Patrick Doyle Talks Mike Newell and "Goblet of Fire" (Updated)GoFFilm
Last week we told you acclaimed Scottish composer Patrick Doyle (Henry V, Gosford Park) would be here in the US to hold a special screening of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at Syracuse University in New York. The Daily Orange has a report online of the event, where Patrick Doyle discussed his score for GoF, working with director Mike Newell, and becoming part of the Harry Potter world. The piece notes that Mr. Doyle felt "working on "Harry Potter" was unusual, he said, because he worked
closely with the director as well as the sound designer, editor and
conductor to integrate the music and make it an essential part of the
The article continues: "Doyle was chosen by Mike Newell, the director of the fourth film, for three reasons: His sense of drama, his sense of magic, and his sense of humor. Doyle had previously worked with Newell on the movies "Into the West" and "Donnie Brasco." Newell wanted him to work on the film over a period of a year, taking part in the process from the beginning stages.
Newell also influenced Doyle's score.
"The director's vision definitely helps," Doyle said. "You're inspired by the script, costumes, enthusiasm of the director and the characters."
On the reaction by Harry Potter fans: "But Doyle couldn't foresee what writing the score for "Harry Potter" would unleash for his career. Becoming a part of a worldwide sensation was something he didn't see coming.
"I had already done nearly 14 movies so from my perspective, I was doing rather well," he said.
"It's incredible how people get gaga over 'Harry Potter.' As much as I appreciate it, in many ways, it was just another film," he said."
Update: TLC Reader Kerry was fortunate to attend the event, and sent in a lengthy report on the proceedings. Of note are two passages on Mr. Doyle and the music heard in GoF. Enjoy! Thanks so much Kerry!
In response to a question from a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, Mr. Doyle went on to discuss his ideas surrounding his abilities to create sonic meaning in the films for which he composes scores. He began by saying that you need, first and foremost, a sympathetic and flexible sound engineer. Without it, you’ll be struggling
to find the right balance which will often result in a confusing sonic environment for the audience. He went on to say that good film composers take into account both diegetic and non-diegetic soundscapes (that’s both the underscoring and the sound happening within the characters’ environment – such as music from the Wizarding Wireless playing in the Weasley’s kitchen or the stomping of the staffs of Durmstrang students – for those of you keeping score at home). Fortunately for Mr. Doyle (and, in turn, for us Harry Potter fans), he had the opportunity to be involved in the entire process. He also said that the meticulous and almost militaristic schedule for filming was also a tremendous help to him. He said that he “probably has a bad case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” and this schedule was very much akin to his creative style. To further the discussion of his vision for the sonic environment for the film, another student asked him about his level of control over the choices for “Mickey Mousing” (that’s the instrumental sound you hear to reflect an action – such as when Harry is flying away from the dragon and you hear an ascending glissando from the orchestra or when you hear the accented rhythms on the drums when the Durmstrang students enter the Great Hall and do their indigenous-style dance), to which Mr. Doyle told us that he had complete control over those particular moments in the film. At this point, he quoted Shakespeare by saying “brevity is the soul of whit”, which to him, was an expression of his feeling of freedom when composing a score for a film that has already been completed. He said it was a joy to know that you’d be hearing something at a particular point and it made it that much easier to compose the film score.
A long conversation was then had about his techniques surrounding his compositions how technology has transformed his career. Mr. Doyle said that, after having been a composer for 30+ years, he now has the courage and confidence to notate what he hears with his inner ear, whereas before he never really trusted himself. This
statement was in reference to his ability to improvise a waltz (Neville’s Waltz) for the scene in which Mcgonagall is teaching the Gryffindor students how to dance. He said that he improvised a melody for the rehearsal with the expectation that he’d write something else to be used in the final score, but the production team liked it so much that they kept it for taping. Mr. Doyle also spoke about his vision for the Hogwarts Song, which was never used for the film. He told us how the deadline was fast approaching and he had nothing to offer in his meeting. When in the taxi on his way to the meeting, Mr. Doyle found inspiration. He envisioned the four tables in the Great Hall all standing and singing the song in a round. This prompted another question about his favorite places to compose, to which he responded, “I’ve written in the toilet, but only once!” His advice when facing writer’s block is to “open yourself up and chill out”. He then described his old techniques for composing which often included using a broken Fisher Price tape recorder. Recently Mr. Doyle has begun using the program Logic for his notation, after much trepidation, but said that it has “changed his life”.
Overall, the evening was enjoyable and often peppered with anecdotes. Mr. Doyle told us about how he admires Irving Berlin for his simplicity, saying that “Irving Berlin is the King!” He went on to tell us about a particular instance when Mr. Berlin was asked for his permission to use a song in a film and, at 99-years-old, Mr. Berlin said that he had “plans for that song” and would not give his permission to use it in the film. To that, Mr. Doyle said, “I want to have plans when I’m 99-years old!” He also told us about his childhood in a musical family. In particular, he told us about how one of his aunts would refuse to sing unless the lights were turned off, so he’d be sitting there in his family living room when he was fourteen listening to this disembodied voice coming from the corner of the room. He said that it was a very strange experience, especially to a fourteen-year-old boy, but admitted that when she sang with the lights on you’d wish that she had turned the lights back off again! One anecdote that stuck out was his process for gauging his success for some of the music that he hoped to use in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He told us about how he would play some of the music for his children to see if it passed “the cool test”. Apparently, Mr. Doyle is “very cool” in the eyes of his children, and I would have to agree. Very, very cool!