Welcome to this weeks discussion of The Tower's appendices material: Music for Middle-earth. I've approached this discussion by providing you with a transcript of DVD comments and then following that up with some information of my own and conversation prompts. I am not one who responds well to lists of questions. I don't want you to think of my prompts as questions that must be answered. I want them to be starting points for thought and perhaps conversation. If you are moved to answer any of them, that's fine. If they prompt you to veer off in another direction, that's fine as well. And if your mind lights on a subject I haven't even thought of, extra fine.

I have used new information from the Complete Recordings of the Two Towers and from my website to flesh out some of the material. Discussions of themes can take two paths. One is the more analytical, academic tone of the musicologist. The other is the emotional reactions of any fan. Although I provide some of the more analytical information, the discussion could and should follow either path or both. I often am given credit for having way more musical knowledge than I actually do. I understand basic concepts such as bar, phrase, time signatures, and minor/major keys. But most of what Doug Adams says swooshes way over my head. I do find the analytical stuff interesting (when I can understand it) but I think the emotional reaction to the music is what it's all about and we all can contribute to that discussion. It is sometimes the simplest approach that's the most meaningful.


The week's schedule looks like this

Monday: New Themes for TTT

Tuesday: Emotional Choices

Wednesday: Vocals and Lyrics

Thursday: Postproduction and Deadlines

Friday: Fun and Gongs

Saturday: In the End


Now to the themes discussed in Music for Middle-earth:

Rohan: includes information on Éowyn's music and the Hardanger Fiddle

Gollum: includes information on Gollum's two themes and the cimbalon

Fangorn Forest

Gondor: includes information on two settings: Gondor in decline and Gondor in ascent.



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






Scoring The Two Towers


Paul Broucek: I remember having a conversation towards the end of the final dub of FOTR, in New Zealand with Fran Walsh, 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.”


Howard Shore: 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?


Peter Jackson: 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.


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


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


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








Rohan Theme

On Screen: score entitled "The King of the Golden Hall" - fade to Meduseld
Music Playing:
Rohan Theme on Hardanger Fiddle

Peter Jackson: 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.


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


Paul Broucek: 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.


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

Music Playing: Éowyn’s Theme  (I didn't note, at the time, which one)

Paul Broucek: 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.









Magpie Shiny Bits of Information:

Doug Adams on Éowyn's Music: "Éowyn has three themes, all of which are intricately interrelated. One of the themes applies to just her, two apply to her relationships with other characters. They all share material in common, but are very specifically applied in the film." With the release of the CR-TTT, we know those three themes to represent: Éowyn Shieldmaiden, Éowyn & Théoden, and Éowyn & Aragorn. More information in the link below.


Doug Adams on Music for Characters:

Fan Question: "are there also themes for mini-minor characters? Gamling, Grimbold, Mardil, Uglúk, Grishnak, Lurtz, Gorbag, etc?"

DA: "No sir. But, that goes back to Shore’s approach. What, in LOTR, gets musical themes? How is the score constructed? It always echoes Tolkien’s writing, which was based on hierarchal structures. A character is not just a stand-alone cipher. He/she has parents, those parents represent a lineage, that lineage is tied to a culture, that culture has neighbors, allies, enemies, traditions, etc. There are actually relatively few “character” themes in Shore’s LOTR… and those that do have them are presented as an offshoot of a culture. That’s another connection to Wagner, in a way… the idea of a hierarchy of material, not just tunes for character for the sake of having a melody to fall back on."


Fan Comment: I think minor characters/people-as-a-whole are treated as extensions off major themes.

DA: Absolutely true. Same holds for major characters, for the most part.


Fan Comment: I think the music would become too complex and would just burst if minor characters would have their own theme, it's already that complex with just major persons and things their themes.

DA: I don’t know that it’s a question of complexity. I’m sure Shore could write a killer tune for Fatty Bolger were he so inclined. But what would be the purpose? It’s a question of appropriateness, I think. What story was Shore telling? What music was important for the story? How can that story be properly populated with leitmotifs?

All quotes from MovieMusic.com's old forums



Magpie Conversation Prompts:

Rohan: Any thoughts on the Rohan Theme? Did it achieve hummability for you?


Éowyn: What do you think about Doug's comments above? Do you find them contradictory? Why do you think, in a score where there are few character themes*, Éowyn got three?  (*I can list these themes for characters: Aragorn, Gandalf, Arwen, Gollum, Gríma has some music that's used a few times, Sauron—although this is kind of a concept of the big bad as opposed to a tangible character. Are there any more?) Does any reason stand out for you as to which characters did get themes?


Hardanger: How well did the Hardanger fiddle work as an instrument for Rohan? Did you enjoy its use in the movie? Were you familiar with this instrument before The Two Towers?

More Info: Rohan & Éowyn's Theme

More Info: Hardanger Fiddle








Gollum's Theme

On Screen: score entitled "The Taming of Sméagol"

Music Playing: The History of the Ring Theme

Howard Shore: 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.


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


Howard Shore: There's the Sméagol Theme...

On Screen: score entitled "Slinker"

Music Playing: Gollum's theme from the FOTR: The Pity of Gollum

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

On Screen: score entitled "Stinker" superimposed over Gollum creeping down rock

Music Playing: The cimbalom,  Gollum Theme first heard in TTT: Gollum's Menace

Howard Shore: 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 cimbalon 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.








Magpie Shiny Bits of Information:

Sméagol's Slinker Theme: This music has been called Sméagol's Theme, Slinker, and The Pity of Gollum

Sméagol's Stinker Theme: This music has been called Gollum's Theme, Stinker, and Gollum's Menace


Magpie Conversation Prompts:

Gollum and the Ring: I don't have enough musicology background to understand the melodic connection between Sméagol's Slinker Theme and the History of the Ring Theme and Doug Adams does not elaborate on HS's comment above in the CR-FOTR notes. Do you have any thoughts about these two pieces of music? In a later discussion, we'll talk about an instance when Shore blended these two themes.


Gollum's Two Themes: Do you like the idea of two themes for Gollum? How well does each effectively portray either Slinker or Stinker?


The Cimbalon: How well does the 'jittery' nature of the cimbalon work for portraying Gollum?  Does the folk nature of the cimbalon effectively (either subtly or more overtly) connect it with those of the Shire?


More Info: Gollum's two themes

More Info: Cimbalon










Fangorn Forest

On Screen: score entitled "Fangorn Forest"
Music Playing: music from beginning of "Treebeard" track on CD

Howard Shore: 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.








Magpie Shiny Bits of Information:

Wood Instruments: The last minute of the track, Treebeard, is a better place than the beginning (which is used for the appendices segment) to hear the wood instruments.


Palette and Texture: In the CR-TTT liner notes, Doug Adams says that Howard Shore created a palette of wood instruments--bass marimba, wooden logs, bassoon and double basses--and put the emphasis on texture rather than melody.


Magpie Conversation Prompts:

Fangorn's Music: What do you think of this music? Do you enjoy it's use in the movie? How about when recreationally listening to the soundtrack?


More Info: The Ents

More Info: Wood Instruments for the Ents: Marimba and Log Drums










Gondor Theme


Barry M Osborne: Howard Shore's composed new music to cover the additional 40 minutes of film that's incorporated in the longer version.


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

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

Music Playing: Triumphant version of The Realm of Gondor Theme

Howard Shore: 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.

On Screen: flag of Gondor flying over Osgiliath - fade to Boromir and then Faramir

Music Playing: Somber version of The Realm of Gondor Theme








Magpie Conversation Prompts:

Gondor Theme: If you were really into the soundtrack, you might remember that Hirgon provided a clip of the Council Gondor Theme (before we knew it was the Gondor Theme) from the movie with the dialog removed. Had you paid any attention to this in FOTR? If not, did it pop for you in TTT EE?


New Music for the Extended Edition: Did any other music used in extended or new scenes for TTT catch your attention? How about "The Dream of Trees", Treebeard's songs to the Hobbits? Or the music used as Éomer returns to Meduseld with the mortally wounded Théodred?

More Info: Gondor Theme


Return to Gateway Page

Go to Emotional Choices







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