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The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films (Book)
by Doug Adams

The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films

Buy online


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The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore's Scores (Book & Rarities CD) [Hardcover] By Doug Adams
 

The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films
A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore's Scores
Written by Doug Adams
Carpentier / Alfred Music Publishing (2010)

Buy The Music of the Lord of the Rings: Rarities Archive by Howard Shore  from Amazon.com

Doug Adams, Howard Shore, Gary Day Ellison (Book Signing)  Photo by Peter Nickalls

Signed copy of The Music of the Lord of the Rings (Book) Photo by Peter Nickalls

Signed copy of The Music of the Lord of the Rings (Books) Photo by Peter Nickalls

The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films
Review by Peter Nickalls
 

“...this book is a monumental feat, a superb resource and above all, a very enjoyable read.”

 

The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films must be one of the most highly anticipated film music books ever written, and after years of us all following author Doug Adams' blog, it is finally here. The book is a tome of epic proportions and an outstanding achievement, intricately crafted and beautifully presented. This is almost certainly the first book of its kind: it examines the music of one film trilogy in painstaking detail through musical analysis, score extracts, pencil sketches and complete vocal texts.

Last night (September 27th) I had the pleasure of attending the worldwide launch of the book with Doug Adams, composer Howard Shore and designer and art director Gary Day-Ellison at Chappell of Bond Street in London. At the session Adams and Shore talked about the challenges they faced creating a book about music composed for a film, itself based on another book! They also discussed how the music has now taken on a life of its own, independent of the films, whilst Shore revealed that a study score might be "a while" coming and that he was looking forward to working on The Hobbit. Following a Q&A session, the three men signed copies of the books and two people won tickets to see the live musical performance of Return of the King at the Royal Albert Hall this week.

The book itself clocks in at an impressive 401 pages and is divided into three main sections: 'Themes', 'The Annotated Score' and 'The Recording Sessions'. However, those who have pored over the Complete Recordings booklets and the PDF Annotated Scores (and if you're reading this there's a strong chance you will have) will feel they have read much of it before. Whilst Adams does mention on his blog that the book contains these materials, I was surprised by how much content was already familiar to me.

The 'Themes' section explores the various leitmotifs and accompaniments for different cultures, characters and settings with each theme notated on either a single stave or occasionally on multiple staves with other instrumental parts. Those examples on multiple staves are more interesting as without the harmonic structure underpinning it you can lose much of what makes a certain theme great - for example 'Gollum's Menace' is presented on a single stave showing the Cimbalom line without the high violin A-Bb oscillation which creates much of the tension. The text accompanying the notation describes where the themes are heard in the films and explores the connections between them (some of which seem a little more tenuous than others).

Large chunks of the text in this section are lifted almost word for word from the Complete Recordings booklets whilst other parts are re-written and expanded. The themes are now presented in a more logical fashion so that those which occur in separate films are grouped together under cultural and character headings that span the trilogy. There is some new material here such as a few original pencil sketches by Shore and sub-sections entitled 'In Theory' which explore scalic and harmonic properties of themes as well as their intervallic relationships to each other. For example, in the section on the Shire, Adams goes into more detail about the anhemitonic pentatonic scale which the Shire material is based on.

The second main section, 'The Annotated Score' progresses chronologically through the Complete Recordings tracks for each film, describing the movie scenes and the musical themes used within them including the different instruments and keys that are used. Interestingly, the Complete Recordings are never mentioned in the book so some readers may be confused about where the titles come from. This section is very similar to the free PDFs available to download and whilst the text of The Fellowship of the Ring section is significantly expanded, The Two Towers and The Return of the King sections are nearly identical to their online versions. Having said that, the familiar text is supplanted with new score sketches and extracts, and the texts of the songs used are now placed under each track heading which makes for a tidier layout, rather than at the end.

The final main section, 'The Recording Sessions' is largely fresh material, although some paragraphs and quotations are lifted from earlier resources. This section is structured like a series of diary entries and it is enjoyable to follow Shore and other contributors on the journey of creating this music.

Fans will be keen to hear about 'The Rarities Archive' - a CD of previously unreleased tracks including mock-ups and alternate versions, which are discussed in the last nine pages of the book. The Archive offers a fascinating insight into the creation process of these scores and demonstrates what an incredible journey Shore embarked upon more than 10 years ago. The CD also contains an audio discussion between Shore and Adams which includes anecdotes about how Shore began composing some of the music (he created sketches in pencil on four to six staves, before scanning the pages and sending them off to be mocked up).
The book flows very easily and can be read straight through or used as a resource to be dipped into. Adams has certainly achieved his goal of presenting analysis as a "grand story" - aided by the fact that the scenes themselves are often described to place the musical themes in context.

Whilst The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films does not contain large amounts of new material, it does combine everything into one handy (albeit heavy) volume. The fresh content that is here provides greater insight into the music and its creative process, and the stills and beautiful pencil drawings by Alan Lee and John Howe bring the text and the music to life. For fans of the Lord of the Rings music who haven't come across previous materials, this book is an essential purchase. And for the die-hards who already own everything, you'll buy this book anyway but hopefully you'll now be prepared for the sense of déjà vu whilst reading some of it. Having said that, this book is a monumental feat, a superb resource and above all, a very enjoyable read.
 

Peter Nickalls is a recent music graduate from Cambridge University and is just starting out as a composer for media. Visit his website: www.peternickalls.com

 

More on this title :

Behind the Score:  The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films

Read the Rarities Archive CD Review by Peter Nickalls here

 

 


 
   

 

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