The Rivendell Arpeggios

a closer look


This page started as a support for and old theory of mine about Elves and Men. We can put that theory to rest but this list of arpeggios - appearing singly or with the Rivendell theme - might still prove interesting or useful.

Please keep in mind that the info on this page has not been updated recently and does not contain or take into consideration any information provided by The Music of the LOTR Books.

cue # info



 Isildur keeps the Ring

Galadriel (v.o): (But the hearts of men) are easily corrupted.

We see Isildur riding near the Gladden Fields on the banks of the Anduin with the Ring on a chain around his neck.

One arpeggio (and a finale)

CR-FOTR A1, The Prologue: One Ring to Rule Them All, 4:19-4:27

This same phrase is heard in the cue, "Isildur kept the Ring"


First glimpse of Rivendell - The last Homely House

We see an Elf on horseback in the foreground and Rivendell off in the distance. Cut to Frodo walking out on the veranda of his bedroom, then walking around Rivendell with Sam, and meeting and embracing Merry and Pippin.

arpeggios with A Elbereth melody and lyrics

FOTR-OST 9, Many Meetings, 0:00-0:41

CR-FOTR B5, Rivendell, 0:22-1:04



We did what Gandalf wanted

Sam: (To himself): Now, what have I forgotten?

Frodo: Packed already?

Sam: No 'arm in being prepared.

Frodo: Thought you wanted to see the Elves, Sam.

Sam: I do.

Frodo: More than anything.

Sam: I did…… It's just…… We did what Gandalf wanted, didn't we?

arpeggios with A Elbereth melody and lyrics

FOTR-OST 9, Many Meetings, 2:05-2:25

CR-FOTR B5, Rivendell, 2:27-2:48



The time of the Elves is over

Boromir arrives, then Legolas and other Elves, then Gimli and other dwarves.

Elrond: This peril belongs to all Middle-earth. They must decide now how to end it. The time of the Elves is over. My people are leaving these shores. Who will you look to when we've gone? The Dwarves? They hide in their mountains seeking riches. They care nothing for the troubles of others.

There are a few sustained notes as Gandalf says, “It is in Men that we place our hope.” and Elrond answers, “Men?”

arpeggios only

CR-FOTR B6, The Sword the Was Broken, 0:10-0:42

From the AS-FOTR:

The Rivendell arpeggios cloud over as more visitors arrive. “It’s a darker version of that opening,” notes the composer.


Men are weak

Elrond: Men are weak. The race of Men is failing. The blood of Númenor is all but spent. Its pride and dignity forgotten. It is because of Men the Ring survives. I was there, Gandalf. I was there three thousand years ago...

an 'abbreviated' variant of the arpeggios heard in other clips

CR-FOTR B6, The Sword the Was Broken, 0:47-1:02

From the AS-FOTR:

Elrond details Isildur’s long-ago refusal to destroy the One Ring and the music bursts into a passionate rumbling of brass chords and rolled timpani before the arpeggios return again, gloomier yet, dulled by disappointment. (This also refers to the cue just below)


Isildur kept the Ring

Elrond: Isildur kept the Ring. The line of kings is broken. There is no strength left in the world of Men. They're scattered, divided, leaderless.

Gandalf: There is one who could unite them, one who could reclaim the throne of Gondor.

(Elrond: He turned from that path long time ago. He has chosen exile.)

4 abbreviated arpeggios as Elrond speaks: "...The line is broken..."
2 full arpeggios as Gandalf speaks: "There is one who could unite them..."
(and the same finale as heard in the prologue with Isildur as Elrond finishes with his last line about exile)

CR-FOTR B6, The Sword the Was Broken, 1:53-2:28

Magpie wrote:

What's exciting about this is the use of the abbreviated (if that's the right term) arpeggios as Elrond claims the line is broken and then the full arpeggios as Gandalf says, "There is one who could unite them". Shore has also used the same 'finale' (again.. not sure if that's the right musical term) for the phrase as heard in the prologue with Isildur.

Chenresi replied:

Plus the "bright major and full arpeggio" with Gandalf's words sounded once. When Elrond says, He turned from that path a long time ago. He has chosen exile. the arpeggio, is short and has a minor key again!


The blood of Isildur flows in his veins

Aragorn: The same blood flows in my veins. The same weakness.

Arwen: Your time will come. You will face the same evil and you will defeat it.

arpeggios only

FOTR-OST 10, The Council of Elrond, 0:00-0:26

CR-FOTR B7, The Council of Elrond, 0:00-0:26



Lightheartedness on the trail to Helm's Deep

Gimli: (having just fallen off his horse) Nobody panic. It was deliberate. It was deliberate.

Éowyn runs to help him up.

Théoden, chuckles and looks at Aragorn: I haven't seen my niece smile for a long time.

one run through an arpeggio a few odd notes and another arpeggio

I'm not sure if this is quite in line with the other arpeggios here, but I think it's similar enough to include for discussion's sake.

CR-TTT B7, One of the Dúnedain, 0:07-0:17

see note just below


Arwen pledges her love

Arwen as heard in Aragorn's hears memory (on the plains of Rohan): The light of the Evenstar does not wax and wane. It is mine to give to whom I will. Like my heart.

arpeggios that are a bit 'abbreviated'  -

CR-TTT B7, One of the Dúnedain, 2:15-2:35

From the AS-TTT:

In The Realm of Gondor’s opening pitches—heard here for only the second time in The Lord of the Rings—we are reminded of his heritage, and his regal birthright. 

But Aragorn is not yet ready to claim that birthright. His mind is torn between his responsibilities in Middle-earth, fears of his own potential weaknesses, and his love for Arwen. Beneath the Gondor theme the Rivendell arpeggios begin to flow, warm but somber, devoid of the lucent orchestrations that colored the lines in The Fellowship of the Ring. Lyric soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian enters singing “Evenstar” over female chorus divided three ways. The line, which moves from voice to alto flute, combines the ambrosial vocal tone of the Elves with melodic contours directly out of The Heroics of Aragorn theme—including the crucial down-and-back-up figure. Can Aragorn lead the World of Men without abandoning his love for Arwen? 

CUE 10

Rivendell empties - Arwen leaves

The Elves (including Arwen) depart Rivendell.

arpeggios with the A Elbereth melody and lyrics

CR-TTT B12, The Story Foretold, 0:30-0:48

TTT-OST 11, The Leave Taking, 0:30-0:48

From the AS-TTT:

The solo alto flute is joined by interplaying string lines as Arwen, still in Rivendell, grapples with her difficult decision. Prompted by her father, she decides to forsake her love for Aragorn and depart Middle-earth with the rest of her kind. The score tenderly pauses, then enfolds the Rivendell theme in the most elaborate setting heard since Fellowship. Yet despite the female voices intoning “Hymn to Elbereth”, the harp glissandi and robust arpeggio figures, the Rivendell theme moves slowly and softly, almost receding. After a single rhapsodic statement of the line it evolves into a sadder, more linearly expressive shape that draws the stylistic tendencies of the “Evenstar” and “The Grace of the Valar” music closer to Rivendell. 

CUE 11

ROTK Opening Credits

The title "The Lord of the Rings" appears and fades.

ROTK-OST 1, A Storm is Coming, 0:32-0:45

Under the History of the Ring theme, arpeggios are played. At first glance, this does not appear to be connected to the rest of these cues. But Chenresi pointed out these words of Isildur's as read by Gandalf in the libraries of Minas Tirith.

It has come to me, the One Ring. It shall be an heirloom of my kingdom. All those who follow in my bloodline shall be bound to its fate for I will risk no hurt to the Ring. It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain.

Chenresi thinks that, musically, we here have the line of men - the arpeggios - bound up with the Ring - the History of the Ring theme. I love the idea and will say again, even if HS didn't intend it and wouldn't agree with it, I maintain he should have because it works.

CUE 12

Arwen turns back to Rivendell

Arwen turns Asfolath back toward Rivendell, and rides back along the path from which they had traveled. In a golden sunrise, a white horse gallops into an emptied Rivendell, where Arwen's father, Lord Elrond sits alone. As he hears the sound of the hooves, he starts in surprise and makes his way to the entrance. Hurrying towards him, Arwen throws her velvet robe to the ground.

arpeggios under an Evenstar variant melody (Actually the arpeggios are a variant also. Each phrase of the music under the Evenstar variant starts with the notes of the Rivendell arpeggios but the melody moves beyond an arpeggio.)

ROTK-OST 8, Twilight and Shadow 1:25-1:44


CUE 13

Arwen calls for the reforging of Narsil

Arwen: It is time.

We see a hooded Arwen, walking to the ledge upon which stand the Shards of Narsil.

Arwen VO: From the ashes of fire shall be woken, A light from the shadow shall spring, Renewed shall be Blade that was broken.

Flashback: Isildur cuts the Ring from the hand of Sauron.

arpeggios under an unfamiliar (?) melody

ROTK-OST  8, Twilight and Shadow 2:17-2:30


CUE 14


Renewed shall be blade that was broken

Just after Arwen says, “...there is no ship now that can bear me hence.” We see Elrond’s face and then two red hot pieces of the shard of Narsil coming together. A hammer beats down on the shards. (the clip is only 13 seconds long and moves right into the Minas Tirith - Silver Trumpet Theme)

arpeggios under the A Elbereth melody


CUE 15

Arwen is dying

Aragorn: My Lord Elrond.

Elrond: I come on behalf of one whom I love. Arwen is dying. She will not long survive the evil that now spreads from Mordor.

ROTK-OST 10, Andúril 0:00-0:23

the A Elbereth melody only (no arpeggios)


CUE 16

Andúril, Flame of the West

Elrond: (They will answer to the King of Gondor) Andúril, Flame of the West forged from the shards of Narsil.

Aragorn: Sauron will not have forgotten the sword of Elendil. (The blade that was broken shall return to Minas Tirith.)

Elrond: The man who wields the sword can summon a power more deadly than any on this earth.

2 arpeggios under an unfamiliar (?) melody as Elrond pulls the sword from under his robes and says, "Andúril, Flame of the West..."

The Minas Tirith Theme begins as he continues, "...forged from the shards of Narsil". The arpeggios continue under the Minas Tirith Theme as Aragorn says "Sauron will not have forgotten the sword of Elendil." The Minas Tirith theme continues a moment and then, as Elrond replies, a final suggestion of an arpeggio is heard.

ROTK-OST 10, Andúril 0:27-2:06 (The arpeggios heard before the Minas Tirith Theme last much longer on the OST than in the movie.)




I must thank

  • Kurt Milano. - for originally alerting me to the reference to men in these cues

  • Camillu & Michael - I utilized their TTT & ROTK movie and soundtrack analyses when looking for cues

  • Chenresi - who collaborated with me on the update of this information.