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πŸ¦‰ My Favorite Harry Potter Cue

πŸ‘‚ listening Jul 04, 2023

Every time I decide to re-watch the Harry Potter movies, I’m constantly awestruck by the genius of the very first soundtrack Williams released.

While all of the movies and scores are great in their own right, Sorcerer’s Stone holds a special place in my heart (I’ve probably watched it 15 times by now).

My all-time favorite musical moment is the transition from winter to spring:

This little 45-second segue is packed with inspiration.

The piece begins in G, with english horn carrying the lead accompanied by strings and gentle harp arpeggios. The feeling is warm, home-y, and comfortable—Harry finally feels like he belongs.

After a brief interlude with flute and celesta, a harp run leads a transition to B major—a modulation referred to as “chromatic mediant”, with the shared tone of “B” bridging the shift from Ab major to C major. The modulation kicks off just as Hedwig takes flight, with a violin countermelody rising gradually to parallel the rising motion of the camera.

(This countermelody is maybe my all-time favorite countermelodies)

Finally, as the camera settles on the clouds above, Williams brilliantly modulates to Ab—using the E major chord (once a IV) as a VI in a VI-V-I progression (E, Eb, Ab). The winds take on the countermelody in rapid 16ths, with a Chinese bell tree shimmering magically to herald the new key. The melody soars on, finally quieting down until settling down to C major before the dialogue begins again.

The sequence is a fantastic demonstration of Williams’ skill in creating a broad musical arc in a short amount of time—a really difficult thing to accomplish authentically. Hope you enjoy listening!

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