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James Newton Howard's Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them


leeallen01
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On 6/29/2020 at 12:05 PM, Alex said:

I like it, but Buckbeak’s Flight is just too good.

 

It's a great theme. Pity due to the nature of the story, it can only appear in 1 film and that too in 2 scenes.

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On 6/29/2020 at 3:34 AM, TheUlyssesian said:

So... if JNH scored Buckbeak's Flight? I know you might think sacrilege since that is one of Williams' most famous cue but give it a listen with an open mind. I think had JNH scored that scene, he would have come up with something equally soaring and memorable.

 

 

 

This is scored with Newt's main theme.


Isn’t that the Thunderbird theme?

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After Williams, JNH is the person I really wanted to have scored one of the eight movies of the saga. Imagine how better Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince would've been if JNH scored them instead of the crappy TV scores by Nick Hooper?

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  • 1 year later...
20 hours ago, archiemc said:

I'm not sure if this thread is still active anymore, but for anyone who's alive and still  interested in James Newton Howard's scores for the Fantastic Beasts series, I started a site analysing the scores, hopefully as a more definitive catalogue of all the themes, as well as cue analyses and a quote section!

 

Fantastic Scores and Where to Find Them

Excellent work! Looking forward to reading this.

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I knew there we a lot of themes in the scores, but this is Williams/Star Wars & Shore/ LOTR level.

 

Insane. Love the scores. He needs to get more credit for them (and other scores) then he gets now.

 

Terrific composer. Should have won an oscar already. But funilly enough I would not give it to him for one of the scores he's actually been nominated for

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41 minutes ago, JNHFan2000 said:

I knew there we a lot of themes in the scores, but this is Williams/Star Wars & Shore/ LOTR level.

 

I don't know these scores well at all, but the way one lists leitmotives can range grealty depending on whether one subdivided each theme into its individual components or not: Frank Lehman's latest iteration of the Thematic Catalog of Star Wars lists most of themes without subdivision (i.e. one Luke Skywalker theme rather than two) and even Doug Adams' The Music of The Lord of the Rings films doesn't list Shire A and Shire B or Rohan A and Rohan B as separate leitmotives. Its also very rare to see a thematic catalogue of The Ring that, say, split the Valhalla theme into multiple motives.

 

Of course, it depends on the theme: Kylo's two themes are treated by Lehman as two separate motives, Doug lists the Skip-Beat and the End-cap as two separate motives although they're basically one long musical line; and most guides to the Ring list the Freia/Love theme as two discrete motives.

 

So if you did a slightly more "condensed" version the number of themes here may not seem quite so copious, but that's for someone who knows the score better than me to do. But anyway the point of leitmotives as in Star Wars/Middle Earth/The Ring isn't their number, per se, its that (1) they occur throughout the entire piece and (2) they undergo change over the course of the work. Again, I don't know the scores well enough to attest to either of those two.

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2 hours ago, JNHFan2000 said:

I knew there we a lot of themes in the scores, but this is Williams/Star Wars & Shore/ LOTR level.

 

Insane. Love the scores. He needs to get more credit for them (and other scores) then he gets now.

 

Terrific composer. Should have won an oscar already. But funilly enough I would not give it to him for one of the scores he's actually been nominated for

What @Chen G. said - I wasn’t the most economical when compiling it all! I’m sure it could be condensed a little, for example I split a lot of them up into their recognisable constituents like in Leta’s Theme and the main Fantastic Beasts Theme. Also, I wanted a resource that acted as more of a musical guidebook to the films, that fans of the series could use when watching them to understand leitmotifs and pick out parts in the score where they appear to try and figure out the plot etc, rather than a musically academic and sophisticated breakdown of everything, hence why I’ve taken some liberty with the term motif and it’s not quite applied correctly in all instances of the word!! Also why the analysis of the cues isn’t very musically developed and they’re worded more descriptively than analytically.

 

But thank you all for your kind words and interest! 🙏😊

2 hours ago, JNHFan2000 said:

I knew there we a lot of themes in the scores, but this is Williams/Star Wars & Shore/ LOTR level.

 

Insane. Love the scores. He needs to get more credit for them (and other scores) then he gets now.

 

Terrific composer. Should have won an oscar already. But funilly enough I would not give it to him for one of the scores he's actually been nominated for

But you’re right - even when watching the films, I never quite appreciated the sheer number of them. I probably could’ve sung you 3 or 4 of the main ones, but when I started doing this, it was a real eye opener as to how much material there is for the series. He really does deserve more credit - he cites them as being amongst his favourites of his scores.

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Good job, as others have mentioned i also would prefer a more condensed version, like for example Crimes of Grindelwald Theme could be one Theme instead of 5 different theme parts, etc...

 

I must say the biggest problem (in the best possible sense) i often have with JNH scores is that i feel he doesn't really recognize what his strongest themes and material are and often puts lesser melodies in the spotlight with many appearances, while degrading his best thematic material to only very few appearances.

 

Take for example the in my opinion best theme of fantastic beasts, which i would call "Newts Main Theme", which in your document is a combination of "Newts Theme" and the "Case Theme". For me your "Case Theme" is in fact Newts Main Theme and your Newts Theme is in fact just an underlying Motif which acts as a lead in to the Newts Main Theme.

Newts Main Theme only plays three times in the film, the main theme motif four times and it doesn't feature even once in Crimes of Grindelwald (!)...a colossal wasted opportunity in my view

This theme in my opinion would even have made for a great fantastic beasts main theme.

 

Then there is the "Grimes of Grindelwald Theme" which in my opinion is one of the best musical pieces of the last few years...it really is the absolute highlight of Crimes of Grindelwald and only plays two short times, one of which are the end credits. What's going on there, why isn't this all over the score... the quality of this theme would merit that but instead it is completely wasted...

 

Or remember the Maleficient flies theme which is also shamefully underused but still the best musical piece of both Maleficient films.

 

JNH is a great composer but i would wish that his Dinosaur or Waterworld sensibilities would return again (where he let his best themes stand in the spotlight and play out)

 

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12 minutes ago, SF1_freeze said:

 

Good job, as others have mentioned i also would prefer a more condensed version, like for example Crimes of Grindelwald Theme could be one Theme instead of 5 different theme parts, etc...

 

I must say the biggest problem (in the best possible sense) i often have with JNH scores is that i feel he doesn't really recognize what his strongest themes and material are and often puts lesser melodies in the spotlight with many appearances, while degrading his best thematic material to only very few appearances.

 

Take for example the in my opinion best theme of fantastic beasts, which i would call "Newts Main Theme", which in your document is a combination of "Newts Theme" and the "Case Theme". For me your "Case Theme" is in fact Newts Main Theme and your Newts Theme is in fact just an underlying Motif which acts as a lead in to the Newts Main Theme.

Newts Main Theme only plays three times in the film, the main theme motif four times and it doesn't feature even once in Crimes of Grindelwald (!)...a colossal wasted opportunity in my view

This theme in my opinion would even have made for a great fantastic beasts main theme.

 

Then there is the "Grimes of Grindelwald Theme" which in my opinion is one of the best musical pieces of the last few years...it really is the absolute highlight of Crimes of Grindelwald and only plays two short times, one of which are the end credits. What's going on there, why isn't this all over the score... the quality of this theme would merit that but instead it is completely wasted...

 

Or remember the Maleficient flies theme which is also shamefully underused but still the best musical piece of both Maleficient films.

 

JNH is a great composer but i would wish that his Dinosaur or Waterworld sensibilities would return again (where he let his best themes stand in the spotlight and play out)

 

I did struggle with breaking it down, as yeah the Crimes of Grindelwald theme is all one thing but the motifs are all dispersed throughout it so I thought it’d make more sense to split it up as opposed to notating the entire piece in order to show all the motifs in context!

 

I know exactly what you mean. JNH has said in the past that there’s two themes for Newt, a more bumbling, warm theme which I put as his main theme - that chugging motif and then the ‘Newt as a Hero’ theme I believe he called it, which was labelled as the Heroic Theme in a recent Instagram post of his where he showed his own catalogue. I think I labelled them correctly!! 🤞 and the Case Theme matches up with when the case is shown I think, but I agree completely - I feel like there’s so many nuggets in there that he could really afford to let expand more but sadly doesn’t. He did also mention that the Crimes of Grindelwald score was opposed of about 90% new material, so I think a lot of the brighter and comedic themes from the first film were abandoned like Jacob’s Theme and the Bouncy Theme and the Case and Newt’s etc…

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5 hours ago, SF1_freeze said:

 

Good job, as others have mentioned i also would prefer a more condensed version, like for example Crimes of Grindelwald Theme could be one Theme instead of 5 different theme parts, etc...

 

I must say the biggest problem (in the best possible sense) i often have with JNH scores is that i feel he doesn't really recognize what his strongest themes and material are and often puts lesser melodies in the spotlight with many appearances, while degrading his best thematic material to only very few appearances.

 

Take for example the in my opinion best theme of fantastic beasts, which i would call "Newts Main Theme", which in your document is a combination of "Newts Theme" and the "Case Theme". For me your "Case Theme" is in fact Newts Main Theme and your Newts Theme is in fact just an underlying Motif which acts as a lead in to the Newts Main Theme.

Newts Main Theme only plays three times in the film, the main theme motif four times and it doesn't feature even once in Crimes of Grindelwald (!)...a colossal wasted opportunity in my view

This theme in my opinion would even have made for a great fantastic beasts main theme.

 

Then there is the "Grimes of Grindelwald Theme" which in my opinion is one of the best musical pieces of the last few years...it really is the absolute highlight of Crimes of Grindelwald and only plays two short times, one of which are the end credits. What's going on there, why isn't this all over the score... the quality of this theme would merit that but instead it is completely wasted...

 

Or remember the Maleficient flies theme which is also shamefully underused but still the best musical piece of both Maleficient films.

 

JNH is a great composer but i would wish that his Dinosaur or Waterworld sensibilities would return again (where he let his best themes stand in the spotlight and play out)

 

I'd have to imagine the director plays into some of this? I was also hugely disappointed after hearing the single released that the CoG theme didn't factor into the main score. Such a brilliant theme, I listen to it every month or so. 

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13 hours ago, Chen G. said:

Do they count as proper leitmotives or are they more of "reminiscence themes"?

It’s quite a strange case - not many of them really develop or return at all. Mostly the creature themes are single thematic instances, so I’ve included them but they don’t quite fit the Wagnerian definition.

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36 minutes ago, archiemc said:

It’s quite a strange case - not many of them really develop.

 

That's what I thought from a superficial familiary with the score.

 

Not that all the leitmotives in a piece need to develop - The "renounciation of love" motive or even "The Curse" motive never particularly change in the course of the Ring, and certainly neither do minor themes like Hunding's; but there definitely needs to be a sense of movement in a piece as a whole, for it to be considered genuinely leitmotivic. If all the themes remain the same (barring minor changes of tempo and orchestration to change the "mood" of the theme) they're not really leitmotives.

 

Another point of leitmotives is that they're not just ever-changing, they're ever-recurring, in the sense that ALL the music is leitmotivic, rather than there being these occasional "Aha!" moments.

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