Only Gene Wilder could use a melody this simple to transport you to another world

‘Pure Imagination’ is an iconic moment in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – but only Wilder could have made such a simple melody into something so magical

Willy Wonka Gene Wilder music

The melody of Pure Imagination relies on a simple motif heading up to to the 5th note of the E flat major tonality. Two intervals: a minor third and a perfect fifth. Basic enough isn't it?

Pure Imagination phrase

And this is when you need someone of musical instinct and pure theatrical genius. Enter the late Gene Wilder, who with nuances of phrasing and natural delivery transforms it into a remarkable motif - full of yearning with something slightly unattainable. And it returns again and again in the song. 

When Wilder sings that simple melody, for those few minutes, every child who ever watched the film felt that they really could dive into a world of imagination and chocolate rivers. In anyone else's hands, it would be an unremarkable tune, and this is just why we'll miss a man with talents like his.

Bravo, Mr Wilder. Bravo


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