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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
The Hobbit's Score: Comparing the Film and the Album Release

The Shire

Dec 14 2012, 12:49am

Post #1 of 22 (914 views)
The Hobbit's Score: Comparing the Film and the Album Release Can't Post

While this topic was raised in an earlier post (that has almost fallen off the front page), I thought it'd be worth it to have a post where Howard Shore's Middle Earth music fanatics can compare and contrast the movie version and album version of the score.

I'm seeing so much about recycled LOTR themes and, having listened to the Deluxe Edition Soundtrack, I just don't see how this can be true. The music almost entirely focuses on new themes pertaining to Smaug, Erebor, Thorin, Bilbo, Gandalf, Radagast, etc. I'm curious to hear people's thoughts who have seen the movie and heard the soundtrack album release. What is the same, and what is different?

The Shire

Dec 14 2012, 1:41am

Post #2 of 22 (529 views)
Well.. [In reply to] Can't Post

If you're listening for the cues in the order/style they appear on the OST, it's true, a lot will be different. But still a lot is retained, some large sections indeed appear (more or less) as they do on the CD (much of the prologue (my dear frodo), an ancient enemy, axe or sword, hidden valley, moon runes..).

Again, this is not anything new - I remember feeling the same after I had got so familiar with the ROTK soundtrack before it's release but the way it was presented in the film was quite different (eg Minas Tirith which jumps back and forth from different scenes).

There are some bits which have been quite reworked (especially the end eg a Good Omen - which I quite liked on the OST)

But to say "there is no new themes" is far from accurate. Just as a few there are (sorry for enforcing arbitrary names)

- Gandalf - used tonnes
- Thorin - used even more
- Longing for Erebor - same story
- White council
- Wargs
- Radagast
- Trolls
- Dwarf accompaniment
- Azog
- Smaug
- Bilbo (albeit - not much)
-There are plenty more...anyone else?

Crunchable Birdses

Dec 14 2012, 1:53am

Post #3 of 22 (514 views)
I skimmed the last thread about this because it was too much of a downer... [In reply to] Can't Post

...but I would like to ask now - were those claims of the score being butchered rather exaggerated and in fact really there's nothing to worry about?

* crunch *

The Shire

Dec 14 2012, 2:01am

Post #4 of 22 (501 views)
Personally... [In reply to] Can't Post

...I wouldn't say butchered at all. Maybe nicely sliced up and presented in a different way.

Some changes will not be liked by some, but I think quite a bit was cut as there were not any scenes left to accompany them (with the exception of the ending) eg. The White council track is very long, less of it appears in the film, but that's probably because scenes were cut - all the White Council scenes we see have music from that track - they must have been longer at some stage. IMHO it would be silly to leave scenes in because they originally had beautiful music tied to them.

There is definitely more new music than old. And the old stuff is not copy and pasted from LOTR.


Dec 14 2012, 7:07am

Post #5 of 22 (376 views)
They based their judgment upon the OST. [In reply to] Can't Post

But the OST is not the actual score.
It is a rehearse of the score, to present to the audience the different themes of the movie score in chronological order.
The actual score will be released as the "complete" score, as they did for LotR.
So no it is not butchered in the movie, it is quite the opposite.


Dec 14 2012, 9:10am

Post #6 of 22 (352 views)
Yes and no [In reply to] Can't Post

I was one of those downers in the last thread, and I found the actual score better than I expected, but still problematic.

It's definitely weaker than anything in LotR. I'm really, really itching to know how the scoring and editing process went down. While the score is still good, overall it feels much less organic than those in LotR: not because of the themes, but because of the editing.

There are cases of sections lifted directly from FotR, and one in particular fell flat in my opinion. It was a use of the "Breaking of the Fellowship" motif (with Frodo on the bank), and it doesn't even sound like a new recording. The bizarre use of the Ring-wraith theme--noted in the other thread--truly was out of place. And while it's a bit pedantic, the particular use of the Galadhrim war motif bugged me: it's for all elves now, it seems.

Overall much of the score felt somewhat haphazard. My sister, a music major, was completely unaware of the score complaints going into the film, but afterwards her first comment was directed at how canned some of the orchestration seemed. Personally I suspect the decision to stretch the series out to three films hurt the editing and scoring process for this particular film.

Despite those complaints, it's still a far better score than the vast majority of films get. While a lot of themes are familiar, hearing them used again aids the score rather than detracts from it. The Misty-Mountains motif stands alongside the best of the LotR themes.


Dec 14 2012, 9:12am

Post #7 of 22 (358 views)
Just got back ... it was only really distracting [In reply to] Can't Post

... if you had listened to the score several times as I had.

And the Nazgul theme for Thorin vs Azog - - - words fail me.

I did not notice most of the copy pasting that occurred, and missed the gondor cue, but did seem to note that Thorin's theme and the longing theme didn't match up too well to what was going on onscreen. I am sure, now knowing how much was changed, that on my second viewing I will notice more of the discrepancies.

The movie was awesome though, I am sure Howard Shore will fix up the music for the EE. He will, right? Please? PJ???


Dec 14 2012, 9:18am

Post #8 of 22 (331 views)
right [In reply to] Can't Post

The breaking of the fellowship theme was played during the pity scene, right?

I was too focused on the brilliant execution of the scene at hand, and feeling sorry for poor gollum.

Still, the music communicates emotionally, but I do feel as if the heart / soul of the music becomes a bit muted when used this way.


Dec 14 2012, 9:32am

Post #9 of 22 (317 views)
No, different scene [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Bilbo's pity scene used a variation, but it was a unique recording and fit the emotion of the moment. The scene I was referring to was the one between Gandalf and Galadriel conversing about Bilbo and courage. When Gandalf goes into his speech, the excerpt plays and it just feels artificial. It's the composer telling us this is a poignant moment rather than letting us see that for ourselves. Instead of complementing the scene, it seems to take the emotion a bit too far to the point of being noticeably forced.


Dec 14 2012, 9:39am

Post #10 of 22 (300 views)
Ah, yes [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember that now. I was distracted by a different, much lovelier character in that scene...

Yes, I agree completely about the score (rather, music editing) talking too loudly at times rather than complementing naturally.


Dec 14 2012, 10:02am

Post #11 of 22 (292 views)
Nice observation [In reply to] Can't Post

I actually felt the same about the music during Thorin's charge. It's of course extremely weird that the Ringwraith theme was used, but it also was completely over the top because of the combination with slow motion and the event right after it. Being struck down in one hit after a triumphant charge almost gets a comical effect due to the music.

The Shire

Dec 14 2012, 11:47am

Post #12 of 22 (259 views)
My take [In reply to] Can't Post

The score as presented on the album vs. in the film is indeed a bit different.

Most of it is preserved just fine, but some beautiful moments from the album are not in the film, particularly the eagles sequence, where the film uses the now familiar eagle music from LOTR rather than the more original work in the album.
On the other hand, the film also contains some very nice moments not found on the album. The "Misty Mountains" theme is used more frequently than it is on the album.

I do agree that the Breaking of the Fellowship theme in the Gandalf/Galadriel conversation felt pasted in, in fact I'm quite sure this was not a new recording. And I also don't get why the Azog/Thorin fight used the Nazgul music, especially since that clearly was a new version of it. Maybe this is supposed to represent Thorin's 'darker' side rising to the surface? Then again, I also never understood why the Nature's Reclamation theme was used for the Riders of Rohan in TTT and ROTK.

The score in the film works beautifully, but yes, it does feel like the editing was a bit rushed in some places. It's a bit like the score to "Attack of the Clones" in that sense: a masterful score but not always edited in that well... But this is not as severe a case of that problem as AOTC was. I do hope that the EE will feature Howard Shore's music a bit more integrally, because I think this is a fantastic score and it does kind of deserve a bit better. But don't worry, the film is fantastic and the music really does work in it.

I would especially like to hear the track "Erebor" from the special edition album in the films at some point. That was incredible!


Dec 14 2012, 3:27pm

Post #13 of 22 (224 views)
The sun [In reply to] Can't Post

Then again, I also never understood why the Nature's Reclamation theme was used for the Riders of Rohan in TTT and ROTK.

In TTT, there was always a clear reference to the sun: "At dawn, look to the east", "the sun is rising"...
In RotK, the theme kicks in right when the sun comes over the mountains and the Rohirrim begin to charge. It has a strong 'day has come to vanquish the darkness"-feel to it.

Even if you don't agree with that, the theme at least has a connection with good, while the Nazgul theme is so strongly associated with pure evil that I can't come up with an explanation why it would be used for Thorin. Sure, he's really angry, he's out for vengeance and whatnot, but he ain't no Ringwraith.

I would especially like to hear the track "Erebor" from the special edition album in the films at some point. That was incredible!

Yes! It's so majestic! The credits of the film are said to run for 16 minutes (I didn't sit them out) so I'm guessing the theme is actually in there. If you add up the length of the last six tracks on the Special Edition album you'll see it's about 16 minutes.


Dec 14 2012, 3:56pm

Post #14 of 22 (221 views)
Thorin the wraith [In reply to] Can't Post

Thorin does become a bit wraithy by the end. He doesn't actually have a ring (at least not in the book :suspicious:), but he does become consumed by lust, pride, and a desire for vengence. Maybe this is foreshadowing that? We'll have to see if wraith music continues to be associated with Thorin during his darker moments, or whether this was just a "hey! You know what might sound cool here?" one-off.


Dec 14 2012, 3:59pm

Post #15 of 22 (228 views)
Has Howard Shore commented on any of this? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm just curious as to what his thoughts are. Is he upset that much of his music wans't used? Maybe on the extended edition...


Dec 14 2012, 5:18pm

Post #16 of 22 (213 views)
thorin is one of the nine [In reply to] Can't Post

that scene was sOOO bad. what is going on? there is no excuse for that scene.

but, did anyone hear radagast the brown's theme?

or the end of "dreaming of bag end?" that is the best new shire-related stuff on the soundtrack!


Dec 14 2012, 5:37pm

Post #17 of 22 (194 views)
Ringwraith music [In reply to] Can't Post

I saw it more as music to accompany Azog rather than Thorin.

Do note that the first time that motif was used in LOTR was to accompany Sauron, not the Nazgul.


Dec 14 2012, 5:57pm

Post #18 of 22 (188 views)
I thought about that [In reply to] Can't Post

but the scene is completely focused on Thorin. There are a few close-ups of Azog, but he doesn't do anything. Moreover, the lyrics seemed to be about Thorin, not about the defiler.


Dec 14 2012, 6:10pm

Post #19 of 22 (184 views)
What are the lyrics? [In reply to] Can't Post



Dec 14 2012, 6:22pm

Post #20 of 22 (192 views)
They start with "THORIN!" [In reply to] Can't Post

and that's all I know, which is why I said "seem to be" Wink

The lyrics tend to refer to that which is directly on screen... It might of course also be some kind of warning from the choir to Thorin. I'm looking forward to Doug Adams sharing his knowledge and opinion on this.

Valandil ed Imladris

Dec 14 2012, 6:32pm

Post #21 of 22 (188 views)
Bilbo and Thorin hugging [In reply to] Can't Post

they used the bit from the song "Return of the king" that we heard when Barad-Dur collapsed in the third film. That was a moment I didn't like in the movie because of the copy-and-paste from the LOTR soundtrack.

Also: Rivendell in AUJ - they used the Lothlorien-theme from FOTR Crazy


Dec 14 2012, 11:24pm

Post #22 of 22 (192 views)
Music editing in this film was downright awful [In reply to] Can't Post

I feel so badly for Howard Shore. Almost all his new themes were taken out of the film, and it's such a shame because he was given no chance to establish this film with its own musical identity. The copying and pasting was embarrassingly bad: the use of the "hobbit's understanding" motif was too schmaltzy, the Nazgul theme in relation to Thorin too over-the-top, the same setting of the Misty Mountains theme too obvious and repetitive after the fifth time the dwarves charged into battle, the reuse of the History of the Ring theme over every closeup of the Ring also too obvious.

It was as if the sound editors had no faith in Howard Shore's ability to tell the story and needed every single moment telegraphed to the audience. Such a shame that all the subtlety was sucked out of this score.


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