"I feel as if I was inside a song"The Presence of Music in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth and Songs and Poems set to Music

The Presence of Music in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth and Songs and Poems set to Music

By far the most well-known soundscape modelled on Tolkien’s works, Howard Shore’s score to the Lord of the Rings films4 (U.S. 2001-2004) has proven to be able to stand firmly on its own and even after the few years since its release has found its place both in film music history as well as in the concert hall. A note about the dates: Even though LotR: The Return of the King was released theatrically in 2003, for the 2004 Extended DVD Edition the composer wrote and recorded new cues. The Extended Editions of the films are commonly regarded as the definitive versions and object of most of the research as well as official publications, so 2004 is used here as the date for The Return of the King. Furthermore, the Extended Edition contains a song that is not present in the theatrical release (see 4.2.5).

With the music playing an exceptionally important role in creating the effect of the movies, a vivid interest of the public in it and the will of all involved to make information about it accessible, its genesis and inner workings are very well documented. This led not only to commercial releases of Complete Scores for all three films, but also to a book solely dealing with the music (Adams). This fortunate aspect facilitates gaining a deeper insight into the way the composer dealt with Tolkien’s legacy and constitutes one of the rare occasions, where scientific insight can be given by those directly involved. These materials clearly state the amount of thought that has gone into making the music as faithful to the author as possible. This, as well as the importance of the films in modern culture, more than merit the inclusion of the film scores for analysis in this paper.