"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

It is likely that all sentient races in Middle-earth had some kind of music. We have already briefly touched on Orcish music, or rather chants. In The Lord of the Rings, the Orcs do not seem to actively sing songs in the general sense, but instead only use war chants. They are, however, mentioned singing a song in The Hobbit10. While this song is rather silly and does not really show the character of the Orcs as they are in The Lord of the Rings, it nevertheless is sung by several Orcs at the same time, so to them it is a known, regular song, not an impromptu invention. Bilbo in the book is able to understand the words, so the Orcs are singing in Westron. This again makes drawing conclusions from the English text futile, but even if just considering the meaning of the song, we can be sure that the music of the Orcs is mostly concerned with their favourite pastime, being cruel, and has a quite unpleasant tone to it. It probably is chanted rather than sung, with not too much effort spent on a pleasant tone. Nevertheless, we can be sure that even Orcs have music. If used as a device to tease their captives, the use of the Westron language makes sense. Such a cruel and violent song would not achieve its goal if the addressee were not able to understand the meaning.

The Ents are very musical, with their meetings being held by means of a slow chant. We will have a further look at the Ents later when dealing with instrumental music. Similarly, all other races certainly have developed their own styles of music. Music as the foundation of the world clearly is universally practiced by its inhabitants.