Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Marian Schedenig

The Two Towers COMPLETE RECORDINGS 3CD set

Recommended Posts

I didn't know they were dropping the Bigatures. Hmm.

Many of them still looked like CG anyway.

Also, I finally figured out a major problem I have with ROTK as a film.

I find that you frequently feel like the actors are on a set, due to excessive digital enhancements. Cases in point: Sam's wedding (just compare it to the look of Bilbos birthday), the coronation, the Grey Havens ...

Both Fellowship and Two Towers feel a lot more real.

A compounding problem with RotK is that the cinematography is very soft - it's never really a sharp picture, and a problem I've always had with CG is how soft and rubbery it looks. Those two combine to make some stuff look remarkably fake.

Although the time pressure they had in post was also a factor, there are quite a lot of brief shots which really don't hold up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The blazing catapult balls hitting minas tirith is an awful cgi effect not worthy of the film.

the catapult blazing rocks hitting minas tirith is one of the worse effect shots i have seen. Not worthy of the film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Howdy again - 

 

Again my take of The Two Towers CR, written in January 2007, about a month after first having listened to the set.

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Yes, finally my take on it. Sit down, this will take a while...

 

Before I begin, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Mr John T Cartledge of Atlanta (GA) for (...) he's kindly agreed to play mailman for me again with T2T. Come to think of it, I think I've asked half the board at one point or another to help me acquiring stuff...

 

Okay, The Two Towers. You might remember how grumpy I was when I first watched the film on Christmas of 2002; too many deviations from the book, ill-chosen moments of humour, etc. This subsequently changed with the extended edition, but I still think that both Fellowship and RotK are the better movies. I also didn't chose Howard Shore's score as 2002's best score, but rather Bernstein's Far from Heaven, a decision I stand behind even now. [Note: I later did choose T2T as best 2002 score!]

 

With the Complete Recordings, we have an additional 116 minutes of music. I doubt that I'll play the old OST ever again (this might be a lie). There is so much astounding material to be heard, including music that never made any film cut (more on that below).

 

But again, just as with Fellowship last year, the "being-completely-bowled-over" factor wasn't there. Unlike last year, I know now why that is: I simply know the music too well. All the big surprises, if I were to call them that, I already knew from the movie, albeit behind SFX. The wonderment factor, in retrospect, was only there in case of Fellowship; with Two Towers and Return of the King, I knew what to expect, although both times there was a lingering doubt if/how Shore could continue on the success that was Fellowship (needless to give an answer on that!). Nonetheless, this set, together with the other two, will certainly be the heart of my collection, and even if time hasn't put its seal on these scores, I am absolutely sure that they will be considered to be landmarks of all of film music. For me, they are *the* highpoint. I doubt I'll ever hear something better.

 

Onto the music as it's presented on the 3-CD set: as far as my ears to decipher, the music has been remixed a bit, but it didn't bother me as much this time as it did last year with Fellowship. One far-off day, when I'll have a place to myself and money €€€, I shall invest in a 5.1 system and play the DVD in all its glorious power.

 

The opening "Foundations of Stone/Glamdring", still rocks my boat every single time I hear it. A lot of the quieter music of the various parts of the film, for example "Lost in Emyn Muil", I find very engaging; the way the music extrudes this kind of quiet despair with its searching minor chords and the "hollow" orchestrations appeal very much to me. An early highlight is the short "Uglúk's Warriors", with its rousing choral finish (another of these 20-seconds moments I live for). As is the choral version of the Evil Times motif as head late in "The Three Hunters". And, of course, the pounding "Wraiths on Wings"...scoregasm extraordinaire!

 

The first big chunk of un-released music during "Night Camp" features Shore's increasing use of dense, aleatoric material, and the howling French horns had me, once again, look at my stereo in awe. I was surprised how heavily the Isengard 5/4 ostinato features in this score, trumping in at various moments and leaving nothing but chaos; the phat sound of it in "The Voice of Saruman" made me giddy as well. I am also happy to have Miranda Otto's on-screen performance. "The Wolves of Isengard" sets the battle for Rohan in motion, and the combination of choir with the Hardinger fiddle makes for a great rousing listening.

 

The music on CD 2 is a bit non-descript for me, and I find myself listening to stuff on CDs 1 and 3 more frequently. A treat, however, is the "funny" Gollum music during "The Forests of Ithilien". The highlight of the entire score is, understandably, the music for the Battle of Helm's Deep. There's so much going on in the orchestra, with the sudden shifts of meters, to the new variations of, say, the Lothlórien Theme, it's just a joy to behold (or listen to, rather...). Unfortunately, the cutting to the happenings at Fangorn kinda disrupts the flow of the battle music, but it's not as bad as I had feared. The single highlight of it all is for me the fully choral rendition of Gandalf the White during "The Nazgûl Attack". I had tears in my eyes when this played for the first time. And OMFG, "The Breach of the Deeping Wall"!!! (I also noticed how the "stuff in between the themes", that some folks complained about a few months back, is more "active" this time around.)

 

All in all, there's a lot to (re-)discover for us LotR nuts, and I think that even "normal" film-music fans can thoroughly enjoy this one (well, maybe not Chris Tilton).

 

What also occurred to me is despite my ardent love of the films and the scores, and even though I love to read Doug's liner notes, I find that I do not need to dissect the music down to the last eighth note or augmented C#-major chord. A very lenghty discussion over at MovieMusic.com does just that, but for myself, I'm content with knowing what the individual themes stand for and how they relate. I actually don't want to know if "those four notes at 0:31 in #15 can be interpreted as Denethor's greed motif" or something along those lines. I think just a bit of mystery serves this music well (a similar thing happened to me when I first flew to Iceland in 2005...from books and stuff, I already had a complete picture of the island in my might, and had a difficult time adjusting it to the actual countryside).

 

What else? Well, that I will listen to this set again and again is no question at all, although I'll probably choose certain bits and pieces and will listen to the entire thing only at special occasions. And, of course, I will wildly air-conduct to some pieces. And then, late this year, with the complete recordings for The Return of the King and hopefully that elusive "rarities" disc, this journey will be over, in a sense that during all of the past six years had a new perspective on The Lord of the Rings to offer. 2008 will not.

 

Once again I would like to extend my thanks to Howard Shore, Peter Jackson, Paul Broucek, Doug Adams, the LPO and London Voices and all involved for creating this enormous piece of work. And for so completely succeeding at doing it. :)

 

The only thing that really bugged me: the "book" spine of the set is straight, not curved as the one for FotR. Looks stupid on the shelf. :mellow:

 

Questions, anyone? :lol:

 

Ta & ta ta, 
CK

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Kühni! These write-ups make me want to take that 3+ hours off of everything and just sit down and immerse myself into this tale in musical form. It has been a while since I did that, too long in fact. Such journeys through these scores have been some of my most treasured musical memories.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5.5.2016 at 6:40 PM, Kühni said:

OK, someone cue up track 5 from Looking for Richard ("William, Lord Hastings"), listen to the music at 0:10 or 1:08 and then tell me that's not a forebear of "The Fellowship in Rohan".

Yeah that score contains a lot of stylistic similarities with LotR. Then again the Rivendell theme (or at least the arpeggios) makes its first appearance in Dogma. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/7/2016 at 6:33 AM, Kühni said:

think that this comes from his approach to the orchestra as a series of ranges, not families of winds, brass, strings and percussion.  This comes out of study of Eastern music.

I would love to know about that in more detail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Kühni said:

So, in "Theoden Rides Forth", at 0:42, the choral exclamation according to Doug's book is Sceadufæx. All I'm hearing is "adu". 

 

Its probably just a fragment of the word.

 

Shore often does it with the choral text.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/9/2016 at 1:56 PM, Kühni said:

I hope Doug won't mind me sharing these parts of eMails that we traded over a decade ago. No more secrets that need to be kept! :)

 

Well, a more standard approach to the orchestra treats it in families.  In other words, the woodwinds are all employed for a very specific purpose, a very specific style of writing, a lighter style with a bit of a wry flavor.  Woodwinds are used for their agility.  Brass, on the other hand, are used for power and stateliness.  The receive solid figures without a lot of running passages.  Strings make up the body of the sound, filling in harmonic gaps and creating a warm "canvas" for the winds and brass.  

 

But Shore doesn't think in terms of these families.  He thinks of high sounds:  flutes, oboes, violins, trumpets.  Middle sounds: clarinets, violas, French horns.  Low sounds: bassoons, trombones, tubas, celli, basses.  And this creates a wonderful clarity of line for his writing, but within each single line a thousand details lay.  A bass figure, for example, might have celli, basses, piano and harp all playing essentially the same part, but sometimes the celli and basses are playing in octaves, sometimes in unison.  The piano play might accent some notes and not others.  The harp may ripple some figures to add a bit of texture.  

 

So it's a very different way of presenting the orchestra.  It's not unlike Stravinsky’s Neo-Classical period, but Shore takes things to an even more extreme level.  I love it in LOTR, personally, because it creates a much closer bond between the full orchestra and the soloists.  The full ensemble always retains an emphasis on amassed individuals, it never asks them to fully surrender their sonic identities.  So when, say, a clarinet steps out to play the Shire theme, they so easily move in and out of the ensemble.    It doesn't feel like the music stops to allow one performer to shine, there's a continual interplay.  I love that.

 

Lovely bit of insight here. Thanks for sharing Kuhni!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/7/2016 at 6:33 AM, Kühni said:


Shore orchestration is quite unique, I agree.  Again, I think that this comes from his approach to the orchestra as a series of ranges, not families of winds, brass, strings and percussion.  This comes out of study of Eastern music.

 

 

I wonder if Doug might be willing to expand on what Eastern music, specifically, Shore has interest in, that led to this thinking?  I only have a rather cursory knowledge of other musical cultures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Kühni said:

I think the term "Eastern" encompasses more than just instruments from that region. Are we talking harmonic vernacular, scales specific to that region?

 

When Shore adopts an instrument into his score, he takes the time to study the kind of music its typically used for playing, so that he can write specifically for the instrument and the player, as he so often does. I assume his knowledge in Eastern scales would stem from that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 22/01/2018 at 10:59 AM, Kühni said:

I know. It's still funny. He could've used "Sceadu" at least.

 

The chorus sings 'KAHT LOO' (from the choral text The Fight, I think).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indeed.

 

Well, regardless of the meaning of the lyrics themselves, choral exclamations from "The Fight" are used consistently throughout the score to represent Gandalf the White, for obvious reasons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Sounds like something from first stanza of "The Abyss."

 

You're right - it is The Abyss.  The full stanza is used in Gandalf the White - written phonetically as 'EER KAHT LOO HOO'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently discovered that the scale used for the Rivendell theme and arpeggio, the major scale with a flattened 6th, is actually also a Greek mode used, as far as I saw, in Greek folk music, it's called the Tabahaniotikos.

 

I found that really interesting, that Shore would use a Greek mode to depict Rivendell, and an Eastern mode for Lorien. Both real world cultures are places with immense history of knowledge, but by using these two culturally different modes, Shore draws a brilliant parallel between our world and Middle Earth, through the eyes of Western society.

For us Western people, Greece is a friendly place, a place whose knowledge and history is familiar to us, and it was always a place of schooling, mainly by the great Greek philosophers and historians like Plato, Herodot and the likes.

India, however, still has an ominous feel to it, it's a culture that's strange to us still, and its history is somewhat of a haze of endless religious scriptures, and sometimes quite bloody. We admire its depth, and it's mysteriously appealing, but we don't feel very comfortable with it.

 

These two perfectly reflect the feelings the Fellowship has towards Rivendell and Lorien, and how the film makes the audience feel about those places. If this juxtaposition was intentional, it's genius.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I seem to recalls Adams saying that it wasn't Shore's intention to draw direct parallels between the cultures of Middle Earth and historical cultures of our own world. Otherwise, the music of Mordor would have been very racist to the people of the near and far east (which includes me). Also, such parallels would have been against Tolkien's vision (who rejected the notion that his story was in any way an allegory) and Jackson's. 

 

Rather, he uses these timbres and scales to provide a very rough sense of geography: Lothlorien is quite far to the east (in terms of the course of the quest) and so its gets music from the east of our own world, without being a direct allusion to India or whatever. Rivendell perhaps is more closely related to ancient Greece (think about "The Valley of Imladris"), but that's more the result of Shore conforming to the filmmaker's vision, as expressed through the conceptual design of Alan Lee and John Howe, who imagined Rivendell with Greek elements very much in mind.

 

Also, elements of Eastern music imbue each culture with the appropriate sense of antiquity: While both are old, Lorien is older than Rivendell, and so its music uses a scale that is older, or at least perceived as such. Really, we think of this music in terms of cultures, but its also divided by ages: the Second, Third and Forth age each have their own music. Lorien is of the Second Age (until the later appearances of the music), whereas Rivendell is very much in the soundscape of the Third Age.

 

If the music of Lorien is more "alien" to us, its because its not Western, not because it is Indian, per se.

 

What impresses me, is that while he was so keen on using instruments outside of the orchestral palette to achieve all these ends, Shore really did his best the avoid the cliche "ethnic" instrumental choices of the time: so while Lorien is eastern, there's no Duduk, no moaning woman, no Sitar, no Erhu, etc...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Correct, Shore employed all sorts of non traditional instruments for their sound, not for their cultural context. At least for the most part.

 

The only possible exception might be his use of bagpipes for Dain and his dwarf army in the last Hobbit. Especially if you have Billy Connelly in there.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Stefancos said:

The only possible exception might be his use of bagpipes for Dain and his dwarf army in the last Hobbit. Especially if you have Billy Connelly in there.

 

But even that's only prominently present in the alternate/suite (What the hell is "Ironfoot"? An early end credits suite made of alternates?), not the final film cues, I think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think there's some droning pipes under some of the music when the Iron Hills Dwarves arrive, as well. Highland bagpipes are essentially war pipes, so it makes sense for the Dwarvish Army and the warrior leader that is Dain.

 

It forms a nice contrast to the uileann pipes used for the Dwarves in the early part of the adventure. For some reason, I've always thought of that as the sound of the Blue Mountains. Its the Dwarvish equivalent of how the Hobbit music "evolves" from tin whistle to flute.

 

I think there's some sort of droning pipes under the Shire music in The Fellowship of the Ring, as well. One of the instrumentalists is credited for playing "drones". Since The Hobbit does a lot to connect the music of the Dwarves and Hobbits (e.g. Thorin's theme and the Shire, tin whistle in Ironfoot) it makes sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

I think there's some sort of droning pipes under the Shire music in The Fellowship of the Ring, as well. One of the instrumentalists is credited for playing "drones". Since The Hobbit does a lot to connect the music of the Dwarves and Hobbits (e.g. Thorin's theme and the Shire, Tin Whistle in Ironfoot) it makes sense.

The 'hobbit band' includes musette, a smaller instrument of the bagpipe family.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting. I know "musette" is the name of some kind of French small-pipes, but the instrument that the Annotated Scores describe sounds like more of an accordion of sorts, and that's what's been reported elsewhere, as well. It certainly sounds like an accordion much more so than a bagpipe on the album, and I know that its often replaced by an accordion in the live performances. In An Unexpected Journey, its even augmented with the addition of a concertina.

 

Rather, I'm talking about one of the Bodhran players, Robert White, who is also credited for playing "drones." I assumed it was some kind of drone-only bagpipe. His discography seems to suggest as much, as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Kühni said:

I think Old English is used just as much, if not more. But then again, there are at least two sides to how Gandalf the White is depicted musically (it's described in Doug's book).

 

Oh, sure. But I was talking about those quick choral outbursts. They're always "Mettanna!" or "[Ir]kat Lu[khud]".

 

If by "two sides" you mean the two themes, than yes. But those choral outbursts aren't thematic, per se. Although I think there's a similar outburst just before Gandalf breaks the rock that exposes the trolls to daylight in An Unexpected Journey.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ROTFLMAO

 

21 minutes ago, Kühni said:

I suppose a combination was the case. Shore had the advantage of basically knowing where the story would go and knew where he had to start, which ways he would have to tread to get to where the end of it all would be.

 

I suppose it was indeed a combination. Think about the Gondor material: its incidental in The Fellowship of the Ring, but as the Rarities show, he already had plans for that material: The mock-up is already in the ascension variation (in major, but still) and even features the pan-flute, and you also have the Numenore variation in the alternate prologue. That's an example of the use of a theme being mapped out from the beginning, seeing how Shore had all three books, all three scripts as well as concept art and assorted footage from all three films, all from the very outset.

 

On the other hand, you have stuff that was probably (and very skillfully) retconed, as it were. Maybe the Mount Doom chords were just that, although the connection to Smeagol's theme (which was already very much established in Fellowship of the Ring) would suggest otherwise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doug referred to lyrics different to those that are in the actual libretto in several parts of the score, in order to avoid confusing the reader. Think about The Doors of Durin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, with the exception of some parts in the Rarities (and of course, The Hobbit), Marilyn Miller (aka Magpie) has the actual lyrics figured out quite well, although her site is sadly going down in the next few months.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Kühni said:

Or is Doug's mentioning of "Sceadufaex" referring to the moment when Ben del Maestro is singing the word over the Rohirrim crashing into the phalanx of Orcs over the rising of the Sun?

 

Starting at 1:30 in Theoden Rides Forth, the entire chorus sings SHAHH DU FACHS over three bars (3/4, 46bpm).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Chen G. said:

Doug referred to lyrics different to those that are in the actual libretto in several parts of the score, in order to avoid confusing the reader. Think about The Doors of Durin.

Wasn't that Doors of Durin bit of lyrics taken actually from Footsteps of Doom?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Kühni said:

According to the Annotated Score, the lyrics are drawn from Boyens' "Gandalf at the Door to Moria".

 

Galad Fëanor | The light of Fëanor
danna or thâd gwaith | Falls on two peoples
beinas sin goeol | Such terrible beauty
írith sin bara | Such burning desire

Yes but at least the Live Performance choral texts use Footsteps of Doom. This is old news of course, established way back when A Magpie's Nest was a LotR music research hub. :)

 

This from A Magpie's Nest concerning the lyrics:

Quote

Scene: The Door of Moria  

CR-FOTR Track: The Doors of Durin; 2-11

Source Text: Footsteps of Doom

 

[1:37] Min-

[1:38] na
[1:41] ammen
[1:46] man
[1:48] sí
[1:51] anann
[1:56] dannatha

 

The AS-FOTR indicated that the source text, Gandalf at the Door to Moria, was heard during this track and this scene is the only one containing singing. But we had a hard time determining what lyrics were sung. When the FOTR Live choral lyrics were made available, we were surprised to find the lyrics were from, Footsteps of Doom. Doug Adams was asked about this and he replied:

Well, I know that this composition was assembled using the Gandalf at the Door lyric... and I believe (doing this of the top of my head) that you still hear a very jumbled version of this on the CD. My guess is that the lyric was so jumbled that, for the live performance, they went back and reset a more straightforward lyric (apparently Footsteps) just to maintain some semblance of coherence. I don't know that for a fact, of course, but it certainly seems to be the case.

I have to say, however, that the lyrics as provided by the choral sheet music match what I'm hearing on the CR-FOTR in multiple places. However, I'm not so sure they match the singing heard in the movie. There is dialog and sound effects over the singing, which complicates things. But there isn't a strong sense of hearing even the same syllables, the same number of syllables, or the same timing of syllables. (Danijel Legin thinks they are the same.) Perhaps the movie uses this 'jumbled' version of the Gandalf at the Door to Moria lyrics. But since the CR-FOTR tracks are assembled from material recorded prior to FOTR Live, the switch of source material - if one was made - would not have been prompted by the concert. Not being sure if the CR-FOTR and the movie use the same singing, one is left with two questions.

Why would two tracks be prepared - one being used for the movie and one being assembled into the CR-FOTR?

If the was a quest for 'more straightforward lyric just to maintain some semblance of coherence', why not use a more coherent version of Gandalf at the Door to Moria? Why use Footsteps of Doom? The subject matter of the first seems considerably more appropriate for this scene.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Kühni said:

According to the Annotated Score, the lyrics are drawn from Boyens' "Gandalf at the Door to Moria".

 

And yet the actual lyrics are in fact from "The Footsteps of Doom."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...