyle's material as a tribute.

One thing you should definitely have mentioned is Dumbledore's Farewell. I found it really heartbreaking and very, very effective, themes or not. And this brings me to another point. In itself, lots of Hooper's music could be classified as nice chamber music. After a long day, Dumbledore's Army, Ginny, School, The Friends or The Weasley Stomp will relax me. You're forgetting Slughorn's theme too. I don'tk nowwhy you didn't mention it, hopefully not because it only makeso ne appearance on album. It's actually quite good, a nice melody and it matches the character. So I will conclude: Hooper understands instruments pretty well, wrote pleasant music, occasionally shows real talent, but most of the time his Potter scores lack complexity and most importantly, symphonic power, making them bad scores.






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