One thing I constantly said about the Star Wars prequels as they came along… Even if they aren’t great, it’ll give me new music by John Williams.
After Williams, and his countless scores that seem to be the soundtrack of my life, Howard Shore’s scores for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy are perhaps some of my favourite musical pieces. So it was with that same prequel mindset (although I’ve read the book countless times, and in fact have just finished re-reading it, taking a momentary respite from Stephen King, whom I am now re-visiting with) that I donned my earphones and had a listen to what Mr. Shore has created for Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and my much-anticipated return to Middle Earth.
The swelling strings welcoming me back to that world I missed immediately put me in the right frame of mind, and there intertwining amongst the new chords, was the familiar hobbit/Shire themes, and a smile broke out across my face first thing in the morning on the street car to work. Shore also interweaves the tune I already can’t get out of my head, The Song of the Lonely Mountain, throughout pieces of the score as well.
As the score progresses there is a familiar musical geography, there are choral which I associate with the elves, and the House of Elrond. There are the drums of the dwarves, the thrum and noise one associates with goblins and orcs, and then just a little further in, there is the resurfacing of Gollum and the Ring’s theme.
But these are only the tiniest of signposts in a completely new musical landscape that is at once familiar, and new. It is very much the music of Tolkien and Middle-Earth, and you can tell, just from the score, that what we’re going to be seeing is going to be gorgeously epic, there is sweeping heroics, dark threats, towering mountains, fantastic vistas, old friends, familiar faces, and of course riddles in the dark…
My favorite track currently, in addition to the Song of the Lonely Mountain, is Over Hill, where you get to hear the familiar Shire theme, which gives way to a powerful instrumental version of the Lonely Mountain theme, and you can just imagine the shots that accompany it.
The film is going to be lighter than Lord of the Rings, and the music occasionally reflects that. Where as Rings was an epic battle between good and evil, this is more of a treasure hunt and adventure, so there are lighter cues in the music, but you can tell the dwarves are taking it seriously.
Shore has crafted yet another gorgeous score, which once again, helps bring the world of Tolkien to the screen.
As I write this, I’ve only had time to go through the soundtrack twice, and don’t know as much of it as I should, but I’ve already looped it into my Lord of the Rings play list, and I see me listening to it a lot, bouncing between this, and my Skyfall soundtrack… I do love a good score!
Have you heard it? What did you think? What are your favorite movie soundtracks and scores?