We've come to the end of this discussion for a movie that wasn't the end. "Long ways to go yet..." To wrap up this leg of the journey, we'll read one last bit from Howard and Company; we'll explore an area not covered by the appendices, blending the themes; We'll also take a more global look at the music--across The Two Towers and beyond. Does this music matter? How does it matter? Why does it matter?


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


Text in brown: descriptions and transcripts from the Appendices material

Text in Black: my comments, conversation prompts and resources

Underlined text: links  : all sound files for this page are zipped. You can download and unzip them individually by using the links below, or download the entire set for this page by using THIS LINK.






And in the end...


Rick Porras: 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?


Paul Broucek: 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.

Music Playing: Aragorn's Theme (Brego riding scene)

Rick Porras: 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.


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

On Screen: Aragorn on Brego riding to Helm's Deep








Blending the Themes


Magpie Shiny Bits of Information:

One of the things I noticed almost immediately about The Two Towers score was the blending of themes. I had just wrapped my brain around this new concept (for me) of themes. Although I was recognizing the easy ones, The Shire and the Fellowship Themes, I had to work hard at most of the rest. I knew 'that music' sounded familiar but I wasn't always sure where else I had heard it. I had to listen hard to tell the difference between the similar sounding danger motifs. I pulled hundreds of soundclips from the DVDs and listened and categorized and plopped them into folders with names like: Arwen, Gollum, Shire, Isengard, Sauron. And then came The Two Towers and bam... I was faced with blends.


Although this is not addressed at all in the Music for Middle-earth material, I think it's a fundamental part of how the story and the score are progressing. Here are a few examples. All text below, excepting anything in parenthesis following "Magpie:", is from the Annotated Score of The Two Towers, written by Doug Adams and available for free download at the official soundtrack site.


Fellowship/5 Beat Pattern Blend/Isengard: As the forces of evil advance their campaign to overtake middle-earth, the Isengard music adopts a parasitic stance, writhing its way inside any music it encounters in an attempt to corrupt its host. Here Isengard's Five Beat pattern forces itself upon the Fellowship theme, deforming the melody with its tilting mechanical might.

Zipped Sound Clip: Fellowship/5 Beat Pattern Blend/Isengard Blend


Pity of Gollum/Ring Theme Blend: Violins rise through the three opening pitches of Gollum’s Pity. But instead of proceeding back down the line, the strings leerily divert up for two sighing pitches a half-step apart—the first notes of the History of the Ring. Frodo probes Gollum’s history, even calling him Sméagol for the first time in the story, but in one short passage, the score tells us everything we need to know. Gollum’s sad theme now interweaves with the Ring’s History theme. The Pity of Gollum and the History of the Ring have twisted into a single, tortured whole. Gollum’s history is the Ring’s history.

Zipped Sound Clip: Pity of Gollum/Ring Theme Blend


Gondor/Rivendell Arpeggios Blend: In The Realm of Gondor’s opening pitches we are reminded of (Aragorn's) heritage, and his regal birthright. But Aragorn is not yet ready to claim that birthright. His mind is torn between his responsibilities in Middle-earth, fears of his own potential weaknesses, and his love for Arwen. Beneath the Gondor theme the Rivendell arpeggios begin to flow, warm but somber, devoid of the lucent orchestrations that colored the lines in The Fellowship of the Ring. (Magpie: I'm not sure if this is a blend as much as it is one theme overlapping another as the scene shifts. The Rivendell Arpeggios follow the scenes segue from Rohan to Aragorn's flashback of Arwen in Rivendell. I have a whole theory about the Rivendell Arpeggios... but perhaps that's pushing the topic too far afield for today.)

Zipped Sound Clip: Gondor/Rivendell Arpeggios Blend


Rohan/5 Beat Pattern Blend:  The Uruks gradually begin to bleed through the Elves’ defenses, scrabbling deeper inside. Having passed the Elves, the Five Beat Pattern meets the Rohan Fanfare, trampling not up against it, but directly through it. The score sounds the two lines in counterpoint, deforming Rohan’s rural beauty with the Uruk’s cumbrous brutality.

Zipped Sound Clip: Rohan/5 Beat Pattern Blend


Rohan/Fellowship/Lothlórien Blend: The main gate (of Helm's Deep) is about to fall. With no choice left, Théoden commands all troops to fall back to the keep. French horn sounds a proclamatory call of the Rohan Fanfare, which closes with the opening three pitches of the Fellowship theme. Trumpet echoes the call, likewise beginning with Rohan’s Fanfare, then concluding with a turn from the Lothlórien theme.

Zipped Sound Clip: Rohan/Fellowship/Lothlórien Blend


Magpie Conversation Prompts:

Three Movies, Three Scores: Had you noticed these blends? In what ways do you think The Two Towers Score differs from the Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King scores?







The Road Goes Ever On



Magpie Thoughts:


Aleatoric: music in which some element of the composition is left to chance or some primary element of a composed work's realization is left to the determination of its performer(s). (Wikipedia)

Sound Clip: Aleatoric French Horns

Diegetic Music: refers to the function of the music within a work's theatrical narrative, with particular relevance to the role of song. (Wikipedia)

Sound Clip: Diegetic Music

A Magpie's Nest: an extensive website created by a slightly mad, obsessive personality self taught in web design



What are three shiny bits of new knowledge or skills that Magpie collected solely from her passion for the Lord of the Rings soundtrack?


My passion for this music has taken me down paths I never dreamed of. I've learned new things. I've corresponded with students, composers, teachers, and conductors from places like Belgium, China, Australia, Croatia, Netherlands, Germany and Finland. I've learned web design, how to rip sound files from DVDs, and how to set up forums. I've listened to the music as I slept and carefully, over and over again paying close attention to each note or phrase. I am, by nature, a bit obsessive and I'm always looking for a new thing to learn more about. But there's something unique about this music. It has shaped who I am today, and where I am going, and what I am doing.


Magpie Conversation Prompts:

I would like this final day to be an open forum on any and all thoughts you wish to explore. Below are my conversation prompts but if they don't suit you, this is certainly the time to speak out in a way that does suit you.


Soundtracks in general: Did you pay attention to or listen to movie soundtracks before LOTR? How about since? Has this changed at all because of LOTR?


Howard Shore's work outside LOTR: Have you listened to any of Howard's other work? If so, before or after hearing LOTR? What did you think of it?


The LOTR soundtracks: How much do you listen to the LOTR soundtracks? How has your feelings about the music changed over time? Do you remember your first listen? If you were to 'rank' the three movies against each other, by what criteria would you do it and how would you place them in rank?


Your emotional reaction: What has the music meant to you? How has it impacted your experience with the movies and/or the story of the Lord of the Rings? If you haven't told us yet, what's your favorite piece or use of music in The Two Towers? If you found yourself at a party on a couch with Howard Shore, what would you tell him or ask him?


Matters: I heard a statement awhile back that kind of struck me, "I just want to matter." It made me think about that word, 'matter'. The concept moves around in my head. It seems to mean one thing and then slide right into a different meaning. But... Does this music matter? Why does it matter? How does it matter?  Put on your favorite music from Lord of the Rings and give that a chew. Can't wait to hear what you think.




The Road Goes Ever On.

It's been a pleasure.









...the love you take is equal to the love you make








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