THE PENSIVE SETTING of the Shire/Hobbit
theme is heard the first time we see Hobbiton. If
the Hymn Setting is used for
times when a Hobbit is feeling a intensely strong emotion
toward the Shire (or a thing or person from the Shire), then
the Pensive Setting, I think, conveys affectionate feelings
toward the same.
This Setting, as well as the
Hymn Setting, are
what most people think of when they think, "Shire Theme". Both
employ the melody utilized in "In Dreams." The
difference between the two can be discerned by listening to what
lies underneath the melody. Doug Adams wrote, "In the Pensive and
harmonic regions exist for extended periods of time, almost an old world
modal style. But the Hymn Setting regularly shifts them on every other beat
for a rolling chorale effect evocative of tradition Western religious music."
(Doug Adams, CR-FOTR liner notes, page 11)
Additionally, Doug clarified the distinction in a
comment (June 3, 2008) on his blog. "These types
of chords underpin both the Pensive and Hymn
settings—each is generally driven by the same harmonies…
however, the Hymn setting is dependent upon the completion
of a very specific chordal line.
Because the Pensive and Hymn settings are so closely
related, generally only 1) complete statements of the Hymn
material or 2) the (fully present) Hymn chords sans melodic
writing are designated as Hymn quotes."
When the Shire
melody is heard over a sustained note, it's easy to distinguish
the Pensive Setting from the Hymn Setting. But the Pensive
Setting is often combined with the
Outline Figure. Since the
Outline Figure features a note for every beat, it could be easy
to confuse that with the the Hymn Setting's chords which
change every two notes. The best way to tell the difference it
Pay attention to how often the notes/chords under the main
melody change. Are you hearing:
I also find that
some iterations start with a Pensive Setting but move into the
rolling chords. Although, perhaps with Doug's clarification that
the chord progression must be completed for it be be a Hymn
Setting, it may be that, rolling or not, the music does not
move into a Hymn Setting.
analysis of the soundtrack did not address "Settings". I
organized by melody and, in fact, I organized the main Shire
melody into Shire A (the verse
music of "In Dreams") and Shire B.
(And I still think it's interesting to see how each phrase was
used.) On my
Shire A and
Shire B pages, one can read some of
my early thinking and find
instances where either the 'verse' or 'chorus' of the main Shire
melody is heard.
Below are some thoughts Estelwyn had
about two particular scenes.
this setting is heard in FOTR:
In the EE, as we hear
voiceover give the date and the camera panning over a map
focuses on Hobbiton then pulls out to show the Shire. Bilbo then
identifies his location: Bag End, Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, West
Farthing, The Shire, Middle-earth. The camera moves up to show
Bag End. Played on strings over the
In the EE, a bright whistle plays a
few bars of the
Shire A melody as we see Frodo sitting under a tree reading, and then
hear humming off screen. In the TE, an English horn (I think?)
plays a longer phrase of the
Shire A melody.
The whistle plays softly over the
Outline Figure as
Frodo laughs at Gandalf and jumps into his
arms. They begin riding the wagon through the Shire countryside.
Shire B melody
through town and we hear a Hobbit say, “It’s Gandalf”. The
wagon goes through a narrow cut in a hill and we see the Hobbit
holes and off in the distance, Bag End. (And just before they
see preparations for The long-expected party.)
EE: The same lush version - slightly longer - as Gandalf's cart
begins to climb up a gradual slope
towards Gandalf's destination. In a voice over, Bilbo says, For things are made to
endure in the Shire, passing from one generation to the
next. There's always been a Baggins, living here under
the Hill in Bag
End. (Back in his study, Bilbo puts the finishing
touches to his opening chapter.) And there always will be. (see
(This early scene is
considerably different in the TE & EE.
The music follows a similar path
for each although the scenes might be different.)
Lush strings play a Shire variant over the
beating bodhrán as
children spot Gandalf and run after his wagon calling his name.
A whistle plays over a slow
Outline Figure as Gandalf says (in response to Frodo's, "I'm glad
"So am I." and
his wagon rolls up to Bag End. The Outline Figure plays softly
Strings play as Bilbo opens the door
to Bag End to find his old friend, Gandalf. The two greet and
A whistle plays as the two smoke
some "Old Toby." A soft
Outline Figure plays underneath.
A slightly melancholy version plays
on soft, slightly hesitating strings as Bilbo says goodbye to
Gandalf and the Shire. Bilbo begins singing "The Road Goes Ever
On" as the Shire Theme nears the end of it's phrase.
A spare violin plays as Sam and
Frodo leave the Green Dragon and Sam mutters about a Hobbit
sweet talking Rosie. (EE scene) (this might be the
A flute (I think-I'm sure it's not
whistle) plays a soft version as Gandalf says, "Hobbits are the
most amazing creatures."
A rich flute plays a short version
over one time through a halting
Outline Figure as Sam and Frodo
settle down in their tree roots. (EE scene) (this might be the
A clarinet plays another short
phrase as Sam runs to the newly awoken Frodo's side in
The clarinet plays the
Shire A melody over the
Outline Figure as
Bilbo and Frodo peruse Bilbo's
book and catch up. Strings pick up the
Shire B melody as Frodo says, "I
miss the Shire...". Clarinet resumes the
Shire A as he says, "My
own adventure turned out to be quite different."
A flute (I think) plays over the
Outline Figure as Sam intrudes upon the
Council of Elrond and
insists he will stay with Frodo. Strings pick up the melody and
the Outline Figure as Merry and Pip declare they won't be left
A somber version on clarinet is
heard as Sam fusses over Frodo while camping on the Anduin. (EE
Whistle returns as Frodo tells Sam,
"I'm glad you're with me." as the two set off alone for Mordor.
This version has elements of both the Pensive and the Hymn
setting is heard in TTT:
A quick phrase played on clarinet is
heard just after Sam remarks that they can eat lembas or...
Bassoon and clarinet start the Shire
Theme and brass finish it as Pippin fusses over Merry, who
insists it's all 'an act', while the two are being carried by
When Sam suggest songs or tales
might be written about this adventure: "I wonder if people will
ever say, 'Let's hear about Frodo and the Ring.'" Frodo says
he'd want to hear more about Samwise the Brave. Clarinet plays
over an expanded Outline Figure.
heard in ROTK:
At the Crossroads, after Frodo says
he has a funny feeling. "I don't think I'll be coming back." A
short phrase of the
Shire A melody plays as Sam scolds him. "Of
course you will. That's just morbid thinking. We're going there
and back again. Just like Mr. Bilbo." Even though the chords
come every two beats like the Hymn theme, they do not complete
their progression and therefore this isn't considered an example
of the Hymn Setting. This is the scene that prompted Doug Adams'
comment above on his blog.
Flute plays a somber, sweet version
Outline Figure as the
Hobbits ride back to the Shire.
On the OST and
CR, the Shire Pensive Setting continues over a harp
plucking double speed (not quite the Skip Beat or Outline
Figure). This section is not in the movie. I'm not sure at the
moment, but I think this may be the last sweet, pure version we
get of this theme/setting.
As we cut to
Sam and Rosie's
wedding, strings play the Shire B
melody melody over a
I had thought this was Pensive but Doug Adams indicates it may
be a continuation of the Rural setting that immediately proceeds
it. see note below Possibly a very
fast Outline figure or a Skip Beat is being played under the
Shire melody. It seems to me that, in the movie's soundtrack, it's
more discernible as Skip Beat. (see note
always be a Baggins at Bag End."
phrase of the Shire theme* which plays in FOTR EE (Concerning
Hobbits scene), *exactly* as Bilbo says "For things are made to
endure in the Shire, passing from one generation to the next.
There's always been a Baggins living here under the Hill, in Bag
End, and there always will be", ALSO plays in ROTK (Homeward
Bound scene), *exactly* as we cut from the Green Dragon to Sam
and Rosie's wedding kiss. In fact, the rising "swell" in the
music, which underlies Bilbo's words "For things are made to
endure in the Shire" exactly matches the "swell" which is heard
as we see the wedding kiss.
There's also a kind of fade, or dwindling, at the end of the
phrase in each case (not an exact match, as the phrase is a
little longer in ROTK, but the fade is pretty darn similar). In
FOTR we hear it as Bilbo wistfully says "...and there always
will be.", and in the ROTK scene it is heard as the camera cuts
to Frodo (just before the fade to him wandering forlornly in an
empty Bag End).
This subliminal (for want of a better word) musical link between
these two scenes, whether it was deliberate or not, speaks to me
a) the hope, and promise of continuity, that Sam and Rosie
embody (life *will* endure in the Shire, passing to the next
generation etc), and
b) the bittersweet sadness of Frodo's passing, and the "ending"
it signifies (there *won't* always be a Baggins under the hill,
in Bag End).
For me this is just another example of the evocative power of
Howard Shore's score. I am even more grateful than ever for the
rich emotional subtext he has added to these films.
Then she added:
these two scenes together has brought home to me both how
"right" and how "wrong" Bilbo was. Things ARE made to endure in
the Shire, and Bag End will pass on to the next generation, but
it won't be a Baggins.
Bilbo's hesitation (or is it wistfulness?) at the end of his
statement suggests that he already realises this on some level;
that he already has some vague concern about Frodo's future. It
is the subtlest of foreshadowings of what is to come for his
dear, younger cousin. For us as the audience, seeing Frodo
adrift and alone at the end of ROTK almost seems like proof that
Bilbo's concern (however vague) was justified.
Sam and Rosie, on the other hand, are the living joyous proof
that Bilbo's confidence in the continuity of the Shire, and life
in it, was also justified. And that is an encouraging thought.
There is more
in this thread worth reading. Visit the links I've provided if you
wish to do so.
*This is a distinctive lush version of
the Shire B Melody. Although hints and
snippets and variants of the Shire B can be heard throughout the
trilogy, these two iterations are the only ones that 'complete' the
melodic phrase "But in dreams... I can hear you name. But in
dreams... We will meet again."
identification of settings:
The Shire Theme is the best example
of trying to retro-force a set of delineated theme categories on top
of a well thought out, but organically created body of music. I had
originally separated the Shire music into categories by melody. This
included an A melody (the verse of "In Dreams") and a B melody (the
chorus). When I reexamined this music using the categories found in
the CR material (settings), I determined a similar example to what
we hear during Sam and Rosie's Wedding to be a
Shire A melody
followed by a Pensive Setting of the
melody (Gandalf and Frodo
entering Hobbiton). Doug seems to indicate here that
perhaps all this material is the Rural Setting (the info in the
AS-FOTR was very brief).
these sorts of determinations aren't really that important for the
casual fans understanding or appreciation of the body of work as a
whole. Perhaps this tiny detail will become clearer with Doug's book
but I'm not too worried over it.