My goal for the last few
years has been to find a way to
responsibly update my website using information found in
the Complete Recordings' liner notes, the Annotated
Scores, and The Music of the LOTR Films. I seek a
fine balance of eliminating old, incorrect information
and not treading too hard on copyrighted information.
For new themes introduced in
the Complete Recordings (that I had not previously
collected) I did not attempt to do any more than a
brief cursory 'examination' of how the themes were
constructed, how the related to other music in the
soundtrack, and how they supported the scenes in which
they were used. For new themes introduced in
Music of the LOTR Films, I merely supplied a name,
placing them in the category in which they were found,
and instructed the reader to consult the book.
Let me back up a minute.
Although I have never supplied, nor formally written a
Statement for this site, my mission is
something I am always thinking about.
To start with, I merely
share some lyrics with friends and html
format seemed to be a good way to do it. It allowed me
to 'web' information, something that highly appealed to
Then I personally became
intrigued and then almost obsessed with the idea of
leitmotifs in the score. There was almost no official
information available when I started. Most of the EEs
(with their audio commentaries and appendices features)
had yet to be released. I was new to the web and was
slowly finding other people online talking about the
movie with only a few of them talking about the score.
There were others like me doing similar work, but we
weren't really talking to each other and different types
of score information was scattered over various websites
and forums. So then, my goal was to
learn more about the themes and to
resource of all the information that was out
I always envisioned my site
as a reference/resource library. Someone wanting to know
more about the score could use my site to find
information that would help them. I was never highly
interested in analyzing the music and I wasn't really
qualified to do so. Analyses interested me and I had my
own personal thoughts about the music. Some of them I
shared here and some of them I shared other places and
some of them I just thought to myself. But mostly, I
support people such that, by learning more about the
score, they could more effectively formulate their own
ideas about the music.
So there you have that
loosely developed mission statement. Don't make me write
it up all polished and stuff.
In the beginning, I was not
the only available source of info but I was quickly the
most comprehensive source and, after a time, the only
source that was keeping current with information. Over
time, more info became available but it still was small
doses: a magazine article there, a radio interview
there, a comment made on a forum over here. Finally,
with the Complete Recordings and, now,
The Music of
the LOTR Films, the volume of official information
is tipping the balance such that I am not the go to
person any more.
Does this distress me? No.
To my mind, my website still serves - and can strive to
better serve - the mission I envisioned for it.
First: I have received a
fair number of comments from people who appreciate the
fact that I am not a musicologist and I am looking at
and talking about music from a non-musician's viewpoint.
I think the spokesperson for official information, Doug
Adams, does a really good job in addressing both the
casual movie/music fans and the knowledgeable musicians
in the room. But sometimes, the musical terminology is
daunting and sometimes only a small amount of
information is desired. Towards that, I think my website
still serves a decently sized demographic.
Second: I can use the
information and resources I have already collected to
further support the official information. This
information may not (and probably will not) be at all
useful to the casual score fan who looked me up on the
web after hearing the music. But it could be useful to
people who have the Complete Recordings and have
Music of the LOTR Films. This community is full of
my friends-in-Tolkien and my friends-in-Shore. It would
be my pleasure to serve them.
But if that is what I can
provide let me be explicitly clear what I can't provide
and what my website is not a substitute for owning. I
cannot provide any sort of musical analysis of the
score. I do not have (and never have had) access to
Shore's notes or archives. I do not have much musical
background. (I played trombone in high school... does
that count? Not for much, let me assure you.) Even those
with only a casual interest in the score might consider
buying the Complete Recordings. If you have a good
fondness for the score, I think you'll enjoy
Music of the LOTR Films. If you have a strong
interest in the score, you need to buy any or all of
them. They will be one of the best investments you make
and I am sure you'll get your enjoyment's worth out
Therefore, I will
understand to be unique to my site, and...
was primarily developed through
my own work prior to released official information...
and I will understand
the limits of...
legal (and ethical)
copyright issues and...
my own skills and
and seek to...
insure my information
is not incorrect, or to...
tell the reader when I
am offering an opinion/thought that is contrary to
official information, and...
unique resources that might support people who own
officially release products - (DVDs, CDs, and book)
I began my work
in 2003 by
grouping things melodically. If two pieces had similar melodies,
they got thrown into the same folder. I really hadn't given much
thought to themes in music. I guess I was aware of them. We all
recognize the music used with Darth Vadar, for example. But I had no
knowledge of music theory or history to draw upon. It started to
become clear at some point that the way Howard Shore was going to
describe the music didn't follow my thinking, or the organization of
this site. Although I have changed some things on this site so as to
align it more effectively with official information, I haven't done
that with every thing.
First, I don't have
the knowledge or the language to express the vision of Howard
Shore, even if I had access to his thoughts... which I don't. It
is obvious to me that HS's work is complex but my examination of
it must be simple. I've gotten a lot of encouragement, however,
from friends who remind me that not everybody will relate to the
soundtrack as a musicologist might. Many of us have simple
relationships with the music and I could argue there's a
place for and value in the simple examination. Doug Adams will
absolutely be the best source for those who want to know exactly
what HS is thinking and doing with this music.
Next, I sometimes
like the way I think about something and I'm reluctant to let go
of it even when the official word either disagrees or fails to
back up my thinking. (And in one case, after being told back in
2003 that a theme I had identified was only 'connecting
material', it showed up in the CR-TTT liner notes as 'Nameless
Fear'.) It's not that I would claim Howard Shore is
wrong. That would be ludicrous. But I like the idea that there
may be more than one way to think about something.
I've had a few
experiences as an educator. One
was as a TA for an online class on the Lord of the
Rings. My experience there (and in further literary forums) was
fascinating. I've encountered hundreds of people exploring and
discussing the books--some reading it for the first time, some
for the 20th time. Some have only read LOTR, some have read
every thing Tolkien wrote on Middle-earth. What I love is each
of us has our own personal relationship to the story and that
that relationship changes with every new experience we have in
life or new idea we encounter in discussion. In the end,
what's often most important in any discussion about the book is
what it tells us about ourselves. If 8 people engage in a
discussion about Denethor, we could easily have 8 different
takes on him. And I'm fascinated about what each of those views
says about the person expressing them.
I think we all get
our own relationship with the soundtracks. Howard Shore is the
creator. And I respectfully give him the final say in what is an
accurate description of his work. But, on the other hand, any
created work -- any form of art -- becomes the possession of the
beholder, too. It's perhaps important for me to know what the
poet intended... but I think it's just as important for me to
have my own relationship with the poem. And if my interpretation
and use of the poem differs from the poet I say, 'So
what?'. It's mine now. I won't argue this view. I won't say I know better than
the poet. But I will cherish my own relationship and I won't
relinquish it because I'm being told it's wrong. (I explored
this thinking more
I've tried to be
honest about what is my thinking and what is more official
information (or commonly held beliefs) when the two collide.
Perhaps the biggest diversion from 'official line' is my
organization of the Shire
Theme. I started my work here by classifying music using melodic
similarities. This works for most of the themes but it did not
jibe with how Howard Shore classified the
Shire/Hobbit Theme. I
first thought, "no way am I redoing things", then thought, "ah,
come on... you're a perfectionist.. you know you want to do it."
but really... the task would be quite difficult. And when I look
at the information I would have to erase or delegate to the
bottom of the page under "Previous thoughts", I find some of it
interesting, in part, because it does look at the music
differently. So, I will leave my old work intact, and try to
make it clear to you, the reader, what the heck is going on. I
would like to see the work that I do and Doug Adams is doing as somewhat complementary... but not