Harry Potter Content Analysis

Harry Potter Content Analysis
Objective: Content analysis is the study of social artifacts (human creations such as
books, laws, art, media). The goal of this activity is to practice conducting a basic
content analysis, including coding data and interpreting the results (assign each
occurrence a code, count occurrences of coded units, report the results and patterns).
In this activity you will conduct a content analysis on a scene from a Harry Potter film.

Directions:
1. Read through the general description provided below.
2. Read through the specific description provided below for each music type.
Make sure to listen to the sample of the theme music so you are able to
recognize that music type.
3. Watch the movie clip using this YouTube link (the link is also provided in the
coding sheet below). Use the coding sheet to code each segment by circling
one music type for each event in the film scene. *Note: Pay attention to the
music being played during each event. To be clear when an event
begins/ends, pay attention to the time stamps provided. When coding each
event ask yourself, “Am I hearing the theme, music that fits the actions on the
screen, or quiet music?” and circle the appropriate music type on the coding
sheet.
4. Once you finish coding the events listed on the coding sheet, report the
results by counting the total number of times each music type was assigned
as a code to an event. Report the total number for each music type in the
results table (Table 1) below.
5. Once you finish reporting and listing the total counts for each music type in
Table 1, interpret the results by answers each of the discussion questions
below. In the process of answering each discussion question, you will draw
conclusions from the data.
Description:
Music can play an important role in supporting the visual storytelling in a movie,
but film music is often consumed almost subconsciously. Content analysis is an
excellent tool to uncover the messages of such music. John Williams is an
accomplished, award-winning Hollywood composer responsible for the music in the first
three Harry Potter films. His success, in part, stems from the music rules he uses to aid
in a film’s storytelling. Among other techniques used in the Harry Potter films, Williams
regularly employs (1) visual-matching music (music that closely mirrors and therefore
emphasizes movements on the screen), (2) dialogue rules (music is either mute or soft
during character script lines to make them audible), (3) leitmotifs (musically reoccurring
themes usually attached to a certain character or idea), and (4) music rule breaking
(breaching a previously established music rule, such as those mentioned above, so as
to emphasize another rule). In this activity, you will treat the first three techniques as
coding categories for the variable music type in order to discern when and why the
fourth technique (rule breaking), occurs. The research question you are examining is:
How do music rules aid storytelling during the opening scene of Harry Potter & the
Sorcerer’s Stone?
The coding sheet below lists labels representing the 10 segments (i.e., events) in the
first scene of the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Horizontally displayed next
to each segment are three music types: theme, fits, and quiet.
Theme. Theme on the coding sheet is what Williams calls “Hedwig’s Theme” and
is the main theme of all of the Harry Potter films. Listen to Hedwig’s Theme here
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtHra9tFISY) to familiarize yourself with
what the music type theme sounds like. This represents the technique Williams
refers to as leitmotifs (i.e., musically reoccurring themes usually attached to a
certain character or idea).
Fits. At times, music will fit the action on the screen. This is labeled as fits on the
coding sheet. This represents the technique Williams refers to as visual-matching
music (i.e., music that closely mirrors and therefore emphasizes movements on
the screen).

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