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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Ro's been thinking, and ha! It's not what you expect: Thoughts on the AUJ score

Grey Havens

Mar 7 2013, 10:48am

Post #1 of 15 (586 views)
Ro's been thinking, and ha! It's not what you expect: Thoughts on the AUJ score Can't Post

I’ve been increasingly enjoying listening to the AUJ soundtrack and paying attention to the use of musical motifs, both ones that are new to AUJ and ones that are connected to the LOTR score. This endeavour has been largely stimulated (and greatly enhanced and made possible by) Magpie’s fantastic website, where she presents the results of a massive undertaking in analysing the LOTR score.

Now, we don’t (yet!) have anything nearly as comprehensive for AUJ, but I can hold out hope that we’ll have something similar to the LOTR score analysis project for The Hobbit trilogy once we’ve had adequate time to digest TABA. For now, I thought I’d share what I’ve been contemplating (sorry, yes, it’s long), and would love to hear your thoughts on any of this or the soundtrack in general.

One point I want to make abundantly clear: the musical connections between AUJ’s score and that of LOTR are fantastic because they greatly enhance the depth of the music and the layers of meaning we’re given in the movie. There’s so much more to think about, like: “Oooh, there’s a Mordor Descending Third theme! What’s going on *here*?” This music can stretch our minds if we give it the chance.

**Note: all discussion of LOTR music below is based on the MP3 clips that Magpie has on her website; the names of the themes follow her usage; and descriptions of what the various motifs signify in LOTR are also from her site.**

So, today’s project was twofold: (1) learning one of Bilbo’s themes on the piano (the comfortable homey theme heard first at 4:42 in “Axe or Sword”, when he’s sitting with his cup of tea talking with Gandalf and recovering from thinking about furnaces with wings); and (2) comparing the Dwarrowdelf theme (heard in FOTR in Moria, and which, according to Doug Adams, is supposed to express the Dwarves' pride as well as folly) to the Erebor theme and Thorin’s theme. First part of project successful: I can now plonk out with one finger Bilbo’s homey theme. Second part: very interesting. First, and not really related to AUJ, I noticed that the Dwarrowdelf theme starts with what sounds like two repetitions of the Way to Mordor theme. This motif is used for dangerous situations, especially when running or hiding from danger is involved. An allusion to the Balrog, perhaps? Second, the Dwarrowdelf theme has the same C-D-E progression just like Thorin’s and the Erebor themes; all three themes are clearly very closely related. The last part of the Dwarrowdelf theme, starting at about 0:24 in Magpie’s clip, goes C-D-E, then dramatic crescendo of F-G-A. Thorin’s theme, when “completed” (e.g., 2:51-2:59 in “Axe or Sword”), goes C-D-E, then a bit of a flourish to G-A. Note that “F” is skipped: the Dwarrowdelf theme is incomplete. Interpretation: Even if Thorin can reclaim Erebor, the glory there will still fall short of that of Moria in its heyday. Or, possibly, more personal: maybe Thorin himself is flawed, incomplete, or unable to fulfill his full destiny.

Another theme I can now put a name to: the Descending Third (in LOTR, four descending thirds, then back up the scale and two more, ending on an ascending note). A slight variation on this is used in AUJ: two descending thirds, usually followed by another descending note (sometimes two). Note there’s not as many thirds to the theme in AUJ as in LOTR. Interpretation: The threat of evil is less obvious in AUJ than in LOTR; originating from the same source, but not yet as well-developed.

The “Descending Third-AUJ style” is heard in “Radagast the Brown” from 4:52-5:51, in a slower and more sinister mood than usual; I think this is when Radagast is exploring Dol Guldur, so you’d expect something like that there. Perhaps more interestingly, it’s also at 1:46-2:48 in “The Hill of Sorcery”: here I suspect it's broadly connected to Azog. You also hear it at 0:57 and 4:36 in “An Ancient Enemy”. Here it’s quick but strong and brassy. At 4:36 is when Yazneg with his Orc scouts appear on the bluff and discover the Company. At 0:57 I couldn’t tell you what is happening, but it should be during some point of the Battle of Azanulbizar. I’m guessing we hear the theme there again in connection with Azog (I probably never noticed it during the movie because I was busy looking at Thorin). The Descending Third theme signals impending doom (at least in LOTR). In AUJ, I think its link to the Necromancer is established in “Radagast the Brown”, and I suspect its link to Azog is established in the other tracks (can't be sure until we have the DVD in hand, though). A preliminary, possible intepretation: There is a connection between Azog and the Necromancer, and the Necromancer is a less fully-developed, less embodied, as it were, version of the evil we already know from LOTR.

If you've read this far, you probably deserve a shiny gold star! So, come on, stretch your mind a little -- listen to the soundtrack and see what else you can come up with.


Mar 7 2013, 11:22am

Post #2 of 15 (290 views)
I just wish... [In reply to] Can't Post

We did actually hear Bilbo's theme when he's sitting talking to Gandalf. In the film, we hear a rendition of the Shire theme, followed by the first part of the 'Tookish' part of the theme as Gandalf sits down. It's my favourite part of the soundtrack so I'm saddened by this.

I just hope the EE retains the rendition as heard in 'The White Council' on the deluxe soundtrack.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Mar 7 2013, 12:35pm

Post #3 of 15 (264 views)
I'm working on starting a website to collect some really basic information about the soundtrack... [In reply to] Can't Post

... but I haven't had time to get too far yet. I should have something soon though ("soon" being a rather relative term Blush)

Aragalen the Green

Mar 7 2013, 2:36pm

Post #4 of 15 (242 views)
Thanks for thinking again, Ro! [In reply to] Can't Post

I love your posts! I always learn something new every time I read one of your threads.

This time I finally learned the name of one of the themes that keeps haunting me, after going to Magpie's website. It is one that sounds similar to the History of the Ring but with a sinister tone to it. It is called "Mordor/Sauron aka The Evil of the Ring". It's been a while since I've viewed AUJ, but I know it's played after Gandalf brings out the Morgul-blade at the White Council, and possibly when Radagast is in Dol Guldur. I'll have to listen to the soundtrack again to find where else it is (An Ancient Enemy?)

I also am looking forward to listening to the "Descending Third" theme, now that I know what it is.

Anyway, thanks again!!Smile

'"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.'

Tol Eressea

Mar 7 2013, 8:38pm

Post #5 of 15 (195 views)
Magpie... [In reply to] Can't Post

alrighty then! that's a lovely shiny thing! (favorited)...

Go outside and play...

Tol Eressea

Mar 7 2013, 9:19pm

Post #6 of 15 (196 views)
Absolutely no one [In reply to] Can't Post

should refer to themselves it the third person. It is the worst.

Superuser / Moderator

Mar 8 2013, 12:08am

Post #7 of 15 (159 views)
Oh I can think of a few things that are worse. [In reply to] Can't Post

I suggest that instead of picking holes in how a board member titles her posts, you either contribute to the discussion by commenting on the substance of the post or move on to another discussion thread.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Ataahua's stories


Mar 8 2013, 12:34am

Post #8 of 15 (139 views)
The Descending Third theme... [In reply to] Can't Post

was one of the first I chronicled.

I was intrigued by all those danger themes in FOTR.


In ROTK, the Evil of the Ring gets mixed with the History of the Ring theme a lot... and sometimes the two of them with the Seduction of the Ring.

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


Mar 8 2013, 12:36am

Post #9 of 15 (131 views)
I'm glad to hear this! [In reply to] Can't Post

Let me know if you ever need LOTR resources to help you out.

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide

Aragalen the Green

Mar 8 2013, 1:33am

Post #10 of 15 (117 views)
Thanks Magpie! [In reply to] Can't Post

It was only recently that I caught that "History of the Ring" and "Evil of the Ring" are basically the same theme, just with different timing and instruments. There's always something new to hear. Now it's time to listen to the "Seduction of the Ring" :)

'"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.'

Grey Havens

Mar 8 2013, 1:47am

Post #11 of 15 (119 views)
As soon as you've got [In reply to] Can't Post

anything you care to share, I'd sure love to see it. It's going to be a long wait, I suspect, until Doug Adams puts a The Hobbit music analysis book out, if he ever does. I wish I had the time to tackle an analysis project like Magpie's, so I'm quite pleased to hear you're working on something!

I'll say again that I find the soundtrack (for AUJ, but also the LOTR ones too) fascinating, and the more I think about the AUJ score, the more interesting it gets, both on its own and in comparison to those of LOTR. I really feel like the people who have complained about not liking the AUJ score haven't stopped to properly listen to it, and think about it; and I wonder if their complaints will lessen once we have the whole trilogy in hand. Also, I can't wait to have the DVD in hand so we can actually directly compare the soundtrack to what's in the movie -- I'm wretched at remembering what I've heard in the movie when I'm listening to the CD!

Tol Eressea

Mar 8 2013, 1:53am

Post #12 of 15 (111 views)
Okay Ro that's it... [In reply to] Can't Post

You just made me put on the headphones and listen. It's been awhile.


Thank you for your questions, now go sod off and do something useful - Martin Freeman Twitter chat 3/1/13

Grey Havens

Mar 8 2013, 3:57am

Post #13 of 15 (102 views)
Glad to be [In reply to] Can't Post

a small source of inspiration. Smile Hope you enjoy your listening. Chime in if you've got any thoughts!

Grey Havens

Mar 8 2013, 4:47am

Post #14 of 15 (97 views)
Thoughts nowhere near as detailed as yours [In reply to] Can't Post

Being a singer, the songs come to my mind first, though I will divert from my main point long enough to say that there's a wonderful Straussian (Richard, not Johann) quality to the AUJ soundtrack overall that I really love - and that is part of what distinguishes it, in my listening, from the LOTR music.

So. Songs. I love them, even though there are only two-and-a-half of them (I'm counting the Goblin King's as the half and rolling both renditions of 'Misty Mountains' together for the moment). And again, I appreciate the way they differ in tone from some of the singing in LOTR; there are at turns a rough edge, humor, and a weight to the dwarves' songs that fits more with Merry and Pippin's songs, and the snippet of the 'Lay of Luthien' that Aragorn sings, than with the main LOTR songs sung by ethereal female voices and boys' choirs. 'Misty Mountains', especially as the dwarves sing it, definitely belongs in the same category as the 'Lay of Luthien' and of traditional Celtic songs that tell the epic stories.

And now I'm tired and rambling, so I'll stop right after I say: thanks for getting this conversation going, Ro!

Walk to Rivendell: There and Back Again Challenge - traveling through Middle Earth with thirteen rowdy Dwarves, one grumpy Wizard, and a beleaguered Hobbit

Join us, Thursdays on Main!


Mar 8 2013, 5:55am

Post #15 of 15 (123 views)
Just one little point [In reply to] Can't Post

Great post, btw! :)

The most striking bit of soundtrack during the first viewing of AUJ (apart from the lovely Misty Mountain and dwarves' theme) was what I personally call the "Heroic Hobbit"

This is when Bilbo made a mad dash to save Thorin at the end and at that moment it seemed the Hobbit theme was first heard in 'heroic mode', which was a very lovely touch. I'm looking forward to it being developed further in the two other movies!

Not sure if this is correct though...Blush

I also like 'tease's, like how the Gondor theme was suggested at throughout FotR and we finally hear it in its full majesty in RotK. I'm looking forward to discovering things like this once the two movies come out.


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