Well, the wait is finally over. And what a way to break the silence. The stunning first trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is out and with it some beautiful trailer music which I’ll be digging in to!
Here is the trailer for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it – you must be living under a rock! Or in a suitcase!
In the haunting key of F# minor, the trailer opens with a bell chime on the tonic, followed by a two note alternating pattern in the celeste, between the flattened sixth and the fifth degrees of the scale; a common effect used in film scoring to create a magical, mysterious tone. This repeats for two bars, before we have our first sighting (hearing?) of some thematic material! A female choral part sings a drawn out, staccato version of the ‘Fantastic Beasts Main Theme,’ emphasising only the harmonically defining points in the melody. The first, fourth, fifth, eighth, ninth, twelfth and thirteenth note of the melody and accords each of them a crotchet beat, overall taking up two bars of this reduced melodic version of the theme.
Following these two bars, the two established ideas are layered over each other, with more of the ‘Fantastic Beasts Main Theme’ being fleshed out in the vocals, with the celeste flattened sixth-fifth ostinato super-imposed on top of it. Low strings emphasise the semiquavers of each beat, to give a sense of motion and drive to an otherwise quite slow piece of music. This repeats once, thus taking up the next four bars, before a dramatic stop of all parts, except the voice which has un uneasy, chromatic fall-off. A five beat bar of silence, as we hear Pickett talking to Newt on their escapade in China. A fuller orchestration reenters, with just the original two note idea, now with a pulsating string accompaniment and more instruments playing the melody. This is then chopped up and used as a two-beat motif to intersect Theseus’ voiceover, as he introduces the team members; Newt, Bunty, Yusuf, Lally and Jacob.
The last rendition of this motif, before Jacob is introduced, has a different timbre with almost a comical effect to it, achieved by use of a punchier brass arrangement and staccato melody. This stops, and out of it comes a quiet, inverted dominant violin pedal, to underpin the scene where Jacob receives a wand on the train to Berlin. A percussion hit and bell chime as Newt pulls out the wand and offers it to Jacob. A crescendo takes us back into the ‘Secrets of Dumbledore Trailer Motif’, now developed and starting on the third note, and descending for the whole bar, now with changing harmony underneath in the strings and brass. The melody diverges and ascends diatonically for the next three bars, creating a four bar unit, crescendoing as it does, with a thick texture and heavily idiomatic film material. A drum hit ends this section, as we get another comical scene with Newt rescuing Theseus and ‘delicately swivelling’ their way out of wherever they may be stuck. The solo celeste does fade out of the section end, with the motif being repeated before a diminuendo and dying out, after two bars.
Another single bar of silence as the Manticore attacks Newt and Theseus, before the music erupts into a very dramatic, building section. Five bars in total, the motif returns in the percussion, with a new conjunct melody in the strings and doubled by the choir. A typical, diatonic harmonic progression covers the four bars, ending on the dominant, a chord of C# major, before a ‘coda’ bar almost, where the choir and percussion have a pounding idea, based off the original motif but now transposed to match the dominant chord we’ve landed on. Hammering between an A, G# and E#, this scene-ending figure is in semiquaver triplets for the first two beats, then quaver triplets for beats three and four of the fifth bar.
The quiet, inverted, dominant violin pedal kicks in after this, so we can hear Newt tell Jacob that they are indeed in the Room of Requirement. As Jacob and Dumbledore vanish through the mysterious, cylindrical Portkey, another quick crescendo brings us up into the next section of the trailer. A quick, dramatic one bar made up simply of the first, second, third and sharpened seventh scale degrees, before cutting to silence, as Dumbledore awards Newt some house points. A tonic chime coupled with John Williams’ ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ accompanies the title card, as Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is emblazoned on our screens, with a magical Phoenix silhouette behind it. However ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ is rehamonised – the penultimate note is harmonised in its major form, instead of the diatonic minor it should be, creating a parallel major movement between itself and the last chord, the major dominant chord in F# minor.
Light, pizzicato strings and percussion underscore the scene where Jacob is sat in the Great Hall talking to Hogwarts students about his wand, a sweetly comedic scene, before a final percussion chime lands us back on the tonic.
Keep an eye out for my full score analysis of James Newton Howard’s score to Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore once it arrives!