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


Chen G.
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4 hours 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?

 

Of course they had some sort of "exchange", because it's obvious Amazon wanted him involved in some way.

 

I hope you're not trying to conjure up some sort of collaboration by forcing that half-sentence there through some lens.

Bear McCreary heard Shore's theme for the first time when he was almost finished scoring. That's in no way shape or form a "working together".

 

What do you expect from a video or any other meeting between the two? "Hey Bear, I hate your damn music"?

 

Howard Shore is a pleasant fellow. You're taking PR interviews that throw around a few commonplace niceties way to literal.

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1 hour ago, TolkienSS said:

Of course they had some sort of "exchange", because it's obvious Amazon wanted him involved in some way.

There's nothing obvious about Bear and Shore having any exchange at all, since all we've known from previous info is that Bear didn't even hear Shore's work until it was done.

1 hour ago, TolkienSS said:

I hope you're not trying to conjure up some sort of collaboration by forcing that half-sentence there through some lens.

If you'd read my last response to you, I was very careful to point out that we have no way of knowing what they talked about, and neither of the options I mentioned involved collaboration.

1 hour ago, TolkienSS said:

Bear McCreary heard Shore's theme for the first time when he was almost finished scoring. That's in no way shape or form a "working together".

Which is exactly why my first comment about the article was suspicion against the phrasing "working together".

1 hour ago, TolkienSS said:

What do you expect from a video or any other meeting between the two? "Hey Bear, I hate your damn music"?

It's almost like I specified that we can't know if Shore actually supports Bear's direction.

1 hour ago, TolkienSS said:

You're taking PR interviews that throw around a few commonplace niceties way to literal.

Anyone can see that I'm clearly not. Can you please remain objective?

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4 hours ago, Richard Penna said:

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?

I dunno, I still find hard to believe any modern composer not using his team to help him finish a score. Specially on McCreary's case, where he had other shows, movies and the new God of War to do alongside LOTR.

 

With so many productions needing so much music from him, he either let his team do most of the work on stuff like his other shows and movies, or he has been working on Rings of Power since, what, 2018?

 

I honestly don't think that with so many projects at once, he just writes 2 minutes of music per day.

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25 minutes ago, Edmilson said:

I dunno, I still find hard to believe any modern composer not using his team to help him finish a score. Specially on McCreary's case, where he had other shows, movies and the new God of War to do alongside LOTR.


It sounds like this is something he’s planning to address in an upcoming blog:

 

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That entire interview is really interesting - Bear is super talkative and enthusiastic about the task.

 

I'm looking forward to more comments about any additional composers for this show. Not, I should point out, because I'd be disappointed if he has used lots of additional help - quite the opposite - I'll be mega impressed if it turns out he mostly wrote all 9 hours himself.

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I mean I love some show scores a lot. But some of them do run into their budget and are forced to reuse some music here and there.

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This episode was great fun! I loved Númenor, and the emotional beats of the Harfoot storyline, and I really liked the reveals and mysteries with Arondir's capture in the trenches. I think Adar is going to be the main antagonist of the show, and McCreary did him justice properly establishing the theme from Nampat, giving it a meaning.

 

I further analyze this and other thematic connections in my analysis for this week episode at my blog, so feel free to check it out and leave whatever thoughts you might have.

 

My Analysis of The Rings of Power - 1x03: Adar

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3 episodes in. I feel the 3rd episode is the best scorewise.

 

The introduction of Númenor is powerful. Then the later different statements of the theme are great.

Then the reapperances of Galadriel, Halbrand, Nori, Harfoots, Stranger & Arondir are all wonderful.

Breaking Chains is one of my favorite cues so far. Terrific action. And then the primeval statement of Adar's theme at the end is so cool.

 

I even like the source music at the end. I might've even spotted some hints to themes in there.

 

Right now it's Episode 3, Episode 1, Episode 2 in order of my favorite.

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Saying such things really doesn't do him any favor, both musically and his understanding of Tolkien.

Please don't pretend the legal necessity to write different themes for the same world is part of a large musical genius act.

That's like saying Durin IV doesn't appear anywhere in Lord of the Rings, so you can write for him a wacky pub dance ... oh wait

 

Humor aside, if Bear thinks there is no Numenorean culture left in Lord of the Rings, both the books and the films, he clearly didn't look.

 

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The spotting is really good. The music consistently makes a strong impression, especially with the arrival on the boat and the cut to the Harfoots caravan. The music comes forward in a way I haven't heard in just about any modern tv show.

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5 hours ago, Chen G. said:

And remember, too, that motives can transform.

There are multiple ways it can pan out.

1: Bear only specifically said that the instruments will disappear, not the theme itself. Perhaps the theme will survive Akallabêth, just with new orchestration.

2: Perhaps the Númenor music will split up in some regard, to represent the King's Men and the Faithful (this was my first approach back before the Númenor theme had been officially released, and I thought the A and B phrases had equal footing). Perhaps "Númenor" will grow increasingly darker along with its corruption, while "Elendil and Isildur" will grow to encompass all Faithful. If this is the case, "Númenor" should die along with the island, while "Elendil and Isildur" gets to thrive.

3: Perhaps Sauron's music will invade Númenor until his music dominates, and we get new themes for the realms of Arnor/Gondor.

There's probably more ways it can go, and we have no way of knowing which. I for one, will wait and see (unless the show gets so bad that I drop it).

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That brings up an interesting point: do you see Bear doing any of those things? So far - and do correct me if I'm wrong, because you'd know much better - it seems to me the score is very "I see this, I hear this, I see that, I hear that." The themes are clearly delineated, but aren't undergoing constant transformation and don't interweave as they often do in Shore, and so are we right to even expect Numenore's music to "split up" or be "infected" by Sauron's music or any of these kind of dynamic situations?

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1 hour ago, Chen G. said:

That brings up an interesting point: do you see Bear doing any of those things? So far - and do correct me if I'm wrong, because you'd know much better - it seems to me the score is very "I see this, I hear this, I see that, I hear that." The themes are clearly delineated, but aren't undergoing constant transformation and don't interweave as they often do in Shore, and so are we right to even expect Numenore's music to "split up" or be "infected" by Sauron's music or any of these kind of dynamic situations?

No, that's an entirely fair criticism. Except for that moment in the prologue when the Sauron ostinato mixes with Galadriel's music, it's very straightforward as far as I can tell.

But never underestimate Bear McCreary. I'm of course biased, but what he did with Battlestar Galactica is hands down the coolest scoring-thing I've ever seen. It wouldn't surprise me the least if he intentionally holds back on significant developments, just like the show-runners have claimed that the first season will be a lot of set-up for future pay-off.

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1 hour ago, Chen G. said:

That brings up an interesting point: do you see Bear doing any of those things? So far - and do correct me if I'm wrong, because you'd know much better - it seems to me the score is very "I see this, I hear this, I see that, I hear that." The themes are clearly delineated, but aren't undergoing constant transformation and don't interweave as they often do in Shore, and so are we right to even expect Numenore's music to "split up" or be "infected" by Sauron's music or any of these kind of dynamic situations?

This is, I think, the main rift between me and this music. If there were fascinating things happening musically scene by scene, eventually my concerns about the themes would probably fade away.

 

Someone said once, I think it was in regard to Shostakovich, that music “isn’t about the themes” but entirely “what you do with them” or something to that effect. When I was young, I thought Hogwash! A good melody is everything but as I get older, I find the statement to be more and more true of my ear. My ear wants to pick stuff apart and chew on it.

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29 minutes ago, blondheim said:

music “isn’t about the themes” but entirely “what you do with them” or something to that effect.

 

Wagner, too. He gives the example how this becomes this becomes this becomes this becomes this becomes this.

 

But, to be fair, most scores - including some we think about very highly - don't really change and transform their themes very much: John Williams' Harry Potter scores come to mind. Do the themes in those really change? Not really, no. But we still like them.

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39 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

 

Wagner, too. He gives the example how this becomes this becomes this becomes this becomes this becomes this.

 

But, to be fair, most scores - including some we think about very highly - don't really change and transform their themes very much: John Williams' Harry Potter scores come to mind. Do the themes in those really change? Not really, no. But we still like them.

Oh definitely. I have been thinking about this a lot because of Rings of Power. I am sure I like plenty of scores that don’t go all-head in terms of development. It’s often got me weighing whether things need to be more of an opera, or can handle being more of a ballet.

 

In the end, at least for the moment vis-à-vis TROP, I’m left with two realizations, which remain true: regardless of whether it works for other franchises or not, due to Shore’s previous work here, reminiscence scoring sounds unevolved for this franchise; and the themes still do nothing for me.

 

However, once long ago, the themes of LoTR seemed too simple and not very note-heavy or intricate to me and I ate crow then and have no shame admitting that I didn’t immediately love the Fellowship theme because the development speaks for itself now. It would be wonderful if two years from now I was eating crow about Galadriel’s theme because of all the interesting places it has got to but maybe I’ve just gotten too cynical and crotchety to entertain that dim, particular little hope

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9 hours ago, Chen G. said:

 

Wagner, too. He gives the example how this becomes this becomes this becomes this becomes this becomes this.

 

But, to be fair, most scores - including some we think about very highly - don't really change and transform their themes very much: John Williams' Harry Potter scores come to mind. Do the themes in those really change? Not really, no. But we still like them.


Williams themes in Harry Potter change far more than Bear’s themes do here. But that’s okay. I don’t think any of us expected shore or Williams level prowess by a busy composer in a tv show no less.

 

i just think a shore level score for a tv show is beyond the realm of possibility. The logistics don’t allow for it and never will.

 

TV with its more diffuse pace does not even allow for film like scoring to be honest.

 

i just think even the expectation that you could hear something like shore’s middle earth work in a tv show is misguided.

 

some things are just not possible - even with all the money in the world.

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3 hours ago, TheUlyssesian said:

i just think a shore level score for a tv show is beyond the realm of possibility. The logistics don’t allow for it and never will.

 

I actually agree. Its why all these arguments of "lets wait to see what happens with these themes later" leave me a bit skeptical. 

 

But in general, development and transformation of themes is the exception to the rule in film scoring: even some of Williams' Star Wars scores don't particularly develop their material, and you could also accuse The Fellowship of the Ring of not developing its motives all that much.

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Looks like we'll still have to wait a while before he starts sharing any thematic/episodic insights (probably after the season is over). Here's an article that gave more immediate info:

https://screenrant.com/lotr-rings-of-power-composer-bear-mccreary-interview

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That’s a great article. You can tell how passionate he is about this project, more than just the usual hype that might be tossed around. I hope he can continue to pour his talents and time (and extra attention) into this shows music despite all the other projects he’s juggling.
 

(He must have favorites right? I can’t imagine he’s still jazzed about Walking Dead season 15 or whatever.)

 

The thought hit me today, if they continue this format of an album per episode, for the remaining 4 seasons, we will potentially have almost 50(!) hours of music from this show. Holy crap. I don’t know if I’ll ever listen to ALL of that ever again. I’ll probably just take the “season sampler” albums and add a few tracks from the episode releases that I like.

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https://music.amazon.co.uk/

 

I assume you need Prime to listen.

 

Watched ep 3 last night - it was ok, nothing more. Whilst the detail in the ocean scenes and Numenor are as to be expected, it all still had a very shiny, fake look to it, and for me at least the green screen was really obvious. Given that the actors in that scene weren't doing a lot, I was paying a lot of attention to the background and I really noticed it.

 

Musically, a positive but mixed bag. Most of the trench scenes were a bit meh and much of the rest was pleasant variations on the existing themes with a few highlights.

 

I noticed just now that we're getting through the S1 album in terms of matching those tracks to the episode tracks they represent, such that we can expect track 19 onwards coming up. It's really nice that even those tracks more or less directly used in the show, bits that may have been a bit truncated a bit to fit the narrative are 'restored' on this album, such as the ending of Nobody Goes Off Trail. It all adds up to this album being an excellent companion album to the episode albums.

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1 hour ago, artguy360 said:

Question: where can I listen to these per episode albums? I can't seem to find them on YouTube Music.

Just on Amazon Music at the moment. Bear mentioned in a tweet that all the albums will come to other streaming etc after the series has finished

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On 10/09/2022 at 8:09 PM, TolkienSS said:

More like this:.

 

 

On 11/09/2022 at 1:54 AM, TolkienSS said:

Humor aside, if Bear thinks there is no Numenorean culture left in Lord of the Rings, both the books and the films, he clearly didn't look.

 

This is of course most likely a complete coincidence, but the motif at 0:46 in the posted clip bears a striking resemblance to the beginning of Bear's Númenor theme:

image.png

 

image.png

 

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Quote

That's like saying Durin IV doesn't appear anywhere in Lord of the Rings, so you can write for him a wacky pub dance ... oh wait

 

I really don't understand this "wacky pub dance" or "hobbit music" comment regarding Durin's theme. It sounds much more like a baroque court dance, which given his noble status is quite fitting. Just because Shore used the "um-pa-pa-(rest)" accompaniment for hobbits doesn't make it a hobbit rhythm for all eternity ;)

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2 hours ago, ChrisAfonso said:

This is of course most likely a complete coincidence, but the motif at 0:46 in the posted clip bears a striking resemblance to the beginning of Bear's Númenor theme:

image.png

 

image.png

Hey! That’s pretty cool! It’s gotta be a coincidence. But still. Very nice.

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1 hour ago, ChrisAfonso said:

 

 

This is of course most likely a complete coincidence, but the motif at 0:46 in the posted clip bears a striking resemblance to the beginning of Bear's Númenor theme:

image.png

 

image.png

 

---

 

 

I really don't understand this "wacky pub dance" or "hobbit music" comment regarding Durin's theme. It sounds much more like a baroque court dance, which given his noble status is quite fitting. Just because Shore used the "um-pa-pa-(rest)" accompaniment for hobbits doesn't make it a hobbit rhythm for all eternity ;)

 

You are the hero who made those Return Of The King transcriptions last decade that I still use, right? :D

 

As for the Numenor thing, that's a parallel I didn't catch,

1) because I haven't listened to RoP that frequently and

2) because the parallel is lost in the vast difference in tonal approach

 

- which is why I don't listen to his Numenor music that much. 

There comes a point where stilistic differences are so big that pure notation similarities become footnotes.

And the difference in this music between Bear and Shore is so vast that both may as well be from completely different franchises.

Which leads to the next point:

of course, within the context of music, the Hobbit accompaniment figure isn't exclusively branded for Hobbits. Within the context of Middle-Earth movies, however, it is.

And Bear moves within the context of this universe, however badly he wishes to escape that fact.

 

The Middle-Earth universe doesn't play by different rules than any other continuous franchise.

There are certain sonic frameworks established.

And if a composer chooses to put it aside, then his or her sonic framework better be just as fitting.

 

Bear McCreary doesn't operate in a vacuum, where Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit don't exist.

 

 

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5 hours ago, ChrisAfonso said:

This is of course most likely a complete coincidence, but the motif at 0:46 in the posted clip bears a striking resemblance to the beginning of Bear's Númenor theme:

image.png

 

image.png

Oh damn, that is indeed a cool connection that works beautifully no matter if it's intentional or not. This coming from me, who's pretty much stopped making links between Shore and Bear's scores (on that note, have we forgotten the Dwarven End-Cap everybody?).

Also, I want to second TolkienSS's comment: I'm very grateful for your piano transcriptions, they've been a huge help to me.

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Its very hard to make those connections stick because Shore's scores are so big that he invariably uses a great number of basic musical building-blocks for his score, and so its absolutely inevitable that some of them should end in Bear's score, but because the overall style is so different, the context isn't there to hear those resemblences as more than incidental.

 

There are only so many basic intervals!

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On 13/09/2022 at 4:19 PM, TolkienSS said:

 

You are the hero who made those Return Of The King transcriptions last decade that I still use, right? :D

 

Its Been A Long Time Reaction GIF

Nice to hear it's been useful, though :)

 

On 14/09/2022 at 1:04 PM, Chen G. said:

Its very hard to make those connections stick because Shore's scores are so big that he invariably uses a great number of basic musical building-blocks for his score, and so its absolutely inevitable that some of them should end in Bear's score, but because the overall style is so different, the context isn't there to hear those resemblences as more than incidental.

 

There are only so many basic intervals!

 

As much as I still love the original LotR scores, by creating a myriad of very rudimentary motifs, Shore definitely made it very easy to now find them everywhere, intended or not ;). But put it this way: Not every repeated minor second is a quote from Jaws, but if it's played by the bass and you see a fish on screen, you might be on to something.

For now I'm enjoying a lot of the RoP score, although for my taste the themes could have been introduced more gradually and less fully-formed - but who knows, for all we know there are still things tucked away in there that come to bloom later :)

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55 minutes ago, Jay said:

I've seen episode 2 now, and had that feeling of "concert arrangement in the show" again when they are first entering Khazad-dun, etc. 

 

That's because the themes undergo absolutely no discernable, meaningful changes that I can hear. They're just stated and restated: slower here, louder there, in solo trumpet here, in strings there. But they're the same, and their associations remain the same - they're used in a very "I see this I hear this, I hear that alluded to, I hear that."

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Hopefully that trend only carries through these introductory episodes and not the whole season

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3 hours ago, Chen G. said:

 

That's because the themes undergo absolutely no discernable, meaningful changes that I can hear. They're just stated and restated: slower here, louder there, in solo trumpet here, in strings there. But they're the same.

 

That’s probably due to the characters/plot not really going through much change/shift yet(?) 


I think a comparable body of work would be McCreary’s own Outlander scores. The themes and performances shift/change more from one season to the next rather than in the middle of the show. Not saying that’s the best way to do things. That just seems to be his MO. But I think he’s trying his darndest to score it more like a film. 

 

I find TV scores in general a bit harder to engage in for this reason. I’d like to be told a musical narrative with peaks and valleys and permutations/iterations of themes in about an hour or two. New musical colors or motifs popping up. But the music in a single season often doesn’t vary much from the handful of themes it introduces in the first handful of episodes (if they use themes at all lol). That’s often why I resort to making a playlist or “best of” from each season. So the shift/changes come a bit quicker and keeps me engaged more. (Im lazy 😁) Overall I’m finding the season sampler from RoP to be my preferred listening experience for this reason. But I’ll probably pull a few cues from each episode album.
 

In short, it’s tough to see the musical “forest through the trees” until you listen from season to season. But damn. Not sure if I’ll have time for that! Lol. 

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