Similarities

Between LOTR Soundtrack Music & Other Pieces of Music

 

 

Fans have noted a number of similarities between phrases heard in the LOTR movies and other pieces of music by other composers. Some of these comparisons are quite interesting. I don't mean to imply, nor do I think, that Howard Shore has plagiarized anything in his work. I am just immensely fascinated with finding similarities in general. When working with children's books, I collected Cinderella variants from around the world. I ran across the same basic folk tale told in China as in South America. I love the variants I've read of 'singing the world into being'. I've compared the two brothers in David Wisniewski's "The Warrior and the Wise Man" with Faramir and Boromir. None of these involve plagiarism. Some involve the pervasive nature of the folk process. Some involve a reworking of a traditional or classic tale. Some similarities are just serendipitous. I don't know the explanation for the musical similarities described below. I only delight in finding them. It's the Magpie in me. I wish I were more of a musicologist. I can only tell you what I hear, not give you an explanation that involves notes or keys or chords.

 

UPDATE: I wrote above, "I don't know the explanation for the musical similarities described below." Well, we know now. Except for one, the explanation is sheer coincidence, Doug Adams had this to say on the subject:

Howard certainly knows the classical repertoire, but really his only intentional LOTR homage—as indirect as it may be—is in the trilogy's Wagnerian finale. Now that doesn't mean that there aren't some close musical neighbors here and there (and, by all means, check out Magpie's site if you care to discover more), but these are all accidental and, generally, pretty fleeting. Believe it or not, it really was Tolkien's good old opus that fueled Howard's imagination through this project. He had a dog-eared, well-worn copy of the book tucked under his arm nearly every time I saw him during the composing process. I half expected to see it sitting on the podium when I arrived at the recording sessions… though I have no doubt it was at least sitting back at the hotel.

A magpie's brain is small and I rarely look for meaning behind coincidences so I am not chagrined to hear this confirmation. Nor do I think it invalidates the observations many have made. The shiny thing/thought is attractive on its own merit.


 A note on audio samples.

 

I have looked at the fair use laws. Considering that:

  • I am using samples of music under 30 seconds in length - many are as short as 4 or 5 seconds in length...

  • I am using the samples for educational purposes only...

  • I make no money from the use of the samples, nor from the site itself...

  • Other than pulling them from larger works, I am not altering the samples in any creative way. What you hear is what the artist released...

  • I provide as complete an attribution as possible, with links back to artists' sites when possible...

  • I don't believe my samples hinder sales of the artists' work...

I believe I am safely within the fair use definition. If I were making comparisons in literature I would provide quotes from appropriate sources with proper attribution. In my mind, this is the same. It is only my intent to educate and not to harm any artist. But if anyone with claim to do so asks, I will remove any clip on my site.

With regard to the LOTR soundtrack clips, I don't believe that any of my clips can substitute from owning a proper and legal copy of any of the soundtrack CDs or the movie DVDs. In fact, I suspect that most readers of my site already own these items. I myself own each OST (with a few extra copies) each Limited Edition Soundtrack CD (and one Internet Limited Edition), each Complete Recording set, the theatrical version DVDs and extended version DVDs for all three movies, Music Notes Sheet Music, two magazines with LOTR score articles, and The Music of the LOTR Films... all legal copies. I find the cost of a legal copy well worth the pleasure it provides. If you enjoy something, reward the creative talent. Buy a legit copy.