Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Music Of MiddleEarth!

The soundtrack composed by Leonard Rosenman for the 70's animated The Lord of the Rings is a moody and atmospheric affair. It evokes the film quite effectively. Ralph Bakshi has said that he prefers the sound in his films to be somewhat spare and not overwhelm the animation, but rather service it. This soundtrack does that rather well. No aspect of it stands out. I sometimes get the idea that Bakshi makes virtues out of limitations he faces in making his films, and that's not a negative when I say it. To listen to the soundtrack check out this link

Conversely in the Rankin-Bass The Hobbit the music is very topical and specific songs and motifs underlay every scene and to no small extent define the production. That's as it should be since, The Hobbit is actually a musical in its construction. Sometimes the characters sing the songs (the Dwarves for instance) but often tunes enhance and add details to a scene. This is also true to a lesser extent in the less compelling The Return of the King. Glenn Yarbrough's soulful voice does lend a a nifty folklore quality to the proceedings. To listen to this work check out this link. 

Some of my all-time favorite music is the material Howard Shore composed and directed for the three Peter Jackson films. His music is gorgeous and evokes the people and places and key events of the narrative most effectively. When I first got hold of these recordings soon after the films were first released, I'd listen to them on long drives and it not unlike watching the film which was very much fixed in my memory. I have not had that same experience with the music produced for the later, The Hobbit movies, despite the fact much of it is just as impressive. For The Fellowship of the Ring tracks go to this link. For The Two Towers tracks visit this link. And for The Return of the King music check out this link. 

Rick Wakeman's Songs of Middle Earth is whole other thing entirely. This is music meant to evoke the original Tolkien texts and at the same time be successful purely as music on its own. The movements are based on various locations mentioned in the saga such as the Shire, Lothlorlien, and Rivendell. One oddball mistake was misspelling Minas Tirith as "Minis Truth", which suggested to me someone's handwriting is pretty sloppy. Wakeman's rock roots show through some of the tunes and alas that modernity undermines his intention, if I understand it properly. It's still fun to listen to. To hear it check out this link

The first music I ever purchased related to The Lord of the Rings was The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle. by Donald Swann. These are printed scores intended to encourage a reader of the works to take out the guitar and create their own music for Middle-Earth. Since I don't play, I've only ever read the lyrics, but the idea is a delightful one. 

My copy is the second edition, reprinting the original in the mid-70's when the books found a new fanbase. To hear a lecture and to see the music performed go here

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