Earlier this week my gym played a track from the movie 1492 and I recognised it immediately even though I haven’t listed to it for ages. But I did as a teenager, and the melody reminded me of a certain guilty pleasure of mine: Soundtracks.
The soundtrack as a genre is complicated. It is essential to most films but it is always subordinated the visuals and the plot. But although always serving a purpose soundtracks may, if they are really good, have an artistic quality of their own.
The soundtrack for 1492 is unfortunately not such a soundtrack, but some of my favourite soundtracks-as-seperate-from-the-film-they-were-made-for are The Tango Lesson (which contains quite a few pieces that were already classics), Twelfth Night, Orlando, and… much of Nicholas Hooper’s music for Harry Potter 5 and 6.
Hooper’s music is eclectic but the pieces I enjoy most are the ones that have a distinctly British sound. There are choir pieces that remind me of Benjamin Britten and simple melody-bourn tracks that have an air of Purcell or some English folk tune.
Examples? We begin with the frosty “In noctem” with some footage that was deleted from the final version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
It reminds me of Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols which of course has a different sort of purity to it – but still that is what it made me think of.
There is also a certain amount of Purcell in that (listen to his Funeral Sentences for Queen Mary for example). And talking about Purcell there is the delicate “When Ginny kissed Harry” that certainly has some olde English music to it. It conveys a perfect mix of butterflies in your stomach and a feeling of simplicity that talks of how right the Ginny/Harry match is.
And for some Purcell:
I really think Nicholas Hooper provided some wonderful music for the Harry Potter films and that the music was allowed space to make an impression on the rest of the productions – that is actually how I began listening, because the music not only worked well with the rest but also added eye-opening ear-openers so to speak.
Just one more – for the fun of it and to show you the Hooper’s versatility.
And now – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – here I come!!