Here is the second part of my analysis of Howard Shore's score for the first part of the Hobbit trilogy. Unfortunately I could not present it in one piece as it was too long for a single post. I am just that verbose.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Music composed, conducted and orchestrated by Howard Shore
An Analysis of the Special Edition of the Soundtrack Album
By Mikko Ojala
Below I will journey through the Special Edition soundtrack album of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey from Bag End to the Eagles’ Eyrie and beyond. All the observations are either completely my own (or born out of discussions on these forums and elsewhere with a dedicated group of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit music fans) or based on Doug Adams’s insightful liner notes from the Special Edition soundtrack album or his thoughts presented in his blog Music of the Lord of the Rings Films (www.musicoflotr.com) and whose writings (and the upcoming book on the Music of the Hobbit Films) will of course be the definitive guide to this music.
Firstly I attempt to analyze the music mainly as heard on the Special Edition of the soundtrack album, but I will be making some comments on the score as heard in the film and the changes made to the score compared to the music heard on the CDs.
Secondly it is worth noting that the soundtrack release for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out in two different releases, the Regular Edition, which to surprise of many contained two CDs and the Special Edition that was also comprised of 2 CDs but contains about 20 minutes more music, including several bonus and extended tracks. Curiously the Regular Edition had sections absent from the Special Edition as well so having both would be required for the most complete experience of this music outside the film. I will make note of the major differences between these two releases in the analysis since both albums contain some music that is missing from the other.
Thirdly I must impress upon the readers this is just a piece born out of my personal love of Shore's music for Middle-earth. Although I am an ardent fan of film music but I am no musicologist so much of the below analysis focuses on the relation of Shore's thematic architecture to the narrative of the film and not so much on the theoretical side of the music as I am not qualified to say anything extesive or authoritative on that account.
1. My Dear Frodo (8:02)
Just like the original prologue of Fellowship of the Ring this piece functions as an overture to the 3 part saga of The Hobbit introducing many of the new central themes that will appear in these scores. Shore either states them in full or gives smaller hints and embryonic variations of many elements that will later gain central stage in An Unfinished Journey or its sequels. Introduced are The House of Durin, Bilbo’s Adventure, Erebor, Thorin Oakenshield, The Arkenstone/The Map and Key, two of Smaug’s musical signatures, Suffering of Durin's Folk and The Woodland Realm.
Opening logos and credits roll and the curtain raising figure of the score, a warm, flowing and graceful melody of The House of Durin Theme appears in optimistic glowing major mode and Shore weaves subtle hints of the History of the Ring harmonies into it in the accompanying figures and thus draws connections to things to come from the very first notes. The House of Durin Theme will reveal its true prominence in the sequel, The The Desolation of Smaug, but here it is a subtle suggestion which sets the dwarves and their heritage squarely at the centre of the story.
The dwarves are only half the story however and the music next announces the prominence of the eponymous protagonist of the tale, the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, as Bilbo’s Adventure (0:37), a new theme for his journey, fleetingly rises in warm strings and seems to recall slightly The Journey Back theme from Return of the King in its contours. Shore offers here perhaps a nod to the There and Back Again title of Bilbo’s memoirs, the full meaning of the theme still hidden in this innocent setting before it gracefully bridges to a familiar rich and stately string reading of the Shire Theme’s Pensive Setting at 0:51 as The Hobbit title card appears, the reassuring guise of the theme a nostalgic reminder of the Lord of the Rings and a signature motif of our heroes, the music ushering us to Bilbo’s quaint home at Bag End, where the Bilbo's Adventure's gently rising figures on strings and a steady soft beat of percussion follow the old Hobbit through his house as he rummages through old treasures, searching for something. As he finds a red leather bound book in a chest and sets his feather pen on the page the Shire theme’s harmonies continue to rise expectantly, a sudden repeated silvery glint of a triangle and a new lilting flute melody over rich string accompaniment carrying us to a new realm as Bilbo begins his memoirs, There and Back Again, A Hobbit’s Tale.
After a quick map sequence that transports us East beyond Lone Lands, Edge of the Wild and Mirkwood the story flashes back to Dale and Erebor and our first view of the mountain kingdom is heralded by a regal horn reading of the Erebor Theme (1:57) over deep martial drums and slightly dissonant harmonies in the hazily shimmering string layers as Bilbo recounts the history of the reign of Thrór, the King Under the Mountain. The music captures a sense of grandeur and the dwarven musical world in its steadily climbing figure but also creates a vertical image of the mountain realm itself in musical form. It is followed by a more long lined melody, yearning, expansive and noble Thorin Oakenshield Theme (2:17), that takes over in the horns and celli and speaks of the young prince’s character as much as it underscores the great dwarven realm’s magnificence, strings developing the theme in an answering phrase and a solo trumpet and high strings in turn glide on top of the weighty mass of the low orchestral murmurs, developing Thorin’s music as the great excavations and riches in the mountain’s depths are revealed.
Here in the dark roots of the mountain the dwarves discover the heart of mountain, The Arkenstone, a magnificent multifaceted glowing jewel and Shore captures the luminous essence of the gem with a simple scintillating string line and a high choral cluster (3:03-3:11) that is awe inspiring and bewitching at the same time. And so many nations come to honour the power of the dwarven king, the glimpse of King of the Woodland Realm in Mirkwood, the Elven king Thranduil and his emissaries, earning ethereal swelling string layers above which a female choir sings a lyrical line (presumably in Sindarin), introducing the musical idea for the Woodland Realm (3:23-3:31), the music here a mirror of their slightly otherworldly graceful demeanour. But the might and prosperity of Erebor is not to last, darkness falling over the king, a deep male choir chanting in Khuzdûl, the voices rising in the familiar perfect fifths, the tone reminiscent of Moria music from Lord of the Rings, the grim tone presaging sorrow as Thrór becomes obsessed with his wealth but also anticipating another calamity as the treasures of Erebor have aroused the greed of something else.
A bass drum beats slowly, as if to call for attention, ponderous and ominous before it is on the 5th stroke engulfed in a searing musical motif. The dragon Smaug the Golden has come (4:16)! This first theme bursts forth in wicked and aggressive reading as he assaults the dwarven kingdom and the human city of Dale, high strings sawing through a rhythmically sharp angled and reptilian melody as the F minor-F-major chordal progression, Smaug's Breath, repeats underneath oppressive and taut, the lower registers of the orchestra pulsing like gigantic bellows as Smaug’s fire strikes the guards and burns them to cinders, Balin and Thorin barely escaping the fire drake’s first wrath.
The human town of Dale lies before the gates of the Lonely Mountain and faces first Smaug’s fiery fury. A mixed choir bursts forth in dramatic ascending figures of a Moria/dwarven chant as the dragon attacks and destroys the city, the heavy plodding percussion following the choral conflagration. Shore pits Smaug the Golden theme (4:56), now even weightier and sharper than before as it plods on in brass and percussion as if to spell suffering and woe, against the choral forces that seem now to mourn the Men of Dale, the clear soprano voices singing a brief lament to the devastated city as we see the tragic figure of a lone child, a loss of innocence, amidst the flames of the smouldering ruins. Unusually Shore mixes the female chorus with the males in the dwarven music, almost as if to unite the worlds of men and dwarves in his music to show a common plight that has struck both races.
The dwarven nation regroups and prepares to defend their home and so defiant and heavy rhythmic male choir chants in a style reminiscent of Moria's dwarven music that mingles with bold statements of both Thorin’s Theme (on horns) and Erebor Theme (on trumpets and trombones) as they await for their enemy (5:35). But soon the dwarven voices are lost in a sea of blaring brass dissonances and percussion’s enraged pounding when Smaug breaks the great gates of Erebor and obliterates the defenders with terrible ease, snippet of Thorin’s Theme underscoring his lucky escape before the marauding beast, snare drums marching in underneath a sinuous and cruel reading of Smaug the Golden on violas and violins (6:05), which grows into a storm of swirling orchestral lines that depict the loss of the Arkenstone in a sea of treasure right before the eyes of Thorin and Thrór and the tumultuous destruction of the kingdom of Erebor.
Leading survivors through the smoke and burning Thorin struggles out of the mountain with his father and grandfather and we hear the first appearance of Suffering of Durin's Folk motif rising and falling in the orchestra (6:39) as the choir mourns for the tragedy of the dwarves in elegiac tones, the male and female chorus exchanging phrases over the orchestra. The theme is repeated deep in the double basses and celli full of grim regret when we see the prince, desperate, begging for help for his people from the Elven king Thranduil, who has arrived with his folk to bring help but after seeing the sheer destruction the dragon has wrought, refuses his aid in fear of facing the beast's wrath and retreats with his army and thus earns the enmity of Thorin, the fateful and grim strains of Suffering of Durin's Folk slowly fading away on solo horn and moody strings when we see the dwarven prince and his companions becoming a wandering folk bereft of glory and riches, their race scattered into the wind.
In the Making
The prologue as heard in the film contains several smaller musical adjustments compared to the original version heard on the soundtrack albums. First the Shire Pensive Setting for strings featured on the Hobbit title card has been replaced with a nostalgic yet oddly static clarinet rendition and the following section for Bilbo’s search for the book is entirely re-scored utilizing Gandalf’s Farewells from Lord of the Rings (a curious even if an emotionally resonate thematic choice) as the old Hobbit begins writing his memoirs and for the transition from the Shire to Rhovanion in the East, The Journey Back theme from Lord of the Rings and a new section for the establishing shot of the town of Dale are used.
Since Shore had to re-score a new longer cut of the film later the whole sequence has musical edits, omitting choir and changing the order of some sections and replacing sections with re-scored material. E.g the Suffering of Durin's Folk theme at the end contains an additional extended passage to cover the extra footage added to the scene. The Extended Cut of the film also repeats some parts of the composition(such as the repetition of the Woodland Realm material for the extended scene with Thranduil and the wood elves featuring the jewels of Lasgalen) to cover for the additional footage but no actual new music was composed for the longer version of the film.
2. Old Friends (Extended Version) (5:02)
After the opening lesson in ancient history we are back in the Shire and the beginning of the score is full of familiar sounds and themes, the frame story functioning as a welcoming reintroduction to the life and home of our protagonist at the eve of his 111th birthday and the composer naturally reprises the different variants of the Shire theme in all their verdant glory.
In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit opens the first chapter of Bilbo’s book, the statement earning a dreamy and bucolic reading of the Pensive Setting of the Shire theme on strings and clarinet as the camera explores the halls of Bag End, the tone familiar and welcoming, the Hobbit Outline Figure on light pizzicato strings following the melody. As we see Frodo appearing from a doorway and reminding absent minded Bilbo of his birthday and its preparations, a spirited rhythmic reading of the Rural Setting plays and ends in a quote from FotR, the music for the raising of Bilbo’s birthday banner in the Party Field being reprised as a reference to the upcoming event.
Frodo’s gentle admonishment to the old Hobbit of becoming recluse and for his strange behaviour is underscored by the humorous sneaky tug of the Shire accompaniment figures but the same use of the Shire Skip-Beat with darker harmonies (1:31) that followed Bilbo in the FotR at Bag End appear here as well, indicating perhaps that our old protagonist’s oddity and restlessness is growing, the orchestrations now coloured by the more pronounced appearance of mandolin and hammered dulcimer to add a subtle sense of nervous humour to the music, strong rhythm and pondering clarinet line ending in slightly misterioso string sustain. The old hobbit is up to something!
A very traditional jaunty beat of the Rural Setting sees Frodo off to wait for Gandalf in the East Farthing woods at 1:53, growing into an passionate and warm reading of the Pensive Setting of the Shire theme on strings, showing us the bucolic splendour of Hobbiton and Bilbo relaxed on his porch smoking a pipe. When the old Hobbit continues his story and blows a smoke ring into the air, Shore making another musical reference to FotR, this time to some pipes and smoke rings, as his music on the tin whistle and strings recalls the moment when Gandalf and Bilbo sit on the very same veranda at the evening of his birthday but here a title card An Unexpected Journey appears. Doug Adams offered insight into this moment on his blog in 2013: The Lydian dissonance of the final notes (G#A) is in a higher key than when we last heard them in FotR and gains a hidden meaning, both the billowing smoke ring and the harmonies drawing now a veiled connection to the History of the Ring Theme.
Descending glowing notes of the solo harp passage, perhaps a subtle nod to the chords of Bilbo Baggins themes, gently transition us 60 years into the past (2:42) and we see young Bilbo sitting on his front porch on a sunny morning in the quiet of the world, when a wizard in a high wide brimmed hat, silver scarf and grey robes, carrying a staff arrives along the path and to the Hobbit’s front gate. Strummed mandolin and pizzicato strings of the Hobbit Skip-Beat rhythmically underline the initial conversation between the wizard and the Hobbit when this man announces that he is looking for someone to share in an adventure, the Shire’s stepwise music haltingly humorous and subtly plucking away, the music referencing perhaps Bilbo’s Antics for a brief moment, the clarinet voicing his comic concern at going on bothersome adventures (3:20).
When this grey clad stranger announces that he is disappointed that Bilbo Baggins doesn’t know his name and reveals himself to be none other than Gandalf the Grey (3:33), his primary theme appears formally for the first time, introduced on cor anglais as it rises and falls with ambiguous harmonies almost as if asking a question. And now the Hobbit suddenly remembers the wandering wizard, a leaping and sprightly string motif for Gandalf’s Fireworks seems to jump out of his childhood memories as it references a specific scene from the FotR, where this music was heard the first time, creating in the process a recurring thematic idea.
Plucky and light orchestrations continue as the Fireworks motif mixes with the Shire Theme when Gandalf announces that he will send Mr. Baggins on this adventure. This again instigates the appearance of a slightly mysterious reading of the Hobbit Skip-Beat accompaniment figure that followed the aged Bilbo around earlier at Bag End (4:06), as he emphatically refuses Gandalf’s invitation and slips inside his hobbit hole as fast as he is courteously able, hoping that this strange visitor will go away.
But instead the string section reprises a familiar motif from the FotR, the music that accompanied Gandalf’s telling glance at a certain old map at Bag End and this bit of mysterious music now underscores the wizard drawing his secret rune on Bilbo’s front door, in essence beginning the Quest of Erebor. Doug Adams mentions in his liner notes that here the Shire theme is stretched over minor harmonies and seems to belong more to the wizard than the hobbit but it becomes synonymous with Bilbo's odd behaviour. Our small hero is alarmed and braves a glimpse through his porch window, the moment earning the first appearance of a slightly sinister sounding up-and-down climbing figure (4:28), that seems to trigger the change in his fortunes that mounts into a startling dissonance as Gandalf’s eye peers through the window pane of Bilbo's porch. As the wizard goes off on his business and disappears down the lane, an ominous lower string reading of the previously mentioned rising and falling triad figure with high strings adding nervous layers above brings the track to a close but also seems to inform us of the hobbit’s state of mind, Bilbo obviously smelling trouble.
In the Making
The film version of the reintroduction to the Shire is quite different in places as several sections seem to have been revised. E.g. the ruminative music from the FotR for Gandalf's inspection of the map of Erebor is reprised several times in the film to underscore old Bilbo's strange behaviour in the frame story before we move to the actual Hobbit's tale. On the Regular Soundtrack album the shorter version of the piece includes alternate passage, a bucolic solo flute rendition of the Pensive Setting of the Shire theme and another reprise of the Fireworks motif.
3. An Unexpected Party (Extended Version) (4:09)
But Bilbo Baggins is more than a bit absent minded and soon forgets his close brush with adventure. And so after a stroll to the market at Hobbiton the night falls on the Shire and Bilbo is preparing to eat a delicious a fish dinner, when he hears the doorbell. Behind the door stands a strange dwarf, who introduces himself as Dwalin and the music open with a subtly ascending expectant figure, Shore referencing the harmonies of the Erebor Theme with light pad of the percussion underneath providing a sense of momentum. Something important is taking place. Here the composer also further develops the mysterious rising and falling motif (0:12->) that was heard at the end of the previous track as Dwalin steps in, hands the Hobbit his cloak and looks around for food. The pizzicato double basses develop the aforementioned motivic phrase with insistent rhythmic tug while violins spin suspensefully in the high register, the heavy rhythmic pull of the lower strings repeating haltingly the Hobbit End Cap to emphasize Bilbo’s bafflement and annoyance. The stranger heads for the kitchen to the tune of a heavy bass variation of , full of the diminutive host’s concern and fright, and when he braves to inquire, who promised the dwarf food, only the music answers, the opening pitches of Gandalf the Grey (0:32) dancing mischievously on cor anglais to offer a helpful musical hint.
And so Dwalin dines on poor hobbit’s fish plate but soon the door bell rings again and with a quick touch of Uillean pipes another dwarf, Balin, is introduced (0:38). Now nervously fluttering flutes accompany the fussy up-and-down climbing motif that forms the spine of the piece as he rather defeatedly escorts the old dwarf inside and the motif continues haltingly rhythmic as he watches helplessly how the two, brothers apparently, unceremoniously rummage through his larder. When the doorbell sounds for the third time (1:14), the music part humorous and part suspenseful with tremoloing high strings, hammered dulcimer and weighty tugs of double basses greets another pair of dwarves, Fili and Kili, who barge in to join the group, the music underscoring the Hobbit’s growing frustration.
And this anger finally bursts out when the door bell rings yet again. Shore presents a new motif associated with our hobbit and his awkward handling of strange situations, Bilbo’s Antics (1:41), a lilting quote of the opening pitches on flutes and comedic double basses soon leading into a full fledged rendition of the folksy off-kilter melody on solo violin with string, hammered dulcimer and mandolin accompaniment as he rushes to the door and pulls it open with force, the settled and peaceful life of the Hobbit shaken to its roots, the music expressing this with a humorous slant. When the door flies open yet again the harmonies of the Erebor Theme that greeted Dwalin are reprised as a whole troop of dwarves lands on top of each other and on Bilbo’s front door mat, Gandalf the Grey appearing behind them with his theme (2:15), this time heard in full as a warm and expansive string reading as the wizard’s hand behind all these events is revealed.
Now that Bag End is full of dwarves and the music spins into a series of variations on Bilbo’s Antics (2:24->)as the music whirls with woodwind and string solos and rhythmic runs as the Hobbit swirls around in his vain attempt to contain the busy bustle of the dinner preparing guests, the Shire Theme’s pitches of the Rural Setting dancing about with humorous alacrity in retrogrades (meaning the theme is essentially played backwards pitch-wise), the style reminiscent of the Hobbit Antics motif from LotR.
When Gandalf inquires from Dwaling where their leader is, the stout dwarven warrior answers that Thorin has travelled to a council of dwarves in the Blue Mountains and this mention of the Dwarf Lords earns the score’s only quote of the theme on noble horns (3:45), another piece that was originally designed as musical foreshadowing as more distant kin of Thorin’s company, Iron Hill dwarves, and their lords will play a larger role the final film but alas the theme appears here one and final time as it was discarded before the next two scores were written and remains one of the curious “what could have beens” of this score.
In the Making
Several sections of this piece were re-scored, in essence removing a whole development of a new motif for the dwarves’ invasion of Bilbo’s kitchen and pantry (passage beginning at 2:24) and replacing it with an entirely new playful variation on the Shire's thematic ideas.
4. Blunt the Knives (Exclusive Bonus Track) (Music by Stephen Gallagher, lyrics by J.R.R.Tolkien) (1:01)
When the rowdy feasting is over, the dwarves collect Bilbo’s crockery and the fussy hobbit thinks that they are going to break every last one of his plates and mugs because of the rough fashion they handle them and so Kili begins an impromptu song on the subject as the troop with lively enthusiasm joins him to do the dishes. The melody is composed by Stephen Gallagher, a New Zealand composer and the music editor of the Hobbit films. Peter Jackson once again had Plan 9 and now in addition Stephen Gallagher handling the diegetic music throughout the trilogy much as they did on Lord of the Rings, and it is a Celtic flavoured jig with mischievous slightly altered lyrics from the novel itself. And by the end of the song all the plates and mugs are in neat stacks and piles on the table, miraculously unbroken no less.
5. Axe or Sword? (5:58)
And just as the kitchen chores are done there is a heavy demanding knock on the door as Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the dwarf company arrives. And with him arrives his theme, Thorin’s melody rising on proud yet somewhat subdued horns and stately strings as he steps in out of the night and is introduced. Thorin, obviously an important dwarf, assesses the “burglar” and seems to find him wanting so Thorin’s Theme continues regal and a touch haughty, hobbity rhythmic lower strings and clarinet answering for Bilbo with slight indignation. Thorin’s Theme continues with its bassoon, clarinet and strings warming ever so little towards the halfling while hinting at the connection to Erebor Theme as well.
As the company sits down to discuss their plans, Thorin tells of the ill news from the council in Ered Luin, the dwarf lords of the other Seven Houses having refused to help in retaking of Erebor. At this moment Gandalf as quick as ever presents the dwarves a kernel of hope, when he produces an old map from the sleeve of his robes, the appearance of the Lonely Mountain on it earning the ever ascending Erebor Theme (0:57) on august horns over tremoloing low register strings, the melody then passed on to cor anglais. Dwarvish slowly rising and falling figures continue in the strings and horn as Oin tells of favourable portents to reclaim the kingdom and Thorin’s Theme appears in yearning tones to greet his good omens for the Quest.
But as he mentions the Beast gloomy hue slithers into the music (1:34), a new inverted variation on Smaug’s the Golden Theme, heard so fervent and fiery in the prologue, now travels cold and malevolent from oboe to the pinched stopped horns and high register strings over the hollow ghostly clang of Tibetan gongs and deep rumble of the double basses, creating in the process another new motif for the dragon's thematic family, The Malice of Smaug, the music here expressing Bilbo’s apprehension as Bofur describes Smaug the Terrible to him. Shore’s approach is subtle, Bilbo’s imagination incapable of conjuring the actual Smaug or his horror, so the rendition of the theme remains veiled here, but it casts a sudden momentary pall over Bag End, causing the nervous dwarves to bicker among themselves on how to best defeat this menace.
Thorin breaks this argument with firm hand, Erebor Theme sounding in the horns once more (1:55) as the leader of the company bolsters the confidence of his disheartened followers, the melody travelling again to cor anglais and on to strings that sing a warm, hopeful and proud reading of Thorin’s Theme that ends in a slight horn crescendo to emphasize the moment of decision, the prince calling to his company to follow him, the group now cheering with enthusiasm. The horn tones darken momentarily when Balin reminds his fellow dwarves that the great front gates to the mountain are sealed as Smaug himself guards that entrance but as an answer and solution to this obstacle Gandalf produces an intricately carven key of obvious dwarvish make, the luminous music of the Arkenstone (2:39) rekindling their hopes as Shore ties this motif now to The Map and Key as well, all heirlooms of Thorin and treasures of the lost kingdom and Thorin’s Theme answers in its most optimistic variation thus far when the dwarves ponder the meaning of Gandalf’s gift and how useful it could be to the Quest.
The talk turns to the burglary and inevitably to Bilbo, whose protestations to the contrary earn a light clarinet phrase over rhythmic string figures derived from the Shire theme (3:20) as he tries to dispel the misapprehension that he is indeed an expert treasure hunter. This causes another frustrated argument among the doubtful dwarves and tremoloing strings shudder when Gandalf reveals a fraction of his power, the room darkening and the wizard’s voice booming like thunder, silencing the company (3:40), the final sustained chord on horns and strings hanging in the air as it makes here a subtle thematic connection, the harmonies being the same that open Gandalf the Grey Theme.
Now the wizard beseeches Thorin to trust him on his choice of Bilbo Baggins to join the company and an impassionate melody (3:53), perhaps a variation on Thorin’s Theme, plays on fervent strings as the dwarf leader after a moment of consideration finally agrees. This is followed (4:18) by a sudden flowing climbing melodic figure on celli over a glowing haze of tremoloing violins and violas as Thorin warns the wizard that he cannot guarantee the Hobbit’s safety on the journey, the music opening to a fateful yet optimistic statement as Gandalf acknowledges the danger but is still keen to send Bilbo with the company. But as he hobbit reads his “burglar contract” but alas his nerves can’t handle the possibilities of being lacerated, eviscerated or incinerated by a dragon and so he passes out on his living room rug.
When the small hobbit comes to and has calmed down with a cup of tea in his hand, Gandalf takes measure of the situation, trying to awaken the Tookish side in Bilbo but this is more easily said than done. Strings open tentatively with Shire’s rhythmic lilt (4:35) as the wizard begins the story of the Bullroarer Took, Bilbo’s distant heroic ancestor, a solo clarinet warmly presenting us the first appearance of the Bilbo’s Theme (Dreaming of Bag End) that represents the quiet-loving side of the Hobbit, the melody nostalgic and comforting, the music full of the warmth of the Shire, violins and harp developing the phrase further. Solo horn presents the Tookish Side theme (5:05) almost ruefully as he is now both afraid and intrigued by the notion of the adventure. When he asks Gandalf will he return from this journey alive and well, the wizard gives no certain answer, the second part of Tookish Side on solo clarinet with an answering horn phrase almost disappointed as the upward reaching end of the theme winds on strings into a calm but slightly bittersweet finish when our protagonist seemingly refuses the adventure set before him and walks away.
In the Making
The final discussion between Gandalf and Bilbo was re-scored and uses the Shire themes instead of Bilbo's thematic material as the film makers often decided to emphasize the general idea of hobbit nature rather than Bilbo specifically, which necessitated new variations of the Shire themes to be written to replace Shore's original intentions using Bilbo's themes.
6. Misty Mountains (Music by Plan 9, lyrics by J.R.R. Tolkien) (1:41)
As the night deepens the dwarves begin a song, one of many made in their exile, telling of the loss and eventual reclaiming of their kingdom. Thorin first sings alone but gradually the others add their low voices into an almost a chant like melody, deep rooted and stoic in dwarven fashion. The words are an excerpt from the song found in the novel, the melody penned by the Plan 9 but here also begins an important thematic thread, which runs through the whole score as the dwarves begin their quest. The melody of the song, which tells of reclaiming of Erebor, becomes a musical motto for Thorin’s company and their goal, which travels from diegetic form into the score and follows the dwarves and Bilbo ever after. Howard Shore implements the theme in the underscore in various ways and thus it becomes a leitmotif in its own right.
7. The Adventure Begins (2:05)
Mid-morning light shines through the windows of Bag End and disturbs Bilbo’s slumber. As he wakes up and cautiously walks through the empty and curiously dwarf free home high strings sing a wistful yet ethereal melody that climbs much the same way as the one heard in Axe or Sword? when Thorin and Gandalf discuss Bilbo’s part in the adventure but this time it seems to be a reference to the Misty Mountains theme, almost a ghostly reminder of the song Bilbo heard the previous night. But here it transitions to upward leaping Shire whole steps in expectation although the old Baggins side, which is holding Bilbo back, sways in the lower strings in triple meter and reluctant solo clarinet hints at Bilbo’s Antics (0:41) to voice objections as the Hobbit stands in the middle of his living room and has a brief inner struggle, two sides of is persona tugging at him. When he suddenly sees that the contract is still on his table, with a rising light tremolo on strings the Tookish Side wins (1:05), sounding warm and excited as it soon sends him on a mad dash down the Hill in search for the dwarves.
Here the Shire material takes a frantic yet playful and jubilant cast, reminding us of the similar sprightly and sprinting music for Frodo and company fleeing certain farmer Maggot in the FotR, the fragments of the Shire theme spinning away as flitting woodwind runs and fast accompanying figures from the Shire’s instrumental palette, plucked mandolin, dulcimer and guitar propel him on his way, the score opening into a joyous poignantly rising version of the Pensive Setting as Bilbo informs his neighbours that “I’m going on an adventure!” disappearing down the lane towards Bywater as the music crescendos triumphantly.
8. The World Is Ahead (2:21)
Bilbo catches up with the dwarven company and a similar ethereal strings and dulcimer colouration that underscored his awakening at Bag End trembles in anticipation underneath as he holds up his signed contract, which he hands over to Balin. Bilbo’s Adventure peeks out hopeful on the clear tin whistle as strings pace rhythmically in triple meter when the Hobbit is accepted into the company and the journey is about to begin in earnest, a heroic horn and string reading the theme (0:44) calls out to send the troupe on its way rising in optimism the melody now bolstered by sturdy dwarven tones. But soon enough fussy Bilbo’s Antics (0:58) dances forth as the worried Hobbit is hoisted on a pony, a new experience for him, and then he exclaims much to the amusement of his companions that he left his home without a handkerchief, a pinched clarinet singing out compressed variants of Bilbo’s music, the rhythm hinting at Bilbo’s Antics.
When Thorin’s company is finally on the road a slow, proud expansive brass and strings statement of The Misty Mountains with percussive forward moving undercurrent (1:32->) charts their travels through the land, the song now transformed into a travelling theme and another symbol of the Quest of Erebor, the dwarven determination and heroism now attached to the melody as they leave the Shire and cross the Lone Lands on their way to the Misty Mountains.
9. An Ancient Enemy (4:58)
The company has stopped for the night under a cliffside and Bilbo, who can’t sleep, walks about anxious. Fili and Kili play a joke on him and scare the Hobbit with stories of orcs, when Thorin grimly interrupts and admonishes the younger dwarves, who are taken aback. Balin, who also is awake, then tells to the Hobbit and the pair that their leader has a good reason to hate the orcs so vehemently. The music kindles as the old dwarf recalls the Battle of Azanulbizar outside the gates of Moria when Thrór tried to retake the city from the orcs many years ago. Shore explores in this music further the dwarven motifs but also brings back prominently the Moria’s parallel fifths as the events take before it’s gates.
Low orchestral rumbling, grand piano, basses and horns slowly rise in series of chords that take us back in time, the dwarven/Moria parallel fifths suddenly leaping into the chanted male choir led Ancient Enemies Theme that possesses characteristically dwarven timbres but here weighty, fatal and rhythmically taut as we are brought in medias res of the battle, the orc hosts in vicious combat with the dwarves. When the name of Azog, the orc king of Moria, is uttered by Balin, dissonant string figures climb urgently to herald his appearance, our first full view of him earning the first rendition of Azog’s Theme (0:59) in its cruel and violent low brass guise, the motif blaring on tuba and trombones augmented by a dramatic gong crash.
Bilbo listens intently as Balin recounts how Azog slew Thrór and the score seems to halt for a moment, the long phrases of the new development of the Ancient Enemies Theme making things appear like in slow motion before horns, grand piano and percussion gradually explode into a controlled crescendo at 1:20, parallel fifth choral figures announcing Thrór’s demise. The tide of the battle turns, the dwarves are on the run, the Dwarven music of Moria, sung by a male choir chanting in stoic grief as they flee. But then Thorin’s Theme appears in the midst of the voices (1:56) as the dwarf prince rallies his kin and faces Azog in a duel to avenge his grand father. Moria parallel fifths appear now (2:04), the musical progression very reminiscent of the ever ascending music heard in The Fellowship of the Ring, the male voices now chanting proudly in Khuzdûl over orchestral support while Thorin faces the Pale Orc. The music climbs ever higher in suspense, strings straining into upper registers with the parallel fifth figures, percussion and brass keening underneath as Azog gains upper hand with his ferocious speed and strength, disarming Thorin. The young prince takes hold of an oak branch to shield himself, earning for his famous defense the name Oakenshield in the process, and as he finally reaches for a sword and hews off Azog’s hand the choir in grim determination rises, singing the Moria theme in almost harsh tones. With Azog’s defeat the enemy is routed.
Solo trumpet calls out Thorin’s Theme (2:53) as a musical rallying cry as the dwarves follow him into battle, the dwarven voices again singing in triumphant choral defiance as the warriors rush against the orcish hordes and thus the day is won.
But it is not a victory to be savoured, the dwarven dead beyond count and the living now too few to retake Moria and so dark low string layers, sombre horns and the mournful dwarven choir grieve with the survivors. Balin then in admiration remembers how Thorin showed his worth, being the true leader his kin would be ready to follow, and a noble setting of Thorin’s Theme (3:59) on strings and solo trumpet calls out in its longest development yet, the melody continuing as the whole company now rises to show their uniform admiration and respect to their leader.
And while the dwarven company reminisces the past, in the wilds in the darks woods on the other side of the ravine a new danger lurks, a trellis of sickening double bass and celli tremolos warning the listener of the danger as horns burst into an ominous statement of Azog’s Theme (4:37) when a Warg rider appears on screen, the track ending in a mounting dissonant burst from low strings, percussion and horns . The enemy has found them. Thorin’s group is now being hunted.
10. Radagast the Brown (Extended Version) (6:38)
The journey continues under a gentle summer rain and Dori asks Gandalf if he could, since he is a wizard after all, do something about it. When the old man answers that he doesn’t hold sway over the weather of the world, Bilbo wet and miserable, now pointedly asks of the existence of other perhaps more powerful wizards. Gruffly Gandalf recounts the short list of the members of his order the Istari, and the Gandalf the Grey Theme appears on strings to colour his wizardly count but as he mentions Radagast the Brown it is not the Brown wizard’s music but rather Gandalf’s Secondary Theme (0:20-0:37) that appears as he tells of Mirkwood and how Radagast tends the woods and animals there, the boys choir singing the sage, climbing and ever higher rising secondary theme to the words by Philippa Boyens as the story moves to the forest lands far away in the East:
Meno edveno / O Galad vos i lais. Lim meno lim / Na fuin , tri dhuaith...
Away! Away! / From soft leaf-light. Hurry! Hurry! / Through dark of night...
All is not well in Mirkwood and as we see Radagast, an eccentric hermit-like wizard wildly moving through the forest and finding a growing sickness and darkness, an eerie and foreboding motif doggedly follows his footsteps, Radagast the Brown's Secondary Theme (0:38-0:51) calling out in the boys choir, perhaps a reference to the music of Nature but more eerie here, as the same lyrics that were attached to Gandalf’s story just prior now refer to the darkening of the woods.
Radagast flits behind trees and bushes, collects mushrooms, investigates tree sap and finds dead or dying animals, all to the agitated tune of Radagast the Brown Theme (0:52-1:13) a jittery collection of musical devices, solo fiddle scratching a repeating cyclical melody on the top of a ticking, pecking collection of percussion instruments (shakers, gourds and woodblocks) and all the while lower strings perform short pointed up-and-down flitting figures underneath. When the wizard finds a dying friend, a hedgehod called Sebastian, Radagast the Brown's Secondary Theme appears again (1:14-1:39), this time in the strings, to note the strange affliction of the forest and the animals. It is slowly overtaken by the snapping percussion that propels Radagast to his home at Rhosgobel where he tries to save Sebastian.
Radagast the Brown Theme scurries on (1:40-2:04) as the man tries feverishly in many ways to heal the hedgehog, the exotic series of remedies underscored by a see-sawing solo violin line and urgent string figures inherent in the theme. But nothing seems to work and Radagast is at a loss, when a sudden string cry halts his theme and another subtle compressed variant of Radagast the Brown's Secondary Theme appears (2:05-2:14) in the string section as he finally understands what is at the root of this suffering.
Sorcery! The realization conjures an urgent string line that rises into a alarming and foreboding oboe solo and ominously rising high violins, when a croaking 8-note tone row interrupts as it repeats in the deep woodwinds, double basses and celli to signal the arrival of The Mirkwood Spiders and Sebastian’s apparent death. A sorrowful violin passage mourns the hedgehog for a brief spell (2:56-3:07) and only now the wizard becomes aware that his home is surrounded by giant arachnids, who crawl outside of his door and up his walls and are trying to get inside. Tense, nearly panicking bubbling and winding woodwind lines and ever tightening screeching string dissonances and the ominous gong hits underscore Radagast hurriedly detach a crystal from his staff and with the apparently lifeless hedgehog in his lap beginning a fervent incantation in Quenya to drive out the darkness. As the music reaches fever pitch the dark miasma is drawn from the animal, Sebastian springing to life once more.
But Radagast doesn’t have time for relief, for the enemy is now curiously receding into the forest, the Mirkwood spiders disappearing from sight. The orchestra again springs to action with Radagast the Brown Theme (3:48), the jittery violins and violas and steady up-and-down motion of the basses first presenting the emblematic quick progressions of the theme that lead into the solo violin that saws away with considerable tremoloing vibrato to enhance the driving urgency of the moment. Here Shore further expands Radagast’s musical palette as the boys choir, mostly associated with the purity of Nature by Shore in his music for Middle-earth, begins a powerful and rhythmically charged chant (4:08) as one of the wizard's bird companions appears to bring news of the source of the evil, the choir’s melodic line the same that appeared previously in strings and in the solo violin, percussion adding further element of manic hurry into the scene as we transition explosively to Radagast on a sled pulled by gigantic rabbits, the choral line continuing fervent but trailing ominously into silence as he heads through the forest towards Dol Guldur.
The Special Edition Soundtrack VS The Regular Soundtrack Album and the Film Version
This piece was almost entirely replaced and re-scored in the film, the film makers opting for a much less colourful approach, omitting in the process the quirky and nervous music for Radagast almost altogether. Gone is the jittery violin and scurrying woodwind and string figures as is the choir that sings both Gandalf’s Secondary Theme and the Radagast the Brown's Secondary motif, leaving only fragments of this music intact or referenced in the new composition found in the finished film.
It is not easy to say, was Shore’s original approach heard on the album meant to score the cut we see in the final film. The music continues on the Special Edition album longer than the scene itself running over 6 minutes opposed to the little over 4 minute length of the scene. One can only make guesses whether the scene was considerably longer at some point or is the music after 4 minute mark an alternate cue placed at end the of the track as a bonus a cue or even was this music perhaps meant to score part of the same scene or music from some entirely different section of the film. As some hints of the 2 minutes of bonus material featuring the themes associated with the Necromancer are heard in the scene in the film. This music probably underscored a different cut of this scene where we see Radagast first repelling the sorcery and the spiders and then arriving at Dol Guldur and exploring the ancient fortress as the themes for the Necromancer present in the composition would suggest.
Shore presents in the extended composition a new theme, Dol Guldur Descending Thirds, that marches forth (4:50) on threatening low brass and woodwinds, the theme repeating obsessively over the clash of bowed cymbals (a staple Shore musical effect). The Dol Guldur Descending Thirds continue like a gnawing mystery in the deepest reaches of the orchestra, churning and grinding until unexpectedly the music surges into a series of three pitches, the Threat of Dol Guldur (6:10) offering imperious and forceful music for the growing power of the Necromancer, that alarmingly summons another motif in its wake, a ghostly rhaita led rendition of Necromancer’s Theme (6:23) that quickly trails off incomplete, a doom laden musical harbinger.
11. Trollshaws (Exclusive Bonus Track) (2:09)
The dwarven company camps near an abandoned farmstead and after a brief terse discussion between Gandalf and Thorin the wizard storms off in a foul mood because of the dwarven leader’s obstinate refusal to continue on to Rivendell because it is a refuge of the elves and Thorin harbours vehement grudge against all elves because the wood elves refused to help his kin when Erebor was attacked.
At night Bilbo is sent to bring food to Fili and Kili who are guarding the ponies. A winding celli and double bass melody, moody and quite ominous opens the piece as Bilbo walks into the woods with bowls in his hands. When he comes to the pair of young dwarves, who we see staring concerned at the ponies, a small rhythmic reminder of Bilbo’s Antics (0:16) plays to inform us that something is a bit off. Fili announces that two of the steeds are missing and equally alarmed string clusters bloom in the orchestra as a sign of trouble and while the trio searches for explanation to this disappearance pinched clarinet and low woodwind and string phrase repeats (0:36) before a nervously growing orchestral crescendo when a large uprooted tree is shown, the Hobbit deducing that something rather large and quite possibly dangerous absconded the animals.
When Fili mentions the possibility of Trolls ominous tremoloing strings and deep ascending horn line and double bass figure (0:56-1:14) and the low rumble of a gong conjure the first hint of the Trolls Theme, a menacing growl, the composer compressing the figure before unleashing a full renditions of the motif (1:16-1:41) when one of the monsters comes tramping through the trees with one missing pony under each arm, the 4-note nucleus of the ponderous and brutish idea repeating in the deepest strings, menacingly low brass and pounding bass drum interspersed by halting rhythmic string figures that seem to represent Bilbo’s Antics figure quivering before this gargantuan threat.
Pizzicato celli and basses (1:42) over fluttering woodwinds and violins repeat the Trolls Theme as Bilbo is sent by Fili and Kili after the lumbering creature, the music scoring the humorous predicament but keeping the threat of the Trolls clearly focused, the string section rising to a slight swell as Bilbo traipses after the beast.
12. Roast Mutton (Extended Version) (4:58)
In this scene Shore carefully follows the beats of the scene and when the focus goes from the Trolls to Bilbo the music changes accordingly, the Trolls Theme dancing on pizzicati strings when Bilbo’s stealthy activities are seen and switching to heavier orchestrations when the Trolls are on screen. In the movie the scene is scored with a mix of music and carefully placed silences, where each provide a needed suspenseful or comedic effect.
The track opens with another rendition of the transposed version of the Trolls Theme in waltz time plays on low brass over tremoloing string section as Bilbo sneaks closer to the clearing where the trio of Trolls is preparing their supper over a large fire. The full reveal of the monsters earns a ponderously low variant of the theme on double basses, which is answered by the violins, a cut switching quickly to pizzicati strings as Bilbo creeps around the clearing towards the troll's makeshift paddock in his attempt to save the ponies.
The Hobbit spots a vicious looking blade on Tom’s belt, very suitable for cutting the bonds that hold the ponies behind the fence and his first attempt to retrieve is a humorous failure, the Bilbo’s Antics motif swaying playfully on woodwinds and mandolin to underscore his nervous heroism (0:30-0:40).
The brief exchange of the trio and Bilbo’s second attempt at burglary receive another slightly more plodding series of pizzicato renditions of the Trolls Theme over sizzlingly suspenseful high strings that grow gradually heavier when Shore introduces more lower woodwinds into the orchestration. While the Hobbit makes his second grab at the weapon, more fateful series of celli and double bass renditions of the motif bolstered by grunting brass lead into a horrified crescendo on the tremoloing strings when Tom by accident catches Bilbo (1:36).
After an unscored interrogation the Trolls decide to capture their small Burr-a-hobbit intruder to pry more information about his friends out of him and the score returns as the trio is trying to catch the small creature. Tense and oppressive transposed variants of the Trolls Theme loom over Bilbo threateningly (1:38) when the oafish brutes attack and finally as plodding and pulsing brass chords swell Bill grabs our small hero by the legs and dangles him in the air.
But the help is not far away as Kili dashes to the rescue from the forest to the valiant rhythmically ascending strains of what sounds like something between Bilbo's Adventure and Erebor Theme on horns that are supported by resolute lower string pulse (2:09), the bold leaping setting similar to the Uillean pipes led variation heard on the bonus track Erebor. The Trolls turn to meet this new enemy and the Misty Mountains Theme calls out tense yet determined on brass with resounding percussion in tow, trombones answering the horns as the whole dwarven company joins the battle to rescue the hobbit.
A fierce musical battle ensues, the Trolls represented by snatches of their plodding material and aggressively stomping percussion section, the brass hurtling dissonantly blaring aleatoric howls at the heroic dwarven fanfares in combat for supremacy, the ¾ waltz time of the Troll Theme taking firm hold of the score as the creatures seem to get the upper hand. The mounting fluttering and screaming brass and string dissonances and merciless percussive blasts beating the troupe into submission with their staccato force (3:26-3:39) that end in a surging tremolo of high strings when the enemy forces the dwarves to capitulate under the threat that the Trolls will tear the Hobbit to pieces.
The dwarves are then summarily tied, gagged and stuffed into sacks, except for those unfortunates who are put above the fire to be cooked and eaten. Bilbo in his desperation sees that dawn is approaching and decides to play for time, knowing sunlit is the trolls' chief weakness. Shore answers with a waltzing rhythm derived either from Bilbo’s Antics motif or the Troll’s Theme, the music tugging humorously as the Hobbit starts his bluff, speaking nervous nonsense to his gargantuan captors about how to best season a dwarf. Soon to his relief our diminutive hero spies a grey robed shape flitting behind the rocks at the edge of the clearing. The wizard has returned!
And even though they are not out of trouble yet the score allows for a quick hopeful and expectant rendition of Gandalf the Grey Theme (3:56) on glowing higher strings while the celli and basses present the Trolls Theme in counterpoint which then travels to solo clarinet over the soft tread of percussion, the motif halfway between the Trolls Theme and the Weakness and Redemption derived figure signalling a sudden turn of events and Bilbo’s quick thinking.
But the slow witted cooks are getting tired of Bilbo’s culinary advise and once again the high strings start ascending into a tense knot as the Trolls decide to just eat the dwarves as they are but suddenly the violins weave a winding luminous melodic line which lead into rhythmic strains of Gandalf the Grey Theme that now appears with the wizard on strings and horns and crescendos triumphantly as he splits the cliff face and releases the rays of the rising sun on the Trolls, turning them all to stone.
The Special Edition Soundtrack VS The Regular Soundtrack Album and the Film Version
The Special Edition soundtrack presents what is to be construed as Shore’s original take on the scene although this version leaves out several smaller sections compared to the final film version, perhaps with listening experience in mind perhaps because they were rewritten at the director's behest. The composer’s original concept uses much more dissonant and aggressive and less heroic approach for the combat with the Trolls honing in on the ferocity and chaos of the situation and presents a token appearance of the Misty Mountains Theme. This version of the battle music does not appear in the film in this form but sections of it made it to the movie.
The Regular Edition soundtrack uses a full fledged and broadly orchestrated brassy rendition of the Misty Mountains Theme when the dwarven company battles the monsters, the theme repeating twice during the confrontation. This version in a slightly modified way is used also in the film and it can be guessed that the film makers wanted to give the whole scene a more heroic cast and at the same time attach this musical idea firmly to the dwarves, their heroism and their quest in the minds of the viewers/listeners. The Regular Edition of the track is truncated compared to the SE version and leaves out music from the ending of the scene.
One notable difference between the album versions and the film (apart from containing the above mentioned alternate revised passages) is that the final statement of the Gandalf the Grey Theme lacks the short luminous choral burst present in the movie as Gandalf splits the rock and the sun shines through, which was probably a late addition into the cue at the sessions.
13. Troll-Hoard (2:38)
Tom, Bert and Bill have been petrified, turned to stone by the rays of the morning sun and Gandalf muses that these three must have had some kind of shelter, perhaps a cave, to use during day time and our heroes make a search of the area. They soon find a dark entrance in a cliff face that leads deep into the stench and decay filled abode of the trolls, where heaps of treasure, stolen and discarded weapons and bones of the monsters’ helpless victims litter the floor. Wizard leads part of the troupe down into the darkness and chilling and ominous yawning string lines on violins and answering a compressed motif suggesting the Trolls Theme on celli follow theirs steps. When their sight is finally focused in the fluttering torch light on the troll-hoard (0:46-1:06) and its ancient treasures, chests of coins, jewels and racks of weapons, a gloomy variation on the Suffering of Durin's Folk calls out again on celli and is answered by the violins, the moment a harsh reminder to the dwarven prince of the lost wealth and glories of Erebor but the composer is also making a subtle reference to the corrupting influence of such riches and the dwarven greed when Bofur and others obviously covet the contents of the trolls' ill-gotten stores.
Gandalf and Thorin inspect the swords in the pale musical light of the string section and as the wizard tells him that these swords were forged not by Men but Elves of Gondolin in the First Age, the celli and higher strings open into an expansive lyrical statement of subtle awe, a winding oboe line decorating the statement (1:33) evoking lost grandeur. Thorin hesitates to take the Elven weapon as his old hatred still burns deep in his stubborn mind but as Gandalf gruffly admonishes him, he unsheathes the weapon, the string section rising ever so slightly at the reveal of the blade, Gandalf the Grey Theme appearing (1:49) on solo clarinet to mark the wizard’s approval of his own elegant weapon.
String layers, double basses and celli perform a rising fragment of what seems to be somewhere between the Trolls Theme and the Weakness and Redemption figures, the high strings murmuring suspensefully on top to remind us of the origins of the hoard, play as the dwarves bury part of the treasure (1:52), oboe’s sharp voice noting Thorin’s further inspection of his sword and pizzicato celli and double bass notes offering a subtle comedic slant to the dwarves’ “long term deposit” of the found gold as Dwalin looks on his comrades’ unabashed greed with slight disgust, his pride not allowing for him to take part in such base activities.
And so our explorers depart the caves, deep woodwinds, bassoons in particular, exploring the Trolls' Theme/Weakness and Redemption opening notes underneath violin and viola layers (2:16) when Gandalf suddenly spots something among the debris, a dagger of Elvish make and the low orchestral sounds give away to contrasting high violins as he picks up the dagger and returns to the company.
14. Hill of Sorcery (3:51)
Gandalf offers Bilbo the dagger he just found but the Hobbit first refuses it saying that he has never wielded a weapon. A sombre string phrase underscore the moment but as Gandalf tells Bilbo that true courage is not about knowing when to take a life but rather when to spare one and to emphasize the meaning of the moment the clarinet presents a gentle reading of A Hobbit’s Understanding with warm strings accompaniment, the music making an emotional statement while also drawing subtextual connection to Fellowship of the Ring, to Frodo’s and Gandalf’s discussion in Moria and at the same time presaging the events to come in the Hobbit, where the wizard’s wisdom and Bilbo’s hobbit nature will rule the fate of many.
But the theme is interrupted after its first phrase as the ensemble reaches a slight crescendo, steady tread of percussion over winding string phrases, suggesting the Trolls Theme, announcing alarmly that something is approaching and the company prepares hastily to meet this oncoming threat, the forest floor rustling as the yet unseen menace approaches.
But the music, Radagast the Brown Theme (0:48), reveals an ally instead of an enemy as it hastily spins its urgent string figures over the constant ticking of the sharp percussion and agitated celli, double bass and woodwind phrases when the wizard appears through the underbrush in his sled and bursts onto the forest clearing crying havoc!
Gandalf slightly puzzled greets his distant colleague and inquires what has upset Radagast so and when the wizards confer while the rest of the company listens on, Radagast the Brown Theme continuously stops and starts, the score haltingly humorous. Winding quick phrases of the theme repeat in fragments, both the restless cyclical string lines and the lower register woodwind and double bass figures illustrating the befuddled mind of the nature wizard and his constantly broken train of thought, which is now also troubled by a stick insect.
As Radagast finally begins his tale he reports of the strange dark sickness of the Greenwood, the decay and corruption and the appearance of the gigantic spiders (1:43) a lugubrious theme crawls forth, the Dol Guldur Descending Thirds, on lowest woodwinds, bassoons, contrabassoon and bass clarinets repeating in grave tones that continue as the wizard names the source of this evil, Dol Guldur, and cold whining high strings above and trombones and tuba below appear to evoke Gandalf’s foreboding as he in disbelief claims that he thought the old fortress abandoned.
Alas the Brown Wizard knows better and the Dol Guldur Descending Thirds gains even more ponderous and urgent tone (2:27) as we now see in flashback Radagast exploring the ghostly, bramble choked and crumbling fortress at the heart of the southern Greenwood, the motif bolstered by the brass section in their darkest timbres, bowed and rubbed cymbals clashing and gnashing, the double basses carrying the piece slowly forward.
There at the heart of the Dol Guldur Radagast proceeds warily but suddenly the Threat of Dol Guldur surges forth (2:52) to announce an ambush, the brooding horns and trombones rising in menace. The appearance of the ghostly assassin, a wraith, earns a banshee wail from the string section that keens in dissonant tremolos (3:02) and as the pair does battle powerful fluttering horn fanfares proclaim the wizard’s might as he bests the creature, that leaves behind a dagger, a Morgul Blade. But at that very moment the Brown Wizard perceives the master of the fortress, the Necromancer, whose appearance, a shadow in the darkness of his abode conjures up the Necromancer’s Theme (3:13) on the double reeds, the African rhaita wailing with exotic malice, steady pulsing beat of percussion and urgent double basses evoking horror and deadly danger.
And so Radagast the Brown flees, the cyclical string figures so emblematic to Radagast’s music gain a manic speed and fervour as he runs from Dol Guldur and to his sled, the ever quickening pace of the music and the portentous brass and percussion ratcheting up the tension as he speeds away with gigantic bats on his tail and heads to warn the members of his order of this new evil.
15. Warg-Scouts (3:05)
Radagast has barely finished his disconcerting story when the company hears blood curdling howls filling the woods. Alarmed the group notices that their ponies have bolted and run away and when Bofur claims that the cries are not that of mere wolves, a pair of Wargs, gigantic wolf like creatures, leap from the underbrush. Thorin and others dispatch them quickly but where the warg howls, there also the orc prowls and Gandalf hastens the now steedless group into flight as their hunters can’t be far behind.
When we see the Orc hunters for the first time the music leaps to life with rhythmic drive. Shore presents the Wargs and their riders with a forceful staccato motif, the brass belting out a rolling melody consisting of oppressive descending 4-note phrases while the high strings present sharp jabs, hinting at the harmonies of the Ringwraiths in the underlying rhythm, drawing again musical connections between the orcs in pursuit and the powers of Mordor that loom at the far edges of this story. As the Brown Wizard on his rabbit sled tries to lure the pack off the trail of the company, Radagast the Brown Theme’s swirling string motif becomes entwined with the Wargs music (0:08-0:18), the wizard flitting about the hills around the pain of Bruinen at an amazing speed.
Drums beat a primal rhythm as they underscore the feverish escape of Thorin’s company through the thinly wooded hillocks and the driving brass fanfares call out as the ferocious monsters give chase to Radagast. The Warg Theme again hurries to the fore (0:44), the almost fugue like repetition heightening the sense of pursuit as they nearly catch up with the Rhosgobel rabbits but Radagast the Brown theme (1:01-1:11) runs circles around them in the dizzying ever winding motion of the string section while percussion bounds on, the Warg Theme growling in menace (1:13->).
A lonely Warg rider leaves the pack in the middle of the chase when his mount catches the scent of the escaping dwarves. He approaches the rock formation under which the company is hiding and dissonantly mounting high strings and relentless double bass and percussion rhythm raises the tension as the low brass repeats a 4-note section of the Wargs Theme (1:31). The brass erupts in blaring ascending phrases over the ever tightening high strings when the dwarves ambush the scout, and slay the rider and the Warg. All wait and hope that they might have gone unnoticed, the unbearable tension climbing ever on in the pained tremoloing strings.
But the leader of the hunters, Yaznek, hears the faint death cries of the orc scout and commands the whole Warg pack to charge towards the company’s hiding place, the insistent rhythm that has driven the piece continuing with fresh vigour (2:02). Gandalf has with his usual timely wizardly punctuality found a way to escape the the Wargs, a passage through the rock, a hidden cave on the plain behind a hillock. Surrounded by the pulsing rhythm in the lower strings and heavy percussion that constantly skirts the Warg Theme Thorin heroically defends the retreating dwarves and the Erebor Theme erupts on proud yet strained horns to exclaim his determination and valiant efforts (2:09) as he covers his comrades’ escape and is the last one to dive into the safety of the cave before the approaching Warg horde.
Up on the plain the orcs and their mounts, who have just lost their quarry, suddenly find that the tide has turned on them when they suddenly face a new enemy. The orchestra plunges into a militaristic and driving horn reading of the Lothlorien Theme (2:30) bolstered with snare drum and heavy battery of percussion to announce the appearance of a squadron of elven warriors on horseback. Shore’s music seems to offer us a piece of musical misdirection or commentary, the appearance of the Lothlorien theme perhaps enhancing the mysterious appearance of these unknown allies, who swiftly and determinedly dispatch the orcs, the score moving from heroic fanfares for the unexpected rescue to suspenseful web of the tremoloing string layers when we see the leader of the pack Yaznek and few of his followers barely escaping with their life and Thorin grimly noting that the rescuers are indeed Elves as he inspects an arrow from a corpse of an orc who landed in the cave during the swift and brutal fracas.
The Soundtrack Album VS The Film
The soundtrack album version of the piece is an edited down version of the music compared to the movie which removes e.g. the repetitive driving solo percussion sections which add to the tension of the scene and some other orchestral passages are removed from the album version. One notable change in the film version is the omission of the Radagast the Brown material altogether and his swirling string material is completely absent and rescored for the movie, which suggests that the film makers in the end opted to remove much of the original musical personality Shore had intended for Radagast from the film.
1. The Hidden Valley (3:49)
Tentative string and woodwind harmonies form a halting melodic line as the dwarven company follows an underground tunnel from the cave to an unknown destination, the rising figures looming over the troop like the cliff faces above them. Thorin is resentful to Gandalf for steering them towards the elven refuge of Rivendell and the lower strings and woodwinds express his apprehension, hinting at Thorin's Theme harmonies. Suddenly the company reaches the ravine’s mouth and steps into the open air again and the music slowly opens into an equally expressive statement, the score quoting another rising and falling string figure (0:41-), which sounds like a slightly modified variant of the Evil Times from the LotR collection of Ring Quest themes although it sounds almost like a sigh of relief, the inherent weariness of that theme subdued here as the valley of Imladris is seen below them and this leads into a tremoloing string crescendo that is accompanied by tubular bells as they stare the opening vista in amazement.
As Bilbo, our protagonist, finally turns his gaze to the great valley Shore takes the orchestra into an opulently expansive reading of the Rivendell Theme (0:59) which exudes wonder, awe and majesty. At this time, long before the War of the Ring, Imladris is timeless and unchanged and thus the theme is still beautifully resounding, its colours bright and gleaming with no signs of diminishment, the arpeggios still flowing with immortal vigour of the elven people and the melody of the theme itself rising gracefully on female chorus amid the glinting elegance of the orchestral chimes and harp glissandi, all extolling the nearly otherworldly allure of Rivendell in the eyes of the hobbit and his companions. The theme is also set to new words in Sindarin, Rivendell Revealed by Philippa Boyens, that beckon the weary travellers to enter in peace:
Edwenno brestaid en-Amar
Lay down your troubles, set aside your fear
The Rivendell Theme moves to its emblematic string arpeggios as the troupe makes its way down to the valley and arrives to the courts of the Last Homely House, the theme’s choral lines rising gracefully ever upwards, evoking the magically serene atmosphere of Elrond’s house. Shore develops the melodic contour of the Rivendell material even further here than he did in LotR, the female choir exploring new avenues through the theme’s harmonies, the tone welcoming, warm and lyrical, the music towering ethereal above the characters like the tall and graceful elven spires of the refuge.
Lindir, one of Elrond’s councillors, greets the company and Gandalf at the gates and the music continues reassuringly gentle and lofty, the rising string figures, woodwinds and light women’s chorus creating a feel of stately refinement all the while Thorin glowers at their host, reluctant in his pride to ask for help from the elves, who he feels are all untrustworthy.
As Gandalf inquires where lord Elrond might be, a slight tension creeps into the music through suspensefully arching string tremolos but the wizard’s question is soon answered by the muscular canter of a new motif (3:14) as the lord of Rivendell, Elrond Half-Elven returns with his warriors, riding to the courtyard and surrounding Thorin’s company, the score leaping into a martial march for brass, percussion and strings, a rare display of aggression in the elven music of Rivendell. While the lower strings form the insistent rhythmic base, the alarmed high strings melody and brass exclamations dot the march, the music illustrating as much the noble Elven warriors and their entrance as it does the dwarves’ distrust of the elves and their fear of being ambushed, the score coming to rest on a reassuring clarinet chord that dispels the fear from the mind of the listener if not from the minds of Thorin and his company who continue to glower at their host.
2. Moon Runes (Extended Version) (3:38)
Elrond dismounts and greets his guests, the dwarves still doubtful, but the score presents a warm token of friendship in a gentle reading of a motif resembling the Evil Times, this time in major key and supported by a reassuring and singing tones of the celli section, the musical idea perhaps suggesting here the reversal of fortunes or just elaborating on the Rivendell arpeggio forms in longer lined exploration. The master of the Last Homely House welcomes Gandalf and his friends into the shelter of his home and an ascending string line accompanied by a subtle harp figure climbs up when Thorin reluctantly accepts the help of the Elven loremaster, the music containing a hint of tension as the two take measure of each other, the dwarven prince showing again his stubborn prejudice against all Elves. Horns continue the phrase but seem to weave dwarven colours into the music, the harmonies pointing toward the dwarven musical colours before fading away into silence.
The music moves ahead to a later scene when Elrond, Gandalf, Thorin, Balin and Bilbo gather in Elrond’s chambers and the wizard urges the dwarf leader to show the map of Erebor to master Elrond. Thorin shows his reluctance yet again, his pride almost getting the better of him but finally surrenders the parchment to the Elven loremaster. As he does so Shore presents a lyrical solo cor anglais reading of the Erebor Theme accompanied by warm low strings (0:59), conjuring up in music the destination of their quest and the crowning of the dwarven hopes, while solo harp answers in descending phrases of the same theme, revealing to us the ever burning desire on Thorin’s mind.
Elrond exclaims to the surprise of all present that the parchment contains hidden moon runes and the Erebor’s ascending idea is joined by a new expansive melody (1:19) on clear horns and strings, which seems to draw its colours from both the Elven and dwarven melodies before soaring into a magnificent string led crescendo around 2 minute mark when Elrond takes them to a special precipice above the valley where he intends to decipher the message hidden in the map.
As the parchment is placed on a table of pure crystal high above the valley floor where waterfalls surround a special vantage, Erebor Theme soars forth, this time on resounding celli and violins and supported by murmuring string layers, and blossoms into a high chorus, a very elven colour, as the moon shines upon the ledge. Here Shore unites the elven and dwarven musical worlds as they are working in rare collaboration and reverses their musical colours. As a gleaming solo trumpet supported by the elven female chorus intones a new mysteriously glowing variant of the Erebor Theme, the celli and basses weave in the Rivendell arpeggios beneath in the low registers, which again is often used for the dwarves.
The knowledge and skill of the Elves helps to reveals a long hidden dwarven secret of Thror’s map as lines of hidden writing appears on its surface. Elrond recites a cryptic message found on the map "Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the key-hole.” and Thorin’s Theme on proud and noble strings and horns animates the dwarf prince’s pondering as he tries to decipher the meaning of this clue and segues to the Erebor Theme, a cor anglais solo answered by the horns when Balin concerned points out that they have to stand at the dwarven secret door at exactly the right time to find and open it before the music draws to a gloomier close on sombre strings as Elrond warns Thorin against the folly of such perilous quest. He enigmatically adds that he and Gandalf are not the only guardians keeping watch over Middle-earth.
The Special Edition Soundtrack VS The Regular Soundtrack Album and the Film Version
The film version of the cue is slightly different than what is presented on the Special Edition soundtrack. The cue used in the movie can be heard on the Regular Edition of the album, which contains a different ending, the luminous music for the revelation of the moon runes followed by silence and omitting Thorin’s Theme altogether and seguing into a soft solo harp statement of Erebor Theme for Balin’s words of dwarven lore and drawing to a mysterious close similar to that found on the extended SE version.
3. The Defiler (1:12)
Meanwhile Yaznek and the orcs who escaped with their lives from their skirmish with the elves report back to their leader in the ruins of the fallen watch tower upon Weather Top. As it is revealed that their master is none other than Azog, who survived his terrible wounds at the battle of Azanulbizar and is now burning with vengeance against Durin’s heir, violently shivering double bass and celli tremolos and chtonic rumble of timpani and percussion awaken Azog’s Theme that growls on the deepest most brutal brass voices (0:05->), repeating with oppressive terror and becoming the focus of single-minded development in this brief cue.
Yaznek prostrates himself and begs for forgiveness for his failure but the Pale Orc is not in a merciful mood. He strangles his minion with a twisted metal hand he now has in place of the one Thorin Oakenshield cut off and throws Yaznek to the wargs while a slowly grinding orchestral rumble with torturous horn progressions climbs to a swirling string crescendo as the canine beasts descend on their former master with the rest of the survivors looking on in quaking fear. Azog proclaims a price on the dwarves’ heads and Azog’s Theme returns (0:56) as a cruel snarl on low brass, horns, trombones and tuba. He commands his riders forth to spread the word and the music again mounts into a dissonant cluster of orchestral sections with lowest voices of the strings, brass and percussion joined by a sickening high end tremolos of the violins and violas, a musical equivalent of foreboding shiver.
4. The White Council (Extended) (9:42)
The piece opens with music for a scene exclusive to the Extended Edition of the film (0:00-3:32), where we see Bilbo exploring the Last Homely House and chancing upon the shards of Narsil. The Rivendell arpeggios flow gracefully underneath on sonorous warm timbres of double basses and graceful celli as the Rivendell Theme harmonies are sung by a serene and clear female chorus, the hue of the music wondrous and probing, underscoring Bilbo’s wonder filled walk through the elven halls.
But all of a sudden a threatening edge creeps into the music (0:38), a familiar but terrifying musical memory, the Mordor Descending Thirds haltingly animating in the lower reaches of the string section and repeating in snippets while high strings create an alarmed sheen over the motif as Bilbo encounters the Sword that Was Broken upon its dais and beside it the terrible image of the contest between Isildur and Sauron in the battle of Gorgoroth in a painting behind it. The theme makes a fleeting appearance here and fails to coalesce in full form, the horror of this ancient evil in Bilbo’s eyes nothing but an ominous memory in the murals of Elrond’s House but drawing still an inevitable connection between The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, a harrowing musical harbinger.
The shadow of the past is soon dispelled as pulsing, pearly, bell-like tones of flute figures and majestically peeling chimes herald a full reading of the Rivendell Theme the hobbit meets the master of the house Elrond Half-Elven, both the emblematic chorus and the arpeggios gleaming with ethereal grace, projecting stately and learned atmosphere before a solo clarinet, simple and unadorned conjures thoughts of home as the first part of Bilbo’s theme, Dreaming of Bag End, calls out (1:32) as our small protagonist shares his thoughts with Elrond. The mighty loremaster and the homesick halfling talk and the score expresses Bilbo’s yearning for the simple comforts of his Hobbit hole and perhaps the simpler life he now seems to have left behind and the strings take up the melody with gentle harp accompaniment passing phrases and alternating with the clarinet as Elrond reassures his small guest he is always welcome to stay at Rivendell.
An expansive slowly descending and ascending series of lines on strings and horns follow chord progressions derived subtly from the dwarven material in this music for an extended scene (2:26-3:34) underscoring Gandalf’s and Elrond’s discussion about Thorin and the quest Gandalf has set in motion. Both Bilbo and Thorin overhear this argument and weary and moody long phrases from strings and brass, that develop the descending ending phrases of Thorin's Theme and perhaps presage the House of Durin theme in shape and contour, convey both the concern of the Wise and the dwarf prince's reaction to the words of the wizard and the elf lord who discuss the susceptibility to madness that lies upon Thorin's family line.
As these two members of the White Council ascend into a chamber high above valley to confer with one another the music continues in subdued hues, the Rivendell arpeggios now gloomily performed by the quietly ominous double basses. The half-elven sage reveals that they are not alone and that Gandalf should answer for this actions for setting up the quest of Erebor to others as well, which evokes an ascending string cluster that blooms into exotic colours as a female chorus over the drone of monochord and string harmonies chants in Quenya a familiar theme (3:52), the Lothlorien Theme for the appearance of Lady Galadriel, who stands ethereal in the moon light, Shore’s modified maqam hijaz scale for the theme exuding mystical Eastern tinged harmonies. Instead of the words heard before in Lord of the Rings the theme, as with the Rivendell Theme before it, is now set into new lyrics as well (again by Philippa Boyens), conveying the Elven queen’s grace and hidden power and alluding perhaps both to her Ring of Power, Nenya, and her luminous presence:
Ninque sile mise nár / Nóna silme andané
A white fire shines within her / The light of star born long ago
The Grey Wizard is glad of this turn of events and greets the queen of Lothlorien with warmth and reverence but still the afore heard strings and horn statement (heard initially at 2:26) quickly guides us to another revelation when Gandalf is told that lady Galadriel did not summon this meeting. For it was Saruman, the head of the Istari, who called them here and now steps forward and the Isengard Theme arrives (4:41) with him on low brass but here it is clouded in a mist of high string harmonies, a subtly disturbing musical reminder of the future as we see Gandalf’s strained and surprised expression. Something momentous must be afoot for the head of the order to summon them to a meeting like this.
And so the White Council is gathered. Mysterious atmosphere created by ambivalent string and brass harmonies wafts through the air as they ponder on all the news gathered before them, the previously heard solemn brass and string motifs forming a starting point for this material, Shore scoring the dialogue with subtle sighing musical accents. Gandalf expresses his fears that something powerful and dangerous is rising and is behind the growing darkness in the world and the Dol Guldur Descending Thirds materialize with these thoughts (5:55) on horns, tenebrous and menacing. Lower woodwinds, bassoons and contrabassoons soon add their throaty sonorities to the repeating variations of this shadowy motif as the wizard mentions the Necromancer.
Saruman is ever doubtful of the dark news and presents counter arguments, scoffing at Gandalf’s mention of Radagast as the source of the news on the troubles of Mirkwood and this Necromancer as he thinks the Brown wizard no more than an addled hermit with too much fondness for mushrooms. But Galadriel advices Mithrandir to present the evidence Radagast had found and a darker foreboding takes slowly hold of the score (6:43-7:43), an eerie reading of the mysterious choral line of Radagast's music ( Radagast's Secondary Theme) flowing forth, opening with an repeating up-and-down running string line that is here not typically restless but transformed into something almost hypnotic by the composer. The music makes a connection to a previous scene where we saw the wizard discovering the darkening of Mirkwood and this motif seems to be another musical reference to the Brown Wizard's strange powers and connection to Nature. It nervously winds ever on and is joined this time by a ghostly female choir, almost like an subtle re-purposing of Nature’s musical timbres where the purity of the choral sound receives a more ambiguous almost ominous edge as the piece climbs alarmingly to a pinched crescendo of choir and chilling high strings when Elrond opens the cloth wrapped parcel Gandalf brings forth from the folds of his robe.
The revelation of a Morgul Blade shocks everyone present and this ill news is greeted by an urgent and oppressive statement of the Threat of Dol Guldur (7:42), the orchestrations mirroring those of the Dol Guldur Descending Thirds with its lowest possible brass and woodwinds, the timpani rumbles spiking the horrific weight of this evidence. The motif continues to rise in urgency and power when Galadriel recognizes the weapon belonging to the Witch-King of Angmar but says that it was buried with him long ago in the High Fells of Rhudaur by the Men of the North when the kingdom of Angmar fell and Elrond confirms that the tomb was protected by powerful spells that could not have been broken. As if as an answer to their words the score presents a pinched yet maliciously languid rendition of the Necromancer’s Theme on oboe (8:08), the voice of the instrument calm yet oddly piercing and wicked here, the melodic line winding sinuously on, almost like a shared evil premonition of the Council on the mysterious power capable of breaking those mighty wards and freeing the Witch-King. But none of them dare to admit this possibility as the truth.
Saruman is still not convinced that the White Council should act, and low murmur of double basses, celli and brass lines answer to each other haltingly in a rising and falling breath-like fashion as he argues against rash actions and the dwarves’ planned quest for Erebor. Galadriel suddenly realizes Gandalf’s stratagem of playing time as she senses that the dwarves are leaving and that the Council cannot stop them and the wordless communication between them earns an ethereal and exotic choral line above cold high strings figures. And soon enough Lindír arrives to announce to the council that Thorin's company has departed from Rivendell.
In the Making
The piece plays out mostly intact in the extended version of the film although keeping with the philosophy of presenting Bilbo with the general qualities of the hobbits and as a resident of the Shire rather emphasizing his own personality, the statement of Bilbo's Theme (Dreaming of Bag End) is once again replaced by a rendition of the Pensive Setting of the Shire Theme. Curiously enough a brief horn rendition of Bilbo's Theme remained in the film underscoring Elrond and Lindir's discussion and the dwarves' unceremonious use of an elven fountain as a bath but this version of the theme was not taken from the track presented on the soundtrack album but is a new revised recording.
5. Over Hill (3:43)
The dwarves have indeed set on their journey once more, already climbing the cliff side path out of Rivendell and back onto the road that leads to the Misty Mountains. Thorin heads the company and dispenses warnings and orders to them all. A solo horn over string section sings a lonely yet courageous melodic line of the Misty Mountains Theme, the journey to the Lonely Mountain continuing once more, the music capturing Bilbo’s rather rueful last look on the magical valley of Imladris. Thorin’s Theme however appears to urge him and the dwarves on with valiant brass and strings reading that sends the company on its way as it rises to a noble and hopeful crescendo.
Meanwhile Gandalf and Galadriel confer in private, the placid string lines forming a base from which the Lothlorien Theme blossoms diaphanous and lyrical, Shore setting the theme on his solo woodwind of choice, the English horn, the melody wafting exotically in the still air as the Lady of the Golden Wood expresses her private concern for the growing darkness, an enemy which has not yet revealed itself. She urges Gandalf, despite Saruman’s orders, to solve the mystery of the Morgul Blade and warns him to be careful on his journey.
The hushed strings voice concern over these dark matters but as Galadriel asks the wizard, why he chose Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, to be on this quest, the orchestra slowly gains warmth from the harmonies of the Shire that lead into a gentle clarinet reading of the Pensive Setting of the Shire Theme (1:38), Gandalf expounding on his belief in the simple courage of ordinary people, like Bilbo Baggins, to keep the darkness at bay, the musical gesture unadorned and touching as the Istar and the elven queen bid farewells.
The company of Thorin Oakenshield is making their way across the foothills towards the mountains that loom closer and closer and are accompanied by the Misty Mountains Theme, which is here (2:24 onwards) presented in its most magnificent reading yet. Pounding bass drum sets a steady pace for this piece of travelling music while the horns over string support slowly and broadly perform the melodic line with steadfast dwarven heroism while snatches of Thorin’s Theme is heard in the clarion-like trumpet counterpoint, again clearly assigning him as the driving force and leader of the trek. The music gradually grows into a brilliant full ensemble reading of the Misty Mountains Theme where horns carry the melody supported by leaping violin figures (hinting at the Hobbit Skip-Beat), courageous heralding trumpet counterpoint answering the horns with Thorin’s Theme, which takes over in resolutely ascending strings as the cue reaches a resounding fateful crescendo when we transition from the travelling montage to a stormy mountain side where the company is trudging on in the pouring rain.
Soundtrack Album VS the Film
The music in the film is a later revision and the soundtrack album contains what is likely the early version Shore wrote for the scene. In the film the music for Gandalf’s and Galadriel’s discussion remains the same as on the soundtrack until 1:05, when Lothlorien Theme ends. The following segment (1:05-2:16) is nearly entirely unused and replaced in the film (a transitioning string segment in 1:24-1:37 remains in the movie to underscore the final moment of the discussion).
In the film the section of the scene where Gandalf discusses Bilbo and the simple courage of normal folk features a near note-for-note quote of Hymn Setting of the Shire Theme from the Breaking of the Fellowship scene in FotR with tin whistle over strings, whereas the album uses the Pensive Setting of the Shire Theme on clarinet. The film makers probably thought that the Pensive Setting was not emotionally powerful enough to emphasize Gandalf's connection to Bilbo so they replaced it with another variant of the Shire Theme. It is worth noting Shore originally scored this particular scene with the Shire Theme and not Bilbo's Themes so
6. A Thunder Battle (3:56)
Amidst the thunder and rain an enormous boulder comes sailing through the lightning flecked darkness, which is answered by an alarmed climbing 3-chord motif on brass and strings, that rises suddenly in the orchestra when the dwarves and the hobbit take heed of Dwalin’s timely warning and press against the cliff as the rock strikes the mountain lee above them and hail of stones and falling debris strikes the mountainside and threatens to crush them. Shore seems to treat this piece as a musical mirror of the Stone Giants that are attacking each other in the deafening storm and pits the brass section against the strings, each hurtling vertical and rhythmic 3- and 2-note patterns against each other all the while percussion section pounds forceful driving rhythms underneath, the simple but powerful chord progressions signifying weight, colossal size, intense danger and the sheer might of Nature. The piece also seems to share stylistic shades with the ponderously mighty progressions that assault the Fellowship on their way through the Red Horn Gate in The Fellowship of the Ring when Gandalf battled the raging blizzard conjured up by Saruman.
At 1:02 the fight intensifies, the dwarven company trapped on a knee of a Stone Giant, holding on for dear life when these two titanic creatures pummel each other, two mountains come to life. The music follows the established forceful, unstoppable drive, which now continues to accelerate, the strings moving in relentless marching staccato rhythms, while the brass pelts our protagonists with towering rising chords, percussion pounding with relentless power, gong adding fulgurant interjections. The company is separated as half of the dwarves, including the Hobbit, find themselves riding on the other Stone Giant’s knee, while the rest watch helplessly on.
The fracas is merciless and while Thorin and rest of the dwarves dodge cascades of crumbling rock about them and try to keep themselves from falling into the ravines below, they see how the other giant is destroyed, the collapsing colossus crashing against the mountain with terrible force and taking half of the dwarven company with it. Here the violins and violas lurch (2:11) into a swaying upward climbing and downward sliding melody, referencing possibly the Weakness and Redemption, with the horns, trombones and tuba playing an answering phrase with a fatal knell to it when Thorin looks on in desperation, fearing half of his followers, including his kinsman, dead as the Stone Giant falls to its destruction. But the orchestra opens soon into a salvatory major mode fanfare to signify their miraculous escape from the jaws of almost certain death as the rest of the company hurries to them.
Bilbo is however, left hanging on the ledge in his desperate leap from the Giant’s knee and hangs above the abyss by his hands alone. Equally desperate burst from trombones and nervously tremoloing strings (2:44) illustrates this predicament and as the dwarves charge to his rescue pained upward surging brass exclamations and suspenseful string figures ratchet the tension as he starts loosing his grip on the slippery rocks. Thorin pulls the Hobbit up but is close to a fall and the similarly dire orchestrations continue until he is also fished out of the danger.
Sombre and defeated strings play a sad snippet of a melody when Thorin angrily suggests that Bilbo is a useless addition to the company, always in need of a rescue (3:22), before he commands his group to a shelter of a nearby cave.
Out in the storm Azog and his Warg riders are on the trail of their enemy, Azog’s Theme erupting from a bed of deep double bass and celli tremolos on fierce and brutally ugly horns as the orcs continue their pursuit.
7. Under Hill (1:55)
The company takes refuge in a dry spacious cave, where they set up camp for the night. During the evening disheartened Bilbo decides that he is not adventurous material after all and makes ready to return to Rivendell on his own. Before he can step out, the floor of the cave suddenly gives away underneath them, a giant trap door plunging the dwarves and the hobbit head first into underground tunnels, the lair of goblins of the Misty Mountains. There the dwarves are immediately met by a horde of these creatures, which unstoppably overpowers them by their sheer numbers and carry them off as prisoners. Bilbo is left alone, ignored because of his small size and sheer luck but is then confronted by a single goblin and during their vicious fight they both plummet off a ledge and into the darkness of the caves below.
Although there is a clear leitmotific identification for the monsters linked to the Mordorean host of Evil themes, the goblin material often thrives in textural elements alone, their music a frightening collage of harsh dissonant voices from different sections of the orchestra intended to evoke hatred, aggression, fear, revulsion and panic.
The album presents an amalgam of the goblin music, an edited piece containing the main elements of their musical ideas featured in the opening Goblin Town scenes. The music opens as the goblins are hauling the captive dwarves into the heart of the Goblin Town (0:00-0:38), a massive subterranean shanty town dwelling of these vile, barbaric and diseased creatures, where also their leader the Great Goblin hold his seat of power.
A loping rhythm on percussion with subtle high strings adding tension underscores the throng moving on in a constant stream and literally pushing the dwarves before them, the rhythmic device bearing resemblance with the orcish Five Beat Pattern from LotR but it keeps changing, unable to keep itself in one time signature, depicting the undisciplined, unpredictable and violent nature of the goblins.
A wicked blaring series of malevolent fanfares sounds on trombones, tuba and trumpets and answered by horns, containing snatches of an angular melody, gleeful and malevolent, as we see a wide shot of the rickety wooden platforms and structures above the endless ravines and tortured crevasses upon which the Goblin Town is build on, a nightmarish and fantastical vision. The same melody continues for the introduction of the Great Goblin, a monstrously gigantic and obese creature, on his throne, before which Thorin’s company is unceremoniously escorted.
The music then jumps a bit backwards in the story with snarlingly fluttering trumpets in highest registers and 5/4 Five Beat Pattern continuing (0:37-1:08), this time depicting the moment when the goblins come and over power the dwarves when they drop through the trap door. The music emerges lopsidedly with plodding strength as the percussion and low brass performs the rhythmic aspect while the trumpets and strings present continuously more alarmed and pained series of jarring aleatoric and dissonant cries, the rhythm once again unravelling into a series of different time signatures although a 3-chord insistent nucleus, the Goblin Theme, becomes the most prevalent. This is an organized musical chaos where the orchestra registers the horror and alarm of the assault of these terrifying monsters before fading into tremoloing high strings as the dwarves are carried off and the roiling mass of poblins passes out of Bilbo’s sight.
Again the music jumps forward (1:08-1:55) to the interrogation of the dwarves by the Great Goblin but it is not the Goblin Theme or their aggressive unpredictable music that we hear. As the corpulent king of the Goblin Town mentions that there is a price on Thorin’s head Azog’s Theme rises repeatedly and slow on ominous horns with chilling high sustained strings in tow, when the dwarven prince incredulously comes to know that the Pale Orc is alive, the piece culminating in an ascending series of fateful 3-note figures (suggesting the Goblin Theme) as the Great Goblin dispatches his diminutive scribe to send word to Azog.
8. Riddles in the Dark (5:23)
The piece presented on the soundtrack albums probably contains Shore’s original intentions for the scene. This is a collection of cues for Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum, shorter musical pieces joined together on the album for listening purposes but it is also probable that it does not contain all the music Shore composed for the sequence. Much of this score is unused in the film with only a few select sections ending up in the underscore, while most of the sequence was re-written and as a result contains numerous quite direct references to several cues from LotR trilogy featuring Gollum’s themes.
The below dramatic outline for the track is pure conjecture on my part, an attempt to figure out, how this piece presented on the album would fit into the film.
Bilbo wakes up in the darkness somewhere in the depths of the mountains, where his fall was luckily dampened by a bed of giant mushrooms. He quickly realizes that the goblin, who fell with him, is lying only a few feet away on the cavern floor, ragged breathing of the monster and the bluish light of the halfling’s sword telling us that it is alive. But out of the inky blackness of a nearby tunnel two pale eyes emerge, and we soon see a curious black creature with spindly arms and legs, Gollum, who approaches the prone goblin while muttering to himself constantly. Bilbo stares in horror how the creature starts to haul the orc away to obviously make a meal out of it but suddenly the monster awakens and the two have a short and violent scuffle where Gollum knocks his prey out with a rock.
The music comes in on almost a croaking rhythmic figure on double basses and contrabassoons with sustained violas, violins and steady tread of percussion in support as Gollum beats the goblin warrior violently. Such is the intensity of the brief brutal fracas that a small golden ring falls out of Gollum’s pocket during his savage onslaught and at 0:17 Shore underscores this moment with a drawn out appearance of the History of the Ring Theme on violins. But the shape of the motif is slightly altered here as the history of the One Ring is now in flux and it has just left Gollum and the music registers this with a more active variation of the theme. This is a significant moment on its journey and Shore animates both the Ring’s intention and the shift in its progress and eschews the nearly static form that this theme possessed in FotR. Not only is Shore employing a leitmotif in an effective manner, he is also drawing a clear connection between LotR and the Hobbit, which the knowing audience is aware of, the link between the theme and the Ring and all that it implies, the music communicating a shared knowledge between the viewers and the composer that the main character is entirely unaware of at this time.
Ghostly string divisi tremolo as Gollum drags his prey away and a cold clear oboe line shines alone in the darkness as we see Bilbo fumble after his sword, still glowing on the floor, the music recalling the lyrical revelation of the Elvish blades in the Troll-hoard. Suddenly the strings swell dramatically (0:45) and sing out a tantalizing slightly halting ¾ variation on the History of the Ring Theme, the cor anglais ghosted by strings, when Bilbo spots the gleam of gold and picks up the ring, pocketing it without much thought, the music however again making note of the One Ring passing hands, claiming a new unwitting master.
The desperate Hobbit shadows the frightening creature deeper into the caves and the strings divide into intensifying tremoloing layers with horn lines ascending portentously as camera pans away from our protagonist, revealing a dark roughly hewn passage worming further into the eternal gloom that dwells in the mountains roots. For the hobbit is hoping beyond all hope that this terrifying skulking creature could show him a way out after all.
And so Bilbo follows wretched Gollum to an underground lake, where the creature has already started to prepare his monstrous victim for lunch while singing an off-tune forlon song in a ragged voice. Unfortunately the halfling is careless while peering to see better and Gollum senses an intruder. The frightened Hobbit presses himself behind a rock while melanholic yet sly string phrases slide slowly up-and-down (1:20), suggesting the The Pity of Gollum harmonies when we see the creature silently paddling his small coracle with his hands, approaching stealthily over the inky water, the tone of the music still yet anticipatory, before accompanied by a slight tremoloing string crescendo Gollum emerges between the rocks above Bilbo’s head.
A dangerous new colour creeps into the music when Bilbo witnesses and participates in an odd discussion between him, Smeagol and Gollum, where Gollum’s Menace surfaces with his voice, the sly and cold and winding string melody over soft trembling tread of cimbalom intimating (1:47-2:11) that something is terribly off, deadly in fact, the theme here resembling the age old Dies Irae-figure of the plainsong tradition, a woeful musical clue. This music speaks of the feral, malicious and twisted side of Gollum that seems to dominate his personality and actions in the darkness under the mountains. Bilbo is in real danger from this deranged and obviously schizophrenic creature.
But then almost by accident Bilbo ends up having a riddle contest with Gollum and Shore’s music comes in at critical intervals to underscore this game of wits. If Bilbo wins the creature promises to show him the way out. The price of losing is that Gollum will eat the Hobbit whole. Much of the material following the back and forth dialogue of the two characters is left off the album and on the disc the music resumes at ending half of the contest, when Gollum is getting impatient and demands one final question from Bilbo.
Nervously jumpy tremoloing string figures (2:21) illustrate Bilbo’s state of mind as he desperately wracks his brain to find a suitably diffcult riddle for Gollum to solve, while the slinking creature sits perched on a rock and getting obviously more murderously impatient by the second. In a moment of feverish thought the halfling’s hand strays into his pocket and feels the cold metal of the Ring, which prompts him to wonder out loud “What have I got in my pocket?” At this moment, even when we do not see anything, the History of the Ring Theme animates again on equally nervous high violins backed up by rhythmic violas as the music itself answers the Hobbit’s question and the strings reach an urgent small crescendo when it is Gollum’s turn to be upset as it takes Bilbo’s musings as the next riddle and accuses him of cheating. But Bilbo now adamantly stands behind his inadvertent riddle.
Gollum’s distress and near childish tantrum at the unfair question is scored by a series of variation on the Pity of Gollum (2:55-3:50) that seem to mingle with Weakness and Redemption (which is inherent in the theme itself), the strings and woodwinds carrying the pitiable and sad theme as the skulking creature demands three guesses. And when he gives a wrong answer three times in a row slow breath like sighs are heard in the strings with constant tremolo undercurrent, another hint at growing anger Bilbo’s question has awoken in Gollum, who feels cheated.
Gollum is now outraged but evil glee creeps into his voice when he thinks of his Precious that could help him to win this contest after all and as he triumphantly rummages his own pockets his delight turns to horror. The Precious is gone! Sad and pinched variation on the Pity of Gollum on cor anglais underpinned by tremoloing strings and subtly bubbling woodwinds plays (3:50) as Gollum is all of a sudden wracked by anger and desperation. This mix of rage and piteous sadness continues in the score while the creature frantically searches for the Precious, stones and old bones flying everywhere, the strings and brass picking again up the urgent pulsing chords that seem to signify Gollum’s anger, the frantic jitter of cimbalom joining the orchestration as a reminder of Gollum’s Menace, the lower strings paired with upper register violins and violas swelling into the chords of the Pity of Gollum/Weakness and Redemption.
Bilbo, who has been in growing horror watching the odd creature’s rage and panic slips his hand into his pocket, somehow sensing that the Ring is what Gollum is after, and hides it behind his back, this small gesture earning a subtle quote of the first notes of History of the Ring Theme as he asks what the creature has lost (4:18-4:21).
At this moment Bilbo sees the pitiable nature of the creature as it in enormous anguish cries and wails for the lost Precious, the composer here for the first time in the score unveiling the complete version of Pity of Gollum melodic line (4:24) on cor anglais. But Gollum is old and wicked and always suspicious of people trying to steal his treasured ring and quickly a thought takes root in his mind: Bilbo must have stolen his Precious and has it in his pocket! The Pity of Gollum slowly ascends from the woodwind setting into ominously calm high strings before black anger takes hold of the orchestra as Gollum in fury accuses Bilbo and forgets his fear of the Elvish blade and comes at him burning with mad rage. Here a rising wave of tremolos from low strings accompanied by cold, deadly and terrifying high strings and menacingly pulsing growling brass reaches a blood curdling crescendo just as Gollum screams in murderous rage and comes after Bilbo.
9. Brass Buttons (7:38)
The music opens as Bilbo is fleeing through the tunnels high strings emitting a nervous quivering wail while the double basses and percussion perform rhythmic, forceful figures underneath, perhaps a nod at the Pity of Gollum’s harmonies or rather the pluckier material for the hobbits. The music articulates both the danger and the panic of the halfling’s plight as it mounts to a small string cluster and pulsing horn crescendo at 0:22 and a new pulsing metallic ticking percussion is paired with Gollum’s Menace as it appears with the vengeful creature at Bilbo’s heels, voiced by equally rhythmic woodwind forces. The pulse continues to grow in rhythmic strings, bass drum erupting underneath to exert another level of sonic foreboding as our hero’s life it as risk when he desperately tries to squeeze through a narrow gap in the passage, gets caught and pulls with all his strength, the crescendo catching the brass buttons of the hobbit’s waistcoat that fly into the air as he is free and falls to the other side.
At 0:43 the mood shifts as cool violin colours placidly creep into the score, winding first toward the Pity of Gollum but then ending up in a fleeting series of variations on the History of the Ring Theme and then combining pieces of both when Bilbo accidentally dons the Ring and turns invisible and Gollum frantically berates the thief and tries in vain to find him. The music implies both the horrible and ravenous hunger that Gollum has for his Precious, his complete panic of losing it and again transports the Ring on its way through another leg of its journey as it tries to get back to its true master. This passage was entirely unused in the film (0:42-1:19), where only a different and very formal string reading of History of the Ring underscores Bilbo’s accidental donning of the Ring and the rest of the sequence plays in silence as Gollum searches for the thief.
In the Making/Soundtrack Album VS the Film
In the film Gandalf rescues Thorin’s company from the Great Goblin and his blood thirsty horde and is accompanied by a valiant string variation on his Secondary Theme, which rouses the captive dwarves into action, Shore providing another bold brass setting of the Misty Mountains for this heroic moment of defiance. This short passage can be heard only in the film, where it transitions to the following chase music.
The story shifts to the dwarves at this point and they are also in headlong flight through the Goblin Town after Gandalf executed another nick of time rescue operation and now leads Thorin’s company through the make-shift wooden platforms that make up bulk of the cavernous city with an army of angry goblins on their tale. The music assumes a chaotic, bristlingly violent stance of the Goblin Theme, the 3-note ostinato motto repeating endlessly over varying rhythms and dissonant brass clusters. Even the Orcish 5/4 Rhythm appears amidst the sonic assaults, while a primal throaty male chorus chants ominously to the rhythm of the ostinato figure, evoking fear and vicious menace as swarms of the creatures pour from every hole and walkway to hunt for our heroes. And as usual the musical cohesion of the rhythms or the ostinati doesn’t hold for long, depicting with fitting tumult and disjointedness the goblins themselves, violent, unpredictable creatures all.
At 1:53 as the hunt is at is most fervent another musical idea creeps into the Goblin music, the highly rhythmic pulses in the upper registers in different orchestral sections belting out merciless closed spaced harmonies belonging to the Ringwraiths and the rhythmic accompaniment figure of Threat of Mordor a musical connection to the source of all this evil, connecting the goblins to the same host of enemies as the wargs and the evils of Mordor in Lord of the Rings. The music reaches fever pitch as these searing harmonies belt out in continual waves as endless rivers of enemies flood the company’s path, and no matter how many they kill, the monsters keep on coming, swarm after swarm. A brief pause in the music in the film follows when Thorin and Dwalin topple an entire bridge of goblins and a good many more on ropes with a well timed strike at the supports of one of the walkways.
But this momentary victory is followed by intensifying male chorus chanting of the Goblin Theme (2:29-) as the chase continues as hot as ever, lean ascending brass lines underpinning the voices this time as they build into a fervent crescendo when the dwarven troupe seems to be heading to a dead end. The abyss before them earns an alarming eruption from the brass voices that interweaves the panicky Dwarven parallel fifths familiar from the tenebrous depths of Moria with the tug of the Ringwraith (2:52-3:01) harmonies into a rhythmically jagged knot of strings, brass and percussion as Gandalf and Thorin create a make-shift swinging bridge out of the platform they are standing on to make across the chasm.
Flutter tonguing brass and relentlessly violent percussion pushes the action on and a new rhythmic motif on deepest brass and percussion, opening with the 3-note Goblin Theme but then developing into new directions, an insistent 8-note rhythmic motif, which tries to pound our protagonists into submission through its sheer presence (3:07- ), high strings, trumpets and horns blaring chaotically above the low register tumult in pure panic and violence. The score then suddenly comes to a full halt at 3:27 as the Great Goblin appears to block their path and soon the heroes are surrounded by the goblin hordes on a narrow bridge. In the film this is preceded by an insert featuring the Misty Mountains Theme on bold horns as Thorin and others heroically dispatch another cadre of goblins but the album retains Shore’s original version of the music (presumably to an earlier cut of the movie), which is a bit shorter than in the final film. Also the encounter with the Great Goblin features a very brief cue for the death of the obese monarch of the Goblin Town, a series of rising brass chords as he is dispatched by Gandalf, which is not heard on the disc.
The music resumes at 3:28 with a shuddering wavering strings lines as the bridge on which Gandalf, Thorin and the company stand, crumbles and falls, panicked brass hurtling down into the depths of the Goblin Town with the broken edifice and the dwarves onboard it, the orchestra reaching a cacophonous climax of rising chords as they reach the bottom, all alive and miraculously in one piece.
A brief jumpy rhythm (3:44) on muted brass sees the dwarves out of the wreckage of the bridge, a subtle brief injection of humour into their current predicament as the dead Great Goblin crashes on top of them from the heights. Curiously Shore seems to be using what sounds like the rhythm of Bilbo’s Antics for this moment. This material travels to the woodwinds and strings but gains a more dire edge when Kili suddenly in horror spots again the army of goblins swarming down to their direction, the Goblin Theme rekindling in the deep male chorus (4:06) with their renewed threat, the ostinato repeating obsessive and ferocious over multiple rhythmic signatures. Gandalf hurries the dwarves along and says that their only chance is to reach the outside world as the goblins can’t abide the light of the sun and this may stall their pursuit.
Meanwhile Gollum has reached the outer edges of the goblin caves and is getting desperate and his piteous devotion to the Ring and anxiety are implied by the miserable string harmonies of the Pity of Gollum as he in vain tries to catch the thief Baggins (4:26-). But suddenly he has to hide, when Gandalf and the dwarves hurry past him on their way to the outside world. Bilbo also catches a glimpse of his friends and a pained and an anxious rendition of Weakness and Redemption/Pity of Gollum begins in the lower string section as his rescue is only a few feet away yet this way is blocked by Gollum. Bilbo is torn between his desire to follow his comrades and his fear of getting caught by the murderous creature if he tries to sneak past it. The musical phrase culminates in pinched brass chords further enhancing the hobbits desperation.
He has the Ring, he is invisible and he has a weapon. It is his only way to get out of the caves. He lifts his sword and prepares to strike Gollum down. But as he is about to commit this irrevocable act, a sad and piteous musical message emerges from the orchestra to stay his hand. Now he finally really sees Gollum for what it is, huddled against a rock and nearly in tears, alone and deprived of his most precious treasure, an altogether pitiable and wretched creature and first the Pity of Gollum chords and then the full melody is unveiled in the cor anglais and strings setting with subliminal cimbalom accompaniment as Bilbo looks at his enemy in saddened and horrified pity and lets his blade fall.
In the Making/Soundtrack Album VS the Film
In the film a short passage from A Hobbit’s Understanding is tracked in at this moment (from The Hill of Sorcery, Disc 1 Track 14), illustrating Bilbo’s pity and gentle nature, his simple understanding of right and wrong ruling the decision rather than purely Gollum’s sad state but the album presents Shore’s original intention utilizing purely The Pity of Gollum material. Not only does the variation on the Shire theme underline Bilbo’s humane act but it also draws dramatic subtextual parallel with Fellowship of the Ring and the moment in Moria, when Gandalf and Frodo are discussing this very moment, Gollum and how Bilbo’s act may have ruled the fate of many as it eventually did. The score provides dramatic underscore but Shore continues to establish such storytelling connections between the trilogies through the cross referencing musical ideas to form another kind of musical subtext.
The music from 5:50 onwards is cut from the film and replaced by tracked music and the sequence is partially re-scored. The below is a guess at how the score would have applied to the dramatic outline of this series of scene covering Bilbo’s and the company’s escape from the Goblin Town.
As Bilbo decides to spare Gollum a new determinedly heroic motif on rhythmic horns and strings begins at 5:50. Nervously trilling and swirling violin figures join in as Bilbo gathers his courage and makes a leap over Gollum’s head. The music becomes ever more excited, the brass propulsive and driving and the cyclically spinning strings suspenseful as the creature suddenly senses something near him and tries to grab the halfling but misses by mere inches and is left miserably hurtling vicious curses at the thief that has escaped out of his reach and a wailing snippet half-way between The Pity of Gollum and The History of the Ring Theme calls out (6:32), both for the passage of the One Ring out of the caves under the Misty Mountains and for the wretched creature’s helpless rage. But our small hero now races out of the caves to the mountainside bathed in the glow of the setting sun to catch up with Thorin's company and the wizard.
The dwarven company is finally stopping for a short rest and to gather the troupe together and strained and weary string phrases wind on when Gandalf notes that Bilbo is missing from the tally.
Dwarves are trying in vain to recall when they last saw the halfling and accusations fly to and fro as each tries to exculpate himself while the wizard is anxious and angry with them for losing the hobbit.
Meanwhile Bilbo still wearing the ring has caught up with the group and arrives just in time to hear the leader of the company speak his mind. Thorin is neither surprised nor pleased about Bilbo’s disappearance and at first a gentle alto flute solo and humming mixed chorus underscore the disheartened expressions on the company’s faces, and the wordless choir subtly evokes a long melodic line derived from the harmonies of Thorin's Theme when the dwarven prince tells them scornfully that the halfling has seen his chance and fled back to his home in the Shire, showing his doubts and arrogant view on Bilbo’s character and skills much to the dismay of his followers. The score subtly connects the overweening pride Thorin exhibits here to the following scene with a bit of musical foreshadowing. While the thematic subtext might speak or arrogance, the orchestrations at the same time elicit sympathy for the hobbit when we see the rueful faces of the company, many of who have grown to like Bilbo.
And our hero has heard enough and decides to appear and speak his mind and with a light touch of glowingly tremoloing violins and violas he steps out behind the tree and takes off his ring and appears before the very eyes of the amazed and the delighted dwarves and wizard.
10. Out of the Frying-Pan
Bilbo answers the excited and curious questions from his friends of how he survived out of the tunnels (he makes no mention of the Ring or Gollum) and then once more pledges himself to winning back Erebor for the dwarves. Despite having just said harsh words about Bilbo, Thorin is now in turn impressed, humbled and moved by the small hero’s words that ring the simple honesty and bravery of the hobbit kind. But their reunion is interrupted as the sun is slowly falling behind the hills and the air shudders with the howls of the wargs. Azog and his hunters have caught up with them!
Here begins the final action set piece of the score and Shore unleashes a true tour-de-force of orchestral action on the audience as the movie reaches its exciting conclusion. Portentous trombone chords and sizzling thrum of a gong announce appearance of the enemy and furiously rumbling brass layers coincide with a shot of Azog astride his white warg on a cliff, the music displaying the emblematic boiling orchestral colours that have followed the orc and his minions throughout the score. High string chords climb in panic above angrily writhing and erupting brass voices as Thorin and Gandalf hurry the company into a flight down the mountainside and Azog commands his hunters after them. The chase has begun in earnest!
As the Warg pack leaps after the heroes the Warg Theme bursts to life at 0:20 heavier and more blood thirsty than ever before and stomps to the fore with unstoppable momentum, the 4-note figures that make up the spine of the theme joined again by the clotted harmonies of the Ringwraiths in the sharp jabbing figures of the high strings.
The heavy plodding percussion and double basses continue a driving staccato rhythm (0:31) as the gigantic wolves rush through the woods to catch their prey. The sharp and angular 4-note brass howls of the Warg Theme shudder in the air, growling like the beasts themselves full of fateful menace as the orchestral surges forward propelled by the inexorable deep rhythm. Thorin and the company dispatch the first attackers quickly but many more are approaching. The music continues grim yet heroic (1:03->) as the group fights back and the brass section leaps into figures derived from the Erebor Theme to denote their valour. Gandalf directs the dwarves and the hobbit further into trees and furious violins and violas hectically bow a panicky staccato rhythm as horns and trumpets trade heroic yet pinched phrases to illustrate the desperate situation only worsening. When the dwarves take to the trees and Bilbo is trying in trembling horror to dislodge his sword from a dead Warg, the manic strings reaching fever pitch while the forest echoes the approaching voices of their vicious pursuers.
The Warg Theme returns with the monsters (1:26) that leap in large numbers through the trees and in pursuit of Bilbo who just in time reaches one of the pines where the dwarves are hiding to save himself from their wicked jaws. The growling rolling canon of the 4-note phrases of the Warg Theme continues ever more violent, the driving rhythms migrating from the basses to the trumpets as the beasts surround the trees and try to get their teeth on the dwarves on their precarious perches.
High string tremolos and fluttering brass figures raise the tension when suddenly a momentary sense of calm takes hold of the music as we see Gandalf on top of the highest pine gently fishing out a moth with his staff from a nearby branch (1:56-2:09), ethereal high violins and steady hum of the double basses leading to serene and pure voices of a boys and female choruses chanting the Nature’s Reclamation, an old musical ally, when the grey wizard sends his messenger for help.
And in need of help the company is when the previous rhythm associated with the Wargs returns and brings with it a savage and menacing rendition of Azog’s Theme in the deepest regions of the brass section as he strides to view on his warg (2:12), the score announcing him to the dismayed Thorin and his company in cruelly wicked tones.
In the film the music pauses approximately at 2:20 of the cue after which the music on the soundtrack album jumps forward to a later part of the scene.
An alternate passage for the warg’s attack on the trees where the dwarves are hiding begins at 2:21 scored by intensifying renditions of the relentless rhythm and the Warg Theme in snarling brass, sharply pounding staccato beat of the percussion section and the lowest strings, the furore and sheer violence of their assault captured in this forbidding musical portrait. As Thorin takes charge of the situation and commands his companions to jump from their hiding place to another tree for safe footing, dramatic dwarven chords derived from the most fiery variation of Dwarven Fifths/Moria Theme on tense yet heroic brass (2:43-2:53) above the continuing rhythm pace the moment with steely concern.
Meanwhile the canine beasts are ripping the trees from their roots and a new musical device, a furiously see sawing and intensifying ostinato oscillating between two chords on high strings stirs to life, emoting the panic and terror of the moment (2:55). The trombones join the ostinato and erupt in deep rising and falling fanfaric motif (The Suffering of the Dwarves in an action guise?) as the trees start to fall on each other one by one, the subtle thrumming echo of a gong accenting each falling tree, trumpets taking up the idea and developing it further becoming nearly swashbuckling in their stern rising heroism all the while the strings weave their fervent pattern underneath with the dwarves and the hobbit desperately leaping from one to the next in attempt to escape the wolves waiting on the ground. The sequence comes to a dramatic brassy crescendo as one of the trees topples over the edge of the cliff and into the valley far below (3:22).
Pulsing brass phrases and sizzling tension evoking fast pulsating string patterns weave together the vile and violent Warg music and the stoic nobility of the dwarves (3:23-) as the beasts circle the last tree where all the dwarven company is hiding, powerful mounting horn phrase underscoring Gandalf’s quick thinking as he picks up the pine cones and with his magic sets them aflame and sends one flying through the air as a fiery missile at the monstrous beasts lurking below. As the pine cone hits the ground and blossoms with fire a defiant and glowing horn melody, perhaps derived from Thorin's Theme, kindles in the orchestra at (3:43) and celebrates the turn of the tide as we see the heroes fighting back and how Gandalf hands down these flaming weapons to Fili, Kili, Bilbo and others and they begin a bombardment of blazing ammunition from the heights to repel their enemies, sending the wargs into a head long flight through the burning woods. Here another short horn fanfare calls out for the momentary victory of Thorin’s company. But their luck is not to last as the tree they are sitting in gives away and starts to fall, illustrated in the score by a precariously swirling string phrase(4:20-4:24).
The music jumps a bit ahead to the moment when the situation is at its worst. The woods are all aflame around the company, the tall pine has nearly fallen and Azog is barring their escape to the woods with his riders. Things look bleak when suddenly a grim and fey mood rises in Thorin Oakenshield, and an ancient enmity and hatred for Azog seems to reawaken in his heart. In a bold, foolhardy act of valour he rises and with Orcrist in his hand marches alone to face the orc chieftain.
To illustrate this noble yet misguided act born of pride and desperation, passion overriding sense, Shore presents a magnificent reading of the Thorin's Theme harmonies, transforming it here into a new courageous chant for a mixed chorus (4:25). Similar reworking of Thorin's Theme was previously heard when Thorin spoke harsh proud words against Bilbo. Now the effect is vastly different and the reading receives completely new dimensions and seems to refer to Thorin's recklessness and pride at this moment that are partly born of his hatred toward Azog, partly from his sense of honour.
The chorus backed by the orchestra of driving strings and percussion chants the now highly rhythmic version of the melodic line full of pride and courage in Khuzdûl as the dwarven prince rushes through the burning forest to meet his enemy in single combat. Here Shore develops the rather unassuming variant of Thorin's music into a fully realized set piece. Azog stands waiting and soon Thorin’s walk becomes a run and the Dwarven rising figures in both orchestra and chorus intensify and finally reach a momentous choral roar as the two leap at each other.
But Thorin falls, the pale orc easily subduing him with a single swing of his giant mace. And so the composer illustrates the effects of Thorin foolish pride with a sudden doom laden rumble of a gong and a mournful keen burst from a female soprano soloist and choir when he falls (5:11), pained rising horn cries briefly commenting on a shot of Gandalf trying to safe Dori and Ori. A grim and fateful deep male chorus chants full of unrelenting finality in dour mourning as Azog beats Thorin down and descends upon him, shrill high strings and chaotically growling and rumbling low brass crying out as the white warg sinks its teeth into the dwarven prince. The music for this finale works as dramatic misdirection, bolstering as much audience’s expectations as it does the dwarf’s confidence, giving the aftermath of the heedless charge a much more shocking and surprising cast. The point of view is completely dwarven here, the same madness that infects Thorin at this moment becoming the musical message in the score.
In the Making
In the film the sequence is heavily edited and the album presents also an edited down amalgamation of Shore's original intentions for this scene. Several passages were re-written and some re-purposed sections of the score are used from elsewhere in the film to fill some parts (assuming there was no time for re-scoring). E.g. for the domino-effect of the toppling pine trees as the dwarves flee from one tree to the next was rewritten for intensity instead of swashbuckling heroism and loses the leaping and swirling string figures chord progressions. Gandalf's magical pine cones and the subsequent fire are no more scored by the victorious leaping fanfare which is replaced by a bellicose dwarven choral chant that hearkens back to the prologue of the film and the final moments of this scene take completely different approach as it was re-scored entirely. Instead of a dwarven point of view of Shore's original draft, the music makes a 180 degree turn and utilizes the Ringwraiths' Theme (with modified possibly Khuzdûl lyrics) from The Lord of the Rings to underscore Thorin’s reckless charge. Not only does this approach favour the evil and the villain at this moment, hinting at his allegiances and true source of power behind Azog and the strength he now possesses but also gives the audience a clue to the outcome of the dwarf’s attack, so strongly does the main motif for Sauron’s greatest servants spell out doom and defeat. The music is signalling perhaps a state of madness in Thorin but also it broadcasts fully how everything will end and thus emphasizing the victory of Azog even before it has happened.
11. A Good Omen
Out of the night the thrum of gigantic wings calls and the Great Eagles of the Misty Mountains, summoned by the wizard's timely moth-messenger, sweep to the rescue of Thorin’s company. A new magnificent choral theme set in the pure tones of a female chorus that claims kinship to the Nature’s Reclamation in the purity of its sound and orchestrations if not directly melodically, soars unexpectedly through the air in a long lined melodic meditation on a rising and falling motif. Accompanied by strong cyclical string and woodwind figures that propel the piece forward with vibrant energy the theme continues to develop, the noble avians turning the tide of the battle and carry our heroes to safety, snatching them from the field of defeat (and from the burning pine) at the nick of time.
The choir fades away momentarily as at 0:34 a powerful reading of the melodic idea that began the whole score in My Dear Frodo, The House of Durin Theme is reprised with triumphant force by the full orchestra accompanied by a resounding percussive tread as if to complete a circle and draw the adventures of this section of the hobbit’s journey to a close but most importantly joining it with a brief snippet of Thorin's Theme, signalling that the heir of the House of Durin, Thorin Oakenshield, has survived his duel with Azog and is now borne away to safety from the battle field. The choir returns to celebrate the rescue of the dwarves and this noble theme climbs ever higher in the choral register.
A martial striding rhythm in percussion and strings (1:08) underscores the eagles' attack on Azog's minions and their rescue operation of the rest of the dwarves and is soon joined by the heraldic horns that announce the final escape of the dwarven company, hobbit and the wizard from fiery doom with dynamic reading of the leaping Erebor Theme that rings out with resolve and climbing to a higher key than usual as it is answered by the trumpets, the slightly dissonant crescendo coinciding with the furious Azog roaring his frustration and rage at his fleeing quarry.
At 1:53 high strings provide a shimmering fluttering base from which a luminous solo soprano sound pierces the skies singing a new melody as the eagles are seen transporting Thorin and his company through the snow capped mountainscapes under the rising sun and female chorus appears in support as the gigantic birds of prey one by one float towards a pinnacle of rock that is oddly shaped like a head of a giant bear, the Carrock, on the eastern side of the Misty Mountains. Shore follows their approach with slowly descending swelling phrases from the orchestra as the birds approach the stone formation with the broad brass chords from horns, shimmering dividing strings and luminous tremoloing textures, wildly fluttering woodwinds and the thrum of a gong accenting their arrival and creating both expectant and nervous sound that equally captures the wind swept visual vistas and also relates to the dramatic situation as Thorin's fate is unknown.
Thorin, apparently badly wounded, is set on the stones and double basses rumble in subtle sustained tones to address the grim situation, strings presenting rising figures as suspense mounts, violins climbing coldly on the other side of the orchestra to illustrate the danger. Gandalf hurries to the dwarven prince and by wizard-craft revives him. And as Thorin is not in immediate danger anymore the high strings sigh in relief and pause for a moment.
Thorin rises slowly to his feet, battered and bruised and starts towards the relieved hobbit, slowly commencing what appears to be another grim judgement on the halfling's usefulness but suddenly he smiles and admits that he has been wrong about him all along and that he is indeed a valued friend and member of the company, having just saved his life from Azog and his minions. For this meeting of minds and hearts the score opens up in a warm and gentle rising figure reminiscent of the Shire material (3:28) but here it is now tempered with resolute heroism, the Shire Theme lending its whole step figures to the contour of the Bilbo's Adventure that appears in its very basic chord progression to note that Bilbo has earned his place in the company through his selfless willingness to sacrifice himself and resolute friendship.
While undulating glimmering woodwind and string figures accompany the moment as we see the Eagles depart, the Company gathers together and turns their eyes towards east where the object of their quest and their distant dream, Erebor the Lonely Mountain, rises in the horizon beyond the wooded wilds of Mirkwood. Shore introduces a brief but passionate yearning melodic line on celli as Thorin views the road ahead full of optimism (3:51-) that rekindles with his hopes before the Erebor Theme itself appears as we see the distant mountain in full, the horns announcing the motto in formal fashion with double basses forming the steadfast base to it and trombones performing the answering phrase before regal strings take over the melody in a sweeping statement. There are good omens in the air for our heroes and Thorin's Theme follows on burnished French horns, ascending proudly but unexpectedly tremoloing string textures slide into the fabric of the music and as we see far off a lonely thrush approaching the far away Erebor over the desolation of the dragon and as the camera transports us to the vast chambers filled with immeasurable treasures Smaug has pillaged, a chilling female chorus intones a fateful line. But as the final shot moves to show us the opening eye of the awakened wyrm, the score ends in the ominous growling notes of Smaug the Golden with the searing Smaug's Breath motif churning grim underneath, giving the score ominous but fitting closure full of anticipation for things to come.
In the Making/ Soundtrack Album VS the Film
This last scene of the film was entirely re-scored and very few vestiges of Shore's original intention remain in the film and thus the above analysis is mostly conjecture on how the music would line up with the film. As for the changes to the score in the final scene the opening soaring choral piece was replaced by a majestic and equally uplifting version of the actual Nature's Reclamation Theme set for orchestra, female soprano soloist (Clara Sanabras) and full chorus, lifting the dwarves, hobbit and wizard to safety. This of course musically fulfils the promise of the quick quote of the Nature's Reclamation Theme in the previous scene bringing not only aid but also the theme back in full force. The revised piece however shows clear marks of temp-track and Theoden Rides Forth from TTT must have worked as the template for the film version of the piece as the contours of the music correspond surprisingly clearly and audibly with it.
Another notable addition to this section of the film is the new haunting soloist and choral melody that is used for the subsequent flying scene where the eagles carry the company to the Carrock, that in effect becomes a new thematic identification for the Eagles of the Misty Mountains when it is reprised in the third film of the series.
The final notable and puzzling addition to the last scene is the inclusion of the Gondor Reborn theme for the moment when Bilbo and Thorin embrace as the dwarven prince finally accepts Bilbo fully to their group. Not only is it thematically strange since it has no bearing on neither the hobbits or dwarves or the story at hand, it doesn't even belong to this part of the musical Middle-earth in the sense it represents the future of the world and more specifically Gondor, the world of Men after the Ring has been destroyed. This section was apparently revised at the director's behest at a very late stage and the curious thematic choice speaks purely for the emotional element of the scene without any contextual or subtextual connection to the narrative or Shore's thematic architecture.
12. The Song of the Lonely Mountain (performed by Neil Finn) (Extended Version)
This is the end credits song composed by a New Zealand singer/songwriter Neil Finn whom Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh hand-picked to write and perform this piece. Finn uses the Plan 9 melody of the Misty Mountains theme as basis for his own expansion and development on the tune and the piece receives new set of lyrics that relate to the story of Thorin's company. The Special Edition soundtrack contains an extended version of the song featuring additional instrumental passages compared to the regular album.
13. Dreaming of Bag End
The bookending piece of score that closes the end credits roll (which included tracked music from e.g. The Hidden Valley and Brass Buttons to cover is entire running time) is a beautiful concert piece styled presentation of Bilbo's Theme(s). A tin whistle presents a singing rendition of the first part of Bilbo's melody, The Dreaming of Bag End, which speaks of the hobbit's comfort loving gentle side that yearns only to stay at Bag End and never go on adventures and pines for his distant home on the long journey to the Lonely Mountain. At 0:52 recorder evokes the Tookish-Side, which begins introspectively enough but soon starts to climb in almost a noble fashion, but in a very hobbity way the adventurous streak is still balanced by the earthy wisdom and simple honesty as it longingly rises ever upwards toward humble heroism. This is a perfect encapsulation of Bilbo's character, a theme-and-a-half that is a single unit but with two different parts for different character purposes as Doug Adams describes on his blog when discussing various new musical ideas for Bilbo.
Exclusive Bonus Tracks
14. A Very Respectable Hobbit
This piece is a short thematic suite presenting some of the new (and old) Hobbit themes for the first film. The tin whistle in very hobbity style performs a chipper variant of Bilbo's Adventure in a its elemental guise, soon accompanied by the Hobbit Skip-Beat but quickly the strings take over with a brief glimpse of Dreaming of Bag End before diving into a new lilting and playful setting of the Pensive Shire Theme. The brief suite, a miniature of the hobbit life in music form, comes to a close with Bilbo's Antics (Fussy Bilbo) on mandolin and solo violin duetting over the percussion performing the jaunty rhythms of the Hobbit Two-Step.
This piece is another thematic suite, exploring what seems to be a very dwarvish take on the Bilbo's Adventure theme progression but transforming it in the process into something closer to a heroic theme for the whole company. The simple hobbity form of the gently upward reaching melody is given additional dwarven cast when Uillean pipes and bold brass exchange phrases of the melody as the theme leaps up with determined nobility and doughtiness further coloured by glorious cymbal crashes.
This is another unused concept for the first film but its significance can only be guessed at. It might have been one of Shore's early ideas for the “Company Theme”, a musical role which was later overtaken by Plan 9's Misty Mountains melody, or perhaps another abandoned idea for the dwarven world although its form seems to suggest a connection to the Shire and Bilbo in the opening phrases.
16. Dwarf Lords
Dwarf Lords is a fully developed suite encapsulating a thematic idea that was initially connected to the dwarves and perhaps their Seven Houses and significance in the later story as the dwarves of Durin's house unite to defend the kingdom of Erebor. As mentioned in the above analysis this theme makes one quick and subtle appearance in the first film at Bag End but was abandoned after the first film. There is very uncommon flowing lyricism to this theme although it retains some of the dwarven stoicism and those familiar ever rising figures but here they are treated by the composer with expansive optimistic colours and resolute marching percussion that has shed the characteristically mournful quality of the Ereborian thematic family, more like culture in ascension than in decline.
17. The Edge of the Wild
This piece is an actual film cue composed for an earlier cut of the first film, which still contained the scene where Gandalf immediately goes to investigate the High Fells after Thorin's company has left Rivendell. The name of the piece refers to the Misty Mountains as the edge of the Wild or Wilderland, which lay at the other side of the mountain range and which is marked on the maps of The Hobbit by Tolkien. It is an interesting and significant piece not only because we can hear an earlier take on the scene but because it presents the listener with entirely new albeit later abandoned thematic material and reintroduces a motif from LotR which was then dropped in the final approach for the same scene in the DoS.
The music opens with an expansive gradually ascending melody for horns, in all probability Shore's own early take on the Company Theme (similar to the one heard in the suite Erebor) that resolutely rises with the support of the rest of the brass section and nimble high string leaps that resemble the Hobbit-Skip Beat. At it's apex the theme transitions to a brief quote of the Misty Mountains Theme, which suggests that at one point there might have been another theme associated with Thorin's company aside from the Misty Mountains song melody and that there was intent of using them in tandem (at least for the first film). This passage was likely meant to score the travelling montage of the dwarves and the hobbit traversing the Misty Mountains on their way East, which was in the finished film underscored by an extended and mighty statement of the Misty Mountains Theme. This section of the track does indeed fit the sequence almost to perfection when timed against the film. Shore's initial idea seems to be more subdued, the music still addressing the journey with an optimistic theme but in a more restrained manner, the scene culminating in the shorter statement of the Misty Mountains Theme as the company is seen travelling along the top of a mountain ridge. Where the film transitions to Thorin's company in the stormy night on the mountainside (scored here by swelling dissonant strings) just prior to the Stone Giant attack, the music moves to a different scene altogether here.
At 1:24 the score shifts suddenly to a new winding ancient and exotic sounding melody spinning nervously on tremoloing strings underpinned later by the deep contrabassoon and brass colours and crescendoing on bowed cymbals and timpani as we see Gandalf climbing on another hillside, the High Fells of Rhudaur, where he is investigating the dark premonition of the Morgul Blade at the tombs of the long dead servants of darkness. The tension is released into sighing mysterious and glassy high string textures when the wizard comes to the broken outer gate of the burial place and steps in warily. His sudden loss of footing on the gravel and plunge down the steep corridor earns an ugly low brass croak and mounting terror from the steely screaming strings as he saves himself from falling into the shaft-like bowels of the ancient burial chamber.
In the blackness Gandalf lights his staff and in the bluish light slowly takes in his surroundings, advancing down the crumbled stair to the tombs themselves. Shore's music pulses dangerously with bowed cymbals, low brass and strings but at 2:26 a terrible musical clue is presented, the ominous melody of the Witch-King of Angmar/The Orcs of Mordor wafting subtly yet recognizably forth as the Grey Wizard peers into first of the tombs, the door a twisted ruin but with more alarmingly the stone casket broken open from the inside. The thematic choice here is on one hand very apt foreshadowing although on the other it in the strictest scheme of Shore's musical architecture is a Fourth Age theme, which represents the far-encroaching power of Mordor in The Return of the King, so its appearance here is surprising given that the forces of evil are far from announcing their presence let alone unleashing their full might. Gandalf is full of dark thoughts and peers further inside and cold sustained high strings begin to mount expectantly to culminate in a brass stringer at 3:24 when suddenly a small bird flits out of the stone coffin and Radagast the Brown appears behind the Grey Wizard startling him.
In the new division of the narrative when two films were turned into three the High Fells scene was moved to the second film to take place after the company reaches the edge of Mirkwood and was subsequently re-scored. The swirling opening string melody is all that remained of the old composition and the Witch-King of Angmar/The Orcs of Mordor theme was abandoned and Shore wrote another theme in its place called simply The Nine, which specifically addresses the return of the Ringwraiths and the growing power of darkness in more mysterious hushed tones of a ghostly soloist voice and the rest of the sequence is largely underscored by foreboding use of the hints of Mordor material.