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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
The (non)-prescense of Howard Shore


Sep 20 2012, 3:24am

Post #1 of 17 (1550 views)
The (non)-prescense of Howard Shore Can't Post

There has been some debate already about the merits of the trailer(s) without the music of Howard Shore. Some have expected the trailer to feel different, b/cthey knew he would not be contributing anything to this trailer. Some have chosen to express concern anyway, or at least compare the teser with the trailer, noting what a difference it made with Shore contributing origional composition in the teaser, and how they liked it better for that reason, how much more like "M-e" it felt. All this conveys, as if we didn't know it already, that Shore is the Elvish bard of cinematic Middle-earth, and the onscreen universe would be as incomplete without his prescense as The Star Wars universe would have been without John Williams.

This thread is not for debating the merits or lack thereof, but to explore the exciting possibilties of the films themselves as suggested by individual moments in the trilers and endings. After numerous rewatchings of all the trailers/endings, all my concerns about the score have been erased, IF--and it's a big IF--Howard Shore can step up to the plate and provide us with those great moments/motifs to match what we're seeing. Judging by what we've seen, there are some great potential musical moments in this first film.

1) As I noted in the thread below, one such great potential moment is Bilbo's first beholding Rivendell. (I wish I knew how to post accompanying screencaps here. *sigh*...) Contrast Bilbo's reaction to Rivendell to Frodo's and Sam's. When we first saw FOTR, it was an unforgettable moment when we followed Frodo onto that balcony and the whole panorama of Rivendell was spread out before us, or when Bilbo walked in that upper room and said how he wanted to go back and see everything agan, but age has caught up with him. We were amazed, while Bilbo's onscreen reaction was ..well muted. He knew Rivendell well, but we did not. Frodo and Sam knew Rivendell from Bilbo's tales and stories, and readings of books. So their reaction is sort of: "Oh, right. So this is Rivendell."
But in the trailer, we are the ones who know Rivendell well, while it is Bilbo who is utterly gobsmacked. he's never been out of the Shire and knows *nothing* of the wide world outside, save the names of distant places mentioned by the Dwarves. So when we first see Rivendell in TH, we may knw it well, but Peter is asking us to go back again to the sense of wonder of a child, to become the children we were first readng TH. We will see Rivendell though a child's (Hobbit's) eyes. It's a wonderful "Bilbo-centric" moment that I hope we see much of. Even the camera angle suggests this. The first time I saw the trailer I had shivers, trying to imagine how Shore might musically suggest this sense of childlike wonder and awe at first beholding such unearthly beauty. This might be his first "step out onto the road", like Sam's in the field. Might there be a new motif for Rivendell, or will Shore work around what he had in FOTR? I really hope not. I want something powerful and new.

2)the "Sting" ending. The playing of "Concerning Hobbits" seems to make this a comedic moment, like Pippin's "Mission-Quest-Thing" in FOTR. But I'll bet that in the film, the sword scene at the banquet table will be anything but. That line might be mildly amusing to the audience, but the laughter won't last long. More likely, what we'll be hearing from Shore will make this a dramtic scene. Far more interesting to me, however, is what we see in the background. We see a harpist, and a couple of lutists? walking around, accompanying the meal, like players for the medivial European kings of old. At first I thought that was Lindir playing the harp, but the figure wore a woman's gown. Lindir might be one of the lutists though! I squee with delight if we saw Bret mcKenzie here!
But what might the dinner music sound like? What harp or lute.harsichird.ethnuc instrument might be used? We are about to get our first real taste of casual--or even Heroic--Noldorian ballad. And we might even see more, if we have a scens ef Bilbo meeting Lindir or the Hall or Fire. This has me salivating with excitement. At last, maybe some genuine ballads from the First or Second Age! I can imagine David Salo helping put with this stuff.

And as an aside, did it give anyone else the **SHIVERS** to hear Elrond say "Gondolin"?

I'll start with this, but what do you suggest? What might a motif for Radagast sound like, what instrumentation might comprise it, and will it be expanded to fit anything else?

(This post was edited by Sunflower on Sep 20 2012, 3:31am)

Tol Eressea

Sep 20 2012, 3:42am

Post #2 of 17 (510 views)
Wow! Great post! [In reply to] Can't Post

I am honestly going to have to give this some more thought before I respond.

You are right though. Howard Shore is definitely the Elvish bard of cinematic ME.


Middle Earth is New Zealand!

"Question everything, embrace the bad, and hold on to the good."

(This post was edited by Owain on Sep 20 2012, 3:42am)


Sep 20 2012, 4:50am

Post #3 of 17 (461 views)
Really excited to hear what Shore creates...he's definitely still at the very top of his game creatively [In reply to] Can't Post

His score for Scorsese's Hugo was one of the best of 2011, and he's showed no signs of slowing down with his other projects. Here's hoping his work on The Hobbit is just as excellent as what he did for the trilogy, if not even better.


Sep 20 2012, 7:38am

Post #4 of 17 (462 views)
How about when he said "Glam-dring?" [In reply to] Can't Post

You can tell Hugo's relishing those resonant "r"s Wink

On a more serious note, I can definitely spot a lot of places where Shore can shine. Can you imagine what kind of theme he'll employ for the Trollshaw sequence? Or the Golbins? Heck, we're more than likely going to spend some times with the Eagles in this film. Maybe he'll delve more into an Gwaihir theme this time around.

Incidentally, and getting back to the sword scene with Elrond, I wonder what the chances are that that moment between Balin and Bilbo will get cut. I mean, if Orcrist and Glamdrig are supposed to be the focus of the scenes, maybe that "letter opener" bit will be downplayed. I'm sure it will once we see it in the context of the rest of the scene. Plus, the use of Concerning Hobbits is making the joke a bit too much on the nose at the moment. Maybe with a proper Shore oriental underneath it, it'll be a little dryer and less jarring? Who knows, eh?


Sep 20 2012, 9:08am

Post #5 of 17 (367 views)
Re: Rivendell music [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
The first time I saw the trailer I had shivers, trying to imagine how Shore might musically suggest this sense of childlike wonder and awe at first beholding such unearthly beauty. This might be his first "step out onto the road", like Sam's in the field. Might there be a new motif for Rivendell, or will Shore work around what he had in FOTR? I really hope not. I want something powerful and new.

This is a very interesting thought. The theme for Rivendell in LOTR is very heavily based in Shore's "weakness and redemption" concept with all those "triad + flat sixth" arpeggios. As I understand it (and I guess Magpie might know a little more of this than I), this is fundamentally due to the ongoing diminishing of the elves that is a strong presence in LOTR, but is not touched upon at all in the Hobbit (partly because Sauron's open return is surely a major catalyst for it). Therefore I predict that we will probably see a somewhat changed theme for Rivendell anyway, which may be a community a bit past it's heyday but is not yet being deserted to the extent it is during LOTR.

*WARNING - SLIGHTLY TECHNICAL AND SLIHGTLY DUBIOUS MUSICAL SPECULATION HERE* Wink The contour of the Rivendell theme is extremely identifyable, so a possibility that I can think of to keep this strong connection (and this is just my idea so I would be shocked if this actually happened) would be to change the harmonisation so that what was a minor-triad-flat-sixth in the LOTR theme gets a new bass note of that flat sixth and becomes a major seventh arpeggio. That's not a good explanation at all, but for those others who know a little about music, say for instance a LOTR-style arpeggio is an Am with a flat sixth of F; make the harmonisation an F major chord and then the E that is the 5th of the original arpeggio becomes the major seventh of the new one. Maybe this is too subtle? Maybe Shore already did this at some point and I've missed it? Just a thought! Also, I suppose the arpeggios don't have to go back down to the extent they do in LOTR, as that is a very decay-like thing. That's probably a more noticable difference that could work. *SLIGHTLY TECHNICAL AND SLIGHTLY DUBIOUS MUSICAL SPECULATION OVER*

Anyway, this new Rivendell theme I'm speculating would be fine for general Rivendell scenes, but I agree with you that for the "big reveal" of Rivendell, something rather more special needs to occur.... I think Shore will come up with something suitably elvish Wink But he could work something around the theme that could be big and beautiful.

In terms of the *SPOILERS* eagle rescue, does anyone think we'll get some form of the Nature's Reclamation theme? (For those who don't know, this is the theme that appears when Gandalf talks to the moth on Orthanc, and which is present for a lot of the Ent-smashing-Isengard stuff, for some Rohirrim in ROTK and of course when "The Eagles Are Coming!!!") Maybe just a hint of it...?


Sep 20 2012, 12:24pm

Post #6 of 17 (295 views)
beautiful post Sunflower [In reply to] Can't Post

I dont have any musical training so I cant really comment on the technical aspects, but I hope the Rivendel music will be full-on Elven, and Howard Shore does full-on Elven like no one else. Heart


Sep 20 2012, 2:51pm

Post #7 of 17 (240 views)
I've said this before in anther Thread.. [In reply to] Can't Post

HS is the Glue that holds PJ's movies together.

The dissapointment some have in this set
of New Trailors I feel stems completely
from the lack of Awe we endlessly feel
Listening to HS!

I paid big $$ to witness the LOTR Symphony
years ago and that performance seemed
Flat because Howard
was Not wielding
the Baton.



Sep 20 2012, 4:27pm

Post #8 of 17 (220 views)
The challenge for the composer [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks to all of you, but esp to you FlyingSerkis! I don't have any musical training either, only played the piano a little. I am really hoping Magpie and a couple of others discover this thread...

Just a few more thoughts before I head out for the day. (And excuse the typos from last night--I was nodding off over the keyboard, it was very late....I'll try to be more careful in futureTongue).

I had another thought when Elrond said "Gondolin"...pssst: Peter: FLASHBACK ALERT! FLASHBACK ALERT! Pretty pretty PRETTY please with whipped cream and hot fudge and cherries on top? Please???Evil Even if it's only 3 seconds...if we saw "the king of Gondolin" holding the sword, the city spread out in the background....he can sneak it in there...don't think Peter maybe wasn't tempted...and I think Christopher Tolkien can be nice!
Hey...a girl can dream...can't she?:)

One more thought regarding Bilbo and Rivendell. You all put it very nicely. But this scene is actually a bigger challenge than it appears. I keep thinking back to the Fall of Gandalf in FOTR. We all remember this moment the first time we read FOTR (those of us who were book-firsters)--it's the scene that had us calling friends at 2 in the morning: "OMG! Gandalf died?!" And it was a shock. Peter did something very interesting in that scene. At least I always thought it was done this way. Knowing that for viewers of a certian generation it would look like he was ripping off George Lucas--the visual motif of someone dying by falling into an abyss was a repeated cliche in Star Wars--as well as Luke or someone standing on the edge shouting "Noooo!" in horror. And after Star Wars other films featured this cliche as well. So it's like, "Oh, Gandalf does this too." But Peter had to suggest that LOTR was the "granddaddy" of them all--that this seminal scene was where Lucas and all the others got it from---that everything they did in the deaths of their characters, in their scripts, was due back to the seminal childhood experience of reading LOTR and what they first felt at the unexected "death" of Gandalf the Grey when he fell into the abyss of Moria. Therefore, I'll bet Peter had Elijah practice his horrified "NOOOOO" many times, to make it sound as dramatic as possible, so that he didn't sound like Mark Hamill. (No offense to Mr Hamill who was a much better actor as the series went on, than many gave him credit for.)
And what went visually went even more so for the music. Peter gave instructions to Shore that we really had to *feel* this death--that there had to be a distictly spiritual element to it that made it different from other cinematic deaths. Howard Shore had to, in effect, out-John Williams in this scene. And as we all know, Dimrill Dale remains one of the most hauntingly beautiful scenes we see in all of LOTR, for reason of that unearthy; beautiful and elegaic music. When Frod turns back to the camera and sheds that single unforgettable tear--Peter and Shore and crew captured something deep and primal in that moment, something that was perhaps a lament for the 21st century so far. At least that's how I see it.

Now, with Bilbo first beholding Rivendell, Shore will have to do the same thing. He will have to out-John Williams again. In so many Spielberg films there is the cliche of the character first looking at something slack-jawed in awe, in order to trigger the same Pavlovian response in the viewer. (Later in his career he took this to the point of absurdity. Think of the first glimpse of the dinosuars in Jurassic Park.) And no doubt many viewers may think this is the case when seeing the trailer and Bilbo walking around slack-jawed with awe. It may invite that same sense of ridicule at the invocation of the quintessinal Spielbergian cliche. But the challenge for Peter and Shore, just as it was with Gandal's fall in FOTR to take this moment and make it distinctly their own, to suggest another such artistically seminal momemt, even though it is not in the book.
For like Gandalf's Fall, this is a spiritual experience for Bilbo, a spiritual moment.

Think about it. When we first see Bilbo creeping Hobbit-like around Bag End, trying to avoid the Dwarves, there is nothing about him to suggest that one day he will be not only a scholar, but a distinguished figure in Shire lore, its first real Historian, the Elf-Friend Bilbo of the Shire. The first hobbit destined for the Havens. But when Bilbo sees the spires of the Last Homely House, he falls in love. For life. It isn't just Wow, what a cool place." We've all seen beautiful places that make us think, "Wow..I want to retire here." But for Bilbo it isn't just, "I want to retire here" but "I want to die here." But not only that. We really have to believe that this first moment is like when Sam saw the Star..that "the beauty of it smote his heart." That whne the adventure is all over and he goes home to the Shire, he really doesn't want to be in the Shire anymore...he longs for the Elvish quality of Rivendell...a beauty and serentiy and State of Being. That his 60 yrs in the SHire are a time of exile, and Rivendell is his true home. What is it about these people that makes him want to become a musician and compos music, from a culture where most hobbits read and compose only letters to each other!
And later on, wanting to experience all that he can of the Elves, even in their time of sadness and fading. A "wannbe" sense if you will. A sense that Hobbits are ordinary, and mundane, and sinful maybe. All this has to suggested in this first glimpse of Rivendell, as Bilbo crosses that bridge and walks among the columns. And we too should be able to feel something of wonder and sadness at a people and culture now in its cineamatic summer,that we soon know will enter its Autumn and fade forever. In that first few minutes SHore should suggest to us that that is going to unfold, and Bilbo's part in it.

(This post was edited by Sunflower on Sep 20 2012, 4:36pm)


Sep 20 2012, 5:57pm

Post #9 of 17 (177 views)
Great post Sunflower [In reply to] Can't Post

You brought up a lot of points I hadn't considered. I expect Shore relishes the challenge!


Sep 20 2012, 6:07pm

Post #10 of 17 (189 views)
Glamdring [In reply to] Can't Post

It sounded to me like Hugo was having trouble with it. Like seriously, he made it into about 15 syllables Tongue I was so glad when he was done saying it Unimpressed


Sep 20 2012, 6:14pm

Post #11 of 17 (179 views)
Ah Gondolin :) [In reply to] Can't Post

And as an aside, did it give anyone else the **SHIVERS** to hear Elrond say "Gondolin"?

No, but I certainly was giddy with excitement Smile Any references to the First Age just warm my heart Heart


Sep 20 2012, 6:34pm

Post #12 of 17 (163 views)
I always thought he said Anduril strangely in ROTK as well. [In reply to] Can't Post

He just has a thing about swords.

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Sep 20 2012, 6:46pm

Post #13 of 17 (155 views)
I'm glad he doesn't have to say Sting!// [In reply to] Can't Post



Sep 20 2012, 6:48pm

Post #14 of 17 (143 views)
He'd use his Scottish accent for that. [In reply to] Can't Post

Scchting. Wink

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Sep 20 2012, 6:55pm

Post #15 of 17 (159 views)
Stop! [In reply to] Can't Post

We're already getting Scchmorg Crazy


Sep 22 2012, 3:05am

Post #16 of 17 (66 views)
What about the discovery of the ring? [In reply to] Can't Post

Brilliant post Sunflower! I'm really digging this topic!

There's another moment I'd like to raise some speculation on, and that is the discovery of the ring. As far as the canon goes, Bilbo's discovery of Sauron's ring is an incredibly critical moment. I don't think I need to get deep and gritty as to why: Gandalf explains it well enough in Moria, and I have no doubt everyone here can speculate! But how will it play out on film?

In the book it's a fairly offhanded moment. Bilbo stumbles on it, pockets it, and continues onwards. But LotR has long been in the public light, so it's not like this moment can be shrugged off. Yet, I don't think a bombastic depiction is needed, with fire and darkness and heavy-handed foreshadowing.

Martin Freeman's acting, PJ's direction, and Howard Shore's scoring will make or break this moment. And I'm very curious about the last factor.

While many of the most memorable moments in the LotR score(s?) are the more exciting or emotional bits, I don't think the quieter moments should be so easily overlooked. Bilbo's discovery of the ring naturally has a element of drama to it, but it's subtle in nature. I'm excited to see how Shore manages it. Perhaps a very muted rendition of one of the Ring motifs? Again, I don't think this moment should be overblown, not any moment with the ring. Yet, I think there should be "breadcrumbs" left in the score that leave the listener feeling unsettled, though not disturbed. In that sense, maybe it shouldn't be the entire motif (say, The Seduction of the Ring motif) but just the first few chords. Just enough that the audience recognizes it, but yet it would remain underdeveloped and unfinished. A musical way of planting the seeds for the larger plot that (chronologically) remains to be seen.


Sep 22 2012, 7:29pm

Post #17 of 17 (102 views)
thank you for that post Sunflower [In reply to] Can't Post

it was a joy to read, and it made me think more deeply about Bilbos response to his first sight of Rivendell. I imagine we can all put ourselves in Bilbos shoes, its as if he is experiencing Rivendell for us in a way, and I hope the music reflects the wonder and falling in love moment. I hope we see Bilbo wandering around the gardens and quiet rooms, just drinking it all in, amongst the golden leaves and soft twilight. I am sure Howard Shore will make us dream.


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