‘There Are Witches Among Us / The Bank / The Niffler’

Our second cue covers Newt’s discovery of the Second Salemers’ meeting, right up to the end of the bank sequence. A very peaceful, harp, woodwind and choir ensemble play the descending sequential opening, with the melodic highlight being an alternation between the 5th and flattened 6th degree of the scale, creating a mysterious atmosphere, which when combined with the orchestration, is very redolent of the Elves/Rivendell music from The Lord of the Rings, but I digress. This descending figure modulates until it settles in G minor, where have the first appearance of the beautiful A part of the ‘Fantastic Beasts Main Theme’. Accompanied by rippling string and harp arpeggios, this is the first of many times that this theme appears throughout the score.

Once the consequent phrase finishes, the theme gives way to a harsh, metallic glint from the percussion, representing the coins that the Niffler takes at this point. A chromatic, scalic bassline begins, being passed around between the cello, clarinet and other low/mid-woodwind, before rising harmonically and opening out into the elusive ‘Niffler Theme,’ heard only a few times in the whole film, twice of which are in this cue.

This angular and dissonant motif, played on the oboe and clarinet, perfectly encapsulates the Niffler’s mischief and ability to cause mayhem. A meandering, percussion-heavy line follows, before another new theme is introduced; ‘Jacob’s Theme.’ This one is a bumbling, march-like idea with quite a small, conjunct range.

Following this is a slow passage with the purpose of building tension, as we see the Niffler scurrying around the bank and Jacob and Newt first meet. ‘Jacob’s Theme’ then returns in the flute, followed by the clarinet, but rhythmically altered slightly. Accompanied by pizzicato strings both times, this reiteration is superseded by a short-lived syncopated pattern, coming to an abrupt halt. Howard’s dramatic use of rests in this cue reflects the unpredictable nature of the Niffler and helps add to the intense atmosphere of this scene. A melancholy return of ‘Jacob’s Theme’ gradually fragments as his loan is declined, mirroring the sad mood felt in this scene, before quickly cutting to the Niffler, infamously sitting on the bank cart with his pile of gold coins. A bouncy, chromatic version of the ‘Niffler Theme’, (concluding it’s appearances in this cue,) accompanies his journey into the bank’s lift, as the music builds and builds, demonstrative of the tension in this scene, as Newt prepares to break the Statute of Secrecy by Summoning Jacob and the misplaced Occamy egg to him. The brass stabs, crescendo and mobile bassline all mount up to an anticlimax of sorts, as a short trill followed by a percussion hit ends this dramatic amalgam, which falters out into an inverted string pedal.

What follows is the second time we hear ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ in the score, at the first appearance of magic from our main character. Having this here acts as a reference in order to cement this film in the Wizarding World and fuse the idea of the magic being the same as that seen in Harry Potter in the audience’s mind. Now on the original celeste, with held string accompaniment, this delicate rendition lines up with the Occamy egg hatching.

‘Jacob’s Theme’ follows this, with near-identical orchestration, and thus tying the character of Jacob and the pre-established Wizarding World closer together; a very clever technique used by Howard here to subconsciously make the two coalesce. A new idea in 3/4 is introduced at the end of this cue, which is expanded upon and developed later in the score. This diminuendos, in order only to crescendo dramatically towards the end with increasing chromaticism. The cue ends with an unresolved cadence, brass punches, and a rapidly ascending string line; a common ending for a trip to the bank.

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