the difference between 'Lyrics' and
The difference on this
site is this:
are the entire bodies of text from which were drawn
the lyrics as sung in the movie's soundtrack. Doug
calls this the 'original complete format'.
Sometimes, the source text exactly agrees with what
Sometimes, only select
lines are sung. Sometimes, only syllables are sung.
A particular source text might be drawn upon for
more than one instance of singing.
are what is actually sung. I tend to label them with
a description of the scene. For example:
The lyrics for The Fellowship
leaving Lórien, extended scene, draw from the
source text, Namárië.
The lyrics for Haldir's wounding
and death also draw from the source text,
What other info about 'songs' can be found on this site?
lyricists, languages and translations, and vocal
performers are all found on the
Source Text pages.
Where does the information on what's being sung come
Well, it's been a process and at
different stages of the process we had different
sorts of info available to us. As more info became
available, certain tactics fell by the wayside. But
they all contributed to what you find on these
Sheet music : mostly, this was the
lucky break. If the singing was found it sheet
music, we were mostly home free. But some sheet
music did contain mistakes and so it always meant
examining what we knew carefully.
Closed Captions : well, it worked for
some songs. Gandalf's, Bilbo's and Merry and
Looking at Source Texts and
listening. Sometimes this was fairly straight
forward and pretty easy to tell what was being sung.
Sometimes it was much harder.
Listening without benefit of knowing
what the Source text was. This was very difficult to
do. Some people made a guess as to what piece of
Source text might be used. Or maybe they just tried
to hear syllables and make them into Elvish words
that made sense. Sometimes it worked. But frankly,
as more information became available, we found we
were wrong more often than we were right.
The LOTR Symphony and FOTR Live sheet music.
Choir members involved in the LOTR Symphony received
scores containing phonetic lyrics. Instead of "Hlasta!
Quetis" they would read "Lahss-tah Kweh-tess".
Sometimes it was clear what the phonetic syllables
pertained to and sometimes not so clear. But they
contributed to obtaining a fair number of 'lyrics as
We all hoped that information
released with the Complete Recordings would provide
us with the 'lyrics as sung'. It didn't. What we got
was a list of Source texts and the first instance
when that Source text is heard. No
information is provided about what lines are sung
where, or if that text is used later in the
soundtrack. Just having the source text isn't enough
for an easy 'sing along'. Doug Adams said this in
the FOTR Annotated Score:
Shore often uses the texts in a nonlinear fashion, much as one
would find in modern opera. Verses
are often begun mid-stanza and
certain syllables are repeated to
create a beautiful vocal mosaic of
the languages of Middle-earth. At
other times, the writing is
presented unaltered with full verses
acting as counterpoint to the
immediate action. Seen here (in the
Annotated Score) is the text in its
original complete format, just as it
was presented to Howard Shore before
he set it to music.
He also wrote:
Shore took a
very modern approach to the Middle-earth lyrics
in LOTR. They’re really used more for the sound
of the languages than for the meaning. In other
words… Take Mary Had a Little Lamb:
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.
Using Shore’s treatment of the LOTR texts as our
model, this poem may well be applied as:
Does it retain its sound in terms of
characteristic vowel or consonant combinations?
Sure. It’s a pretty fair representation of
characteristic sounds of the English language.
Depending on pronunciation intricacies, it could
be made to suggest the culture of the American
South, or the English Countryside, or French
Canada. Had it been sung as a lamb was on
screen, it would have plenty of dramatic
resonance. Still, it’s a fairly modern approach.
In terms of literal, communicative language, it
doesn’t mean anything. It’s more about sound
than about meaning.
this 'original complete format' may be
as much as we ever get and Doug has
since confirmed that this is, in fact,
the case. He will not be providing any
more information on what is being sung
than what we can find in the Annotated
Scores. If the lyrics - as actually sung
- have not been published in sheet music
or ferreted out from the LOTR Symphony,
then they may be left for the die-hard
fans who drive themselves crazy or deaf
listening over and over and over....
I will repeat what I've said elsewhere:
Keep in mind that, although we all are exacting
in our labors, our ears are human, not Elven. We
are making our best guesses sometimes. One of us
hears 'ah' and the other hears 'nah'. I also am
beginning to suspect that there's quite a bit of
counterpoint singing going one, either between a
choir and a soloist, or between different
sections of the choir. We may never know what
some of these lyrics are for sure. If you think
you hear differently, you may be right.
For a list of people who have
contributed to Lyrics found on my site,