Howard Shore seems to have written particular vocal pieces with either a certain type of voice or even a certain performer in his head.

"A friend of mine gave me a CD of her singing, and I asked her about performing very early on." (HS re: Isabel Bayrakdarian; Annotated Score-TTT)

"Shore encountered one of her indipop records and immediately noticed her unique voice." (Doug Adams re: Sheila Chandra; Annotated Score-TTT)

"I was very keen on using the voice of a Northern European singer, and Icelandic singer. It's that certain dialect." (DA on Emiliana Torrini, TTT appendices)

"I used the sound of the boys also around the sound of the Ring, of the Seduction of the Ring.  Part of the seduction of it, I thought, was the regaining of lost life.  And I thought the boys were such a great sound of that, of the seduction of it." (HS; FOTR Audio Commentary)


Care also seems to have been given to use the appropriate Tolkien(ish) language for each song.


As you read the comments regarding the vocals of TTT, consider how much and in what ways you noticed or paid attention to the singing in the soundtrack.


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.











Isabel Bayrakdarian


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

Music Playing: Evenstar

Howard Shore: 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.


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

On Screen: Arwen at Aragorn's tomb

Music Playing: Evenstar continues


Official Site



The Dead Marshes


The Missing
(Éowyn learns of Aragorn's fall)








Sheila Chandra


Paul Broucek: Then there's another wonderful vocal solo moment...

On Screen: score entitled "Breath of Life" superimposed
over Aragorn floating in water

Paul Broucek: ...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.

On Screen: Arwen on couch to Aragorn on shore

Music Playing: Breath of Life

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


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

Official Site

Audio Samples



Breath of Life







Elizabeth Fraser

Music Playing: Gandalf's Lament from FOTR

Paul Broucek: 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.


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

On Screen: Fellowship resting in Lórien

Music Playing: Gandalf's Lament switches to Lament for Haldir

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

On Screen: Haldir's death at Helm's Deep

Paul Broucek: 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.

Official Site



Haldir's Lament









London Voices

Music Playing: Rivendell Theme

Paul Broucek: 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.

On Screen: Elves leaving Rivendell

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

Director: Terry Edwards

Official Site








London Oratory School Schola

Music Playing: choral beginning of March of the Ents

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


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

Music Playing: boy soprano solo in March of the Ents

Howard Shore: Beautiful singing in "The March of the Ents"

On Screen: score entitled March of the Ents superimposed over Ents marching

Paul Broucek: 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.

Soloist: Ben Del Maestro

L.O.S.S. Official Site


Ben Del Maestro Sang:

The March of the Ents

The Mearas

(Gandalf arrives at Helm's Deep)


Choir Sang:

The Seduction of the Ring

humming before Gollum's Song









Emiliana Torrini

On Screen: score entitled Gollum's Song

Music Playing: first line of Gollum's Song

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

Music Playing: humming and orchestral intro to Gollum's Song

Philippa Boyens: 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.


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

Music Playing: last lines of Gollum's Song

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


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

Official Site



Gollum's Song








Old English - Rohirric


Philippa Boyens: 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.

On Screen: poem - March of the Ents (in English)

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


David Salo: 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.


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


Philippa Boyens: 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.


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

On Screen: Théodred's funeral
Music Playing:
Éowyn singing Lament for Théodred








Magpie Shiny Bits of Information:

Plan 9: The melody for Théodred's Lament was written by Plan 9. They also wrote and performed the Hobbit music from the Long Expected Party and the Passing Wood Elves song to Elbereth.


The Languages of The Two Towers' soundtrack:

• Quenya:

~ The Fight - Gandalf and the Balrog fall into the cavern below Moria

~ Namarië - The Three Hunters chase the Uruk-hai

~ The Seduction of the Ring - The Seduction of Faramir

• Sindarin:

~ The Road to Mordor - unused in movie, on track 2 of Original Soundtrack (OST), meant for a discarded Emyn Muil scene

~ The Dead Marshes - The Dead Marshes

~ Evenstar - Aragorn's dream/flashback to Arwen at Rivendell

~ The Grace of the Valar aka Breath of Life - Aragorn's riverbank revival

~ Hymn to Elbereth (The Rivendell Theme) -  Arwen leaves Rivendell

~ Footsteps of Doom (The Lothlórien Theme) - Galadriel speaks (telepathically) with Elrond

~ Entmoot - An Entmoot is called

~ The Ents - The march of the Ents

• Old English/Rohirric:

~ The Missing - The Burning of the Westfold; Éowyn learns of Aragorn's fall

~ The Call - The White Wizard is revealed; The Wargs of Isengard approach; Théoden prepares for battle; Théoden will ride out

~ The Mearas - Shadowfax arrives at Fangorn; Gandalf arrives at Helm's Deep

~ The King - The battle for Théoden's mind

~ Lament for Théodred - Théodred's funeral

• Neo-Khuzdûl:

~ The Abyss - Gandalf falls with the Balrog (At the moment, the AD-TTT identifies this as Adûnaic. I believe this is incorrect.)

• English:

~ Gollum's Fish Song


Magpie Conversation Prompts:

Different Voices: Does it make a difference to choose a particular voice for different scenes? Which ones did you notice the most or think were most effective? Have you heard any of the covers of various LOTR songs done by other artists? How do you feel about hearing those voices? In what ways is this approach different from other movie scores/soundtracks - or even other versions of LOTR - that incorporate singing?


The Artists: Were you aware of any of these artists before LOTR? Did hearing any of these artists in the soundtrack make you check out other music by them?


Languages: How important to you is it that each song appropriately utilize a particular language? Is it just a matter of philosophical principle or integrity or does it make an aesthetic difference in the soundtrack? If you're a student of Tolkien's languages, what do you think of David Salo's work?


Odds & Ends: Any thoughts on... Old English? Any particular song? The poems of Boyens and Walsh? The diegetic music of Plan 9?

Past TORN discussion led by Menelwyn: The Funeral of Théodred: "A song shall sing..."





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