Fun Random Facts About the LOTR Soundtrack



  • Most composers spend just 10-12ish weeks working on a film’s music. John Williams spent around 14 weeks on each Star Wars movie, 40ish weeks total for the whole OT……but composing the LOTR trilogy’s soundtrack took four years
  • The vocals you hear in the soundtrack are usually in one of Tolkien’s languages (esp. Elvish). The English translations of the lyrics are all poems, or quotes from the book, or occasionally even quotes from other parts of the films that are relevant to the scene
  • When there were no finished scenes for him to score, Howard Shore would develop musical themes inspired by the scripts or passages from the book. That’s how he got all Middle-Earth locations have their own unique sound: he was able to compose drafts of “what Gondor would sound like” and “what Lorien would sound like” long before any scenes in those places were filmed
  • Shore has said his favorite parts to score were always the little heartfelt moments between Frodo and Sam
  • Shore wrote over 100 unique leitmotifs/musical themes to represent specific people, places, and things in Middle Earth (over 160 if you count The Hobbit)
  • The ones we all talk about are the Fellowship theme, the main Shire Theme, and the themes for places like Gondor, Mordor, Rohan, and Rivendell…but a lot of the more subtle ones get overlooked and underappreciated
  • Like Aragorn’s theme. It’s a lot less “obvious” than the others because, like Aragorn himself, it adapts to take on the color of whatever place Aragorn is in: it’s played on dramatic broody stringed instruments in Bree, on horns in  battle scenes, softly on the flute with Arwen in Rivendell….
  • Eowyn has not just one but three different leitmotifs to represent her
  • Gollum and Smeagol both have their own leitmotifs! Whose theme music is playing in the scene can often tell you whether the Gollum or Smeagol side is “winning” at the moment
  • Shore wanted the theme music to grow alongside the characters– so that as the characters changed, their theme music would change with them.  
  • You can hear that most clearly in the Shire theme. Like the hobbits, it goes through A Lot 
  • Like compare the childish lil penny whistle theme you hear in Concerning Hobbits/the beginning of FOTR with (throws a dart at random Beautiful Tragic Hobbit Character Development scene because there WAY TOO MANY to choose from) the scene when Pippin finds Merry on the battlefield, where you hear a kind of shattered and broken but more mature version of that same theme in the background 
  • I could write you a book on how much I love the way the Shire theme grows across the course of these films 
  • Unlike the hero’s themes, which constantly change and grow, the villain’s themes (The One Ring theme, the Isengard theme, etc) remain basically the same from the very beginning of FOTR to the end of ROTK. Shore said this was an intentional choice: to emphasize that evil is static, while good is capable of change
  • Shore has said that between all the music that made into the movies and the music that didn’t, he composed enough for “a month of continuous listening”……..where can I sign up

“Shore said this was an intentional choice: to emphasize that evil is static, while good is capable of change”

Ohhhhhhhh my godddddddd I adore all of this so much. So much information!

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