TTT Audio Commentary

Special Extended Edition DVD discs 1 & 2

 

These are comments made by Howard Shore and others on The Two Towers' Special Edition DVD audio commentary track. The first three were transcribed by Jelle from SMME. Thank you for your work, Jelle.

When you see this:
HS COMMENT elsewhere on the site, it means that Howard Shore has made a comment pertinent to something mentioned there. Click on the link to find out what.

 

Chapter numbers in red indicate the chapter number found in the DVD menus
Chapter numbers in blue indicate the chapter number seen on your DVD player while playing Disc 2
 

Jump to Comments:

Moving from FOTR into TTT
Gollum's two themes
Industrialized sound of the Isengard Theme
Rohan & Éowyn's Themes
Isabel Bayrakdarian sings Evenstar
Family dynamics: Denethor, Boromir, Faramir 
Elves arrive at Helm's Deep - Lothlórien Theme
Elizabeth Fraser sings Haldir's Lament
March of the Ents - Nature Theme
Emiliana Torrini sings Gollum's Song
Final Thoughts

 

Disc: 1

Chapter: 2

On Screen: Elven Rope

 

Two Towers opens with a flashback. That's really the connection to Fellowship, it's the flashback to Moria. And then once you cut to Sam and Frodo after the flashback, it's like you just went right from Fellowship, they were on a hill, they took a nap, they woke up. The beginning of Two Towers music really begins after that flashback, begins with the scene with Frodo and Sam.

 

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Disc: 1

Chapter: 3

On Screen: Gollum swears to obey Frodo

Music Playing:

Pity of Gollum

The Taming of Sméagol: Gollum's Theme is created as two pieces that reflected two different creations of Gollum. You hear little fragments of Gollum's Theme in Fellowship. He's very closely tied to the Ring. So Gollum's Theme, that central theme that you hear in Fellowship, is tied to the Ring Theme. So I thought of using a sound from Hobbiton, that had been taken out of Hobbiton, in the same way that Gollum had been removed from Hobbiton, or from the world of the Shire. And had become something else, transformed into something else. So I took one of the instruments and used it as a solo instrument for Gollum. And I thought the hammer dulcimer was a perfect one of the instruments. Other instruments that we used from the Shire were... there's a musette and the whistle and there's an open-string guitar, Celtic harp and the bodhrán, the Irish drums. But the hammer dulcimer (Shore means the cimbalom) seemed like a good one, because it has that jittery, by the very nature of it, because it's, you know, it has that sound and it always has that tremolo kind of feeling to it and I thought that was a perfect one to take, to remove from the Shire, distort it a bit, and use it as the central sound for that character, for Gollum.

(note: the hammered dulcimer is used for the Menace of Gollum)

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Disc: 1

Chapter: 6

On Screen: The pits of Isengard

Music Playing:

Isengard Theme

The industrialization of Middle-Earth you see being formed in Isengard. The furnaces and the flames, you see the production of metal and metal weapons and the creation of steel. Again the feeling was using a very specific off-centered rhythm, using that 5/4 rhythm and using a lot of metal sounds now for Isengard. So you hear metal bell plates being struck and anvils and the metal strings on a piano being struck with metal chains. So those elements became a metal sound of Isengard, was created, the imagery of it was created musically by these parts of the orchestra, these metal sound. And also a lot of brass being used, and of course brass and metal. So you hear trombones and tubas and French horns, all low registers, playing the music for Isengard.

 

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Disc: 1

Chapter: 26-27

On Screen:

Evacuation of Edoras

Music Playing:

Rohan Theme - (one of) Éowyn's Theme

Lord of the Rings is a very historical piece, and you're dealing with the history of Middle-earth, really. So you're using the music, in a way, to reflect different cultures, different ideas about the history of it. So it would make sense in this large work to reference things from, you know, ideas... musical ideas... little compositional ideas from Fellowship into Two Towers. But Two Towers is essentially a completely brand new work. And primarily dealing with new cultures. I mean the world of Rohan is completely new.. a new culture which has its own thematic ideas and a central theme for Rohan. And there's secondary themes for characters - Éowyn and Éowyn's relationship to Théoden the king. Rohan is the world of the horse and of, essentially, a Viking culture. Tolkien describes it as a Nordic, a northern European world. Philippa Boyens did text for Rohan, wrote poems and text, beautiful pieces that were translated into Old English and then sung by the choir. So that's a completely new sound for Rohan. The idea of creating realism in the music, and in the sound of it, led you to the folk elements of it. And then it was a matter of using those in the orchestration, you know. As I was doing the composition I would use some of the folk elements and place it inside, essentially, the symphony orchestra, the London Philharmonic. So they become separate but part of the orchestra.

 

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Disc: 2

Chapter: 33 (3)

On Screen: flashback to Rivendell,

Arwen & Aragorn kissing, Elrond & Aragorn arguing

Music Playing:

Evenstar

The flashbacks to Rivendell are now performed by the soprano, Isabel Bayrakdarian. It's a development, really of the music from Rivendell. Cause Rivendell, from Fellowship, was really the beginning of that relationship and you see that scene on the bridge and you see Arwen and Aragorn. Now this is a much different scene in Two Towers. This is Aragorn, umm, having to leave her and going to war and the decision to do that. And it's a much more painful parting, in a way. And her father, Elrond, telling Aragorn he can't make her stay for him. Aragorn should let Arwen go because she will die if she stays. It's a much more tragic scene. And that music was created around Isabel Bayrakdarian and so the singers were, uh, based on the pieces that I was writing. And I wrote the pieces very specifically for their voices.

 

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Disc: 2

Chapter: 41 (11)

On Screen:

Denethor, Boromir and Faramir in Osgiliath

Music Playing:

This scene is very important to understand the relationship between the Steward of Gondor, Denethor, to his son Faramir. And his disappointment in Faramir. In the theatrical cut of Two Towers, you don't know certain things about Faramir, you're not sure why he's acting in certain ways. Particularly to the world that he's come from, from Gondor. Like why he's reacting in certain ways. It becomes a lot clearly, I think, once you're introduced to Denethor and you begin to understand that relationship. So musically you're creating, ahh, the imagery between Denethor and Faramir. And that's the essential part of that scene... showing that tension, that sort of dissatisfaction that Denethor has towards Faramir. The disappointment to his son and that's very important to understand that. (I think he meant to say, "disappointment towards his son".)

 

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Disc: 2

Chapter: 48 (18)

On Screen:

The arrival of the Elves at Helm's Deep

Music Playing:

Martial version of the Lothlórien theme.

You hear very specifically in the arrival of the Elves, a thematic thread from Lothlórien. But it's done in a much more military, battle mode. I wanted to make a distinction between the worlds of Rivendell and Lothlórien. Lothlórien is darker and it's a bit more of a mystical Elvish culture... older. I used just for the exotic sound of it an Indian bowed lute called a sarangi and a ney flute which is an African flute. I also used the monochord which is a 50 string drone instrument. It's quite large. It's about an 8 foot wooden instrument that has 50 strings that are tuned very sympathetically. And it's also used for healing and that really became the sound of Lothlórien... those three instruments in conjunction with the choir singing in Quenya and the orchestra. So, I think it was just the melody that was used for Lothlórien... you first hear on entering Lothlórien in Fellowship. And that very specific melody was used, almost in an opera way really, in Helm's Deep. It's not sung anymore. It was sung when you first entered Lothlórien but now it's played in unison for trumpets playing it. I mean it's in battle mode and it has a much different rhythmic base to it. I wanted the rhythm to feel somewhat exotic so it uses a bolero rhythm, actually. Which just seem exotic enough for a battle scene in Helm's Deep. And it just seemed to suit the Elves. I can't really tell you why. But as much as the sarangi was the right sound for Lothlórien, if I had to apply a rhythmic idea -- which I didn't really in Lothlórien, it doesn't really have too many rhythmic ideas in it -- but if I had to apply a rhythmic idea to the Elves, that bolero rhythm seemed like an appropriate one for it. It was a rhythm that I felt could best describe the Elves in motion.

 

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Disc: 2

Chapter: 53 (23)

On Screen:

Haldir's Death

Music Playing:

Haldir's Lament

Elizabeth Fraser sang the new piece that was written for Haldir's Death. It's a repeat of her voice which was used in Gandalf's Lament in Lothlórien. And she sang that very tragic lament. That was actually source music, it was the Elves singing in Lothlórien. You're hearing them in the trees. And the death of Haldir was written for Elizabeth to sing. So it brings back the sound of Lothlórien.

 

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Disc: 2

Chapter: 56 (26)

On Screen: Treebeard's discovery of the destruction of the trees.

Music Playing: none,

but followed by The March of the Ents

(Nature Theme)

In Fangorn, because the Ents were taught to speak by the Elves, we used the more modern form of Elvish, which is Sindarin. Mostly the boys' choir's actually singing and they sing in Elvish for the scenes of the Ents... the march of the Ents. And there's also a relationship between that piece and the moth, the idea of nature in Middle-earth... forms a bond between the Fellowship scene with Gandalf and the moth and the Ents.

 

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Disc: 2

Chapter: 66-67 (36-37)

On Screen:

Mordor in the distance, Credits

Music Playing:

the humming start to Gollum's Song

The ending piece, we wanted something to balance "May It Be" for Two Towers and we focused on Gollum because we felt Gollum was probably the most kind of central character, in a way new character, in Two Towers. And a lot of the story was revolving around Frodo's relationship to Gollum and Sam and the Ring. It was very central to the story. So it felt natural to create the piece of Two Towers, as a balance to the first film, around Gollum. And Fran Walsh wrote these wonderful set of lyrics that I set to music. And so we worked with the singer, Emiliana Torrini to create the sound of Gollum's Song. Emiliana is Icelandic and for the theme of Two Towers, of incorporating the Rohan theme, the Rohan culture which is a central theme of Two Towers, and Gollum being the other central character of Two Towers... to use that Nordic or Icelandic voice seemed very appropriate to the film.

 

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Disc: 2

Chapter: 67 (37)

On Screen:

Credits

Music Playing:

Gollum's Song

And people sometimes say to me, "You must be tired of it." or, you know, "You must be happy that it's ending." and I say, "No. Actually. I'm actually not, because, it's really a gift, I mean... if you write music, what's better than to write music for a story like Lord of the Rings? I mean, if you're interested in film, what a great thing to work on. So there isn't a day, I must say, as hard as it is to do this... and it isn't easy to do... that I don't really cherish it.

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