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Harry Potter harmony questions

Jar Jar

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Hi Guys,


I am studying the sorcerer's stone from HP1, and it's quite difficult for me (I am quite acustomed to classical writing but mainly tonal until the beginning of 20rst century), and I d'ont understand a lot of what is going on on this one !


I have started by the 20 first measures.


By playing the three note theme (Bb C# A). I can feel that the A is the tonic. So it seems to follow a double harmonic scale (arabian scale).


The chords playing the harmony seems to createe a polytonality as they are not at all in the scale.


First half of the measure (Bb C#), there is a Gb+ which resolved in a Bbminor (contrasting with the A in the melody). The augmented chord seems to be there in order to create an atonal feel and resolve quite smoothly.


So it seems that there is bitonality. 


Am I right for the moment ?


Thanks for your help





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It can be tough to analyze some of this stuff through the lens of classical harmony. For what it's worth, I feel Bb as the closest thing to the tonic, not A. So the initial chords alternate between Gb+ (or Bb+) and Bbm, as you said, although the melody tinges them as Gb add b6 and BbmM7. There is no conventional scale (to my knowledge) that this all fits into, which is not unusual for Williams. He's just following his gut on stuff that sounds good. EDIT: I'm wrong about that last part - see @Ludwig's excellent post right below mine. Augmented scale FTW!

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These first few bars all come from what's called the hexatonic scale (or the augmented scale for jazzers), in this case:




It's a six-note scale based on alternating minor 3rds (or augmented 2nds) and minor 2nds that Williams uses in his action music and in moments of mystery.


I think @Datameister is right in calling Bb the tonic since it kind of resolves on that chord. But notice that the scale allows you to transpose anything up or down by major 3rd and still keep the intervals exactly the same. That makes the sense of a tonic very insecure, perfect for those moments of mystery Williams uses the scale for.

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Hi all, it helped me a lot.


I have finished to study this cue. The writing is so clever. Finally the harmony evloved from the hextatonic scale to the Hungarian minor scale (minor mode with augmented fourth).


It's incredible how Williams plays with a three notes motif allthrough a 4 minutes piece modulating and changing the harmony and instrumentation in order to not bore the listener.


I am starting Harry Wondrous world now. Listening to the tune, it's seems largely more tonal.


If you don't mind I will use this trhead to ask for questions if needed.


Thanks a lot for your help and happy new year.

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  • 6 months later...

Hi Guys,


Now, I am studying Fawkes the Phoenix and I am totally stuck by the harmony played during the bridge. I got the score signature edition but I am wondering if it is not wrong.



Measure 34 and 35


The harmony is divided beetween the lower range (CB, VC and horns) and the upper range (Piano, va, woodwinds)


If we look at the lower range, they are playing : Dmajor7 (D in the bass and C D F# A by the horns) in measure 34 and alternate the next measure between AMajor7M (C# E G# A) and CMajor7 (C in the bass and Bb C E G by the horns)


At the same time, in the upper range : measure 34 we have  AbMajor7Maj (C Eb Gb Ab) and measure 35 : C#minor 7 (B C# E G#) and C major (G C E)


So I would analyse it as a polychord in measure 34 : Ab / D and in measure 35, I wonder if I should consider the AMajor7M = C#minor7 with some added notes (B here considered as a 9) and then the C.


Now if I am using only my ears. I can clearly ear the DbMaj especially the A played by a vibraphone but no clash with a Ab. Then I can hear a chromatism between C#minor and C.


So I think the lower part is ok but the signature is totally wrong with woodwinds.

However, If I look a the complete score, those polychords are also there.


I don't know what to think (my ears are maybe not yet trained).

But maybe at the mix they turned down the polychords ?



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