I have also made a new CD of The Lord of the Rings, incorporating some ideas I had for a symphonic suite. It is impossible, of course, to boil down all of the thematic material in this film series to just one CD, but I have taken some of the most important motives and built around them.
These notes contain what would be spoilers. I don't really think that anything in any of these films could really be considered spoilers because, as Ian McKellan said in response to a query following the release of Fellowship about whether or not Gandalf will return, "Ah, the secret that's been in print for forty years..."
A Symphonic Suite for Orchestra and Chorus
Composed, Orchestrated and Conducted by
01. Prologue (7:12)
This is the complete prologue from the theatrical version of The Fellowship of the Ring. Despite the presence of Cate Blanchett's voice-over and sound effects, the iconic nature of this cue demanded its inclusion. It works quite well in context of this album.
02. Concerning Hobbits (2:49)
This is taken from the Fellowship CD, (abridged from its original version in the film) for Gandalf and Frodo's first conversation, presenting the Shire theme for the first time.
03. The Nazgûl (1:37)
An excerpt from "A Knife In the Dark" from the Fellowship CD. In my opinion, this is the most frightening version of this theme, as the Witch-King and four other Ringwraiths close in on the Hobbits at Weathertop.
04. Arwen Evenstar (8:04)
This is a suite of the thematic material related to Arwen from all three films. "Evenstar" is framed by "Twilight and Shadow," which is in turn framed by the opening and closing of "Flight To the Ford." I am particularly proud of this hypnotic and beautiful track.
05. Many Meetings (3:00)
Once again, this track is taken directly from the Fellowship CD; it is interesting in that it is the only cue on that album that is not abridged from the film in any way. This presents the beautiful music for Rivendell as well as a very moving arrangement of the Shire theme as Frodo looks at Bilbo's book and talks to Sam about going home.
06. The Razing Of Isengard (1:48)
This is actually the second part of "A Knife In the Dark," presenting not only the driving, odd-metered music for Saruman and his Uruk-hai, but also the nature/hope theme heard as the moth approaches Orthanc. The CD track segues to the shimmering textures heard as Aragorn and Sam look for Kingsfoil (a precursor, perhaps, to footage from the expanded edition of The Return of the King?), which allowed me to crossfade into...
07. The Fellowship Of the Ring (2:16)
This is a combination of the cues "The Ring Goes South," and "The Council of Elrond" from Fellowship, with "The Uruk-hai" from The Two Towers forming the bulk of the track.
08. The Balrog of Morgoth (5:58)
This track depicts Gandalf's battle with the Balrog, and consists of "The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm" from Fellowship and "Foundations of Stone" from The Two Towers. The edit here was quite easy, as there is a section both tracks have in common.
09. Farewell to Lórien (4:35)
This beautiful track is from the extended version of Fellowship, and was included as a bonus track on the leatherbound edition of The Two Towers. It scores the gift-giving scene and then segues into the music for Aragorn at his mother's grave.
10. The Great River (2:37)
Once again, this is the same track that appears on the Fellowship CD. The opening of this track was replaced in the extended version with material from the previous track. The second half has the boldest statement of the Ring theme in the trilogy.
11. The Departure of Boromir (2:21)
This is the second half of the Fellowship track "Amon Hen." This is the emotional climax of the first film, as Boromir bravely attempts to defend Merry and Pippin from capture by the Uruk-hai.
12. The Rohan (4:19)
The Rohan theme forms the backbone of the score for The Two Towers. In attempting to create a sort of concert version of the theme, I decided to have it in its more tragic variation at the beginning, gradually becoming more heroic. It opens with the plaintive variation on the theme heard in "The Hornburg," then the Norwegian fiddle appears, signifying the segue to "The King of the Golden Hall" which builds up to score the astonishing helicopter view of Edoras. Although the next cue used should have been included in the track "The King of the Golden Hall," as it scores Theoden's revitalization, it was instead placed on the album under "The Riders of Rohan." The track finishes with the end credits version of the theme (heard after "Gollum's Song" on the CD).
13. The Black Gate is Closed (2:26)
This is a driving, frightening cue that emphasizes Sauron's theme. This is an iconic moment in the second film, as Sméagol leads Sam and Frodo to the entrance to Mordor. The track is slightly shortened.
14. The Lady Éowyn (1:11)
This is a combination of excerpts from two tracks, "The King of the Golden Hall" from The Two Towers and "The Ride of the Rohirrim" from The Return of the King. Thus, it begins with the meandering string version of the theme heard in the second film, and segues into the powerful Valkyrie arrangement for her heroics in the last movie. The track closes with a blaze of brass and strings, which leads us directly into...
15. Forth Eorlingas (3:03)
This track was one of my favorites from The Two Towers. For this album, I chopped out the music that opens the track on the CD and replaced it with the nature/hope theme heard as the Ents march on Orthanc in "Isengard Unleashed." This echoes the reprise of this music as heard in the film. The triumphant ending segues into...
16. The White Tree of Gondor (4:28)
Just as I created a concert version of the Rohan theme, so did I work to create one for Gondor here. This track consists of the beacon-lighting sequence as heard in "The White Tree" and then presents some of the battle music and the rousing cue for Gandalf and Pippin's entry into the White City from "Minas Tirith."
17. The Fields of the Pelennor (2:46)
This is an excerpt from the track of the same title on the Return CD, which presents some of the music for the Rohirrim's campaign (Wagnerian build-up and a brass fanfare that closes the track, actually based upon the aforementioned nature/hope theme) and the Nazgûl attacking Minas Tirith (a hellish choir singing against the Gondor theme).
18. The Black Gate Opens (3:58)
This track puzzled those of us familiar (okay, intimate) with the book who bought and listened to the soundtrack for Return before the film came out. Opening with the expected rousing music (featuring an interesting variation on the Fellowship theme), it then grows very delicate as the film cuts to Sam and Frodo on the slopes of Mount Doom, determined to finish their task. In one of the most moving moments in the score, the "Into the West" theme appears as Sam carries the exhausted Frodo.
19. The End of All Things (5:02)
In the climax of the entire series, a choir angrily shouts over thunderous percussion and brass, broken up by a solo vocal by Renée Flemming as Frodo and Gollum struggle over the Ring. A heavenly choir and a rhapsodic variation on Sauron's theme then intones the destruction of the ring and Sauron's doom.
20. Hymn (10:24)
This is a combination of the penultimate cues from all three films. From Fellowship we hear the moving cue "The Breaking of the Fellowship," which interweaves a version of the Hobbit theme with the Fellowship theme. We then segue into "Samwise the Brave" from The Two Towers, when Sam likens his and Frodo's tribulations to those of the heroes in the great stories. A blossoming of the Shire theme is then heard from The Return of the King from when Aragorn and his court bow to the four Hobbits. The cue continues as they return home, including the particularly moving moment when they all toast. This track then closes the bulk of the album much as it began, reprising the more playful "Concerning Hobbits."
21. Finale (1:09)
These are the serene final notes of the trilogy as a whole. It is heard at the end of the credits in The Return of the King, and is on the album after "Into the West."
Howard Shore with his Oscar for
The Fellowship of the Ring in 2002.
In no way is this a definitive representation of what appears in the films; there will be no way to really do that short of presenting the entire scores in chronological order. My attempt here is to create a musical journey that evokes the films, but is not bound to the narrative. Many of my favorite sequences on the CDs do not appear here (not to mention some of my favorite moments in the films), but in terms of presenting the primary thematic material, I think I've done a good job of making an interesting listen.
Third viewing of the film tonight!!!
Those who know me are aware of the fact that I am an animal person. Unfortunately, I can not have any in my apartment. As a result, all of my friends' pets end up getting quite a lot of attention from me when I visit them.
I have noticed an interesting thing, though. While I generally get along with all cats, I have found that I do get along with some better than others. A little while ago, in conversation with Suit about his cat, Kato, it occured to me that I why.
The cats I tend to be best with are those that were formerly street cats. This makes quite a lot of sense, as most of the cats I grew up with were at one point or another street cats. The exceptions were my father's cat, Binky, and my stepfather's cat, Stanley. Our cats Fanny and Nelson, and my father's cats Whiskers/Kuku, Ashes and Poindexter all lived the hard life for a while.
Street cats tend to be more affectionate towards me than those that have been house cats all their lives. I have nothing against house cats, don't get me wrong, but there is something about the personality of a street cat that allows us to relate in a certain way.
Gratuitous "awwwww"-inducing picture of some cute kittens.