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The Magical Music Mastery of Nicholas Hooper
on December 18, 2010
I recently purchased and having been enjoying thoroughly, the soundtracks to Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince.
As a professional musician and closet composer, I have to say I rate Nicholas Hooper's score a 5 out of 5. His music is original and yet well versed in the language of Post-Romanticism, in which movies are the most active medium for this style of classical music to dwell. That is not to say that his style is completely Post-Romantic, just that there are Post-Romantic elements utilized in his music and much of the movie scores we enjoy in movies today.
The score is evocative, the harmony changes smooth and unpedestrian and the themes beautifully capture each moment in the movie and the personalities of each character/s depicted. Additionally I enjoyed how the music was presented on the cd - as a continuous tone poem with very little or no space between the selections.
Some of my favorite themes are:
The Room of Requirement - 5th Movie
The Ministry of Magic - 5th Movie
Dumbledore's Farewell - 6th Movie
When Ginny Kissed Harry - 6th Movie
The Room of Requirement's opening chords are an homage to those who enjoy Ligeti. Yet, they are so original I would only say that they utilize Ligeti's structure. The sonic effect is Mr. Hooper's own.
The Ministry of Magic theme captures beautifully the hustle, bustle and inspirational atmosphere one would feel upon entering those magical halls. Yes, I am not a fan of minimalism, but I enjoy Mr. Hooper's use and then abandon of that structure to achieve the desired effect.
When Ginny Kissed Harry is so beautifully simple and yet made so poignant with the introduction of the Room of Requirement chord from the 5th soundtrack. It captures that gentle moment perfectly and never lets us forget about the magic that is constantly around the two characters and flowing through them.
Regarding the passacaglia that Mr. Hooper composed for Dumbledore's Farewell - the music is hauntingly simple and yet so beautifully complex. He brilliantly executes Purcell's ability to have a repeating basso continuo and add one painfully beautiful harmonic layer upon another so that you are weeping at the end and longing for more. The only downfall of the piece is that he had to end that it after a few minutes. As a movie composer, one is married to the director's storyboard - that is in no means a criticism of David Yates, 5 and 6 (and now 7.1 and 7.2's director), merely an observation of the structure of movie composition in general.
Segueing more into the structure of movie music composition and process - I was also immediately impressed how the director, David Yates, included Mr. Hooper in the very early stages of the movie's story boarding and filming process and was even able to play musical themes for the actors while they were rehearsing scenes. As a performer of opera and an actress that also sings, this is the ultimate experience - to have the music influence your interpretation of your character! I had never before heard of such a process and perhaps this is why I found the music and the story telling so seamlessly entwined with one another, unlike the other Harry Potter movies. I will add, that I felt this way before I knew the fact regarding Mr. Hooper's composing process with Mr. Yates.
In summary, Mr. Hooper utilizes the best in classical music styles with his own original voice to put forward a beautifully executed and seamless score to the 5th and 6th films. I was disappointed that he could not do the two films devoted to the 7th book. I hope that I will get to hear Mr. Hooper's compositions in the future and also in mediums outside of movie making where he would be allowed a bit more flexibility as in symphonic and operatic works.
Cheers and Best Regards - Tami Swartz