All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

Proverb, 1659


A film with no beginning or end. Crunched by deadlines. Key people located on different continents. New material needed for the Extended Edition. No breathing space before jumping into ROTK. People working around the clock. One can imagine the stress level for anyone involved in the scoring process. But apparently there was time for fun. What can we observe about people when they let their work focus fall long enough to play?


Text in brown: descriptions and transcripts from the Appendices material

Text in Black: my comments, conversation prompts and resources

Underlined text: links

Most of this got reposted at's forum where a discussion then ensued. Those old boards are cranky. To find a copy of that discussion, go HERE.








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.










The Gong (more properly known as tam-tam)


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)







Magpie Shiny Bits of Information:

The tam-tam's place in the soundtrack: The music in this scene was cut short just enough in the Original Soundtrack (OST) that the tam-tam could not be heard. I assumed I could pull a soundclip of it from the Complete Recordings (CR-TTT). But, interestingly, it is not on the CR-TTT. Doug Adams was asked about this and he replied:

The tam-tam (or gong) was performed here by Peter Jackson. It was recorded wild, and never actually a part of Shore’s original concept for this piece. Just something fun for Jackson to do, and a nice bit of PR for the sessions. Now certainly it didn’t hurt anything, but when the time came to reassemble the piece for the CR, Shore went back to his original composition, which did not include the tam-tam hit.

Magpie Conversation Prompts:

Putting a personal face on it: How much do you relate to or enjoy these personable sorts of reports? Do you think we're getting a pretty accurate look at the people involved or is there some amount of PR spin involved? Has something you've seen in one of these appendices sections changed your viewpoint or opinion about someone? 


Fun at work: If you had a chance to watch this segment, perhaps you felt, as I did, that there may have been a touch of hysterical exhaustion creeping up on people? Do you know what I mean? When I've been intensively focused on for a long time I can slide into a state of both exhilaration and exhaustion and get to a point where the giggles set in. I think it releases endorphins or something because this has resulted in some very fun moments. Or do you think that, rather than having a sense of silliness creep up in moments of exhaustion, they maintained a lighthearted, fun attitude throughout the process? Do you think being able to laugh with people you're working with involves some level of trust? Does it enhance the working environment or detract or distract from it?


The Gong: (Read Shiny Bit of information above if you haven 't already.) A lot of attention and time was given to getting satisfying this request of PJ's to play an instrument. The information was in the Music for Middle-earth section of the appendices. It was a musical instrument and recorded along with the music. Why do you think it was ultimately left out of the Complete Recordings? (This question was asked before we had Doug Adams' comment above on the matter.) Do you think Peter knows it was left out (or is his life too busy to be bother with such triffling nonsense)? If so, do you think he's disappointed at all?  Considering the time spent vs. the decision to leave it out of the ultimate soundtrack recording, is this a good example of how having fun simply helps with the relief of stress or enhances the bonding of workmates? Or is it a good example of how it's all just a waste of time. (Although you may treat any of these questions as seriously as you like, feel free to insert a bit of light hearted fun and frivolity in your answers if so moved. )


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Above comments transcribed from The Two Towers Extended Edition Appendices Material: Music for Middle-earth

Howard Shore: Composer
Peter Jackson: Director/Writer/Producer
Philippa Boyens: Writer
Paul Broucek: Paul Broucek; Executive Music Producer, New Line Cinema
David Salo: Tolkien Language Translator
John Kurlander: score engineer
Barry M Osborne: Producer
Rick Porras: Co-producer
On Screen: the image shown on screen other than the narrator/interviewee
Music Playing: the music playing under the commentary