The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King - Complete Recordings  by Howard Shore



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Composer Howard Shore
Searching for the Deep Places

Howard Shore

Studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.

Performed with the group, Lighthouse.

Musical Director of Saturday Night Live

Composer Ryan Shore's uncle.

Composition Credits

The Departed
A History of Violence
The Aviator
The Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King
Gangs of New York
The Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers
Panic Room
The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Score
The Yards
The Cell
Analyze This
The Game
Cop Land
Crash (1996)
Ed Wood
Mrs. Doubtfire
The Silence of the Lambs
The Fly

Composition Credits (Game)

Soul of the Ultimate Nation









Howard Shore

"There is only one LORD OF THE RINGS! . . . I'm doing an opera now because I need to create some music like that. You build up a certain type of thinking and you need the creative space to exercise. Films are great and fun and I love doing them...but as I said there really is only one LORD OF THE RINGS. There was only that one book and I would love to find another subject that allow me to do that kind of work for."

Howard Shore

The Interview

The Lord of the Rings: THE TWO TOWERS COMPLETE RECORDINGS (soundtrack) by Howard ShoreTracksounds speaks with composer HOWARD SHORE just after the release of the second installment of his mammoth LORD OF THE RINGS music project: THE TWO TOWERS COMPLETE RECORDINGS.  Howard Shore shares about his experience in putting the complete releases together, his work on the Lord of the Rings Symphony, his foree into the video game genre, SOUL OF THE ULTIMATE NATION, and his possible involvement in THE HOBBIT!


HS: Well, we work on them for about a year each release and so I'm really happy to be putting out the recordings thus far. Now, we're starting on RETURN OF THE KING. Doug Adam's notes make good connections between Tolkien's writings, Peter Jackson's film and even to my connection through the music.

CC: Would you say that these complete recording releases are as much for you personally as they might be for the fans?

HS: We always talked about putting out all the recordings. We were talking about it when we were originally working on the THE TWO TOWERS, so the idea has been around for a while. When we were putting out the initial releases, we could only do the one-disc release at the time. I always had in my mind the hope that I would put everything out and now we have the time to spend on it. There is a group of us who work on the project very specifically throughout most of the year.

CC: So you've completed two and you're diving into THE RETURN OF THE KING, which probably has more unreleased music than the other two. How will you handle that?

HS: Oh yes. RETURN OF THE KING will be four compact discs. In total there will be 10 compact discs...close to 11 hours of music!

CC: Now THE LORD OF THE RINGS SYMPHONY you've been working on, has that experience provided you an additional opportunity to fine tune your work?

HS: Well, the symphony is a six movement piece that runs two hours and ten minutes, so it is an edited version of the complete work. But yes, I did do that. Actually, I'm still doing little tweaks to the music to this day. I'm always working on some new edition of it. I'm still doing little things to the symphony.

It wasn't practical to play 11 hours of music, but it was practical to play two hours in a concert hall with an intermission. In the symphony, you are only hearing about 1/5th of all of the music. The complete recordings is a way to hear the piece as it was created. It has a form and a shape to it that I don't think anyone has ever really heard.

CC: Do you think you will release the symphonic version as a live recording someday?

HS: I think I will, but not until all of the complete recordings have been released. I feel that it's best to have the music as it was composed first, then you could do a live recording.

CC: Is there a definitive version of the music of THE LORD OF THE RINGS?

HS: I think the complete recordings are definitive.

CC: Now, I've listened to THE TWO TOWERS COMPLETE RECORDINGS a couple times through, and just as other have remarked, there is so much new music that it feels like a completely new score. Was this your hope or intention?

HS: I knew something would happen when I started assembling it. You have to realize that I never got to listen to it. We were so busy making the films. When I was recording THE TWO TOWERS, we recorded it section by section. I never heard the music in total until I saw the finished film. But even the film doesn't have the complete score in it. The original soundtrack we put out was only an hour or seventy minutes, so that wasn't complete either. It wasn't until I put all the music together and took the time to listen to those three hours of music that I began to understand how it was really shaped, what the form was. It started to make more sense to me the more I listened to it. Now, having listened to it all many, many times, I have begun to understand it in a different way. Even though I had created it and wrote was like writing chapters but not reading the whole book.

CC: Now Doug Adams notes on the score reveals a level of depth that even those who have listened to film music for a long time might not pick up on...not at least until they read the notes and listen to complete recordings. Now you must have had this intricacy in mind as you were writing the music for the films all along.

HS: Yes. This is because the composition is based on Tolkien and the intricacy, the complexity of it is due to the complexity of the book. Even I didn't really see it all because it was like I was looking at in very small pieces. It wasn't until I assembled it all that I began to understand how it all related, which is what Doug's book is about. It's like we are discovering it now more than when I was actually writing it! It wasn't that it was perfectly planned. It's because the composition is describing Tolkien's world.  It's inherent, then, that the music has the same complexity that Tolkien put into the book. It wouldn't be written correctly to his book if it were otherwise.

CC: This is an interesting thought-line because one can think of some other film-trilogies that feature some surface connections of musical themes and motifs, but nothing near the level found in THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Are you saying that some of that detail was intentional yet some of it was unintentional but still happened because you were following what Tolkien had already established?

HS: Exactly. It becomes more intentional in THE TWO TOWERS and it becomes even more intentional in THE RETURN OF KING. At the beginning of the project, the level of Tolkien's complexity seemed daunting, but after two years of writing it became interesting. So I wrote my way into it and around it and through it. THE RETURN OF THE KING, being the end, is really the culmination of all of the work that came before. You'll see that in Doug's writing and in his notes.

CC: Now you have had projects since THE LORD OF THE RINGS, how do those projects compare, in your own mind, when you can't go to that level of depth and detail? Is it freeing for you or constraining?

HS: There is only one LORD OF THE RINGS! Actually, I want to go to that level. I'm doing an opera now because I need to create some music like that. You build up a certain type of thinking and you need the creative space to exercise. Films are great and fun and I love doing them...but as I said there really is only one LORD OF THE RINGS. There was only that one book and I would love to find another subject that allow me to do that kind of work for.

CC: Now that you say that, there has been quite a bit of talk about THE HOBBIT being made into one or two movies...possibly by Peter Jackson. If that happens, do you see that as another opportunity to dive back into that world and detail?

HS: Yes. Definitely. Peter and I both want to make the movie. We've talked about it. We really want to do it, so we're hoping it all works out. I would love to return to Middle Earth and write more music for that world.

CC: In the back of your mind, have already begun that process?

HS: Yes.

CC: Sort of difficult not to, I'd think!

HR. Yes.

CC: You did a score for a video game, SOUL OF THE ULTIMATE NATION, which has has a lot of similarities to THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Firstly, how did you get involved with that project?

HS: Well, that is a fantasy world that I composed a piece for based on drawings and beautiful sketches of cultures, civilizations, and characters. The game is actually still in development. I played the THE LORD OF THE RINGS symphony at the Kremlin in Moscow and it was with a Russian orchestra - a really wonderful one, the National Philharmonic of Russia. The choir was the National Arts Choral Society of Moscow. Well, I wanted to write something for them and this video game project came up. So I wrote the piece for them and created another work based on another complete fantasy world.

CC: Did you get to utilize some material for SOUL OF THE ULTIMATE NATION that you didn't use for THE LORD OF THE RINGS or did you start from scratch?

HS: I think I just started from scratch and I wrote for text that was written in ancient Korean. I probably had more flexibility with this project because I wasn't writing to pictures or movement. There was creative room to spread out a little.

CC: Do you see yourself continuing to compose for video games?

HS: I think that it is an interesting world to work in. Yes.

CC: Possibly giving you some of that depth that you want to explore...even more than film?

HS: Well...don't know. Possibly.

CC: One last question - Do you have any timetable for the release of THE RETURN OF THE KING COMPLETE RECORDING?

HS: It will be next year sometime. It might come out a little earlier than THE TWO TOWERS. It just depends on how well we do with it.

CC: Thank you so much for your time and congratulations on the release of THE TWO TOWERS COMPLETE RECORDINGS. All the best to you.

HS: Thank you and to you too.


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