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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
**TTT-EE Appendices Discussion -- Music for Middle-earth -- Emotional Choices ***


Oct 5 2010, 3:22am

Post #1 of 4 (271 views)
**TTT-EE Appendices Discussion -- Music for Middle-earth -- Emotional Choices *** Can't Post

Peter Jackson said, “I totally believe that music ties in very closely with the emotion of the film and it’s very, very important. It’s just like directing the performance of an actor.” Below are two examples of how this played out. One can see the sorts of decisions that were made and the process for making them. As you read through them, think about how much you noticed these sorts of musical tweaks to the scene and/or how much they positively (or negatively) affected your emotional reaction. Also consider any experiences you’ve had that are similar to the collaborative, decision making process described below.

I’ll divide the discussion into two subthreads:
Helm’s Deep

Frodo and Gollum react to Sam’s Speech

LOTR soundtrack website ~ June 2010 : ROTK Lyrics Update!
magpie avatar gallery ~ Torn Image Posting Guide

(This post was edited by Magpie on Oct 5 2010, 3:23am)


Oct 5 2010, 3:35am

Post #2 of 4 (111 views)
Helm’s Deep [In reply to] Can't Post

transcript from appendices:

On Screen: score entitled “Helm’s Deep”
Music Playing: martial version of Lothlórien Theme

Peter Jackson: It’s an instinct in battles to just pile music on top of that, to have this, this throbbing, percussive kind of music. Because it’s almost like the music has to compete with the sound effects in order to actually work, so you have these two things doing the same job, really. And so I worked very closely with Howard on plotting and planning a musical structure to the Helm’s Deep sequence.

On Screen: families in the crystal caves
Music Playing: quieter music plays

Howard Shore: Peter would say, “As the battle forms, let’s go to the smallest child.” And you realize that’s what the battle’s being fought about - the families. But it’s not the type of music that you would think that would be the big build-up to the big battle. It’s quite emotional.

Peter Jackson: It’s the juxtaposition of the music and the pictures. And I think that’s a lot more powerful.

On Screen: Elven Archers on wall
Music Playing: martial version of Lothlórien Theme resumes

Howard Shore: So, as the tide of battle shifts, from one group to another, you hear various thematic ideas take over in Helm’s Deep. So, when the Elf archers start the battle I used a thematic thread from Lothlórien, from Fellowship.

On Screen: Lothlórien Theme from FOTR

Howard Shore: But now it’s played in battle mode.

On Screen: martial version of Lothlórien Theme

Howard Shore: But as the Uruk-hai approach the wall and they dig in their ladders, the Uruk-hai theme, the Isengard music takes over.

On Screen: Isengard Theme

Howard Shore: So, there’s always this shifting of focus musically. And Helm’s Deep was specifically created with that concept in mind.

Magpie Shiny Bits of Information:

Prelude to a Battle:
I thought it might be useful to provide a recounting of the section that I think prompted the comments above:

• The Elves have arrived and hugs have been exchanged. The scene jumps to ‘all ready on the wall’.
• The Elves and Men are waiting on the wall. The Uruks approach. No music is playing.
• There’s a flash of lightning and crack of thunder and it begins to rain. We hear the rain but there is no music.
• We see an up close shot of the Uruks marching. Quiet music begins.
• We cut to the Rohirrim on the wall, then...
• To the families in the cave (and some familiar faces). The quiet music continues as we hear the murmurs and a crying baby.
• Outside, the horde of black clad Uruk-hai are advancing.
• Back on the wall, Aragorn is giving instructions to the archers in Elvish. “Show no mercy for you shall receive none.”
• The front line of Uruks advance and stop in formation.
• As we go back to the cave, a quiet Hardanger fiddle plays the Rohan Theme.
• Back to the wall, and Aragorn... then the Uruk chief on the field. The Rohan Theme dies before we cut to the Uruk-hai.
• Quiet, ascending (and basically non-melodic) notes are played as Gimli tries to see and Legolas pokes fun. The notes stop.
• The Uruk-hai begin pounding their spears. The archers on the wall draw their bow. The families wait. (close up of ‘cute Rohirrim children’)
• There isn’t any music. The Uruks are chanting and pounding.
• An old man on the wall looses his arrow and it finds it’s mark.
• The chanting stops. Aragorn cries “Hold!”.
• The Uruk groans and then falls to the weirdest sound. (see below)
• The music returns with a almost sour low chord. (which sounds very familiar to me... see below)
• Now the Uruks are mad! They advance as the martial Lothlórien Theme begins playing.

Music and Sound:
weaver just conducted a discussion of the "Soundscapes of Middle-earth" and discussed why sometimes, less is more. When we did these discussions last time, Darkstone provided this quote from the same section of the appendices: (made by Chris Boyes?)
Peter’s notes tended to be really clear and direct: ‘I want this scene to start really quiet and subtle and then build. I want it to have this structure to it — we’re going somewhere with it.’ For instance, there’s a scene where the Uruk-hai are marching on Helm’s Deep, this fortress built up against a huge rock cliff, and they’re marching from afar, but there are so many of them that they set up this incredible rhythmic pulse as they’re marching. There were certain desires on the editorial team to have that really be big and be felt and have this huge pulsing mass coming at you. And [Peter] came back and said, ‘No, this needs to be subtle — so subtle that you feel the pulse, but you also hear the breath of the warriors waiting for this oncoming army.’ It was a really poetic way to take it, and also, since that scene progresses into absolute chaos and mayhem, it was a great way to start because you’ve got something to build with.

Magpie Conversation Prompts:

A Musical Structure to Helm’s Deep:
Is this shift of focus in the music something that you were aware of? Had you noticed the shift from quiet to loud in the sound editing? Not only are the ambient movie noises quieter in the caves and louder among the Uruk-hai... but the sound of the Uruk army changes in volume depending on the viewpoint of the camera: in midst of Uruks, on Deeping Wall, in Glittering Caves. What mood does this quiet music put you in? Is it calming? apprehensive? sad? foreboding?

The Lothlórien Theme:
What do think about the decision to use the Lothlórien Theme at Helm’s Deep? Although it’s not my intent to debate the decision to place the Elves at Helm’s Deep, it may be interesting to know if one’s thoughts on the music are tied to one’s thoughts on this plot change. Are these Elves all from Lothlórien? Haldir does say that Elrond sent them but outside the movie, they are referred to as the Naith, indicating they were strictly from Lothlórien. Was it at all jarring to hear Elvish music in what is primarily a war affecting Men?

LOTR soundtrack website ~ June 2010 : ROTK Lyrics Update!
magpie avatar gallery ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


Oct 5 2010, 3:43am

Post #3 of 4 (92 views)
Frodo & Gollum react to Sam’s Speech [In reply to] Can't Post

transcript of appendices:
Paul Broucek: Howard is incredibly hands on in his whole approach because he not only composes the music but he also orchestrates and conducts.

On Screen: Howard Shore conducting orchestra playing Shire music

Peter Jackson:
Directors work in very different ways with composers and I found, to my surprise, just how much manipulation and shaping you can actually do with the music track even if you’re in the studio recording it. It’s not locked off. It’s not, you know, set in concrete.

On Screen: conversation between Howard Shore and Peter Jackson re: scoring a scene

Howard Shore: To be able to work with Peter as a collaborative filmmaker is a fantastic bonus for me because you’re getting his input from the story telling aspect of it. You’re creating the imagery in it in music. So you’re both sort of working together to tell the story.

Peter Jackson: I totally believe that music ties in very closely with the emotion of the film and it’s very, very important. It’s just like directing the performance of an actor. So, for instance, Howard would play me something and I might say, “Can we please just make that more emotional? I didn’t quite feel it. I just want it to be a little bit more sad.” I talk in that sort of language. I don’t usually talk in musical terms.

Howard Shore: He would say, “Well, the Uruks would feel like this (gesturing).” It would be, “They need to feel a little stronger here.” I can work with Peter, now, to shape the performances.

Peter Jackson: It’s a very important part of the process for me to be part of.

On Screen: editing room discussion of a scene -- tweaking Sam’s speech in Osgiliath:

What follows, on screen, is a comparison between two different musical choices. One plays the Fellowship Theme while Sam says, “That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.” This option has the Fellowship Theme playing while Gollum is on screen (his reaction close up) and that concerns PJ and HS. They don't want the Fellowship Theme associated with Gollum. So the second version eliminates the Fellowship Theme. Instead some non-thematic music is played while Sam speaks, some notes are held while we see first Frodo and then Gollum’s reaction, then the Shire Theme begins as the camera cuts back to Frodo.

I've provided a little more info and soundclips on this page.

Magpie Conversation Prompts:

How much had you noticed these sorts of decisions?: Had you noticed this sort of scoring decision before seeing this appendices section? How about after?

Unconscious effects - Noticeable effects - or No effect/Wasted effort?: Other sections from Music for Middle-earth explore just how overscheduled and overworked everyone was. Does taking the time to make tweaks this subtle make a difference in the overall enjoyment of or connection to the movie? Is it something only a music/soundtrack geek would notice or do lay people notice it too? Coming from the perspective of an obsessive perfectionist, I have to ask “Is it ever overkill?” That is, does it ever approach a level where the benefits are small in ratio to the energy expended? Or does it elevate a piece of art to something beyond what we might be able to articulate or express effectively?

Real Life:
Building off the previous conversation prompt, do you experience these sorts of decisions in your life’s work or hobbies? How does one weigh the quest for perfection against the constraints of time, money and quality? When does one push for one more level toward the best one can do and when does one say, “Enough.”, “Good enough.”, or “Finished is better than perfect.”? How does a collaborative effort help or deter the quest for perfection. (And my useful definition of ‘perfection’ is the closest I can hope to get to it. No one attains perfection but if I aim for it, I hope to get to the highest level that I, personally, can achieve.)

LOTR soundtrack website ~ June 2010 : ROTK Lyrics Update!
magpie avatar gallery ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


Oct 5 2010, 3:46am

Post #4 of 4 (208 views)
a little more info and resources [In reply to] Can't Post

I have this discussion prepared with shiny html formatting on my website. If you visit the page for Emotional Choices, you'll find a few links for more information and soundclips.

comments transcribed from The Two Towers Extended Edition Appendices Material: Music for Middle-earth

Howard Shore:
Peter Jackson: Director/Writer/Producer
Philippa Boyens: Writer
Paul Broucek: Paul Broucek; Executive Music Producer, New Line Cinema
David Salo: Tolkien Language Translator
John Kurlander: score engineer
Barry M Osborne: Producer
Rick Porras: Co-producer
On Screen: the image shown on screen other than the narrator/interviewee
Music Playing: the music playing under the commentary

LOTR soundtrack website ~ June 2010 : ROTK Lyrics Update!
magpie avatar gallery ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


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