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Howard Shore's An Unexpected Journey (Hobbit Part 1)


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I'm not planning to read the book out loud. (The book is too long, and my voice is too annoying!) Rather, I'm hoping to set the stage for why such a book would be interesting to people. Back on LOTR,

All will become clear in time.

We start at the beginning, and make a few references to sync points throughout. But really, I don't think we line up anything all that tightly anyway. It should work fine as long as you're close.

Let's see.

Some of the most colourful moments in the samples come from really fun retreads of LOTR themes.

Some of the samples are awesome (the samples for the action cues under the Misty Mountains sound like they're going to blow our mind.)

The song at the end is looking like a total fail. Unlike the songs at the end of the LOTR films, it doesn't seem to mesh with the rest of the score AT ALL, it repeats a theme from the score and it doesn't make it sound as good anyway.

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Also the site has track times! Radagast the Brown we heard was from the regular edition. The Special Edition version is whopping 6:37 long.

Also Dear Frodo is 8:03 long! :D

The White Council is 9:40 long, the longest track on the set.

Total duration is 2 hours and 7 minutes, with those bonus tracks included.

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Basically echoing everybody else, everything sounds great!! "Erebor" sounds really awesome. Love all the familiar Shire material (is that a little bit of "The Black Rider" at the end of the sample for "The Adventure Begins"?) and great to hear the Rivendell music again in "The Hidden Valley".

Don't know about the song...

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Wonderful quotes from the old themes and some intriguing new ideas seem to flit in and out of these clips. Can't wait to listen to the whole thing! :)

The evil themes from LotR are kept in shadows, Shore hinting at them quite fleetingly in the clips though. Orc material and Mordor material make kind of veiled appearances or have found similar cousins in this score.

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My God...they're awesome!!!

So I decided to just write a bunch of thoughts on each sample. They're really ramblings and thus they'll seem quite disorganized and even hypocritical. They were the first thing that popped into my head while listening to them. I'll fine tune them when I get the chance, but these were some of the things I picked up from the Deluxe Edition samples:

1) My Dear Frodo: It sounds like there's some great prologue music just waiting to happen! I can hear remnants of what can be considered the "Thorin's Company" theme here or the main theme for that matter. There is also a reflective brass motif here that might stand for the story of the dwarves and their loss of the treasure. Or perhaps its associated with the whole quest itself?

2) Old Friends: We've heard this already. According to Doug, there's actually a cool reason to why past passages are being quoted in such a literal way (although they're not as literal as everyone seems to complain they are).

3) An Unexpected Party: There seems to be a dulcimer variation of the fiddle theme we heard in the Radagast cue. So the theme possibly has a tie with one of the members of the company.

4) Blunt the Knives: Sounds like a fun song.

5) Axe or Sword: Sounds like noble variations of the "Thorin's Company" theme along with some other antagonistic identity. In between, the quest idea from "My Dear Frodo" recurs. I think it has to do with the quest itself, so lets just call it the "Quest theme" for now.

6) Misty Mountain: Cool a cappella version of the "Thorin's Company" theme that we heard in the trailer.

7)The Adventure Begins: I love the variations I'm hearing of the Hobbit material. And there's a mellow variation of the new Shire theme, or what may be Bilbo's own theme (lets go with that) we heard in the trailer.

8)The World Is Ahead: Playful remnants of the fiddle theme we heard in the Radagast cue!

9) An Ancient Enemy: Epic dark male choral writing. Sounds like it has strong roots in the Dwarf material with the "Thorin's Company" (reminds me a lot of Moria) littered around in fragments.

10)Radagast the Brown: I've become very familiar with this cue already (it's been on non-stop repeat). And that fiddle theme (as I guessed) is likely not associated with Radagast himself.

11) The Trollshaws: Classic Shore tense dramatic writing. There's a theme for the trolls here I believe!

12) Roast Mutton: We get to hear more of the trolls theme.

13) The Troll-Hoard: More troll material infused with tense drama to unveil the treasure they've found perhaps.

14) The Hill of Sorcery: More of the percussive material from the Radagast cue! As I guessed, this material seems to be associated with the darkness settling in Mirkwood. Either that, or Radagast's affairs with the growing darkness. Or Bilbo's theme....argh, the possibilities!

15) Warg-Scouts: Epic Shore action material. But I guess you expect that whenever you see a Shore cue with the "warg" title in it. It has action variants of the Radagast motif (the one used to represent the growing darkness likely).

16) The Hidden Valley: Ahh...good ol' Rivendell. We can always count on you to hear the familiar appregios again!

17) Moon Runes: More remnants of the "Thorin's Company" theme along with the a more reflective statement (potentially starting on cor anglais) of the noble "Quest Theme" we heard from the opening cue. Likely because the quest is being discussed in detail here.

18) The Defiler: Mordor Descending Third! With plenty of dark rumbling chaos!

19) The White Council: The motif sounds somewhat similar to the quasi-Shire idea we heard in the trailer. I originally thought of it as Bilbo's Theme in the trailer, I might stand by that theory (Galadriel and Gandalf talking?)

20)Over Hill: Lothlorien theme!!! Galadriel in her full grace! It's a gorgeous statement on the oboe too...I've never heard it quite as beautiful. Again, expanding on some of the harmonies of the reflective "Axe and Sword" motif. And then a wonderful statement of the Shire theme.

21) A Thunder Battle: The name says it all. Sounds like epic battle music along the lines of what we heard battle scenes of RotK.

22) Under Hill: Great brass writing and his classic avant-garde techniques with strings. And a hybrid of Mordor Descending Third with hints of the Evil of Sauron!

23) Riddles in the Dark: A twisted variation of Gollum's Menace amidst more of Shore's frenzy strings

24) Brass Buttons: Rhythmic male choral chanting (we seem to have a lot of it here). It's very different from what we heard from LOTR and yet not all that different from stuff like Khazad-dum. It sounds fantastic, like a far more invigorating expansion of that kind of choral and brass action we heard in Soul of the Ultimate Nation.

25) Out of the Frying-Pan: Sounds like more great action material...with one twist...the sample concludes with a full choir variation of Nature's Reclamation theme. Magnificent. The Eagles must be coming!

26) A Good Omen: Rhythmic beginning with a gorgeous operatic solo with the female choir joining in at the end. Could be a potential theme?

27) Song of the Lonely Mountain: What the hell am I listening to?!? Some awful hillbilly version of "Thorin's Company" theme....they really should have gotten him to work with Howard Shore. Sounds too modern for a Middle-Earth movie...

28)Dreaming of Bag End: It's the quasi-Shire theme/Bilbo's theme being extensively explored. Sounds absolutely lovely.

29) A Very Respectable Hobbit: Clearly this potential Bilbo theme has been integrated into the fabric of the Shire material is a part of that family, as shown by this cue. And there are some variations of the Shire theme and the theme we all heard from the Radagast film (could be a "Bilbo's Antics" theme...interesting).

30) Erebor: It seems Shore has given the bagpipes a home in Middle-Earth. This cue seems to have some very heroic music going for it with clear Scottish elements to it.

31) The Dwarf Lords: Sounds like some heroic accompaniment to a company of dwarves on an adventure.

32) The Edge of the Wild: A full statement of the melody from the trailer which is then quickly swallowed up by Shore's ominous quasi-religious suspense music.

Well that was that....I'll have to listen to them, because I'm sure I've made some very inaccurate assumptions. A lot of it seems to fit right in Middle-Earth and yet it sounds so different. Perhaps because of the absence of apparent doom and gloom. Also, there seems to be more of a Celtic twist in certain cues. Never thought I'd hear a bagpipe in Middle-Earth. But heck, I'm loving it all. This has me really excited!

I guess I have to listen to the Standrard Edition samples now too!

Feel free to bash me for my absurd thoughts....

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I think your descriptions have some really savvy predictions and observations on the music K.K. :)

Hmmm the song sounds really out of place in comparison with the score.

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Nah word skippable comes to mind.

It's awful you Grey Fool! It's completely unsuitable for Middle-Earth.

I love how many themes have returned for the occaison :P

Hearing these samples, I'm surprised and pleased how the LotR sound has evolved. It's different to befit the nature of this tale, but its still the same world.

Lots of cool new featured writing, choral writing like you've never heard in LOTR and new stylistic elements that expand the ever growing musical palette of Middle-Earth.

I can't wait to get the whole thing and analyze the freak out of it. :D

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So I dunno if anybody else noticed, but if you click on each track in qobuz, it tells you the composer. Well, most of them say Howard Shore, but SOME DO NOT! It appears several cues have contributions from Plan 9 (David Donaldson, Stephen Roche and Janet Roddick)!

Here is the track lists again, with time and co-composer credits added by me.

Standard Edition:

DISC 1

01. My Dear Frodo (8:04)

02. Old Friends (4:29)

03. An Unexpected Party (3:52)

04. Axe or Sword? (5:57)

05. Misty Mountains performed by Richard Armitage and The Dwarf Cast (1:42) Composed by J.R.R. Tolkien and Plan 9

06. The Adventure Begins (2:04) Composed by Howard Shore and Plan 9

07. The World is Ahead (2:19)

08. An Ancient Enemy(4:58)

09. Radagast the Brown (4:54)

10. Roast Mutton (4:02) Composed by Howard Shore and Plan 9

11. A Troll-hoard (2:38)

12. The Hill of Sorcery (3:50)

13. Warg-scouts (3:02)

TOTAL TIME: 51:51

DISC 2

14. The Hidden Valley (3:50)

15. Moon Runes (3:20)

16. The Defiler (1:13)

17. The White Council (7:19)

18. Over Hill (3:43)

19. A Thunder Battle (3:55)

20. Under Hill (1:55) Composed by Howard Shore and Plan 9

21. Riddles in the Dark (5:21)

22. Brass Buttons (7:37)

23. Out of the Frying-Pan (5:54)

24. A Good Omen (5:46)

25. Song of the Lonely Mountain performed by Neil Finn (4:09) Composed by Neil Finn and Plan 9

26. Dreaming of Bag End (1:49)

TOTAL TIME: 55:51

GRAND TOTAL TIME: 1:47:42

SPECIAL EDITION:

DISC 1

01. My Dear Frodo (8:03)

02. Old Friends (Extended Version) (5:00)

03. An Unexpected Party (Extended Version) (4:08)

04. Blunt the Knives performed by The Dwarf Cast (1:01) Composed by J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen Gallagher

05. Axe or Sword? (5:59)

06. Misty Mountains performed by Richard Armitage and The Dwarf Cast (1:42) Composed by J.R.R. Tolkien and Plan 9

07. The Adventure Begins (2:04)

08. The World is Ahead (2:19) Composed by Howard Shore and Plan 9

09. An Ancient Enemy (4:56)

10. Radagast the Brown (Extended Version) (6:37)

11. The Trollshaws (2:08)

12. Roast Mutton (Extended Version) (4:56) Composed by Howard Shore and Plan 9

13. A Troll-hoard (2:38)

14. The Hill of Sorcery (3:50)

15. Warg-scouts (3:02)

TOTAL TIME: 58:23 (6:32 longer than OST disc 1)

DISC 2

16. The Hidden Valley (3:49)

17. Moon Runes (Extended Version) (3:39)

18. The Defiler (1:14)

19. The White Council (Extended Version) (9:40)

20. Over Hill (3:42) Composed by Howard Shore and Plan 9

21. A Thunder Battle (3:54)

22. Under Hill (1:54)

23. Riddles in the Dark (5:21)

24. Brass Buttons (7:37)

25. Out of the Frying-Pan (5:55)

26. A Good Omen (5:54)

27. Song of the Lonely Mountain (Extended Version) performed by Neil Finn (6:00) Composed by Neil Finn and Plan 9

28. Dreaming of Bag End (1:56)

EXCLUSIVE BONUS TRACKS (8:14)

29. A Very Respectable Hobbit (1:20)

30. Erebor (1:19)

31. The Dwarf Lords (2:01)

32. The Edge of the Wild (3:34) Composed by Howard Shore and Plan 9

TOTAL TIME: 1:08:40 (12:49 longer than OST disc 2 [4:35 longer from Extended Cues and 8:14 from Bonus Tracks])

GRAND TOTAL TIME: 2:07:03

So basically the SE is 20 minutes longer than the regular OST.

And unless there is only 2 hours and 7 minutes of music in the 2 hour 44 minute film, the SE OST ain't complete.

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Could be that Plan 9 collaborated on Over the Misty Mountains Cold song and melody with Shore and thus some tracks indicate that it is used in the underscore as well.

Nah word skippable comes to mind.

It's awful you Grey Fool! It's completely unsuitable for Middle-Earth.

So saying that the song is to be overlooked and skipped doesn't indicate that it is something that might be quite bad and not suitable for the tone of the rest of the music? You are obviously getting befuddled Merciful One. Soon you'll be like me. Good, good.

Did I not say on the previous page?:

Hmmm the song sounds really out of place in comparison with the score.

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I think that's exactly it actually, since the acapella rendition of the track in Bilbo's house is credited to JRR Tolkien and Plan 9 only - no Shore at all.

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So the melody returns 6 times in the score (including the song). :)

The running time of 2 hours and 7 minutes sounds surprising, the actual score running about 2 h plus those bonus tracks (whatever those might be, alternates, unused cues etc.) Either this is not all or the film will have more unscored scenes than LotR in general.

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I can't imagine a PJ/Tolkien movie that runs 2 hours 44 minutes only having 2 hours of underscore in it. There must be cues missing, or pieces of cues microedited out. I dunno. Unless he just changed styles in between trilogies.

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Could be that Plan 9 collaborated on Over the Misty Mountains Cold song and melody with Shore and thus some tracks indicate that it is used in the underscore as well.

Nah word skippable comes to mind.

It's awful you Grey Fool! It's completely unsuitable for Middle-Earth.

Did I not say on the previous page?:

Hmmm the song sounds really out of place in comparison with the score.

Let's just say, I missed it ;)

So the melody returns 6 times in the score (including the song). :)

The running time of 2 hours and 7 minutes sounds surprising, the actual score running about 2 h plus those bonus tracks (whatever those might be, alternates, unused cues etc.) Either this is not all or the film will have more unscored scenes than LotR in general.

Are you basing the the theme's number of appearances based on the samples alone? I thought it would appear more than that, not to mention I think it'll be the central theme of the trilogy.

And I agree, 2 hours of score is rather short. That leaves over a half hour of unscored scenes. It could be we're missing some short bits that might not make as much sense on the album.

Also, I just heard "The White Council" sample from the Non-Special Edition and freaked out for a second as it had the Lothlorien Theme leading into the Isengard Theme. It may not seem all that special to others, but ever since I heard the Hobbit films came out, I kept hoping Shore would nod to Saruman and wondering how he would do it and to hear was just awesome.

There, my fanboy moment of the day :P

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So the melody returns 6 times in the score (including the song). :)

The running time of 2 hours and 7 minutes sounds surprising, the actual score running about 2 h plus those bonus tracks (whatever those might be, alternates, unused cues etc.) Either this is not all or the film will have more unscored scenes than LotR in general.

Are you basing the the theme's number of appearances based on the samples alone? I thought it would appear more than that, not to mention I think it'll be the central theme of the trilogy.

Well I actually based my guess on the number of appearances of the Over the Misty Mountains Cold on how many times Plan 9 is noted in the track list. Either Plan 9 has some more vocal work done on those tracks labeled Composed by Howard Shore and Plan 9 or it might be another appearance of the Misty Mountains Cold melody in the underscore. :)
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The way I read it is that "Over the Misty Mountains" is a composition by Plan 9, and when Shore includes the melody in the score they are referenced as a credit.

If the melody was Shore's own then there would be no reason to credit Plan 9.

Edit: ok, everyone said that already.

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Right. Tolkien wrote the words, Plan 9 gave the words a melody for the actors to sing the words to on set, and Shore took that melody and integrated it into his score as a lietmotif theme. But any tracks that use that theme must give credit to Plan 9.

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Even though there are shorter tracks peppered about the score you once again see Shore's penchant for writing longer continuous sections. Many tracks clock at least almost 5 minutes, which of course is only a good thing. :)

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Oh. So it's not a Shore theme? A bit of a bummer.

And I find it curious that Shore is incorporating a theme that's not his own into the fabric of his work. But given the popularity of the melody, I suppose it was a given.

Hmm, so I assume that melody wouldn't be the central idea of the score, I wonder what is then.

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Indeed. The trailer version was fantastic and gave life to the melody. I love how he took the melody and made it his own, because I 'm pretty sure we were all sold that it was Shore when we first heard it.

Anyways, the second half of the score portion seems to contain an original theme by Shore. One that seems to play a major role in this score as its referenced in numerous cues, many being ones with Plan 9 being accredited.

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So some other interesting things.

An Unexpected Party goes from 3:52 to 4:08 (an addition of 16 seconds) and Moon Runes goes from 3:20 to 3:39 (19 seconds) to get the "(Extended Version)" indicator. But A Good Omen goes from 5:46 to 5:54 (8 seconds) and Dreaming Of Bag End goes from 1:49 to 1:56 (7 seconds) and have no indicator.

The longest expansion is The White Council, which goes from 7:19 to 9:40 (2:21 longer). The next longest are Song Of The Lonely Mountain (1:51 longer) and Radagast The Brown (1:43 longer).

Of the 6 tracks that are ONLY on the SE CD, 5 of them are 2:08 or shorter. The long one is The Edge Of The Wild which runs 3:34.

The standard OST is about 36 minutes longer than the FOTR OST.

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Now I am intrigued by how will Doug Adams' liner notes will be for this release. Do they follow the CR formula with introduction, thematic analysis and possibly a PDF-Annotated Score downloadable from the soundtrack site or will there be a more general approach to the notes akin to regular soundtrack releases?

Btw I just found out that a local CD store has both Hobbit soundtracks on their lists and the release date is 7th of December. I cancelled my old order at CDON and ordered from them for about 25€. Fingers crossed that the release will arrive here on time. :)

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After all the efforts put in the end credits song for TTT and ROTK, with Shore working more closely with the singer with every new fillm in the trilogy, why did they have to regress to FOTR-style, with the singer doing is own thing on his side, and Shore working on his score on the other side. Why? I truly thought it was given they'll work as they did on ROTK with The Hobbit films. Such a fucking shame. I guess that'll be one track I'll skip when I'll listen to the OST (not the first time, though. I still need to have my own opinion on the damn thing, even though I doubt it'll be much different from Inky, KK and Chaac's).

If the next two end credits song are done the same way, I'll probably won't be looking forward to them.

Well in the FOTR EE Director's Commentary mentions that the guys from Plan 9 are his friends (am I right they also did the Hobbit Party music + A elbereth..)

So I guess he wanted to give them the chance for a breakthrough?

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Wow. Of course, this had to happen while I was away! Anyway, a few thoughts on what has been said:

- The cool theme from the trailer is not by Shore? WTF? And I loved it so much, I expected to appear a lot in the score, and actually be the main theme of the film, but it seems it's not. Bad news... Bad news... But what is that "Thorin's Company" theme KK is talking about, then?

- The Dwarves' songs are a capella? Shame, shame... Love the accompaniment Shore wrote for the Misty Mountains song in the trailer...

- I was really happy to see that Tolkien worked on the score. I really loved his contribution on the LOTR scores. Here's hoping he delivers the goods once more !

You are really going hyper over this? Is it an act or are you just wenting your frustration on us for not getting to listen these preview clips?
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Loved every sample (except the song but that seems to be the consensus)!

It's so wonderfully weird to hear brand new Middle-Earth music from Shore. It's all very recognisably from that world but also fresh. I just want to hear the full thing now. Lets hope Amazon take pity and ship earlier than they should. I won't hold me breath :)

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Wow. Of course, this had to happen while I was away! Anyway, a few thoughts on what has been said:

- The cool theme from the trailer is not by Shore? WTF? And I loved it so much, I expected to appear a lot in the score, and actually be the main theme of the film, but it seems it's not. Bad news... Bad news... But what is that "Thorin's Company" theme KK is talking about, then?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-dVcj_gYAQ

At 1:10, the trumpet line is an actual original Shore theme and constant surfaces in all the samples (non Plan 9 ones too, so I know its Shore who wrote it). This is what I believe stands for the company itself.

- The Dwarves' songs are a capella? Shame, shame... Love the accompaniment Shore wrote for the Misty Mountains song in the trailer...

Ya, it doesn't sound as cool as it did in the trailer. Shore's arrangement really gave life to the theme. Still a cool melody though.

Some of the samples are awesome (the samples for the action cues under the Misty Mountains sound like they're going to blow our mind.)

I knew it! I told you that the music for the escape of Goblintown would be awesome!

The action sounds fantastic! Really impressive stuff.

Sampled choir, really??? ("Brass Buttons") The fake singers have an issue wenn it comes to "s" or "Sh" that really jumps out and is recognizable (like in Angels & Demons)

That's not sampled choir....

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Why the disappointment that the Misty Mountains melody isn't Shore's? I understand being surprised that its not his own original material, but just because it isn't doesn't mean it's bad news! It's a really cool melody that we all enjoy, so in the end does it really matter who wrote it?

As for collaboration, I don't think this is the same case as Fellowship - the Plan 9 work was certainly not done in isolation from Shore, since it is integrated into the score. In fact this theme seems to have greater integration than even Into the West had, and will probably be a theme that remains throughout the trilogy.

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Why the disappointment that the Misty Mountains melody isn't Shore's? I understand being surprised that its not his own original material, but just because it isn't doesn't mean it's bad news! It's a really cool melody that we all enjoy, so in the end does it really matter who wrote it?

Have we all forgotten that Shore used the first seven notes of the English music appropriated for the Christian hymn "This Is My Father's World" verbatim for Shire music?

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I was impressed by the samples. You can tell the tone is lighter overall than Lord of the Rings which isn't a surprise. There seem to be more songs which, again, is no surprise. I could only pick out a few recurring themes that weren't originally from Rings.

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