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Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings scores General Discussion

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Depends if they had a female choir in NZ. Could Gandalf's Demise just be the short segment from the quiet through his fall, and Elegy for Gandalf be Mabel's solo and through the end? I see a lot of small cues there.

 

I edited my last post while you posted this comment, the Watcher is LPO.

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I have enjoyed listening to Edith Bowman’s podcast ‘Soundtracking’ for a while now. She talks to filmmakers and composers about the music in their new films, as well as looking back across their careers. Music from the films being discussed is played alongside the interviews.

 

I was excited to see there was a new episode with Peter Jackson and Philipa Boyens discussing Mortal Engines, giving them a chance to talk about the LOTR scores - which I don’t think will happen very often.

 

During the opening discussion about Tom Holkenborg’s score to Mortal Engines, I thought Jackson gave a rather revealing description of their relationship (8:38).

 

Quote

Hopefully this is the first film of many that we’ll do with Thomas, I mean that’s the best thing you can say about someone, you come out of an experience and you want to do it again. He’s absolutely terrific in every possible way. He’s on our side, he’s not someone who’s doing his music and, you know, our suggestions are not welcome. He listens to us, he’s collaborative, he’s part of the team and he really digs deep into the movie. I so admired the way that he, not just through himself time-wise into doing the score, but emotionally he just got so wrapped up in the characters - which you want your composer to do that, because that’s where the music comes from, it comes from his heart, from his soul.

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Is it just me or does this feel like a jab at Howard Shore (edit: the parts in bold)? I can’t see how you would praise someone as being ‘on your side’, unless you previously worked with a collaborator who you felt was not on your side. The other composers he has worked are Michelle Scullion, Peter Dasent, Danny Elfman (was suprised to find this out!), James Newton Howard, Brian Eno and Plan 9. The only frequent collaborators here are Peter Dasent, Plan 9 and Howard Shore. We know that Shore was replaced on King Kong due to creative differences, and the Hobbit scoring process was significantly changed after the first movie and its late re-scoring sessions. It seems unlikely to me that Jackson is (indirectly) referring here to any other composer than Shore.

 

If this is indeed how he feels about working with Shore then I can’t help but feel a little sad. They collaborated together to make arguably some of the best films and scores of all time. Perhaps the previous interviews about their working relationship did not give the full picture, but I recall Shore frequently talking about how collaborative the process was. Even on The Hobbit, Jackson would mention Shore being ‘very good natured’ and again Shore mentioned their collaboration (for example, Jackson pushing the music for Smaug to sound more Eastern). If Peter’s comments above were referring to Shore, I wonder how he got that impression. Perhaps he thinks the composing and orchestration process takes too long for a traditional composer such as Shore, and he prefers the way a DAW composer can send him pieces very quickly. This might lead Jackson to think traditional composers aren't as cooperative - because they can't iterate as quickly. I wonder if he felt Shore was pushing back in self-interest to Jackson wanting to use tracked music that doesn’t make sense in the new context (the Nazgul and Gondor Reborn theme in AUJ) or wanting to reprise the Misty Mountain Song melody in films 2 or 3 (if it was the case that Jackson wanted this and Shore did not).

 

The part of the interview about LOTR was quite enjoyable regardless. It starts at 23:37, and there were a few things I hadn’t heard before.

 

Spoiler
  • Philipa Boyens being brought to tears when hearing Shore’s score for the first time - the piece recorded for the Moria scene.
  • Peter Jackson describing the scores as having ‘a dark emotion which suited the Lord of the Rings… it’s a melancholy, sadness to his music even the sort of more of the cheerful stuff’.
  • Howard Shore flying over to New Zealand before shooting began, and asking for piano to be put in the house they rented for him. A few days later he invited them over and played them the Shire theme!
  • Fran Walsh being the most musical of the three filmmakers. I do recall Fran being asked whether she preferred the Clavichord or Harpsichord on the Desolation of Smaug score, which makes more sense now!
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I'm not sure it is.

 

Jackson has a much clearer vision for music in his films than most. Whereas most directors are perfectly happy with letting the composer run the main themes by them, and maybe ask for an occasional chage, Jackson likes to sit through the entirety of the recording sessions and offer input throughout.

 

So for jobs that require the Howard Shore sound - he goes with Howard. For jobs that don't - he doesn't.

 

Do you really see Shore composing for Mortal Engines? I dunno. What little we heard of his King Kong score is markedly different to Newton Howard's score - I'm sure its the latter type of score that Jackson had more in mind with regards to that film.

 

I should also add that Jackson is gradually gravitating more and more towards Australian and New Zealand talent, both in front of and behind the camera, so there's that going for the likes of Junkie XL, and against the likes of Shore. But not for personal reasons - rather, its for practical ones.

 

2 hours ago, SUH said:

Fran Walsh being the most musical of the three filmmakers.

 

She also wrote the tunes for several of the diegetic songs.

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Absolutely.

 

Just as an example of how thorough he is: we all know that when he works on an adapted film, he diligently reads the source material. But looking at production material from The Hobbit you'll see that he's actually reading The Annotated Hobbit, so he has the biggest possible background on the work. Now that's being involved!

 

I've been listening to this interview. I knew the Shire theme was written early on (as was Frodo's theme, per Shore, but that doesn't quite count) but I didn't know it was - as Jackson recalls it - before shooting began. That's awesome!

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3 hours ago, Chen G. said:

I should also add that Jackson is gradually gravitating more and more towards Australian and New Zealand talent, both in front of and behind the camera, so there's that going for the likes of Junkie XL, and against the likes of Shore. But not for personal reasons - rather, its for practical ones.

 

Tom Holkenborg is Dutch.

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He's obviously talking about Conrad Pope.

 

I don't know. Most of the second half of that cannot possibly apply to Shore (about being deeply involved in the project, caring about the characters), so whose to say if all of the first part does?

 

And if Jackson did really want the Misty Mountains theme in films 2 and 3, surely he could have just tracked in one of the numerous versions recorded for AUJ?

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1 hour ago, Jim Ware said:

Trivia - TTT's end credits originally had a different, more ambiguous ending.

 

Was that ending recorded?

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Here's hoping one day the LOTR trilogy is given the specialty-label-style treatment, with a complete score program containing no edits within cues, followed by a bonus track section of all the recorded alternates

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Howard Shore is in immensly learned individual - as so many composers are - but it also informs his composing process, I always thought. He's very cerebral in how he prepares for a project (namely, lots and lots and lots of reading) and in how he latches unto details from the production to score the films: look at how little details in the art design inspired his music for, say, the Dwarves and Elves. All of which, I feel obligated to state, isn't to say that he doesn't write affecting music from the heart.

 

I'm sure there are other composers who - when working on an adapted screenplay - would turn to read the source material. But not many would read the heavily-annotated version of that source material; nor would many composers - in dealing with source material of a mythological nature - read comparative literature on world myths, to get "into" the project.

 

And, more specifcally about scoring from an anthropological point of view, the decision to score the films focusing on the different cultures, each with its own musical language and instrumentation - is not something any composer would have hit upon, either.

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On 5/8/2019 at 6:21 PM, Chen G. said:

 

The host had me at "Shore scores the films like a musical anthropologist."

 

Such a good description of Shore's scholary way of working.

Part 2:

 

https://www.soundtrackpodcast.com/podcasts/the-fellowship-of-the-ring-the-music-part-ii.htm

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He's speaking of how Shore took a page out of Horner's book of Titanic with the Celtic sensibility of The Shire and while that's true, Braveheart deserves a mention.

 

It came first, and evidence seem to suggest that The Lord of the Rings was temped with Braveheart more than Titanic.

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I don't blame Shore for the prompts, I can tell that he probably didn't have all the time in the world and they put it together in an afternoon. 'Yeah, that'll do, it's the music that's important'. 

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