The fourth track on the official Fantastic Beasts soundtrack has been released – entitled “Pie or Strudel / Escaping Queenie and Tina’s Place”:
Vanity Fair spoke to composer James Newton Howard about the track:
It was actually “the first piece” Howard crafted for Fantastic Beasts. “It was one of the pieces of music that David [Yates, the director] responded to extremely positively the first time he heard it,” he recalls. Pieces that elicited such a response were the ones with staying power, he says, whereas others were redone 20 to 30 times, before eventually being edited back to sound like their original version.
When Howard first landed the job, he remembers feeling “a thrill, like I was 10 years old.” He had seven months to craft the score, which is an extraordinarily long period of time (no expense spared in Potter land). “Often composers are stuck with very short abbreviated schedules—four weeks, five weeks, six weeks.”
Though he worked out of Los Angeles for the first four months, he still worked quite closely with London-based Yates, who also oversaw the last four Potter films. “Extremely collaborative, extremely articulate. And a very good typist,” Howard jokes, noting the director has a penchant for sending ”very detailed e-mails.” The composer eventually flew out to London for the final three months, where the duo “worked together almost on a daily basis.” (He still, by the way, has yet to meet Potter godhead J.K. Rowling.)
That kind of time commitment and elevated work level wasn’t “easy for anybody,” Howard admits, though it was rewarding in the end. There was also the other added pressure of living up to the Williams legacy. “John Williams, as we all know, is incomparable and has written many of the greatest themes in film music history ever,” Howard says of the iconic composer for Star Wars, Jaws, and more. “There’s a certain intimidation following those footsteps.
“John’s music is used very, very slightly, really only in a matter of a few seconds throughout the movie,” Howard says. He was “reverential” toward the famous composer’s material, but stayed focused on the fact that although Fantastic is connected to the Potter world, it’s still a fresh new franchise—a different beast, if you will.