John Powell – How To Train Your Dragon Sequence

This sequence is based on a soaring melody written by John Powell for the DreamWorks Animation‘s 2010 movie, How To Train Your Dragon.

Background

Based on Cressida Cowell‘s best-selling book series, How To Train Your Dragon is a movie franchise that takes place in a world inhabited by dragons of all shapes and sizes. The first movie follows the story of Hiccup, a viking teenager who aspires to be a mighty dragon slayer. After capturing his first dragon he decides to befriend it, leading to a relationship that changes the world forever.

Praised for its beautiful animation, compelling voice acting, clever writing, and rich musical score, How to Train Your Dragon was nominated for two Academy Awards in 2010. Its worldwide success spurred the creation of two sequels.

Dragons are Awesome

Dragons make great fantasy characters. They are basically giant winged T-Rex’s with massive intelligence and magical power. Tolkien seems to have influenced many later authors with his portrayal of Smaug as greedy and destructive, but sometimes dragons are painted differently. I like how Cowell’s dragons have traditional physical characteristics but are more like friendly winged dogs than evil super wizards.

My love of dragons started in elementary school with Ruth Stiles Gannett‘s Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon. My parents quickly realized how much I enjoyed fantasy books, so they fed me a steady stream to keep me reading.

I quickly made my way through Tolkien‘s The Hobbit, Raymond E Feist‘s Riftwar Saga, Harry Potter, Eragon, and many more. More recently I have enjoyed the Game of Thrones series, and Ursula K. Le Guin‘s A Wizard of EarthSea.

Fun fact, many of my closest friends started jokingly calling me Dragon Slayer in high school after my Gov/Econ teacher caught me reading Eragon in class. I’m sure they meant it as a dig but I took no offense.

John Powell

Born in the UK, John Powell grew up playing violin and viola and studied music at the trinity College of Music in London. After school he started composing music for commercials and connected with film composer Patrick Doyle, setting him on the path toward scoring movies.

How To Train Your Dragon was Powell’s sixth collaboration with DreamWorks Animation, and the first score that he wrote by himself.

Powell’s score is epic. It shows off a full powered symphony orchestra augmented by some Celtic instruments like the fiddle, bagpipes, dulcimer, and penny whistle. Although the movie is about Vikings (Nordic), Powell chose to include Celtic musical elements with the hopes of adding a bit of sweetness to the film. This decision was criticized by some but overwhelmingly accepted and applauded, leading to his first Academy Award Nomination.

Sequence

This sequence is based on the main melody from the song Romantic Flight.

Play this melody like you are soaring joyously through the air. Phrase through the moving notes and sing on the long notes. If this feels like a big waltz you are doing it right. This melody is expansive, covering nearly two octaves, so change octaves when needed or play individual phrases.

Make sure to listen to the original to dial in the style!

Have any questions? Comment below, or leave a comment on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Happy Practicing!

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