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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

Views: 554
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.

Subject User Time
Ro's been thinking, and ha! It's not what you expect: Thoughts on the AUJ score Roheryn Send a private message to Roheryn Mar 7 2013, 10:48am
    I just wish... Shagrat Send a private message to Shagrat Mar 7 2013, 11:22am
    I'm working on starting a website to collect some really basic information about the soundtrack... Earl Send a private message to Earl Mar 7 2013, 12:35pm
        I'm glad to hear this! Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 8 2013, 12:36am
        As soon as you've got Roheryn Send a private message to Roheryn Mar 8 2013, 1:47am
            Okay Ro that's it... Ham_Sammy Send a private message to Ham_Sammy Mar 8 2013, 1:53am
                Glad to be Roheryn Send a private message to Roheryn Mar 8 2013, 3:57am
    Thanks for thinking again, Ro! Aragalen the Green Send a private message to Aragalen the Green Mar 7 2013, 2:36pm
        The Descending Third theme... Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 8 2013, 12:34am
            Thanks Magpie! Aragalen the Green Send a private message to Aragalen the Green Mar 8 2013, 1:33am
    Magpie... swordwhale Send a private message to swordwhale Mar 7 2013, 8:38pm
    Absolutely no one sauget.diblosio Send a private message to sauget.diblosio Mar 7 2013, 9:19pm
        Oh I can think of a few things that are worse. Ataahua Send a private message to Ataahua Mar 8 2013, 12:08am
    Thoughts nowhere near as detailed as yours Arandiel Send a private message to Arandiel Mar 8 2013, 4:47am
    Just one little point Súlimë Send a private message to Súlimë Mar 8 2013, 5:55am


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