Howard Shore: The Trilogy Of The Ring Score

The current release of The Hobbit film has brought fans back into the world of Middle Earth. With that in mind lets re-imagine the musical scores of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Howard Shore may have composed for over more than 60 films, his greatest work would have to be his Oscar and Grammy awarded work on The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. The arrangement of the score is rather massive, shore stated on He had to unearth the music; He didn’t just theorize what it was. Four months of research was done before he even wrote a single note. Therefore, he had to discover and immerse himself in the history. The mythology of the Ring has been around for millennia, so mirroring the fantasy world concept of where The Lord Of The Rings comes from was quite a feat.

So in preparation for a project such as this what inspiration does a composer go on to prepare for a project this scale? According to an interview on, Shore talks of keeping the Tolkien Lord Of The Rings book on his desk. This was done as inspiration in understanding it can take years to compose the music for that book. Composers usually do most of their work in a studio facility but Shore is not your normal composer. He made over a dozen trips to New Zealand where he spent most of his time for the notation phase of the score. Stated in shore said, “the beauty and sensibility of New Zealand were really inspiring. I found I was very connected to the movie”

Shore may have composed for these films but he hasn’t done it alone. The first Lord Of The Rings film Shore relied on the New Zealand symphony orchestra of 60 male singers to convey the Dwarvish chants for the Dwarves in the film. He used a mixed choir to convey the Ringwraiths the ancient tongue of men, Adunaic based on the mythology of Tolkien. The mixed choir also sung the Black Speech, Tolkien describes the language as existing in two forms, the ancient pure forms and the more debased form. Which Shore used the choir for the evil of the ring. The London Philharmonic is an orchestra that Shore has come to rely on for all three of the ring films. To convey the beautiful instrumentation used in his scores.

The theme of The Lord Of The Rings is vast in comparison to other films. There is the seductiveness of the ring, the evil of the ring, and the power of the ring, so everything had a specific leitmotif element. Sauron and Saruman who controls Isengard has their own leitmotif. Frodo and Sam had their own leitmotif material that related directly to their relationship. Aragorn and Arwen have their own leitmotif. Gandalf leitmotif refers to his relationship with Frodo and Bilbo. All of these character elements had their own leitmotif depending on their roles and character in the film. When composing for films such as the trilogy of The Lord Of The Rings you can't help but understand Shores thoughts about keeping Tolkien book on his desk. You have to completely immerse yourself in it the book and all of the accompanying mythology that has been affected by the story of The Lord Of The Rings. This is what composers have to do when conveying a story through music. There is a lot of material and there are many things that have to be understood and accomplished working on culture material such as this. Tolkien has created a culture that is so complex that it takes place before our world, seven thousand years ago. What a story.


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