Desplat’s composition, Statues, which is part of the Protecting Hogwarts scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II displays several musical elements in action. These elements include the timbre, texture, dynamics, and rhythm of the piece.
These elements change throughout the scene, gradually adding or withdrawing each element to suit the needs of the scene, as well as support the mood and atmosphere. The best place to start is near the beginning of the scene, when Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick and Mrs Weasly line the steps of the castle.
Desplat begins the score gradually and eases the music into the scene. This has been done using long, unobtrusive notes. Just as the students finish filing past Professors McGonagall and Flitwick, tubular bells are introduced into the piece and the music crescendos slightly to begin adding suspense to the scene.
As she assures Filius that Voldemort can be delayed, the music intensifies at the word “Voldemort” through the use of brass being introduced into the score and a single bass drum or timpani note being played. The use of the bass drum/timpani could be said to be mimicking the sounds of an oncoming storm, and in this case, would be a metaphor to suggest that trouble is about to occur. This note is played once more before the beginning of the main theme of the score.
In the next part of the scene, where the statues come to life and march down the steps, timbre, texture, and dynamics are all used by Desplat to intensify both the music and the seriousness of the scene itself. To begin the introduction of the main theme, a wind sound effect is heard, which is quickly followed by a timpani roll and a crescendo up to a loud hit on the bass drum. At this hit, the first statue lands on the ground, accompanied also by a loud sound effect.
This begins the main theme of the score, played by string instruments such as the violin. The bass drum hit, and sound effect is repeated while each of the statues fall, with each fall signalling the beginning of the next bar. At the fall of the final statue, the music is raised (in terms of pitch) and the statues begin to march down the steps of the castle. In addition to this, a long note can be heard being played on brass, most likely the French horn. The bass drum continues to be played at the start of each bar.
Similar to the beginning of the scene, the bass drum is most likely being used to signify the trouble that is about to occur. Despite the music being in a major key signature (Note Discover, 2021), the way that brass, woodwind and strings have been used together creates a sense of darkness rather than lightness or happiness. All of these musical elements together result in the creation of a serious, intense, and suspenseful scene that is furthered by what occurs in the next part of the scene.
As events in the scene progress and more happens, the music’s texture thickens and more begins to happen in the music, to match the action occurring in the scene. In this part of the scene, the upper strings and woodwind instruments such as the flutes and violins are playing quavers.
This addition to the rhythm of the piece, whilst thickening the texture to match the amount of action in the scene, also increases the urgency and suspense of the scene music through the high notes that are played. The bass drum also becomes much stronger and easier to hear. The bass drum is being used to create depth in the music and to mimic the sound of thunder, which represents darkness and an oncoming storm, a metaphor for the fight that will ensue.
As the shields build further, the music also becomes larger by increasing in volume by the use of a gradual crescendo up until the climax where two of the shield sections meet. At this point, falling action takes over the piece and the scene ends.
Desplat used a variety of musical elements to enhance the atmosphere and mood, and the scene itself. This was done through major developments and events that occurred in the scene and included elements such as louder dynamics where there was action, a change in rhythm to produce the feeling of a quicker pace and the use of different instruments to create desired sounds and feelings.
Overall, Desplat has effectively used the musical elements to create a score that successfully enhances the scene.