The Lord of the Rings Soundtracks

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  • Julian Shepherd

    This is a forum for talking about the wonderful soundtracks to The Lord of the Rings.  There are no rules, but I thought we might go through each soundtrack song by song, and each week would provide an opportunity to focus on that song.  Do you have any thoughts, ideas, questions or new discoveries about the soundtracks?  Let’s talk.

    Julian Shepherd

    ‘The Prophecy’ starts  with a very, very soft gong-hit, and the strings trill on A an C;

    A theme begins in A minor, for the most part being sung by the choir and played on the strings,

    And there there is a strong suggestion of the ‘History of the Ring’ theme;

    followed by another theme in A minor.

    And then there is a sort of major version of the History of the Ring theme on a french horn,

    at the end of which we come to rest on a satisfying C# major chord, but not for long:

    For we are soon in A minor; and then in A major; then we come to rest in C# minor;

    And then there is a melody ascending the scale note by note,

    each note accumulating with the others, each note heightening the stress:

    And when it reaches A natural, it stops, and the key suddenly changes to D minor;

    And a version of the Ring-Wraith theme(?) plays, crescendoing to a loud climax:

    And then it drops off completely.

    Now, the ‘Pity of Gollum’ theme plays, starting in Bb minor,

    and after it ends, the key moves by degrees to D minor,

    where another prominent theme plays (the name of which I do not know).

    After that there are several slow chords, played in slow succession,

    each of them fading in, and then fading out;

    They land on D major, and the beginning of the Shire theme(?) plays on a trumpet,

    and ends in F major.

    Julian Shepherd

    Ahhh.   Concerning ‘Concerning Hobbits’.  Even if you’ve never listened to the Lord of the Rings soundtracks, you have likely heard this song before, or at least part of it: it is probably the most famous section of music in the Lord of the Rings soundtracks.

    ‘Concerning Hobbits’ is a frightfully beautiful song.  The whole song is in D major, except maybe for the sad parts, which could be considered to be in B minor, and perhaps the small part around the 1:00 mark, which could be considered to be in F# major.

    If one listens to the bass throughout the song, one finds that is moves in a very interesting way.  Often in music, the bass note is the tonic of the current chord; this is most definitely not always the case, but often (at least in soundtrack music or pop music) during the most prominent moments or instances in a piece of music, the bass note is the tonic.  Here, however, and at many times all throughout these soundtracks, the bass is done differently, and, I believe, better.  The movement and careful design of the bass is something that I, until recently, did not really think about as I composed music, but these wonderful soundtracks are teaching me what a powerful and important tool it is for affecting the how the music sounds.

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