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Incanus

Lord Of The Rings Musical Themes Discussion

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We have been through almost every aspect of the LOTR here but there must be some things we can discuss about (related to LOTR of course). :wave:

I was very impressed by the way Shore's score reflects the themes set by Tolkien and how deep Shore's commitment to the project was. His thematic unity and deep felt desire to make the underlying themes apparent in music is wonderful. One good example is the Nature. Tolkien felt very close to the natural world and was greatly saddened by the modern industrialization destroying the nature and the more quiet way of life. This is the true beginnings of the Ents which he envisaged as the Guardians of the Natural world and trees and plants especially which Tolkien loved very much (Williams and Tolkien seem to be very much kindred spirits ion this respect since Maestro loves trees very much which is apparent in his music and concert works). This love for the growing things sparked the idea of the Revenge of Nature which I my mind is quite wonderful. The idea of Nature rising agaist it's oppressors and abusers is a powerful and Shore saw this and composed one of the most beautiful and meaningful themes of the trilogy.

The theme for the Nature represents the setting right of the order of things to their original way and the return of the natural balance of things which both Sauron and Saruman have upset. It is used as not for the Ents as much as for the situations that involve righting of wrongs and the determination to do so. First heard in FOTR the theme is used when Gandalf is seen atop Orthanc and he summons a moth to deliver his message to Gwaihir Windlord. Here we see glimpses of the total ruin and destruction of the Isengard's trees and fields and the theme here represent (my own guess) the help of nature that Gandalf is getting. The Isengard theme surrounds the statement as we see the destruction before and after the moth scene as camera plunges down to the pits of Orthanc. The statement of the theme fits the scene and the mood as we follow the moth as the soloist sings the theme (which lead to some people to call it the Moth theme at the time in the lack of better name).

The next time the theme is referred to is in TTT when Merry and Pippin are in the camp of the Uruk-hai and Merry tells the tale of the speaking and moving trees near Bucklebury. Here it clearly refers to the forces of Nature and the Ents. But in the scenes where Ents are present it is oddly absent and we get the woodsy percussion instruments and low register wood winds. As we hear only little glimpses of it in TTT the finale remedies that as we hear a fully developed version of the theme as the Ents march to Isengard. This is the moment when the theme represents as much the Ents as the Nature striking against it's oppressor and setting the order of things right by destroying Saruman who has wantonly spoiled the natural world.

Next time the theme appears in ROTK as we see Rohan's army marching out of Edoras after Beacons of Gondor have been lit. The pace is slow deliberate to give the marching army weight and here the theme represents the Nature in the actions of the Rohirrim as they are going to war against Sauroin who is affront to Nature and greatest enemy of the natural world. The theme is repeated in the Charge of the Rohirrim as Theoden is giving his speech on the Fields of Pelennor. The idea behind the theme is the same as they are resisting the Shadow(plus it is a good theme that has a great emotional charge).

Finally the theme is used (once again to my ears this sounds like a variation of the Nature's theme) after the Ring has been destroyed and we see Mount Doom spewing lava and Frodo and Sam huddling on a out crop of rock. Here a dispersed variant of Nature's theme is played slow and sad. The Ring has been destroyed and Sauron is defeated. The Balance of things has been returned.

All of the above material is my own conjecture based on the theme and the movies. Untill the complete boxes are released I have no way of verifying my theories about the theme outside what other fans on numerous sites have contributed to the identifying of the themes. You may ask what is the point if all I have written is pure guess work but I must say that a part of the fun of listening good film music is the analysis. Here is the link to Magpie's Nest where even bigger section is dedicated to the Nature theme and it's analysis:

http://www.geocities.com/magpie930/main.htm

Still it is great that Shore has written so deep score that embraces Tolkiens fundamental themes so well.

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Of course, the whole nature angle is just one of those other things Tolkien's and Wagner's Rings have in common, aside from the Tolkien-admitted "both are round".

Marian - :music:

True. But the whole mythology and cosmology that Tolkien created is very much influenced by existing ones.

Could you e.g. not think of Greek gods when you think of Valar.

The Nature angle is not perhaps wholly original but I myself admire the way Shore expressed it in the movies. Very few composer's would go into these kind of lengths with the themes. And I like that abstractions are presented in music and themes. E.g. the Fate motif in Red Violin is my recent discovery and I love the way Corigliano has expressed it in music with seven simple rising chords. Nature is much more larger idea than just the Ents or trees or moths or animals and Shore found a very good leitmotif to present it. The question, "Is the motif good in the mind of an individual listener?", is very much up to the listener's tastes. Shore has to a great extent written music I relate to and think as good presentation of different aspects of Tolkien's world be they abstract or concrete. There are so numerous themes and motifs in LOTR that is simply adore that I won't even start to name or list them here.

It has been amazing to see and hear Shore communicate his thoughts about his music to the orchestras and choirs in the EE DVD documents. The deep though he has put in the composition show in one clip particular. On the EE of FOTR he is recording the Moria sequence with the NZ Symphony Orchestra and Maori choir. I was amazed when I heard him say:" I am going to play a segment of the Moria music so you can get the idea of this particular piece we are trying to create." Shore takes up a book(LOTR) and reads "It is the year 1698 of the Second Age of the Sun...". That's when I first realized how strongly he was commited to this project. He began the composing of the Moria music from foundations 4500 years before FOTR. Was his idea to describe the great Dwarven civilization in it's heyday long before its destruction in the Third Age or give and idea to the players about the feeling he wanted for the piece? I do not know but he succeeded. This is the thing I admire the most in Shore's LOTR music. It is not icing on the cake or underlining of the action but a great weave that envelopes the whole of Tolkien's world.

To put it more bluntly: Shore nailed it good!

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I must have bored you to sobs with my mile long posts (rants would be perhaps the correct word :) ).

Here is a new angle: What is the worst cue or music in the whole LOTR trilogy and especially FOTR since it is released soon?

I think the music for Ents is not that interesting and the Paths of the Dead contain some music I am not too keen of (on the ROTK album the Hope Fails contains some of this music and I found it always boring). FOTR really does have very little music I do not like since it is jam packed with themes and motifs. I would be hard pressed to call any of it boring or bad. Enya's May It Be has not won me over so that must be it and even that is not so bad.

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I must have bored you to sobs with my mile long posts (rants would be perhaps the correct word :) ).

Here is a new angle: What is the worst cue or music in the whole LOTR trilogy and especially FOTR since it is released soon?

I think the music for Ents is not that interesting and the Paths of the Dead contain some music I am not too keen of (on the ROTK album the Hope Fails contains some of this music and I found it always boring). FOTR really does have very little music I do not like since it is jam packed with themes and motifs. I would be hard pressed to call any of it boring or bad. Enya's May It Be has not won me over so that must be it and even that is not so bad.

I pretty much agree, if I skip over these CD's it's usually Treebeard or hope Fails.

With fellowship if i'm pressed for time I usually skip one or 2 of the Ringwraith cues and The Great river.

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I think the all-wood Ent music is good. It's not that entertaining, but it fits the setting very well.

Marian - who doesn't think a regular Ent is that entertaining either. :)

You're right :) Shore captured the essence of the Ents in the music which can make it a little boring. It's slow, brooding and woodsy with not much happening except in the lower part of the register. I like the lower sounds of the orchestra but Treebeard is the piece I usually skip or pay not so much attention to.

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I was just browsing through the excellent LOTR music site Magpie's Nest and once again was hit by the thought that we might be over analysing the scores a bit too much. Shore's scores have been analyzed to bits by various people in the net and the debates and speculations and naming of themes and recognizing themes continues with full vim and vigour all over the place. People create huge tapestries of interlinking themes just to pass time and see myriad connections between themes and motifs. I do understand their love for the scores but things like themes and the structure of film music can be easily over analyzed. If a person really likes a score he/she goes very deep into it and feels very deeply about it. Here personal interpretation comes in and very rapidly people see and hear things that are not there. A series of notes that sound little like a theme from the movie soon becomes a subsidary motif derived from that theme and so on. The obsession with which the LOTR scores are dissected is staggering. And I think not half of what people think about the music is not from the thoughts of Howard Shore and he surely did not think any such things when he wrote the music. Personal interpretation (which is wonderful thing) twists the purpose of the music.

I am sure much of the speculation is even correct but I would like to see Shore's reaction if he read things from few of the sites and their analysis of the music. I think he would be both pleased and horrified by the obsession people now regard these scores and how they are being over analyzed to a extent almost every note seems to hide some deep thought and purpose. I do not deny the complexity of the LOTR scores but it is getting totally absurd when Hobbiton theme gets umpteenth motivic variations based on the intervals between notes and those are called a new themes.

I wait eagerly for the Box set to set things right and rectify and explain the thematic structure. It does not render the score analysis sites or the analysis itself obsolete since they are a way to look at the themes of LOTR but it gives as definitive information about the exact themes and motifs and told by the composer himself which is a rare and wonderful occurrence.

So I'll be waiting for Doug Adams' liner notes with special enthusiams.

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I have to agree with some points you made. There's definitely a lot of overanalysing - I've seen sites with lists of like 20 sub-themes for situations & characters, which either occur only once or just seem to simple & coincidental (I could argue that the really nice piece when Shadowfax is introduce is 'its' theme, since it has structure, but it only occurs once, and judging by what's on the CD, was a rescore.)

However, if I may I'd like to offer 2 notes to what I've read, The fanfare, when Gandalf, Aragorn & Gimli ride away when Shadowfax has arrived has been described as Shadowfax's theme, but I think it's Gandalf's, as it appears both times he does something heroic in TTT. Also, what people are calling the 'nature' theme (such as the march of the ents) I think is actually a 'rescuing' theme. It occurs during that scene in TTT, in RotK when the Rohirrim ride off, and when the Eagles arrive near the end.

But hey, I'm a massive fan and those are the only 2 themes I've tried to work out. Maybe there are other smaller themes that only the obsessive fans find, but I've always regarded Shore's talent with LotR resting with him being able to compose music that doesn't need to rely on themes all the time.

I suppose it needs to be asked: is something a theme if it only occurs once but still seems to be tied to a character or situation?

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The "nature" theme was conceived as such (notice the use of it as Merry and Pippin discuss the Old Forest), but apparently, Jackson liked it so much it was tracked into the battle of Helm's Deep, and transformed to this sort of "last stand" theme. Shore then used it (to great effect of course) at the charge of the Rohirrim.

I agree with you on the Gandalf fanfare.

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I wrote a long post about the so called Nature theme few pages back in this thread. I would see it as Nature strikes back theme and of course it does have to do with the timely rescue but more as Nature sets the things right kind of way. It represents the way Nature of Middle-Earth (here is once agin personal interpretation :wave: ) sets the Balance of things right. Saruman is defeated by Ents and Rohirrim ride to fight the great Evil to set things right. I know it is a bit of a stretch but to me it sounds very poetic and wonderful idea. Shore himself said something in those lines in an interview.

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l (I could argue that the really nice piece when Shadowfax is introduce is 'its' theme, since it has structure, but it only occurs once, and judging by what's on the CD, was a rescore.)

However, if I may I'd like to offer 2 notes to what I've read, The fanfare, when Gandalf, Aragorn & Gimli ride away when Shadowfaxhas arrived has been described as Shadowfax's theme, but I think it's Gandalf's, as it appears both times he does something heroic in TTT. Also, what people are calling the 'nature' theme (such as the march of the ents) I think is actually a 'rescuing' theme. It occurs during that scene in TTT, in RotK when the Rohirrim ride off, and when the Eagles arrive near the end.

But hey, I'm a massive fan and those are the only 2 themes I've tried to work out. Maybe there are other smaller themes that only the obsessive fans find, but I've always regarded Shore's talent with LotR resting with him being able to compose music that doesn't need to rely on themes all the time.

I suppose it needs to be asked: is something a theme if it only occurs once but still seems to be tied to a character or situation?

The Shadowfax theme that appears as the 3 Hunters emerge from Fangorn with Gandalf is used a second time in Forth Eorlingas. Ben Del Maestro sings it in the piece but it is quite buried in all the wonderful music. Listen carefully and you'll hear the connection. Even the lyrics are "For he was Shadowfax Lord of All Horses..." in Forth Eorlingas.

THe Nature/Reclamation of Nature theme as I above explained has to do with the idea of standing against the Shadow and Evil and it is used in the rescue scenes as well as scenes where Evil is fought and the Nature of things is set to balance. Sauron is affront to Nature. His very being denies it. this goes in to the realm of Tolkien philosophy and deepr thougth which I am sure Shore did not have in mind when he wrote this theme but none the less... :wave:

The Nature theme is one of my absolute favorites. It plays a chord deep in my thought.

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Sindarin and Quenya are pronounced almost like Finnish (I know hard to believe but it's true).

It's not hard to believe, since Tolkien deliberately based his Elvish tongues on some Finnish dialects (and the Welsh language).

About the Gandalf/ Shadowfax theme; it appears alot more than twice. "The White Rider", "The Riders Of Rohan", "Forth Eorlingas", "Hope & Memory", "Ash And Smoke", it's there in all these CD tracks.

About the Nature Theme; the theory about it being a "rescue" theme has one flaw: it plays at the borders of Fangorn, when Merry and Pippin talk about the Old Forest.

Of course there's too much over- analysing on the web, but when Shore says he wrote 70 leitmotifs, they have to go somewhere, don't they? It's not so much over- analysing, but over- interpreting. When people read all kind of rubbish into a theme. Sure, Howard Shore puts lots and lots of psychological/character based stuff into his music, but sometimes people overreact.

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About the Nature Theme; the theory about it being a "rescue" theme has one flaw: it plays at the borders of Fangorn, when Merry and Pippin talk about the Old Forest.

Yeah, which is why I noted it was originally conceived as the nature theme, but Jackson probably liked the March of the Ents rendition so much he put it in Helm's Deep too, and then Shore re-worked it (or rather, just gave it different meaning by using it in different situations) for RotK.

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Yup over interpreting is a good word to describe it. But we all tend to interpret when it comes to themes. And I have admit there are a huge amount to motifs so there is a good reason those sites contain so many themes, although not one has 70.

I like the idea we soon have definitive definitions to the themes and motifs. It should put all speculation to rest (I know that some do not stop even then :wave: )

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I don't quite hear the connection between what Ben Del Maestro sings in Forth Eorlingas and Shadowfax's appearance. There's something there but it doesn't quite link for me.

The nature/reclamation/rescuing, whatever, theme is also one of my favourites (I love its use in Charge of the Rohirrim) but I guess we can just wait for the liner notes to find out once and for all :wave:

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It's not hard to believe, since Tolkien deliberately based his Elvish tongues on some Finnish dialects (and the Welsh language).

About the Gandalf/ Shadowfax theme; it appears alot more than twice. "The White Rider", "The Riders Of Rohan", "Forth Eorlingas", "Hope & Memory", "Ash And Smoke", it's there in all these CD tracks.  

About the Nature Theme; the theory about it being a "rescue" theme has one flaw: it plays at the borders of Fangorn, when Merry and Pippin talk about the Old Forest.

The theme you mean is the White Rider (these names are just as much interpretation as any :| ) It is used much more in the movies than the actual Shadowfax motif. The Shadowfax motif is in the scene where the horse appears for the first time and segues to the White Rider motif in the movie (on the album there is only the White Rider motif on the track "White rider" :) ). The Shadowfax motif is heard on the DVD of LOTR Symphony. I just realized the motifs go always together. In Forth Eorlingas Del Maestro sings the Shadowfax theme and then it is followed by the White rider theme. In the movie the Shadowfax's appeareance is followed by White Rider motif as we see the group riding toward Edoras from Fangorn. I never had thought of that :wave:

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Incanus...you are the man!

I'd love to talk for hours about the music of LOTR (and then SW) ;)

I've finally read all of this thread and the previous LOTR thread.

I like your fasting idea, though I ain't gonna do it ;) . I believe I have 39 days to wait! Just think, in 2 years we'll have all of the Complete Recordings music and the LOTR music book memorized and analyzed (with D. Adams help of course)!!! I'm so excited! Of the 9 greatest film scores(LOTR & SW-in my opinion), only 3 will remain unreleased(for now)-SW prequels.

Have a great day everyone! :(

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Incanus...you are the man!

I'd love to talk for hours about the music of LOTR (and then SW) ;)  

I've finally read all of this thread and the previous LOTR thread.

I like your fasting idea, though I ain't gonna do it  ;) .  I believe I have 39 days to wait!  Just think, in 2 years we'll have all of the Complete Recordings music and the LOTR music book memorized and analyzed (with D. Adams help of course)!!!  I'm so excited!  Of the 9 greatest film scores(LOTR & SW-in my opinion), only 3 will remain unreleased(for now)-SW prequels.

Have a great day everyone!  :(

Welcome to the board and thank you very much about that comment ;)

I am just as excited as you are about the release. I like LOTR and SW just about as much and think them as equally brilliant pieces of music.( I may get some trashing for that comment ;) ) I am LOTR musicfasting as ever (only 23 days left if the earlier UK release date is true) ;) But the music is going to feel so good when I pop the discs in the player and hear that great score in its interity.

My concentration is suffering already and it's the start of November.

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Just think, in 2 years we'll have all of the Complete Recordings music and the LOTR music book memorized and analyzed (with D. Adams help of course)!!!

Should be 1 year. Unless you need another year to memorize the book. :flush:

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Just think, in 2 years we'll have all of the Complete Recordings music and the LOTR music book memorized and analyzed (with D. Adams help of course)!!!

Should be 1 year. Unless you need another year to memorize the book. ;)

Yes well Doug said the book will be released after a year or so because they want to get all the Box sets out before they release it and Doug himself said he wants to be very sure about the text (especially his Sindarin and Quenya ;) ).

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I don't know if even Philippa knows the languages so well. David Salo is the man he should consult. Salo wrote a 500+ page introduction to Sindarin (I know that man is the utter NERD with very much free time) and did much (if not all) of the translations of Boyens' and Fran Walsh's texts to different Tolkien languages.

But that was the pretext Doug gave for the lateness of the release date of his book (actually its not up to Doug decide when the book is going to be released as you very well know).

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He even looks like the stereotype of a nerd LOL . I had a good laugh when I saw him on the TTT EE DVD. But you got to admit that man sure knows his Sindarin ;) . Still I am little intrigued why the book has to be released after the Boxes have been released? Are they afraid people just buy the book and the boxes are left on the shelves to gather dust? Strange is the mind of a marketing executive. :roll:

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The book is due to be released after the ROTK release (atleast the plans are something in those lines at the moment). You understood correctly but perhaps I put my words confusingly. But the schedule puts the book somewhere in the end of next year or beginning of the year 2007.

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But you got to admit that man sure knows his Sindarin  ;) .

I'm not sure if that is an acomplishment.

Well perhaps not an accomplisment but you can't deny he knows the language well. ;) I perhaps would not go about flaunting with my brilliant Sindarin skill. That is not the high point of any conversation (not that Latin is either if you do not know the language :) )

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I just hope that learning fake languages isn't the guys main occupation.

Well he is pretty boring character. This I found in Wikipedia:

David Salo (born 1969) is a linguist who worked on languages for The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, expanding the Elvish language and defining some languages that previously had no words. He is a graduate student in linguistics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

His primary professional interest is Tocharian, an extinct Indo-European language spoken in medieval China

:| That sure is interesting. He makes us Classical philologists seem cool in comparison :music:

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Doug Adams told me to say hi from him to all here and said the following about the book:

"I was just kidding about the Elvish editing. All the texts have come directly from David Salo, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh and have been proofread by Salo, checked against the book, and checked by Warners’ and Howard’s staffs. There’s no hold up coming from that direction… I was just eyeball-deep in Sindarin last week and letting off some steam. The texts are in fine shape."

And the release is indeed after the ROTK box since the book refers to the track titles in the ROTK and TTT and FOTR so it would not be even sound to release it before ROTK is released. I agree with that logic.

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I just hope that learning fake languages isn't the guys main occupation.  

Depends. If you want to call Elvish a "fake" language ... it's not fake, the Elvish languages are (professionally) altered/ developed versions of Finnish and Welsh, so if you're interested in liguistic, it's as fascinating a subject as any.

I'd fall asleep over it, though :)

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I just hope that learning fake languages isn't the guys main occupation.  

Depends. If you want to call Elvish a "fake" language ... it's not fake, the Elvish languages are (professionally) altered/ developed versions of Finnish and Welsh, so if you're interested in liguistic, it's as fascinating a subject as any.

I'd fall asleep over it, though :)

I do not fall asleep over Sindarin which is pretty interesting but has nothing to do with Finnish. Quenya on the other hand has a passing similarities with Finnish but nothing I could point my finger at. Not the words (except very few like rauta (Finnish for iron) means metal in Quenya) or structure as far as I am aware of has anything in common with Finnish. But I have not very acquainted with Quenya. It is very easy for me to pronounce though :) It would be interesting to know what are the common aspects with Finnish and Elvish.

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I believe Sindarin is more akin to Welsh.

Marian - who speaks neither Finnish nor Welsh. :|

A Sindarin is a beautiful language. And yes it is more akin to Welsh (I do not speak it either :) ).

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Well I finally found out that the rising chords passage used in the Misty Mountains shot in the Prologue (it appears in Prophecy too) and in many other places like the beginning of track 5 on ROTK CD and few times on TTT OST is not exactly a theme but rather Shore's stylistic trait and he uses it quite often. Adams confirmed this so finally I can stop guessing. It is very nice we can check these things from a person who really knows the music so we do not have to second guess every theme and motif.

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Here are the exact times. It is first heard in the Prophecy 1;16 and in the film Prologue 5;33-48. It is used in

TTT and ROTK more. It can be heard e.g. in the beginning of the track 5(0;00->) on the OST of ROTK and in the track 14 (4;00 - 4;12 )on TTT OST. It appaears many other times but I did not have energy to point them out.

But as I said (or rather Doug Adams said)it is not a theme. Shore just repeats it quite often.

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Well I finally found out that the rising chords passage used in the Misty Mountains shot in the Prologue (it appears in Prophecy too) and in many other places like the beginning of track 5 on ROTK CD and few times on TTT OST is not exactly a theme but rather Shore's stylistic trait and he uses it quite often.

If Doug Adams has confirmed that this isn't a theme, what is The Nameless Fear?

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This was Doug Adams' answer to my question. I had provided him with track times from all three scores where I thought the motif occurs:

"Well, here's the thought behind this one. That "figure" is nothing more

than the pitches of a minor scale rising up and sustaining in the strings.

This is an extremely common Shore device - he often creates these mounting

clusters of tones in the divided strings. And it's not just a LOTR device, it's

just part of his compositional language. Since it's not a unique LOTR device,

and since it's nothing more than a scale, it's not what we considered

thematic material. It's a touch call, but really the deciding factor was that

there was nothing specifically associated with this tension figure - therefore

it was a Shore device not a Tolkien device, and hence not a "theme."

I also asked Adams where exactly can The Nameless Fear motif heard but he wouldn't say yet. I guess we have to wait for the TTT liners. But I bet it is the passage after the Gollum's theme as Galadriel says the lines "Rumor grew of a Shadow in the east, whispers of a Nameless Fear, and the Ring of Power perceived its time had now come. It abandoned Gollum."

Track time on the Complete Recordings would be Disc 1 Track 1 6;15-38. This motif is repeated in the TTT score and can be heard on the OST on the track The Leave Taking (track 11).

This is a guess but if the rising figure is not a theme then the above mentioned is pretty much the only place in the Prologue where the Nameless Fear motif can occur.

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Track time on the Complete Recordings would be Disc 1 Track 1 6;15-38. This motif is repeated in the TTT score and can be heard on the OST on the track The Leave Taking (track 11).

This is a guess but if the rising figure is not a theme then the above mentioned is pretty much the only place in the Prologue where the Nameless Fear motif can occur.

That has to be it. It's 6:09-6:38, to be exact. I'll have to see if it appears anywhere else in The Two Towers...

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