By Mikael Carlsson

When John Williams turned down the assignment to score Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, the fourth instalment in the popular fantasy film series based on J.K. Rowling’s best-selling phenomena, Scottish composer Patrick Doyle stepped in and created a score that compliments the darker visions of this Potter story. And he did this with his own voice – Patrick Doyle probably has one of the strongest personal voices in mainstream film music, characterised by a strikingly melodic sensibility and sophisticated orchestrations. Although Doyle is best known for his drama scores (Donnie Brasco, Gosford Park, Carlito’s Way) and his Shakespeare work for Kenneth Branagh (Henry V, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing), he has written some fantasy music before – Quest For Camelot being the most obvious example. With Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, Doyle takes a big step into more adventurous scoring, later next year to be followed up by his music for Eragon. Despite an insanely hectic schedule, Patrick took a few minutes out to answer a couple of questions we had for him.

First of all, how did you get the assignment to score Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire? You have been working with director Mike Newell before.

Mike Newell, the director, and the producers, David Baron and David Heymann, were very familiar with my work and they felt that I was up to the job.

What was your first emotional and musical response to this story and the characters?

I worked for over fourteen months on and off on the picture and there were many pre-recorded pieces for filming, for example the entrance into the great hall of the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang schools. And also I had to pre-record the brass band music, which introduces the maze sequence. These themes were the earliest response to the characters.

How does your score relate to the music in the previous films? Did you have to deal with any specific demands from the studio due to the popularity of John Williams’ previous scores?

I have used with great pleasure the 'Hedwig Theme' previously composed by John Williams. It was with great pleasure and privilege I followed in his footsteps. I was given tremendous artistic freedom from both the filmmakers and the studio to make the score for the Goblet Of Fire my own because we all realised that it was a darker story and many new characters appeared that had to be addressed with fresh thematic material.

Can you please do a breakdown of these for our readers?

There are themes for Voldemort, the Beauxbatons, the Durmstrang schools, Hagrid and Madame Maxime, Cho and Harry, and the School Hymn.

Were there any special sequences in the film that were particularly difficult to score? And what moments in the score are you the most proud of?

It’s all difficult as any composer will tell you and Harry Potter was no exception. I have no particular favourite. I enjoyed the entire process.

How much music did you write for the film, when and where and with what ensemble was it recorded?

I believe it was about an hour and forty minutes. The London Symphony Orchestra performed it at Air Lyndhurst.

I have always thought that your music has a very rich, orchestral voice and a strong melodic quality. How would you like to describe your style yourself? What's your ambition when it comes to developing your own style and musical vocabulary?

I have a very strong liking for melody and it is one of the reasons filmmakers like to use me, I gather. One is always keen to have one’s own voice and I believe through other observers that the consensus is I do. I don't particularly think about it as an objective to create my own sound. Each picture makes new demands and I only write what I hear.

You have been incredibly busy lately, and you have had five scores coming out in 2005 (Jekyll + Hyde, Man To Man, Wah-Wah, Nanny McPhee and Harry Potter) and at least two scheduled for release next year (As You Like It and Eragon). How on earth do you find the time - and the inspiration - to work on so many demanding projects?

I have recently had a surge of energy, which doesn't seem to be dissipating. This is perhaps because although I physically recovered very quickly, it took me five years to fully mentally comprehend and compartmentalise the shock of my illness*. The visuals, narrative and characters are the constant inspiration. I also keep a very keen eye and ear on what is current in the world of the arts whether it be literature, theatre, visual arts and music or course.

Finally, I would like to ask you something about film music in general. Where do you feel that film scoring in general is heading? Do you see any particular trends that you like or dislike, and how would you like the future of film music to be?

I think film music is in a very healthy state with regard to up and coming talent, which is essential in keeping standards high. I am glad there is an insatiable appetite for symphonic music, which is music to my ears. I tend to furrow my own field and the only concession I make to the current is by the use of electronic demos and the abandonment finally of my trusty pencil and eraser. This was the saddest moment in my career. Oh pencil, oh pencil where art thou? Forgive me. Hello Logic.

(*) In 1997, Patrick Doyle was diagnosed with leukaemia. He is full recovered today.

Special thanks to Lucy Evans and Maggie Rodford.