Imogen Heap and John Tiffany Discuss “Cursed Child” Music at Launch

Ever since Harry Potter and the Cursed Child first graced the stage, fans have been asking where they can get their hands on the play’s beautiful score. Good things come to those who wait, and last night, MuggleNet attended the launch of the Music of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child album.

Inside Cursed Child’s London home (Palace Theatre), MuggleNet and other members of the press joined personal guests of those involved to celebrate the upcoming release and listen to Imogen Heap and John Tiffany (Cursed Child’s director) discuss the album with BBC Radio 6’s Tom Ravenscroft while seated on the stage where their work is performed four times a week.

It’s very rare that two worlds as special as Harry Potter and Imogen Heap collide.” – Sarah Thwaites, Head of Sony Music Masterworks UK.

As an artist famous for electronic music who had won Grammys but never composed for a play, Imogen Heap may seem an unconventional choice for a Harry Potter score. Tiffany said they “really wanted it to exist in its own right.” Heap’s soft, synthy style is unquestionably different from the orchestrations of John Williams, but the ethereal soundscape she gives to Cursed Child is every bit as magical. Indeed, her music was involved before even she herself was.

“[Movement director Steven Hoggett and I] always start with the music,” explained Tiffany. They used songs from Heap’s album Sparks while working on the play in early rehearsals, before approaching Heap to be their composer. This included her “Cycle Song,” which ended up morphing into “Wand Dance” from Act 1 of the play.

 

 

Keen-eared Imogen Heap fans will hear a lot of familiar pieces on the album since she borrowed heavily from her own songs when writing for Cursed Child. However, as the composer herself says, “They’re not just a carbon copy, they’ve been re-worked.” Heap described how she varied tempo, revisited cut trumpet tracks, and combined pieces. For example, she emphasized the soft background brass in her song “Tiny Human” to be part of the boisterous “Dragons!”

When confronted with composing the beginning of Act 4 and the problem of not having “anything that dark in [her] back catalog,” she stretched “Headlock” to its most techno extremes. Ravenscroft asked whether they were worried about making it too dark, to which Tiffany replied, “We wanted to scare people!” However, producing emotion relies on the performers and the rest of the crew. “It’s got to be earnest” the director noted, “not just saying ‘and this is where you cry'” through “shameless use of cellos!”

This collaborative state seems to have had a strong bearing on the creation of the music, Tiffany explained: “It’s such a different process from scoring films. Everything happens at the same time.” Heap described doing most of her work in the theater and rehearsal spaces: “I could never have done this at home on my own,” she said. “It made such a difference being in the theater, in situ.”

I was singing vocals to 11 at night, just whenever I could get peace and quiet in the [theater] space.” – Imogen Heap

When visiting the theater, before hearing from producer Sonia Friedman that she’d got the job, Heap made a quick voice note on her phone of a melody that came to her when standing in the space. This went on to become “Burning Bed” – the key original piece from the artist on the album.

Once I heard the music, I understood what Cursed Child could be. Once you see it, the music is something that will travel with you for the rest of your life. It will be with me for the rest of mine.” – Sonia Friedman

Imogen Heap has further reworked the score into “four contemporary suites” for the album, stitching together over 100 music cues so they can be listened to as a continuous piece for each act. She joked that it “tested my theory knowledge to the max!”

The Music of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be released in physical and digital formats on November 2 (including Apple Music, CD, Google Play, iTunes, and Spotify). It can be preordered here.