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Bear McCreary's The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings of Power (2022)


Chen G.
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I retract an earlier comment about a Nori statement being missing . Once you get used to related stuff being joined out of sequence and allow for a few microedits to remove a few moments of tension, almost everything's here for episode 1. I'm still pretty sure the brief talk in the snow at the start has just been microedited out, and I don't hear it elsewhere in the track.

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Yeah I notice that some tracks are joined together.

Like On the Raft is two of Galadriels Scenes (the second scene being covered on the original album) but the episode has From Under the Floorboards play in between.

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I'm nearly done with episode 2 now and haven't come across more than a couple of tiny moments that aren't on the album. Some parts have been edited extremely out of narrative order, such as the first part of From Under The Floorboards.

 

He's still done a lot of microediting to shorten tension scoring a bit, but most importantly he's started from the perspective of featuring the full score and arranging it to play as best as he can. By these standards there will be very little of note unreleased by the end of the first season.

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The only full cue I noticed missing in the entire second episode was a brief Nori statement on that overhead shot, but we've got lots of her theme anyway. Could even be tracked, but most likely Bear just omitted it as it doesn't really fit anywhere.

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I also love the thematic album for season one over the individual eps releases. Do we know if Bear even saw the episodes prior to scoring or if he based it off of a script/ concepts? Maybe he could not score to the beats of the show/characters this season. I haven't read anything about what he used for his compositions. 

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Has anyone tried to compare the tracks for the first two episodic albums with the main album?

 

So far, I know that track 9 of the season 1 album "In the beginning" may be the same cue (with a few edits here and there) as track 1 of the episode 1 album "Prologue".

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1 hour ago, Edmilson said:

Has anyone tried to compare the tracks for the first two episodic albums with the main album?

 

10 hours ago, Knight of Ren said:

I'm doing a spreadsheet to compare all the different tracks from the complete albums and the original release, if anyone is interested.

 

The Rings of Power

 

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Watched the first episode. The production values are film quality. The visuals are incredible. Not sure how I feel about all the plotlines yet but I like Galadriel's stuff a lot. The music is also great, it's a rich and layered orchestral sound. Really well made show. The music works even better with the show than on its own. The music really stands out. I love Galadriel's theme shines the most so far. Seems to be the center piece among a rich thematic library. Bear and his team have done a great job so far.

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I know some people are going to come at me and say I've just been waiting and what I'm going to say I had already written a month ago, but here it goes:

Having listened to the album of "Adrift", I find this music so incredibly boring and predictable, it took me two days to listen to all of it. I find nothing in this underscore except tried and proven film scoring staples, interluded with the occasional thematic quote.

Something like From Under The Floorboards is so tough to get through with all the shlock horror elements.

 

I get it, it's "just" underscore, but where is the skill in there? Or the desire to create something more than the sum of its parts?

 

Sometimes in there I feel like I'm listening to a Christopher Young Horror score. I'm not sure that is the right direction.

 

In other words, this music is completely and totally contemporary. It's ridden with every contemporary trait in the book. Which makes it so much not stand out.

The concept album Bear originally released may stand out for plethora of bold themes, but the actual score is just contemporary scoring.

There is no identifiable voice in there.

 

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From Under The Floorboard for expample has actually the least amount of thematic qoutations in the.cue.

 

All the other cues almost completely excist out of thematic statements of one kf his themes or motifs.

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Yeah gotta disagree with you there. There’s a fair amount of variation already and I’m sure that will only increase as the series continues and the music is allowed to develop further.

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I don’t think slightly faster or slightly slower should count as a variation but I understand that it is early in the show and he is probably trying to build recognizability by having such blatant statements. Shore did some of that too. So I can recognize that it may get better but I question whether we will ever get an Aha! moment where we find a theme hidden or disguised like we did with Shore. 

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4 minutes ago, blondheim said:

I don’t think slightly faster or slightly slower should count as a variation but I understand that it is early in the show and he is probably trying to build recognizability by having such blatant statements. Shore did some of that too. So I can recognize that it may get better but I question whether we will ever get an Aha! moment where we find a theme hidden or disguised like we did with Shore. 

I think the intention to build familiarity with the material might be one of the reasons for the certain repetitiveness. But you're right. Hopefully, things will start to branch out and blossom in the future episodes and seasons.

 

Karol

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46 minutes ago, blondheim said:

don’t think slightly faster or slightly slower should count as a variation

 

It doesn't.

 

There are, of course, extreme example. This motive in the Ring is EXACTLY the same music as this motive, just slowed down beyond all recognition.

 

But I don't see, going forward, Bear manipulating his themes and working them out like Shore does: that had always been an outlier in film music. Actually, in progammatic music in general.

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I don't HATE it. 

I recognize that more effort has gone into this than many other scores. I totally see and get it. Unfortunately, quantity of effort doesn't equal quality of outcome. 

 

When I first heard "Galadriel", I immediately knew music for moments like in the trailer when she hangs by her blade, would sound like the beginning of Forodwaith.

 

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I loved the S1 album as it was crafted with the suites and highlight tracks, it held my attention for 2.5 hours with perfectly peppered kickass renditions and good enough underscore inbetween - but I'm not as taken so far with the in-episode scores and I heard them. Will try them when they lose the exclusivity but will likely just stay with the selections.

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18 hours ago, Edmilson said:

I'm really thankful for The Mandalorian, who has (as far as I know) pretty much invented the "one album per episode" concept.


If only they hadn’t quit that trend :( 

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59 minutes ago, Knight of Ren said:

I watched the second episode and was just as good as the first one. I especially enjoyed all the stuff at Khazad-dûm, with Durin and Elrond, and I also enjoyed the fact that the Southlands storyline became sort of a horror movie for some sequences. Probably my favorite bits of McCreary's score correspond to all the material for the dwarves, but I also really liked the extended variations on the Stranger's theme in his scenes with Nori.

 

As I have been doing with House of the Dragon, and did yesterday with the first episode, I have done an analysis of the score, the different themes, and how they play with each other to further the narrative of the series. Enjoy and feel free to share any thoughts you might have. Thanks!

 

My Analysis of the Soundtrack - The Rings of Power 1x02: Adrift

Terrific articles. Love these

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Unusually I'm hearing these albums for the first time in show context, which is the better way to do it.

 

There are certainly some bits more engaging than others, and the season album will likely get more playtime as a concept album, but no part of the episode albums are uninteresting or boring for me.

 

On 02/09/2022 at 5:18 PM, blondheim said:

I feel there was a lot more he could have done if his intention was to honor his predecessor and not just please his boss. I am aware that he is only required to do the latter but I think he was capable of more. I wanted to see more respect for what came before

 

I'm not a big fan of Shore outside of LotR, but I have noticed that his sound in that franchise seems to be just... him. Panic Room, History of Violence and a few other bits, all basically sound the same in terms of instrumentation.

 

So if I'm reading this right, you basically wanted Shore to do the series, but for whatever reason he didn't, which means that by all reasonable demands, you're getting a different composer who approaches the show with their own style, and is going to be under different requests.

 

In short, do I think that your personal benchmark for this score being judged a success are unreasonable? Sadly, yes. I take no pleasure in having this debate of course, because it's disappointing that you don't like the music. However, I think you're rooted in such an extreme case of 'could have been', where all the decision makers wanted the score to continue Shore's signatures and Bear was prepared to spend a year or more writing in that style, which the vast majority of listeners will never notice.

 

One of my pet hates is sort of the opposite of overthinking (my speciality): people who imagine the best possible outcome for a project for their personal tastes, and are disappointed to say the least, when that doesn't happen for any number of real, practical reasons. This is why I'm continuing to explore why you're seeing such mediocre work in something that I'm enjoying so much :) 

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10 hours ago, JNHFan2000 said:

Terrific articles. Love these

Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying these. I wrote them as something I would have very much loved to read when I was younger and starting to discover the world of soundtracks, so I'm really happy that some people are finding them useful and interesting!

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9 hours ago, Richard Penna said:

Unusually I'm hearing these albums for the first time in show context, which is the better way to do it.

 

There are certainly some bits more engaging than others, and the season album will likely get more playtime as a concept album, but no part of the episode albums are uninteresting or boring for me.

 

 

I'm not a big fan of Shore outside of LotR, but I have noticed that his sound in that franchise seems to be just... him. Panic Room, History of Violence and a few other bits, all basically sound the same in terms of instrumentation.

 

So if I'm reading this right, you basically wanted Shore to do the series, but for whatever reason he didn't, which means that by all reasonable demands, you're getting a different composer who approaches the show with their own style, and is going to be under different requests.

 

In short, do I think that your personal benchmark for this score being judged a success are unreasonable? Sadly, yes. I take no pleasure in having this debate of course, because it's disappointing that you don't like the music. However, I think you're rooted in such an extreme case of 'could have been', where all the decision makers wanted the score to continue Shore's signatures and Bear was prepared to spend a year or more writing in that style, which the vast majority of listeners will never notice.

 

One of my pet hates is sort of the opposite of overthinking (my speciality): people who imagine the best possible outcome for a project for their personal tastes, and are disappointed to say the least, when that doesn't happen for any number of real, practical reasons. This is why I'm continuing to explore why you're seeing such mediocre work in something that I'm enjoying so much :) 

Except I’ve already explained to you why I don’t like it. If you don’t understand those reasons, or agree with them then that’s a separate thing. I’ve gone on ad nauseum. I mean, like it all you want. Can’t I reach out for other people who don’t like it and not like it in peace?

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4 hours ago, Knight of Ren said:

Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying these. I wrote them as something I would have very much loved to read when I was younger and starting to discover the world of soundtracks, so I'm really happy that some people are finding them useful and interesting!

I get you. 

I've started writing myself about scores etc, to get a better presentation of the scores. So pieces like yours are always nice to read

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4 hours ago, blondheim said:

Except I’ve already explained to you why I don’t like it. If you don’t understand those reasons, or agree with them then that’s a separate thing. I’ve gone on ad nauseum. I mean, like it all you want. Can’t I reach out for other people who don’t like it and not like it in peace?

 

Then start a 'What RoP could've been' thread full of music stuff I don't understand, and we'll stay out of it :) 

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1 hour ago, Jay said:

 

"McCreary worked with Shore on the series, adding: "He was very supportive and just a delightful guy to get to know, and I'm so thrilled with the work that he's contributed. I feel like he created this fanfare that majestically takes us back to Middle Earth, takes us back to those Peter Jackson films.""

 

Interesting. "Worked with" is pretty vague, but they did at least meet each other.

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1 hour ago, TolkienSS said:

Worked with means they worked together on the same show. 

There's a difference between being separately contracted to the same show, and working/discussing the project together. Based on earlier accounts, the former seemed more likely, but this excerpt proves that they at the very least met. Whether "supportive" means he supported Bear's role as composer or the direction he took with the score, there's no way of knowing.

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Have we heard anything from Shore about his experience? You'd expect to see some words from him during that initial press release - you know, the usual 'It was wonderful to go back over 20 years after I started my adventure in Middle-earth, happy to be handing over to Bear to continue the journey, blah blah' - but as far as I'm aware there's not a peep, which seems to me rather telling (especially when one takes into account Doug's initial response to the first Bear tracks we heard).

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I think most people still define having met someone as having physically met them in real life, no?

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59 minutes ago, Monoverantus said:

No offense, but my point was that it's now confirmed that Bear and Shore did have some sort of exchange, whether they did so IRL or online is surely irrelevant?

 

I don't know about that.  I view Shore as a 75 year semi-retired man who rarely leaves his home in New York, especially since the pandemic.  I highly doubt Bear flew out to his home, and I highly doubt Shore flew to LA or somewhere else to work on the show.   I think he wrote the theme at his house, and wasn't at the recording sessions for it (or it was recorded in NY). I could be completely wrong about all of these, we know zero facts, but that is just my gut.


So yea, I think there's a difference between a project being so important to Shore he's willing to travel for it, and a job he can write 90 seconds of music at home, and spend a little time on Zoom with the series' composer

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22 minutes ago, Richard Penna said:

Interesting indication of how much he wrote, and if taken completely at face value, no additional composers....

 

 

 

 

I had realized that the average must have been like that, and it's one of the reasons why I am impressed with the result. I mean, many film composers had to write 2 minutes of music a day to meet the deadline for a project, but doing that sistematically until 9 hours were written, that's quite amazing. And up to now, the quality is very good.

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9 hours of score, writing 2 minutes per day.... he spent 270 days writing season 1?

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So does that actually mean he didn't use any of his usual team to help him? (rhetorical question... I know no one can actually know)

 

Seems very hard to believe, given his last Outlander album dropped in March, and whatever other TV shows he still does, but surely you'd only need to spend 13 months on a project needing 9 hours of music if you're doing it solo?

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