Howard Shore's music for Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy
August 24, 2011 8:42 PM   Subscribe

The annotated scores for [*and Filmtracks.com's reviews of] Howard Shore's soundtracks to The Fellowship of the Ring*, The Two Towers*, and The Return of the King*
posted by Trurl (21 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
In support of my claim that Shore's music is the single greatest factor in the films' excellence, I call your attention to the scene in The Two Towers introducing Shadowfax - here projected in Radio City Music Hall to live accompaniment. As filmed by Jackson, with a subtle application of slow motion and anamorphic photography, it is a striking visual. Still, if you view the shot without sound, it is not much more than picturesque. It is left to Shore to do the impossible - to create a sound as epic yet exquisite as Tolkien's description: And there was one among them that may have been foaled in the morning of the world.
posted by Trurl at 8:43 PM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think you're right; the films are no better than the music.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:53 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aww I thought these were actually going to be scores.. they're more like guidebooks for the soundtracks, not that there's anything wrong with that-
posted by ReeMonster at 8:56 PM on August 24, 2011


I still have my vocal score from our performance of the LOTR symphony, conducted by the composer. It was . . . not easy to sing. (Although it did give me both the Q and the B for my Alphabet of Languages I've Sung In.)
posted by KathrynT at 9:36 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kathryn, were you part of the LOTR Symphony tour in 2004 or so? I saw it at the Mann Center in Philadelphia, and it was beautiful.

I will always remember that evening, not least because my car was broken into and I drove home sitting on shards of safety glass.
posted by eugenen at 9:56 PM on August 24, 2011


Yeah. I didn't tour, though, I just did it here in Seattle.
posted by KathrynT at 9:57 PM on August 24, 2011


Whenever I watch one of the Lord of the Rings movies I always think to myself, If only John Williams hadn't been busy with Harry Potter.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:01 PM on August 24, 2011


Whenever I watch one of the Lord of the Rings movies I always think to myself, If only John Williams hadn't been busy with Harry Potter.
posted by ob1quixote


That would have been a tragedy. I like John Williams, and his music is in my blood, but the primary theme to Harry Potter was too close to the Imperial March from Star Wars for me to trust his hand with LOTR. Shore brought something far more unique than Williams and his staff would have put the time into. IMHO of course.
posted by hanoixan at 10:53 PM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Let me throw in some Sibelius, the 3rd and the 5th.
posted by quoquo at 1:57 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever I watch one of the Lord of the Rings movies I always think to myself, I'm glad John Williams was busy with Harry Potter.
posted by Pendragon at 2:03 AM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Not to diminish the effect of Shadowfax's introduction, but for me it didn't get any better (in the entire trilogy) than the Ride of the Rohirrim. If you're not welling up with emotion when that Celtic fiddle starts in, something's gone terribly wrong.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:48 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Fun activity you can try at home:
Pick up Shore's score of Cop Land and realize he was basically repeating himself for LotR.

Or, if you prefer: realize "Awesome, I just scored a fourth LotR soundtrack disc."
posted by AugieAugustus at 4:53 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever I watch one of the Lord Of The Rings movies I always wish Stephen Oliver, who wrote the music for the unutterably amazing BBC radio version, hadn't died young.

Seriously, he'd only be 61 or 62 now.

And all I can find on YouTube is his setting of Bilbo's last song (warning: boy soprano)
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:38 AM on August 25, 2011


Shore's soundtracks make everything sound epic. My parents got me FOTR soundtrack for christmas when it came out and it had some stupid DRM that I couldn't get around and rip the songs on my computer. I was pissed. Later that week I was playing some half-life mod(i think natural selection) and I guy down the dorm hallway walks by and asked what I was playing since it sounded so epic. It took me a moment, but the game was playing the music off the CD I had left in the tray bypassing the DRM. Turns out half life had some option to play music off a CD that I had been turned on for what ever reason.
Yeah so without music everything is just pretty pictures.
posted by roguewraith at 5:40 AM on August 25, 2011


I was not a fan of the LOTR music, but I think that was largely due to the way it was used, shoving those damned themes down your throat at every opportunity, than the material itself.

Like some other commenters, I was disappointed that these "annotated scores" were not actually scores.
posted by dfan at 6:16 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pallas Athena, when I read Bilbo's last song all I could think of was this.
posted by belleanna at 12:03 PM on August 25, 2011


dfan: "I was not a fan of the LOTR music, but I think that was largely due to the way it was used, shoving those damned themes down your throat at every opportunity, than the material itself."

Precisely. I recall spending the winter of 2002 hiding in my basement watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone endlessly, switching from the east coast feed to the west coast feed because as the movie was ending on one channel it would begin on the other. When Harry Potter wasn't on, I would pop in Fellowship of the Ring.

The difference in the number and quality of variations on the respective themes in the two movies couldn't have been more stark. I recall commenting at one point when the main theme of The Lord of the Rings made one of it's innumerable appearances during the scene where the Fellowship climbs to the Redhorn Pass, Here's the theme again, in case you've forgotten it.

Understand, I'm not saying the score in the Lord of the Rings is bad, I'm just saying in my opinion it lacked subtlety.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:04 PM on August 25, 2011


I didn't care much for the Fellowship score, or the one for Return of the King. But parts of the score for The Two Towers still give me chills. I was particularly caught by the first time the Rohan theme comes into the foreground: Eowin is standing on the terrace before the great hall; a banner tears loose in the wind, and is carried down the hill where it lands next to Aragorn & co as they approach. It reminds me of some great beast dying. Which is really what I think of the whole thing being about, ultimately: A world that won't admit it's dying, and just wants one more good season.

I like Shore, generally, and I grant that his stuff does generally bias toward the big. But to paraphrase Hans Zimmer on a related topic, they do pay him for the big noise, after all.
posted by lodurr at 1:31 PM on August 25, 2011


And there is one among them that might have been foaled in the morning of the world.

The verb makes a difference.
posted by zadcat at 5:03 PM on August 25, 2011


Oh belleanna. Oh dear. Oh... bugger.
posted by Pallas Athena at 11:28 AM on August 26, 2011


Gandalf and the Boys
posted by homunculus at 9:54 AM on September 3, 2011


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