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


Chen G.
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This is a good article about Bear's thought process behind most of his themes. And it does once again confirm that there are 16 themes.

https://nerdist.com/article/rings-of-power-composer-bear-mcreary-interview-character-themes-galadriel-elrond-the-stranger/

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4 hours ago, WampaRat said:

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

 

That is certainly an argument one can make. And Lor knows that even in pieces where the material is in constant change, some motives remain very static and unchanged: The theme associated with the curse in The Ring is like that, I don't believe Shore's Rivendell material changes much, either; or certainly this is true of many Williams themes.

 

At the same time, in this particular case I think that's an easy answer. I think the harder answer is simply that TV scoring doesn't lend itself to that kind of treatment where the composer really gets to "work" the material out.

 

And certainly Bear can rework and develop individual ideas, but he's not going to have the same kind of situation as Shore where different musical "worlds" collide with each other through the development of their subsidiary themes: where you have a situation where Shire-y themes get Fellowship-ed or Mordor-ized and Rohan music gets Gondorized and those sorts of situations.

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4 hours ago, Jay said:

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

I think the whole season is the introductory period… I would not hold my breath for significant developments either in plot or music this season. 

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I think if it is the most expensive score ever produced then it definitely could have been more smartly developed. They had the time, the money, the resources and apparently also the excuses.

 

We are more than four hours in, which is TTT by Shore standards. It would be nice to see some actual development of themes by now. It’s definitely not offensively bad but it is just so wallflower-forgettable.

 

I shouldn’t have to listen to over four hours of “cut-and-paste, repeat”expository material. It’s sounding sillier as the show goes on. Believe you me, I sincerely hope it changes soon.

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37 minutes ago, Richard Penna said:

 

TV is way slower paced in terms of story and development... it's kind of the point of making it a series. You're not constricted to telling the story in 3 hours of screen time.

 

So yeah, the thematic development will be slower too. Plus the amount of music overall that Bear's had to write for the same timeframe is much higher. I really think you're comparing two different projects with different musical requirements and wondering why one seems tighter and more developed.

I would agree if it weren’t the same few themes being basically da capo repeats.

 

Maybe he just isn’t capable of writing the kind of score I like or maybe some of you are right and he’s biding his time.

 

It’s still a lot of very basic music. Four hours is plenty of exposition but If it lasts all season, I’m going to enjoy seeing people justify eight hours of exposition.

 

I also thought the final two cues of the last episode sounded very unlike what I want Middle Earth to sound like. It seems to be getting worse, not better. 

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47 minutes ago, Richard Penna said:

the amount of music overall that Bear's had to write for the same timeframe is much higher. I really think you're comparing two different projects with different musical requirements and wondering why one seems tighter and more developed.

 

I think this is the real clencher. Its not a question of talent but of the medium not allowing for that kind of composition.

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Although music works really well in the show, the individual episode albums bore me on their own. The season 1 album is the best way to listen to this score.

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33 minutes ago, blondheim said:

Maybe he just isn’t capable of writing the kind of score I like or maybe some of you are right and he’s biding his time.

 

Not capable, or just choosing to write differently?

 

I'm not liking this trend of disappointment in a score resulting in accusing a composer of not being good enough, when usually they're just doing what was asked of them. If the director asked him for more straightforward thematic statements, that's what he gives them. If they asked him for a theme to develop more slowly in a particular storyline, he would do that.

 

8 minutes ago, artguy360 said:

Although music works really well in the show, the individual episode albums bore me on their own. The season 1 album is the best way to listen to this score.

 

The ep 4 one is significantly less interesting to me than the others, definitely. I had the whole thing on in the background yesterday and I could hear the various themes coming in and out, but didn't really related them to what I'd seen on screen earlier.

 

I do hope that eventually there's a way to buy the whole lot at once, and not individually at £xxx a pop.

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1 hour ago, Chen G. said:

 

I think this is the real clencher. Its not a question of talent but of the medium not allowing for that kind of composition.

Idk a year is a lot of time

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1 hour ago, Roll the Bones said:

Apparently Bear did a live watch along on Twitch with this episode and revealed some things.

 

- Bear claims to have not used additional composers

 

- 9 months, 6 weeks just on themes and sounds

 

- Theme suites were written after the episode scores

 

- God of War was finished right before starting on RoP

 

- Galadriel theme inclusion in White Leaves was an later addition by Showrunners request.

 

- Bear was part of the mixing process

 

https://www.filmtracks.com/scoreboard/forum.cgi?read=114056#114056

 

I was curious due to the amount of projects he’s involved in and the sheer amount of music needed just for this show if he had just written the theme suites and handed episodes off to his team with his supervision. But I guess not. Or is that specific to just this episode?

Dang. When does he sleep?

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I did enjoy some of the actiony middle parts of the 4th episode, musicwise.

But the highlights were definitely already on the Album

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19 hours ago, Chen G. said:

 

I think this is the real clencher. Its not a question of talent but of the medium not allowing for that kind of composition.

 

I don't understand this reasoning. Television doesn't allow McCreary to write meaningful music?

Okay, there is filler music in almost everything, but there is nothing keeping McCreary from writing meaningful music except skill to do so.

This isn't an issue of complexity, it's an issue of meaningfulness.

Most of RoP is redundant music.

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1 hour ago, TolkienSS said:

Television doesn't allow McCreary to write meaningful music?

 

Using thematic reminiscence isn't unmeaningful. Many - in fact, I would say, most - film scores don't develop their themes in any significant way. The use of development, foreshadowing, and all those functions of the mature leitmotif technique is an outlier in film music, and in music in general.

 

Is Lohengrin any less a great piece of music because its thems undergo no change? What about Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone? Even in The Fellowship of the Ring Shore hadn't quite yet mastered the art of development and transformation, so?

 

And yes, the fact of the matter is the deadlines faced by Bear, given the amount of music he had to generate, and the fact that below the main beats outlined by Tolkien he's probably in the dark regarding future plot developments, are both factors that limit the ability to do the kinds of things Shore did in the films.

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1 minute ago, Chen G. said:

Even in The Fellowship of the Ring Shore hadn't quite yet mastered the art of development and transformation, so?

 

 

What do you mean?

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16 minutes ago, Roll the Bones said:

What do you mean?

 

In The Fellowship of the Ring, a lot of themes are not yet really being put in a constant state of flux: The theme associated with the Ring is a good sequitor - except for a few clever preliminary forms and that version in The Doors of Durin where Shore messes with the intervals, its really almost always the same in musical form, and except for that statement at the Argonath its almost always the same in its associative meaning.

 

So are many - but not all - of the themes. Shore really comes into his own with developing the themes later on.

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The reason you perceive the Ring theme as not being very varied throughout FOTR is because it was originally a one-off idea in a single cue that PJ tracked into two other scenes in place of what Shore wrote for them, and also had him re-record the same arrangement yet again for the replacement Prologue cue in place of that original intention. 

 

So you literally hear the same arrangement four times in the film (and on the CR release), three of which are the same recording. 

 

The replacement Argonath cue is only the second arrangement Shore had ever made of the theme before the theatrical release, but then he got to make some new arrangements for the EE cues, and the subsequent films. 

 

For more information, see here

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I know, but its true of a lot of the melodic ideas in that film: except for readings that highlight the "Weakness and Redemption" shape, does the music associated with Rivendell undergo any change? What about the themes associated with Lorien? Isengard?

 

The ideas that do undergo development are some of the Shire and Fellowship-related ideas, and some of the Nazgul-related writing insofar as it "infects" other music.

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Rivendell, Lorien, and Isengard do not go through any changes during the events of the first film, so it makes sense to me that their music wouldn't start changing until further events take place in subsequent films. 

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And Lorien only appears only, like, twice in the score's original form without the the EE additions: the arrival, and the Mirror scene IIRC, so its practically gone as soon as its introduced...

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All three of those places get some of my favorite introductory film music of all time.  Like a few seconds into each cue you learn as much about the the feel of the place as the visuals are showing you

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Also in the case of Isengard, some development of the theme got cut, for instance, the razing of Isengard being replaced by Shards of Narsil, and Saruman's speech to Lurtz dialed out.

Then of course, the Nazgul theme has that unreleased statement with the huge horn statement of the descending thirds over top of it from the alternate/unedited Flight to the Ford, and the "instrumental" statement edited out of the Bree attack

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1 hour ago, Chen G. said:

I know, but its true of a lot of the melodic ideas in that film: except for readings that highlight the "Weakness and Redemption" shape, does the music associated with Rivendell undergo any change? What about the themes associated with Lorien? Isengard?

 

The ideas that do undergo development are some of the Shire and Fellowship-related ideas, and some of the Nazgul-related writing insofar as it "infects" other music.

 

Well, yes, because of the time spent with each subject. Fellowship of the Ring is three hours long, but the time that can actually be afforded  musically to Rivendell, Lorien and Isengard specifically is very limited. Just because we spend some time in Rivendell doesn't mean that the Rivendell theme has to play repeatedly, when there are tons of subjects to adress cinematically.

Of course the Shire and Fellowship themes get more variations because the movie actually accompanies them during its whole length.

That's like asking why the Fangorn theme doesn't get more variation in Two Towers.

There is also the need for establishing things. There is no need to develop anything regarding Rivendell or Lorien in Fellowship.

One could ask for more development in the Hobbit scores, especially An Unexpected Journey. The verbatim re-statement of Rivendell in AUJ was a bit dissapointing for me.

 

But coming back to ROP, I really don't feel comfortable comparing Rings Of Power to literally some of the greatest music ever written, with Lohengrin. Or Wagner in general.

It may be that both don't undergo change, but putting aside the astronomical difference in quality of the music, there is literally nothing indicating what Bear McCreary does, stating reminiscence music, is a deliberate choice. There is no indication he is able to do something else.

Where is McCreary's Ring that says he can do motivic scoring but chooses to go a different route?

There is none.

 

Meaningful music doesn't mean applying a fragment of music to a certain subject. Meaning comes when the music is able to connect the heart with the brain.

McCreary does little to do that. His music lacks empathy for the subject.

He may have that as a Person, but he can't translate it into more than standardized movie scoring techniques.

 

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7 hours ago, Jay said:

Rivendell, Lorien, and Isengard do not go through any changes during the events of the first film, so it makes sense to me that their music wouldn't start changing until further events take place in subsequent films. 

This. 
 

I’m not a music person, but since absolutely none of the characters have yet grown in Rings of Power and basically nothing has yet happened, it would be weird for the themes to be changing and varying a lot. 


Seriously, the characters and situations in LotR are forced to grow and change and move quickly- that’s the nature of film. But this TV show is clearly going for a more Tolkien-style way of dragging out the action and characters through rich environments, history, and detail. 
 

Wouldn’t it have been cool to have the length of this series for LotR? Imagine all of that lush Shore music… maybe one day someone will edit all of PJs deleted material together to give an experience more like a tv show. 

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McCreary said in the Esquire interview that he wrote in 8 languages? Can anyone determine what they are?


1. Quenya

2. Sindarin 

3. Westron (English)

4. Khuzdul 

5. Black Speech (Sauron’s language)

6. Orc-ish

7. Adunaic (Numenorean) 

8. Ent-ish?

 

 Do I have it right? Any that shouldn’t be here - any that should be here?

 

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On 18/09/2022 at 12:15 AM, Roll the Bones said:

- Bear claims to have not used additional composers

 

If JNH said that (and proved) for most of his previous scores, I'd be the happiest person on this forum :lol:

 

Anyway, I'm really digging McCreary's music, it's clearly the best part of the show. It feels really nice and fresh to have a big budget fantasy whose score isn't just synth drones, but actual orchestral music with melodies, themes, etc. 

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I'm no expert on thematic development, but wouldn't this funereal version of Nori's theme from "We Wait for You" in episode 3 count as a development? (22:53 or so)

 

 

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Wonder if that 20 min track contains “For the Southlands”, “Cavalry”, and “Water and Flame” with some more transitional bits in between? They kinda feel like all part of a big set piece on the Season Sampler Album.

But I could be very wrong. Those could each be from different episodes.

Guess we’ll find out tomorrow!

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Looks like the 20 minute track ends with some variation on Southlands material, then the last two tracks have cues ending in ss and ne. The last one coud be The Broken Line, as the time is roughly similar.

 

I wonder if that episode has essentially 20 minutes of uninterrupted battle music and he just chopped half of it into a few tracks for the sampler.

 

Oh Bear, why do you have to post partial screenshots... you know we're going to analyse it to death :P 

 

At first I thought he was talking about this week's episode and thought crikey, he's leaving it late to deliver to Amazon!

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"That list came out to seventeen themes!  This included character-specific themes for Galadriel, Elrond Half-elven, Sauron, Nori Brandyfoot, The Stranger, Durin IV, Bronwyn and Arondir, Halbrand (shared with the Southlands), Elendil and Isildur, Adar (shared with the Orcs), and The Mystics. I also wrote cultural or location specific themes for Valinor, Khazad-Dum, Númenor, Harfoots, The Southlands (shared with Halbrand), and the Orcs (shared with Adar). Lastly, I composed a theme to represent the Rings of Power themselves."

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Is the theme that represents the rings themselves on any of the soundtrack albums yet?

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Am I crazy, or did Bear say there are 17 themes, then go on to list 16 themes right after?

 

  1. Galadriel
  2. Elrond Half-elven
  3. Sauron
  4. Nori Brandyfoot
  5. The Stranger
  6. Durin IV
  7. Bronwyn and Arondir
  8. Halbrand (shared with the Southlands)
  9. Elendil and Isildur
  10. Adar (shared with the Orcs)
  11. The Mystics
  12. Valinor
  13. Khazad-Dum
  14. Númenor
  15. Harfoots
  16. the Rings of Power themselves

 

What the heck - is there a 17th theme still unreleased / not in the first 4 episodes?

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32 minutes ago, Jay said:

I just counted his list and there's only 16 themes in it?

It think the fact that Halbrand/Southlands and Adar/Orcs serve a dual purpose is the reason the counting has been so vague since the start.

image.png

Also, my theory that "Elendil and Isildur" actually represents the Faithful was just validated

 

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24 minutes ago, Monoverantus said:

It think the fact that Halbrand/Southlands and Adar/Orcs serve a dual purpose is the reason the counting has been so vague since the start.

 

That is a separate issue from saying there are 17 themes and then listing 16

 

I am guessing he made a mistake, or that there is a 17th theme that will appear in the last 4 episodes that he omitted from the list

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45 minutes ago, Jay said:

 

That is a separate issue from saying there are 17 themes and then listing 16

 

I am guessing he made a mistake, or that there is a 17th theme that will appear in the last 4 episodes that he omitted from the list

 

See my post here - 

 

the 17th theme is Nolwa Mahtar. He explicitly identified it as a theme in the twitch watch along party. 

 

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9 minutes ago, Jay said:

So why did he omit it from his list?

 

Maybe its just... human memory. He has slipped up in numbers in multiple places. He has said both 15 and 17 themes in interviews. He has said both choral music in 6 and 8 languages in interviews. He has said both 6 and 8 weeks for composing themes.

 

The numbers are close enough that he might have a human memory slip here and there. I don't think there is any deliberate misleading going on from him. 

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