Scratched Into Our Souls

The Magic (and Music) of Harry Potter | July 31, 2010

Today is July 31st, which means it is that annual date in which everybody from my generation (and many from those generations younger and older as well) celebrate the birthday of J.K. Rowling and her magical wizard-boy creation, the untouchable Boy-Who-Lived, Harry Potter. It’s been over a decade since the first words of Rowling’s incredible seven-book were published, and since then Harry Potter has grown into a worldwide phenomenon that has had a lasting impact on children’s literature and has become one of the most popular book series of all time – and rightfully so.

I was at just the right age to appreciate the magical innocence of those early Harry Potter books when I was younger. As I grew up, so did the maturity of the books. After books 1, 2, and 3, the much more adult-themed books 4 and 5 were released, and it was clear that Rowling had made a similar leap in artistic achievement as fellow Brit J.R.R. Tolkien had made decades prior when he followed his children’s fantasy The Hobbit into the much more serious Lord of the Rings trilogy. Books 6 and 7 hit just before and just after I graduated from high school, and it’s fair to say that the books will remain an essential part in reflections on my childhood and young-adulthood, and hopefully remain an essential in literary circles world wide. 

The Harry Potter phenomenon isn’t just books, though. It has spawned one of the most popular movie franchises of all time, as well as video games for every console. There are also bands that have popped up in the name of the chosen one, the original wizard rockers being Harry and the Potters. Every Potter fanboy will find familiarity in the titles of Paul and Joe’s songs under the moniker Harry and the Potters, with content spanning nearly every book over their three-album career. They are a remarkably concise rock band who write catchy melodies, even if the tribute factor adds so much kitsch value that it’s difficult to take them seriously as artists. But they probably don’t want to change the world like Rowling and Harry Potter did – they just want to add a whole new level to one of the most immersive cultures of intense fanaticism since Star Wars and Star Trek. Geek out to their songs at the band’s website.

The movies have been scored by many of the most famous composers of film in the industry – including film composer God John Williams, whose melodies rang straight into our hearts from the very first film, capturing the magical fantasy of escapism that Hogwarts sparked in the hearts of thousands. These aren’t scores to scoff at, either – they are complex, beautiful, and full of Wagnerian leitmotifs, as the best of Williams’ work always does. From the gently haunting melody of the original theme to the soaring song of Fawkes the Phoenix to Shakespeare-inspired children’s choirs, the music of the scores is not to be ignored as examples of great film compositions. Other composers have also loaned their works to the films, including William Ross, Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper, and Alexandre Desplat. The penultimate film is set to be released in November, with the final installment arriving next summer. Expect record crowds and huge box-office numbers, as well as great sales for the soundtracks.

Perhaps there is nothing more appropriate to examine than the actual power of music as explained by the greatest wizard of Rowling’s world, Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore:

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic far beyond all we do here [at Hogwarts]!”

Listen: John Williams – “Lumos! (Hedwig’s Theme)”


Posted in Music

1 Comment »

  1. Best post ever, btw ❤

    Comment by Aimee — August 1, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

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    About Me: Chris Robinson

    A budding writer and avid music fan from Los Angeles, California, I am a recent graduate of Music History from UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music. I've written for the UCLA Daily Bruin, graduated valedictorian from high school, and enjoy many different types of music, from The Beatles to Beethoven, and everything in between. I wrote my senior thesis on lyrical misinterpretations in popular music, focusing on Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA."

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    All music posted on this blog is for sampling purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Go out and buy their music, attend their shows, and buy merchandise.

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