In Chapter 34 of Reel Music: 100 Years film Music History, Hickman argues that with The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001), film music has gone full circle and returned to a style reminiscent of Richard Wagner. This can be readily heard upon viewing of LotR, The epic fantasy genre really lends itself to the dynamic symphonic style of music written by Wagner. The rich textures and epic swells in Howard Shorne‘s pieces such as “The Black Rider” or “A Knife In The Dark” have many similarities to the sounds of Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries.
” The booming drums and loud horns in the work of both composers certainly create a visceral, heart-pounding tone that feels larger than life. There are, however, many differences as well. The pieces in LotR tend to be less melodic and have a more balanced blend of the instruments, which whereas “Valkyries” has a clear melody, played on overpowering horns which dwarf the rest of the ensemble.
Each has a unique effect. In “Valkyries,” the power comes from the overpowering horns, which feel like a force on their own, barreling through the other instruments. in Shorne’s score, the power comes from the united force of the instruments building a wall together, which mimics the cohesiveness of the Fellowship’s members. Additionally, the score of LotR is more diverse than Wagner’s music. Throughout his varied pieces, Wagner sticks mostly to traditional orchestral instruments: horns, strings, and Woodwinds. in contrast, Shorne creates songs with unique sounds for different characters, races, and locations.
For example, “Concerning Hobbits” features a pan flute for the shire, and many of the songs related to the elves use ethereal vocals.
My first instinct when thinking about LotR and anachronism was that there was none. I was prepared to write that in LotR there is no electronic music, amplified instruments, or genres that came much later such as rock orjazz. With a symphonic style and orchestral instruments, the fictional middle-ages world could conceivably have all these instruments so this music could exist within this world at the time. However, after reading the article by David Butler, I have changed my mind after being surprised to see him specifically mention LotR and reading his reasoning that “orchestral” is not always as old as it may seem.
Butler does mention that there are a lot of older instruments such as the Hardanger fiddle, the monochord, ney, and rhaita, yet they are overscored by dominant strings and brass and played in a familiar 19th-century style. it occurs to me that the music could have an even older feel with more stuff like the gregorian chants or older non-european instruments like sitari I‘d be interested to hear the BBC Radio’s 1968 version of The Hobbit that he mentions for contrast. Shorne uses navigation quite well. The film starts with a narration to explain the history of the rings The film then cross cuts between different parties such as the Hobbits and the forces of Sauron, occasionally flashing back to give more backstory.
As there are several narratives being told in parallel, it is important for the viewer to know which they are currently experiencing The music aids this by utilizing several themes for each The theme for the ring is introduced during the opening backstory, but is also integrated with music later to connect the various narratives togetheri There is also the theme for Frodo and the other hobbits, as well as a theme for Aragorn, the Wizards, the elves, and so on. The music in this film reminds me a lot of the music in The Mission. Particularly the pan flutes in “Concerning Hobbits” and how they rival the tribal sounds of “Nostra Vita” and the ethereal chorus of the elven songs remind me of the choruses that come in both in “Noera Vita“ and “Ave Mariel“