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bollemanneke

Question about the Nazgul music

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Over the past few weeks I've been listening to the complete recordings while reading the accompanying booklets. Although I'm impressed with the thematic side of the scores, I can''t figure out what's going on with the Nazgul music.

 

In FOTR, their music is pretty straightforward: the 'behold, we are the nine!' mostly in D minor over and over again.

 

In TTT, the rhytm suddenly changes, but their material still largely sounds the same. However, when they swoop down to attack Faramir and co, you only hear vague hints to their material through some brass chords.

 

And now in ROTK, their music is totally... gone, different, or whatever. I just read that when they arrive in Osgiliath, Shore doesn't use their music. And as the battle advances, I only remember a choir shrieking dissonant chords. Only in Mount Doom do I hear a slight resemblance to their FOTR material.

 

Does anyone know what's going on here? Or, I suppose my broader question is, why would anyone go out of their way to totally distort a theme in act 3? Only when I read the ROTK booklet did I recognise the Mordor material in Orthanc because it sounds so  different than the FOTR/TTT material. Why suddenly toy with themes after such a long time?

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10 minutes ago, Stefancos said:

Brilliant foreshadowing of the connection between Thorin and the Nazgu...no wait. Was it Azog and the Nazgul? No? Well something something connected!

 

Well, since Thorin had one of the Dwarven Ring (which is the reason why he became mad. It is well known Dwarven Rings drove their bearers mad), he became a Ringwraith when he died (or a Dwarfwraith, if you prefer. One of the Seven), so the connection is obvious and was carefully and intelligently brought forth by PJ and Shore.

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In ROTK, when the Witch King attacks Eowyn, a theme plays that sounds vaguely similar to the main Nazgul theme can be heard in the background. I always refer to that theme as the Witch King's theme.

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2 hours ago, Stefancos said:

It's all connected. Or it would have been hadnt it been for PJ.

 

In film, the connection is still there (the "Power of Mordor" variation, as Doug likes to call it):

 

1 hour ago, bollemanneke said:

So are you saying I'm right about the senseless 'mutilation' of that theme in ROTK and TTT to a lesser extent?

 

It's permutation of the most sensible kind. As Incanus mentioned above, the Ringwraiths chant in its FOTR form isn't necessarily the most flexible idea, especially in the different scenarios of the other two films. So Shore uses the harmony and slowly mutates the idea throughout the trilogy to its final form in the Siege of Gondor. This build-up begins as early as the Council of Elrond scene in FOTR, where you first hear the "Power of Mordor" variation of the Ringwraiths theme.

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9 minutes ago, KK said:

It's permutation of the most sensible kind. As Incanus mentioned above, the Ringwraiths chant in its FOTR form isn't necessarily the most flexible idea, especially in the different scenarios of the other two films. So Shore uses the harmony and slowly mutates the idea throughout the trilogy to its final form in the Siege of Gondor.

 

Not "mutates", "mutilates"!

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I know! I chose to correct his language! The mutilation did not begin until AUJ, as you aptly pointed out...

 

2 hours ago, BloodBoal said:

 

 

 

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It is a bit weird that after so many permutations of the Ringwraith theme in the first half of FOTR, after they are defeated at the river their theme doesn't really return with them when they return in that one TTT scene and in ROTK.  I mean, the same theme is used in TTT but it sounds so different, and by ROTK Shore decided to use new Fourth Age themes to represent the might of Sauron's big attack

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That's a great way to look at it!

 

 

Of course, it doesn't help that the Black Rider version was shoved into the Prologue music when that was rewritten

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Personally, I think Peter Jackson fretted over the prologue a lot as the flim's premiere loomed, and just requested Shore record a version that largely adhered to a temp track made up of bits from other scores he had put together.  The nazgul and Ring Theme parts are basically identical to iterations from later in the score

 

These days I prefer the original version of the Prologue on the Rarities Archive.

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40 minutes ago, KK said:

Actually, I might add "Journey to the Grey Havens" to that list as well. I think Tolkien would have been pleased with that one.

Quite.

42 minutes ago, BloodBoal said:

Two wonderfully evocative pieces of music.

 

They're the kind of stuff that makes you really wish Shore didn't lose his mojo after 2003...

Emasculated by PJ's blockbustery tendencies for the Hobbit?

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The Nazgul music's identity lies in the harmonic structure rather than melody or rhythm. FotR Sounds so distinct because of the driving rhythmic pattern.

 

Eowyn VS witch king is thoroughly ringwraith music. As is Frodo approaching Minas Morgul.

 

The Ringwraith music is a more defined Extension of the Mordor musical language in my eyes. That's why the Power Of Mordor theme in the Prophecy and Pelennor Fields is basically the same theme as the ringwraiths'.

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For more musically knowledgeable it is clear but for less theory minded listeners a radical departure from the original choral chant idea which they expect would retain its form throughout in some more recognizable guise. I after quite a bit of listening finally spotted this throughline of harmonics and it is actually very distinct and nearly always present when the Ringwraiths are after the choral element is toned down. It nearly always retains its pulsing oppressive aspect like in the attack to Osgiliath as their harmonies race against Gandalf the White theme to catch Faramir's men.

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It doesnt work because it comes completely out of the blue and is presented out of context.

And unlike the examples posted above by SafeUnderHill neither this score nor the two that followed do anything with it. Making it nothing more that a mistake.

And even if Doug's book reveal that the lyrics are somehow fitting for the scene is doesnt take away from the fact that it took me out of the movie.

 

It's actually a good piece of music, with a very nicely beefed up version of the Nazgul choir, but it's very bad film music. Probably the worst of all the 6 films.

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To me that choice by PJ just always felt heavy handed and clumsy. I know he was dropping LotR music left and right into the last cut of the film but the music of the Ringwraiths in the middle of a battle between dwarves and orcs without any build-up, without any real connection beyond the tenous "hey those are Sauron's servants and Thorin is battling them.", is just clumsy. It just feels like PJ was thinking "Yeah we need an EPIC moment and you know what's epic, a choir. What theme for the baddies had a choir? Oh yeah the Nazgûl theme. We'll use that!"

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I'd love to see a cut of the film just before all these last minute revised recordings got put in, with Shore's original versions of cues included instead

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To my ears the version heard on the soundtrack coupled with the imagery is more surprising and thus shocking, the ending of Thorin's attack is not so much a foregone conclusion with the heroic dwarven chant underscoring his charge. In the final film it is a 180 degree turn in the point of view in the music and the doom and gloom of the Nazgûl theme seems to spell out the victor well in advance.

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Shore has written a more subtle approach that is on album. The film version is just ... disturbing.

Having Nature Reclamation sung in Khuzdul also wouldn't automatically make it fitting for the dwarves.

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