TTT Appendices Comments

Special Extended Edition DVD disc-4:

Music for Middle-earth


Below is the page created for this site in the same formatting style as this site. In December of 2006, I led a discussion of this section of the DVD extras at's forums. I took the material from this page, reformatted it, and included additional comments and conversation prompts. Individual readers might be interested in these pages and they could be used to conduct a study group (of sorts) elsewhere. Those pages start HERE.

When you see this:
HS COMMENT elsewhere on the site, it means that HS (or someone involved in the movie) has made a comment pertinent to something mentioned there. Click on the link to find out what.




Scoring The Two Towers
Rohan Theme
Gollum's Theme
Fangorn Forest
Helm's Deep
Old English - Rohirric

Isabel Bayrakdarian (Evenstar)

Sheila Chandra (Breath of Life)
Elizabeth Fraser (Haldir's Lament)
London Voices (adult choral singing)
London Oratory School Schola (boy's choral singing)
Emiliana Torrini (Gollum's Song)


The Emotion of the Soundtrack

Watford Town Hall

Abbey Road

Peter and the Gong


Gondor Theme

And in the end...                                  




meeting the delivery date

Watford Town Hall
Abbey road
Peter and the gong


HS: HS; Composer
PJ: PJ; Director/Writer/Producer
PhB: Philippa Boyens; Writer
PaB: PaB; Executive Music Producer, NLC
DS: David Salo; Tolkien Language Translator
JK: John Kurlander; score engineer
BO: Barry M Osborne; Producer
RP: RP; Co-producer
OS: On screen (the picture)
MP: Music playing (the music under the commentary)



Scoring The Two Towers

PaB: I remember having a conversation towards the end of the final dub of FOTR, in NZ with FW, and being the eternal optimist that I am, saying to Fran, “heh, you know, it’s.. we’ve learned... Fran, we’ve learned so much I think we can make a lot of improvements in the next film. It should be much easier”. She turned to me and said, “Film two is going to be the hardest film. It has no beginning, it has no end.”

HS: It’s a compositional problem. Now in TTT you’re following three fellowships. And cutting away between the three of them... you know, it’s just by the very idea of numbers it’s become a lot more complicated. How do you move seamlessly from one to the other? And do that musically?

PJ: We feel very strongly on these films that they have to have, you know, a musical shape. We want there to be a build and a progression to show that it’s like a sort of opera. So it’s like a 9 hour symphony.

HS: LOTR is one book. It’s a novel that was created as a piece. And we’re creating a film called LOTR where there is three separate and distinct films but they are of a piece.

PJ: There are literally only about 10 or 11 minutes of themes from the first movie reused in the second films.

PaB: So Howard initially went into a phase of writing themes.


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Rohan Theme


OS: score entitled "The King of the Golden Hall" - fade to Meduseld
MP: Rohan Theme on Hardanger Fiddle

PJ: The Rohan Theme was the main theme that was a signature piece of TTT. It doesn’t, you know, exist at all, it wasn’t even written until after the FOTR. And when Howard started playing me his original ideas for the Rohan Theme, I kept saying to him, “I’m humming the Fellowship theme from the first film, I’m humming the Shire Theme but you’ve got to create something that’s hummable.” When I was back in NZ at the end of the year and I was driving in the car with Fran and I started to hum the Rohan Theme and she turned to me and she said, “Look! You’re doing it. You’re humming it. Howard succeeded.” You know.

HS: Because of the Viking or the Nordic feeling of Rohan, I wanted to use the Norwegian Fiddle, which is called the
Hardanger Fiddle

PaB: It’s more of a folk instrument. It has what you call sympathetic strings that you don’t play. But as you’re playing the main strings, they resonate.

HS: So I think what I was doing was to create the sounds using very specific folk sounds that may have been part of the real world of Rohan.

MP: Éowyn’s Theme (I didn't note at the time which it was)

PaB: In addition to the triumphant Rohan Theme, there’s a whole component that is more moody and dramatic that plays through Éowyn’s issues and challenges and her longing and love, platonic though it might be, for Aragorn.


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Gollum's Theme


OS: score entitled "The Taming of Sméagol"
MP: Ring Theme

HS: On Gollum's Theme, you hear fragments of what I call the History of the Ring Theme from Fellowship, cause Gollum has the longest relationship with the Ring. And Gollum also is Frodo's guide to destroying it. So there's a very close relationship with Gollum and the Ring.

PaB: There's a couple of sides to the Gollum Theme that Howard weaves throughout the second film.

HS: There's the Sméagol Theme...

OS: score entitled "Slinker"
MP: The Pity of Gollum

HS: ...which has a little more pity in it. It's a little more melancholy, it's a little sadder really.

OS: score entitled "Stinker" superimposed over Gollum creeping down rock
MP: Gollum's Menace

HS: And then the second part of Gollum's Theme is a more schizophrenic theme. It's more development of the creepier side of Gollum. And that uses the cimbalom which is actually a hammered dulcimer. The hammered dulcimer seemed like a good one because it has that jittery sound and because it was one of the instruments of Hobbiton. And Gollum, at one time in his life, was a Hobbit, a river Hobbit. So the two themes are really playing Slinker/Stinker -- they're really reflecting both of those ideas of Gollum.


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Fangorn Forest

OS: score entitled "Fangorn Forest"
MP: music from beginning of "Treebeard" track on CD

HS: Peter was always giving me mock-ups and Alan Lee drawings of Fangorn, because I didn't get to see Treebeard until he was very formed, until the end of the process. It's interesting because writing music is about how you're feeling about certain imagery. So seeing as much of the imagery as I can is actually a fantastic thing. Because of the nature of the woods, I used all wooden percussion. So you hear wood logs and bass marimbas and, I mean, it's essentially the sound of wooden and natural elements.

(Ent Music Page)


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Helm's Deep

OS: score entitled "Helm's Deep"
MS: martial version of Lothlórien Theme

PJ: It's an instinct in battles to just pile music on top of that, to have this, this throbbing, percussive kind of music. Because it's almost like the music has to compete with the sound effects in order to actually work, so you have these two things doing the same job, really. And so I worked very closely with Howard on plotting and planning a musical structure to the Helm's Deep sequence.

OS: families in the crystal caves
MP: quieter music plays

HS: Peter would say, "As the battle forms, let's go to the smallest child." And you realize that's what the battle's being fought about - the families. But it's not the type of music that you would think that would be the big build-up to the big battle. It's quite emotional.

PJ: It's the juxtaposition of the music and the pictures. And I think that's a lot more powerful.

OS: Elven Archers on wall

MP: martial version of Lothlórien Theme

HS: So, as the tide of battle shifts, from one group to another, you hear various thematic ideas take over in Helm's Deep. So, when the Elf archers start the battle I used a thematic thread from Lothlórien, from Fellowship.

MP: Lothlórien Theme from FOTR

HS: But now it's played in battle mode.
MS: martial version of Lothlórien Theme

HS: But as the Uruk-hai approach the wall and they dig in their ladders, the Uruk-hai theme, the Isengard music takes over.

MP: Isengard Theme

HS: So, there's always this shifting of focus musically. And Helm's Deep was specifically created with that concept in mind


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Old English - Rohirric


PhB: One of the things that we got to do, yet again, one of my favorite things to do on this movie, is to work with Howard and to write lyrics.

OS: poem - March of the Ents

HS: Fran and Philippa wrote poems, based on the scenes, that are translated by David Salo who's a Tolkien scholar.

DS: For the most part what Fran and Philippa were writing was very close to Tolkien's words. And I would do a translation of them and I would try to do it in a poetic style with a meter.. rhyme.

HS: In The Two Towers we use a lot of Old English.

PB: It was set that Old English would become the language of the Rohirrim. In the very first instance you see it in a lament at the graveside of Théodred.

DS: It's written in an Old English meter, similar to that in Beowulf.

OS: Théodred's funeral
MP: Éowyn singing Lament for Théodred



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Isabel Bayrakdarian


HS: I wanted to expand the cultural aspect of Lord of the Rings in the singing.

MP: Evenstar from TTT CD soundtrack

HS: I thought of each part of the trilogy having its own cast and I wrote the pieces very specifically for their voices. So the scenes in Rivendell are now performed by the soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian.

PaB: She's a Canadian based, up and coming, operatic soloist.

OS: Arwen at Aragorn's tomb
MP: Evenstar continues



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Sheila Chandra


PaB: Then there's another wonderful vocal solo moment...

OS: score entitled "Breath of Life" superimposed over Aragorn floating in water.

PaB: ...created around the Aragorn/Arwen story. After Aragorn has fallen off the cliff and he kind of comes to. And that's sung by Sheila Chandra, who is an Indian singer.

OS: Arwen on couch to Aragorn on shore
MP: Breath of Life from TTT CD

HS: Sheila Chandra is a very different singer than Isabel. I mean, she has a very exotic, almost Eastern quality to her singing.

PaB: And she has a deeper voice and it's very haunting. She was a wonderful discovery for us for this film.


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Elizabeth Fraser


MP: Gandalf's Lament from FOTR

PaB: Elizabeth Fraser has now been a guest vocalist in each of the first two films. Elizabeth Fraser's sound in the Cocteau Twins was kind of what we were after.

HS: And by using her voice, it was a reflection of Gandalf's Lament from the Fellowship.

OS: Fellowship resting in Lórien

MP: Gandalf's Lament continues then switches to...
MP: Lament for Haldir

PaB: We've already established her as part of the Elven world.

OS: Haldir's death at Helm's Deep

PaB: and so when we wanted to strengthen Haldir's death, it was an obvious choice. Well let's see what Elizabeth Fraser's up to.


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London Voices


MP: Rivendell Theme

PB: And then we have a 60 piece Voices of London (London Voices); male, female adult choir, conducted by Terry Edwards -- same people that we've used on the first film.

OS: Elves leaving Rivendell

HS: They had to learn the Tolkien languages phonetically. And I think they're getting very fluent in Elvish and in Black Speech.


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London Oratory School Schola


MP: choral beginning of March of the Ents into the boy soprano solo portion

PB: We wanted to use the London Oratory Boy's Choir again.

HS: And Ben Del Maestro did all the boy soprano parts.

MP: boy soprano solo in March of the Ents

HS: Beautiful singing in "The March of the Ents"

OS: score entitled March of the Ents superimposed over Ents marching.

PB: This particular boy's choir sing in a lot of films. They had sung on Harry Potter the week before. They're like movie stars. Pretty soon they'll have their own trailer.


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Emiliana Torrini


OS: score entitled Gollum's Song
MP: first line of Gollum's Song

HS: Fran Walsh wrote a beautiful set of lyrics for Gollum's Song.

MP: humming and orchestral version of Gollum's Song

PhB: She was playing around with this lyric to this beautiful piece of music that Howard had written. And I said, "So what are you doing there?" and she... it was kind of like one of those moments where she said, "I think this is Gollum's song." It was like it was coming to her. She was discovering it for herself as she was writing it. That that's in fact what it was. That was the voice that was coming through.

HS: I was very keen on using the voice of a Northern European singer, and Icelandic singer. It's that certain dialect. The sound of it seemed appropriate for Gollum.

MP: last lines of Gollum's Song

PaB: We were quite lucky to have discovered a half-Italian, half-Icelandic, wonderful vocalist named Emiliana Torrini.

HS: Emiliana recorded different early versions of it, actually, that were beautiful. And they were just haunting and they stuck in our mind.


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The Emotion of the Soundtrack


PaB: Howard is incredibly hands on as composers in his approach because he not only composes the music, but he also orchestrates and conducts.

PJ: Directors work in very different ways with composers and I found, to my surprise, just how much manipulation and shaping you can actually do with the music track. Even if you're in the studio recording it, it's not locked off, it's not, you know, set in concrete.

OS: conversation between HS & PJ re: scoring a scene

HS: To be able to work Peter as a collaborative filmmaker is a fantastic bonus for me because you're getting his input from the story telling aspect of it. You're creating the imagery in it in music. So you're both sort of working together to tell the story.

PJ: I totally believe that music ties in very closely with the emotion of the film and it's very, very important. It's just like directing the performance of an actor. So, for instance, Howard would play me something and I might say, "Can we please just make that more emotional? I didn't quite feel it. I just want it to be a little bit more sad." I talk in that sort of language. I don't usually talk in musical terms.

HS: He would say, "Well, the Uruks would feel like this (gesturing)." It would be, "They need to feel a little stronger here."

HS: I can work with Peter, now, to shape the performances.

PJ: It's a very important part of the process for me to be part of.

On Screen: editing room discussion of a scene -- tweaking Sam's speech in Osgiliath:

Peter Jackson: Can we just jump back please to the bit where we come out of Sam's little story by the window?

Movie Scene Shown With Original Music

0:00 - First three notes of the Fellowship Theme

Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for.

0:07 - The camera cuts from Sam to Frodo as the third note is held slightly.

0:10 - As the Fellowship Theme continues, the camera cuts to Gollum (who looks thoughtful or sad).

0:14 - ...and returns to Frodo as the theme finishes.

Peter Jackson: I just wondered if there was any way that the Theme could start after the shot of Gollum when we're back on Frodo because it goes Frodo, Gollum, Frodo...

Howard Shore: (overlapping Peter's question) That's what I was thinking. Cause it was the thing of playing that Theme on Gollum and seeing Gollum.. yeah... (Peter mumbles agreeing sounds)

Peter Jackson: It would sort of be holding the note on Gollum similar to what you on Frodo. It's just a sort of... (slides hand)... because you don't really know.... (Howard is interjecting 'yeah's) what the response
is yet. Then Frodo kind of accepts it. (HS: okay) (To technician) Can you just run it here?

Movie Scene Shown With Final Score

0:00 - Three notes play (not the Shire Theme)

Sam: And it's worth fighting for.

0:03 - The camera cuts from Sam to Frodo as the third note is held slightly.

0:06 - The camera cuts to Gollum. The note is held another moment and then drops down in pitch as Gollum looks sad or thoughtful.

0:10 - We return to Frodo as the Shire Theme begins.


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Watford Town Hall

JK: The conceptual signature sound of the Lord of the Rings score is the London Philharmonic in the acoustic of Watford Town Hall.

HS: Watford is a typical town hall. It's used for all types of community events.

PaB: We have to clear out on Friday nights by four o'clock in the afternoon so they can set up the weekly Friday night disco.

HS: We've decided to record there really to create a sound that's unique to Middle-earth.

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Abbey Road


Paul Broucek: We set up camp and we do all our mixing and editing at Abbey Road Studios in London.


Peter Jackson: Working at Abbey Road was pretty amazing.


Paul Broucek: Peter is a huge Beatles fan.


Paul Broucek: One day we thought, well... why don't we, for a laugh, go out and do what all the tourists do which is to cross the pedestrian crossing outside of Abbey Road. And John Kurlander, who was there working at Abbey Road with the Beatles on the day that the photograph was actually taken for the cover, he said, "Well I've never done it. I've never had my photo taken." So we said, "Come on John."


Paul Broucek: So Peter, Howard Shore, John Kurlander, myself, and Rick Porras risk our life—at rush hour—and go back and forth across this crossing and try and get a couple of decent shots.


Rick Porras: I think we even got some footage of us deciding who's going to go first. Who's going to be John; who's going to be Paul; who's going to be Ringo? Of course, Peter's walking barefoot so that helps. Of course, that street on Abbey Road is a major thoroughfare. There are cars flying by constantly.

On Screen: Howard Shore lets out a little yelp and skips ahead as he spots a car coming.

Peter Jackson: Howard was really nervous and he just didn't trust the fact that vehicles were going to stop.

On Screen: Howard Shore takes long loping strides to clear the crosswalk, overtaking the person in front who is walking sedately.

Peter Jackson: So it was actually a hell of a nightmare doing it with Howard because he was so nervous about even just stepping onto the road.


Rick Porras: And he kept just kind of hesitating and sort of messing up a bit.

On Screen: Howard Shore is trying to push the person in front of him to go faster even though the car has stopped for them.

Rick Porras: There was one moment where a car zipped by and I think someone grabbed Howard just in the nick of time.

On Screen: Safe on the other side, Howard Shore holds his hand over his heart.

Paul Broucek: With a little help from one of the PAs, we got some photos, one of which has ended up as the inside artwork on the soundtrack of Two Towers.


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Peter and the Gong


Peter Jackson: On The Two Towers, I got to do something which I sort of harbored a secret desire to do all the way through Fellowship and I never said anything to anybody. But I wanted to play an instrument. I said to Howard, "Look, is there anything I could just do... something simple?" and he said, "How about banging the gong?"


Rick Porras: It's not enough that he's a writer and a director and a producer of it... no, he has to get on that score.

On Screen: Aragorn riding up the streets of Meduseld (Gandalf, Legolas, & Gimli not shown)

Music Playing: Éowyn Shieldmaiden's Theme with gong at end

Peter Jackson: We found a spot where Aragorn is riding into Edoras for the first time. He's seen Éowyn standing up on the balcony and he kind of looks up a second time and she's not there. And we just wanted this sort of "dzrrrrth" (makes sweeping motion with hands)... this kind of set gong sound. So I got trained up... a very good gong player in the LPO that gave me these lessons. It's all to do with the wrist, you see. The flicking the wrist.

On Screen:

Someone with headphones on (not the gong instructor): He must play in the right part otherwise he *doesn't* get the right sound.

Howard Shore: (to Peter) Punch it once and then let it decay.

Someone, I think Peter, gives an excited giggle. And then Peter bangs the gong.

Howard Shore: (chuckling) He did it... He had to do a few takes but I think... yeah.. one of them is definitely in the film. Sounds good. (He kind of shakes his head while slightly stifling his grin. He then breaks out in laughter. Magpie adds: I have to say that 'Sounds good' has that same intonation that we might use to say, "okay... I'll go along with that." But it could be more straightforward than that. It's pretty funny to watch Howard here.)


Rick Porras: It just was a lot of fun and I think the LPO really enjoyed it. And I think... that's one thing he always brings to the process: He keeps it fun and upbeat. Even though we were pulling incredibly long hours and people were exhausted and music was constantly getting shifted around and changed and adjusted. Just doing little things like that go a long way.

On Screen: Applause for Peter as he exits the floor.

Paul Broucek: The funny running joke after that was that Peter loved his hit and wanted to hear more of it. Which is so typical of a musician.


Rick Porras: He's hoping that maybe he can get bumped up.

On Screen:

Peter Jackson: Next year I'll move my way forward slightly... a couple of chairs, I think...

Howard Shore: (giggles)

Rick Porras: I think it's something to watch.

On Screen:

Peter Jackson: ...with a view to finally being on the podium. 

Rick Porras: So, Howard Shore... you better be wary of that. (chuckles)


Meeting the Delivery Date - Video Conferencing


PJ: The key point with the post production on any movie is the delivery date. And the delivery date is like the religious moment that cannot be altered and which the filmmakers have to hand the finished film to the studio. And from the end of October, they have enough time—just—to make the ten thousand copies of the film to get the film into cinemas all around the world.


BO: Even while we were scoring the movie and Howard had written his music, Peter was still cutting and recutting the film.


PJ: It really meant that where the crunch was going to be was all around the time that Howard was trying to write the music.


PaB: We started to do the math as Howard likes to do. And we realized that we had to put Peter on a formula. That essentially he had to turn over five and a half minutes worth of locked, edited picture.. a day. But that's how we worked backwards knowing that was the only way were going to make it so we could start recording our music in London. Efficiently, we should have had everything written... in a perfect world, we would have everything prepped... ready to go and we would just record, edit, mix until we're done with all the music. But Howard hasn't even seen the final version of the locked picture. (pause) It's gets a little hairy.


PJ: It became like a twenty four hour a day production.


PaB: We had music copyists working around the clock... in shifts. That said, we had to get clever and realize, okay, Howard can't be at every choral session. Howard can't handle the vocal soloists. So we put our heads together and we figured out a little divide-and-conquer. We had a little system. The base of the technology that's available (Magpie: I'm not sure I've transcribed this phrase correctly)... his team... and put together the ability for him, not only to see us, with a video conferencing unit, but we also had high quality phone lines. So he could essentially produce the sessions while he was writing. For instance, when I was doing vocals, let's say, with Abbey Road Studios, I ring his cell phone. And the code is, "one ring... to rule them all". (smile)

Sound of: phone ringing

HS: The "one ring" was a code that we used for signaling that a mix was ready. So it was a way for you to be in... four places at once... effectively. (tone indicates that he means in an effective manner, not as in 'for all intents and purposes')


RP: So all these kinds of things conspired and our scoring very much came down to the wire. It was actually overlapping when we doing our final mix.


PaB: So now the mix crew in New Zealand needs Peter as much as we need him in London.


RP: And so Peter then flew back to be there for the mix team and the fact that we were scoring while you're mixing... you know, that's like, (makes a kind of sick sound) something you always try to avoid. And luckily, technology, you know, came and saved us.


PaB: Based on the Polycom video conferencing, we'd have a camera in both places.


BO: Peter could be just like he was in the control room with Howard and have a video conferencing as well a sync to the 5.1 Dolby music.


HS: I think there was a few instances where I was on the podium, Peter was in New Zealand, and he's able to talk with me as if he's in the booth, you know, 20 feet away.


PJ: So, I'm seeing Howard conducting and I'm hearing him live in my room in New Zealand in perfect quality.

On Screen: The orchestra playing the destruction of Isengard. The camera cuts to the control room where we first see a screen of Howard conducting and then, next to it, Howard sitting on a couch.

HS: And now we're like a well-oiled, international machine working in different countries simultaneously.


PaB: I threatened to have t-shirts made up, "Around the World in 80 Days - Film Score - The Two Towers". We finished around November 1st, 2002 and it pretty much ramps right back up and by December we're in the process of gearing up, getting footage. Peter's locked the extended cut version of The Two Towers in April of 2003 and, boom, we're right into the cycle of getting footage on Return of the King.


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Gondor Theme


BO: HS's composed new music to cover the additional 40 minutes of film that's incorporated in the longer version.

PB: It gives Howard a chance to set up those themes that he would have liked to have had.

OS: score entitled Gondor superimposed on Boromir's victory speech at Osgiliath

MP: Gondor Theme

HS: The Gondorian Theme is a real central theme that's introduced in the extended DVD of TTT* and then, of course, leading us to Return of the King. I mean, this places a major part in Return of the King.

*This isn't completely accurate. The theme was introduced in FOTR at the Council of Elrond.

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And in the end...


RP: In the end, I have to say, no matter how dark it was, I knew it was all going to happen. I didn't really have a fear of that. It was more just, "Are we all going to be standing?" You know?

PB: Everything that's happened in this music process, things we've had to do because of this, that and the other thing, have really unlocked a better way to do it.

MP: Aragorn's Theme (Brego riding scene)

RP: I think it's very much a sort of precursor to what technology is going to be able to bring to the filmmaking process in the future.

HS: Even in the darkest hour I've always loved it. Because there only is one Lord of the Ring.

OS: Aragorn on Brego riding to Helm's Deep

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