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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Middle-earth TV Series Discussion:
Composer Brian Ralston releases demo sessions from his concept music for the Amazon LOTR series

Althoun
Lorien

Jan 2, 2:28pm

Post #1 of 23 (1115 views)
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Composer Brian Ralston releases demo sessions from his concept music for the Amazon LOTR series Can't Post

Ralston's orchestral pieces, unfortunately, weren't selected by Amazon but his pitch gives us an insight into the kinds of musical numbers that were considered:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6j4gadHZiig

The titles of these tracks are really quite interesting (a lot of thought has clearly gone into them by someone who knows the lore fairly well, including obscure stuff in lesser known volumes).

One of the melodies is named "Firiel's Song" and a woman sings over the track in Tolkien's original Quenya lyrics.

I don't know how much the applicant composers were told about the plot of the series and rights situation (if anything).

But Firiel is a Númenórean woman described only in Tolkien's The Lost Road (1937, namely its Númenórean chapters), the only prose account Tolkien ever penned set in late Númenor just before its Downfall, when Sauron ruled the kingdom through Ar-Pharazon.

Firiel was of the household of Elendil, and had been raised by the latter after her father's death. She was renowned for her sweet-singing voice. In the text, she sings a tragic elegy for Númenor: a song about the Valar and Eru Iluvatar, which disturbs Elendil's son as such hymns are banned under the Melkor-worshippers:



Quote
A voice from a high window came falling down like silver into the pool of twilight where they walked. Elendil knew the voice: it was the voice of Firiel, a maiden of his household, daughter of Orontor. His heart sank, for Firiel was dwelling in his house because Orontor had departed.

Men said he was on a long voyage. Others said that he had fled the displeasure of the king. Elendil knew that he was on a mission from which he might never return, or return too late." And he loved Orontor, and Firiel was fair...

Now her voice sang an even-song in the Eressean tongue, but made by men, long ago. The nightingale ceased. Elendil stood still to listen; and the words came to him, far off and strange, as some melody in archaic speech sung sadly in a forgotten twilight in the beginning of man's journey in the world...

'She should not sing that song out of a window,' said Herendil [Isildur], breaking the silence. 'They sing it otherwise now. Melkor cometh back, they say, and the king shall give us the Sun forever.'


An English translation from Quenya of Firiel's Song by Tolkien:

https://folk.uib.no/hnohf/firiel.htm

Since the composer was able to use the entirety of the Quenya text of the song from The Lost Road, I wonder if this means Amazon had the rights to that Second Age material (given that, if it had been selected, this would have been official music for the series)?

The Lost Road would be particularly useful in fleshing out a narrative set in the late Second Age.

By itself, though, the song in the text is presented as an ancient elegy that Firiel sings - indeed its described as archaic and in the old Elvish high tongue (i.e. "an even-song in the Eressean tongue, but made by men, long ago") - so its original provenance would be deep back in Númenor's history, as per the legendarium.

Another track (the fourth) is called: "The Last Alliance", which I think rather speaks for itself.


(This post was edited by Althoun on Jan 2, 2:35pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jan 2, 3:17pm

Post #2 of 23 (1038 views)
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Thanks for this! [In reply to] Can't Post

It sounds like the series team is trying to evoke the feeling of Howard Shore's music without outright imitating his scores. That is probably a good direction to take.

The name Firiel (or Fíriel) shows up several times in the lore of Arda. There is:
- Fíriel, daughter of Ondoher (the thirty-first king of Gondor) who weds Arvedui, the last king of Arthedain.
- Firiel, the title and subject of a 1934 poem by Tolkien; the poem was later reworked as "The Last Ship" (see The Adventures of Tom Bombadil).
- Fíriel Fairbairn, a hobbit of the Shire and a granddaughter of Samwise Gamgee.
- Fíriel, the previously mentioned maiden in an early stage of the development of Númenor.
- Fíriel was also one of the other names given to Finwë's first wife Míriel.

I would guess that Tolkien based the later Fíriel of Gondor somewhat on the woman of Númenor; I even note some similarity in the names of their respective fathers (Ondoher vs. Orontor).

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jan 2, 3:30pm)


Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Jan 2, 5:07pm

Post #3 of 23 (997 views)
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The Last Alliance! [In reply to] Can't Post

I am really hoping that it happens in the series and I'm really looking forward to it!

So...if they're doing the LA, then...could we maybe see Lee Pace approached to reprise his Thranduil role? Because Thranduil was confirmed to have been there. I would be curious if this ends up being a possibility, as the actor is (supposedly) young enough to pull it off still.

Of course, that depends on how much he ages between now and those final moments of the SA. I would assume, given logical thought, that it would undoubtedly be in the latter seasons where we see the war.

This is a great find! His music is very epic- I do wonder why they didn't choose it. I hope whoever does get the scoring job makes it sound as awesome as this, if not more so Smile A score can make or break a film, I think, because it has the ability to set the entire tone and mood of each scene it's featured in.

I see definite hints of Shore's score- maybe that's why they rejected this one? Too similar to copyrighted music and it may cause an issue?

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Happy reading everyone!


(This post was edited by Cirashala on Jan 2, 5:08pm)


Althoun
Lorien

Jan 2, 5:32pm

Post #4 of 23 (977 views)
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Copyright.... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I see definite hints of Shore's score- maybe that's why they rejected this one? Too similar to copyrighted music and it may cause an issue?


I think so, the first piece from the "demo" score was perhaps just too similar to Howard Shore's film soundtrack to sound 'original' for a new series that's also a prequel set millennia in this world's past.

Suspect, personally, they'll have wanted something with a bit more of a unique, distinctive sound (although there are long-running franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek that use pretty much the same main theme).

The actual compositions, though, were epic and sounded great in their own right. We can only assume there must have been stiff competition.


(This post was edited by Althoun on Jan 2, 5:33pm)


Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Jan 2, 5:43pm

Post #5 of 23 (974 views)
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Must be [In reply to] Can't Post

but that's a good thing, right? Sounds like we won't have to worry about the scoring for the series at least (no pun intended :)

Yeah, my musical ear (I'm a violinist) caught several moments which were almost spot-on Shore with just a few minor tweaks. The horns in the first one, and some in the Last Alliance sounded very Gondorian as well.

I do wonder how many measures of music one can "get away with" before it becomes an issue? Still, if the composer's goal was to sound similar to Shore, he did it. But if Amazon's goal is to not toe the copyright line in its music, then he failed in his task.

They did sound AMAZING though, and I could definitely see such a score used if Shore was involved. But if they used this one, I think Shore would have grounds to at least be heard in a copyright infringement suit, if not win.

And Amazon does NOT need that headache.

My writing and novels:

My Hobbit Fanfiction

My historical novel print and kindle version

My historical novels ebook version compatible with all ereaders

You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jan 2, 6:57pm

Post #6 of 23 (951 views)
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Well, that's an eye-opener an no mistake! [In reply to] Can't Post

I see three possibilities here.

1. Ralston was just winging it, with no real direction from the production, and producing what he thought would be good, based on his own (apparently extensive) knowledge of Tolkien's work. I don't know enough about how this process works to know how likely this might be.

2. Even if he following direction from the production, the deep connection to Tolkien's work, including fairly obscure parts of the Second Age writings, is not representative of what the series actually will cover. I find that very unlikely.

3. This shows that the show is going to go much deeper into the lore than I at least previously thought possible. I am trying not to get my hopes up that this is the case.

Until I actually listened to the pieces I tended to be skeptical of your and Crishala's copyright concerns, but it sure does sound extremely derivative of Shore's work. I like what I heard of it. but I can certainly see them wanting to go in a different direction. I just hope that the direction that they go is as good as this.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Archestratie
Rivendell


Jan 3, 2:15am

Post #7 of 23 (860 views)
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Yeah [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It sounds like the series team is trying to evoke the feeling of Howard Shore's music without outright imitating his scores. That is probably a good direction to take.


I agree. The music in the vid is very beautiful and enjoyable to listen to.

My Low-Magic Fantasy Novel on eBook/hardback: The Huntsman and the She-Wolf

The Huntsman and the She-Wolf on audio Book.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jan 3, 3:34pm

Post #8 of 23 (754 views)
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How do you know that Ralston was not selected? [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't see any indication in that video that he was rejected (though maybe I missed it). Was there some other source that confirmed that?

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Althoun
Lorien

Jan 3, 3:37pm

Post #9 of 23 (754 views)
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Yes.... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I didn't see any indication in that video that he was rejected (though maybe I missed it). Was there some other source that confirmed that?


If you read the information attached to the video (written beneath it) he explains that he was unsuccessful.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jan 3, 3:39pm

Post #10 of 23 (751 views)
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Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

That is rather obvious, isn't it. Angelic

I hope it was because there was someone that was even better, and just as rooted in the lore.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jan 4, 5:15am

Post #11 of 23 (692 views)
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I had hoped for a broader palette. [In reply to] Can't Post

For one thing, his talk about imitating Shore for fear of offending fans is madness, and the single scariest indication I've heard about the show, because it suggests that they might be taking that kind of stance behind the scenes--spending a billion bucks for the privilege of doing a derivative spinoff of somebody else's twenty-year-old movie. It's cowardice and it's tragic--a recipe for mediocrity even if it succeeds on its own terms.

The music itself sounds kind of generic fantasy to me, alas. Either martial bombast or a sort of wondrous-enchantment sound that hadn't changed much in Hollywood since the 60s. Sounds like the Dark Crystal.

Certainly there will be moments, plenty, for stirring and warlike adventure themes, but people can't sit there being excited for immine t battle at all times. It palls. That was Shore's problem, and the Dark Crystal's too--never letting up on the drama, turning it up to eleven the whole time.

There's a reason LOTR is punctuated by rests and shelters. Moreover there's history in it, and as critically as anything, this poignant theme of loss of legend, golden ages passing away, glories we can only remember and sing of. It's like a heartbeat through the whole book. My first hope for the music was to hear that: antiquity, and sorrow. That's your backdrop. Then, you can jump up and get exciting when things happen--but there has to be that underlying pathos and nostalgia.

tuppence, I guess


squire
Half-elven


Jan 4, 2:21pm

Post #12 of 23 (625 views)
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Excellent points. [In reply to] Can't Post

Your good thoughts on the role of the score in a Tolkien film made me think of how the Jackson films substituted "power of friendship/ love/ buddies" as the major theme of Lord of the Rings, replacing "power of the past/ fate/ death".

If anything, the Second Age with its massive downer of an ending should be even more a candidate for a film or series with an essentially tragic tone and theme.



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2ndBreffest
Lorien


Jan 4, 2:35pm

Post #13 of 23 (620 views)
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yes... [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree. The music wasn't bad, but nothing particularly extraordinary either. The comment about imitating Howard Shore combined with the fact that his studio prominently displays toys from the PJ movies, (presumably for "inspiration") makes it ever more clear that taking a step back from the PJverse and focusing more on the source material is something that really should be considered if they are truly interested in making something other than movie-based fanfic.


Archestratie
Rivendell


Jan 4, 8:25pm

Post #14 of 23 (572 views)
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Uh [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
For one thing, his talk about imitating Shore for fear of offending fans is madness, and the single scariest indication I've heard about the show, because it suggests that they might be taking that kind of stance behind the scenes--spending a billion bucks for the privilege of doing a derivative spinoff of somebody else's twenty-year-old movie. It's cowardice and it's tragic--a recipe for mediocrity even if it succeeds on its own terms.


Steady yourself. They rejected him. If this is how you're going to react to every bit of news, you're going to shave years off your life. I mean, I'll be entertained by your hyperventilating diatribes, but seriously, it's just a show about just a book. And not even a book, the appendices of a book.

My Low-Magic Fantasy Novel on eBook/hardback: The Huntsman and the She-Wolf

The Huntsman and the She-Wolf on audio Book.


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jan 4, 10:46pm

Post #15 of 23 (547 views)
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om [In reply to] Can't Post

I will try and do some deep breathing exercises or something. I had hoped I wouldn't have to react to every bit of news this way, but... I dunno, does a voice crying in the wilderness just wake up in the morning and say "well, time to go cry in the wilderness some more" just out of habit, or what?


fantasywind
Bree

Jan 6, 11:16am

Post #16 of 23 (456 views)
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Ralston music [In reply to] Can't Post

I must say his music is not bad, though I hear people complain that it's too similar to Howard Shore theme? In any case it has some epic feel to it, and in the same time familiar sounds, which I guess is what he was intentionally aiming for, the guy though seems to have considerable knowledge of Tolkien works and the setting, I mean Firiel's song? Straight from the pages of The Lost Road Numenorean chapters, how cool is that, the elvish singing is actually nicely done, old numenorean quasi religious song, a sort of hymn almost (and a theme build around it which he titled Irima ye Numenor, 'Lovely is Numenor' nice work, though I'd say the rhythm of the song could be better, I'm not expert on music but that's just my opinion, it also has that nice chanting effect, sombre note etc.), let's hope that the guy the Amazon team ACTUALLY chose for making music will show such familiarity with source material, blending the music with lore to appropriately feel the world and thematically represent it in musical form. Of course the musical tracks Ralston could have been more..bold and going into new sound and adding more uniqueness but for personal work of this one guy alone in his creative vision it's not as bad as people say, sure some claim it sounds 'generic fantasy' but it's hard to avoid such issue, let's hope that in the end the music for the show will not turn our worse than this :).

I'm getting lately quite pessimistic about this project, all sorts of news that are released or rather rumored do not fill with confidence, while in the same time Amazon remains tight lipped about all this, so it's only speculation at most, plus the inevitable adaptation angle and modern times insanity, or possibility of ranging too far into fan fiction...in any case I'm certain the final effect won't be satisfying enough for hardcore fans. But we'll see. It's nice that Ralston released this music, even fan made music for Tolkien/Lotr content is nice, but one thing that is sure is that we should not immediately assume that because music made by this guy contains references to extended material like HoME with Firiel's song etc. the Amazon has rights for that material, I mean it would be awesome to think they could use all sorts of material from Tolkien writings, but it's his personal project, creative process, his own proposition towards the Amazon team (we know also the rejected one) so it's not indicate of the licensing possibilities of the Amazon towards Tolkien works or actual content they may adapt (it's still too vague to say that Second Age events will be shown, which events will be the narrative focus of the show plot is yet to be seen, Ralston seems to have assumed the story will be heavily about Numenor so possibly Akallabeth adaptation and later Last Alliance events but it's not said that this will ever appear in show).

We as fans know which narratives, or source material could be used to portray events in Second Age effectively and with the most drama filled story, but it doesn't mean that Amazon will go that route.

In general released music is not that bad as some people say, but it could be more. I wonder though if he did not get in, did hey already chose a guy to compose music for the show?


Archestratie
Rivendell


Jan 6, 1:06pm

Post #17 of 23 (441 views)
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Eh, [In reply to] Can't Post

The tight-lipped nature of Amazon's work on this project is actually what fills me with the most confidence. They don't feel the need to get any kind of hype train started. They're confident their work will speak for itself.

My Low-Magic Fantasy Novel on eBook/hardback: The Huntsman and the She-Wolf

The Huntsman and the She-Wolf on audio Book.


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jan 6, 2:49pm

Post #18 of 23 (426 views)
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Agreed, actually [In reply to] Can't Post

Their silence keeps giving me hope.


Althoun
Lorien

Jan 6, 6:35pm

Post #19 of 23 (392 views)
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Or... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
For one thing, his talk about imitating Shore for fear of offending fans is madness, and the single scariest indication I've heard about the show, because it suggests that they might be taking that kind of stance behind the scenes--spending a billion bucks for the privilege of doing a derivative spinoff of somebody else's twenty-year-old movie.


Their rejection of Ralston's demo owed precisely to the fact that they aren't looking to do something derivative and so have opted, instead, for a more innovative score.


(This post was edited by Althoun on Jan 6, 6:36pm)


fantasywind
Bree

Jan 7, 3:46pm

Post #20 of 23 (308 views)
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possibly :) [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Their silence keeps giving me hope.


Maybe you're right, looking say at the creators of witcher show on Netflix, Hissrich and her team were constantly on twitter, all fun and games on social media, trying to build up the hype, plus some clashes with fans etc. Hehe maybe that's why the show as an adaptation of witcher books leaves something to be desired the writers team took too much time on social media than on their job :). But jokes aside maybe it's indeed a good thing, also if the Tolkien Estate is as much involved as it's rumored maybe it won't be as bad as the worst fears make it out to be :).


Archestratie
Rivendell


Jan 8, 1:26am

Post #21 of 23 (272 views)
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Eh, [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
Their silence keeps giving me hope.


Maybe you're right, looking say at the creators of witcher show on Netflix, Hissrich and her team were constantly on twitter, all fun and games on social media, trying to build up the hype, plus some clashes with fans etc. Hehe maybe that's why the show as an adaptation of witcher books leaves something to be desired the writers team took too much time on social media than on their job :). But jokes aside maybe it's indeed a good thing, also if the Tolkien Estate is as much involved as it's rumored maybe it won't be as bad as the worst fears make it out to be :).


I'm sure the purists will throw their hissy fits no matter what, and I - for one - am looking forward to the entertainment their mad diatribes will provide me.

My Low-Magic Fantasy Novel on eBook/hardback: The Huntsman and the She-Wolf

The Huntsman and the She-Wolf on audio Book.


fantasywind
Bree

Jan 8, 3:43pm

Post #22 of 23 (239 views)
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whatever you say [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To

In Reply To
I'm sure the purists will throw their hissy fits no matter what, and I - for one - am looking forward to the entertainment their mad diatribes will provide me.


I'm only hoping it won' t turn out similar to Hobbit films ;), in the critique of those movies I more often than not agreed with those disparaged and ridiculed purists. But more seriously criticizing creative choices in itself is not always mere complaining for complaining sake, but something thoughtful. We'll see but with the material that Amazon wishes to build this show around, it can go much, much worse, there's already not enough for proper narrative and so much would have to be build from scratch.


Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Rohan


Jan 18, 8:07pm

Post #23 of 23 (82 views)
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No offence to Ralston, but I'm with Amazon Prime on this one... [In reply to] Can't Post

It's not that his music is bad or anything, but it definitely doesn't feel unique - if you want something that sounds like Howard Shore, just use Howard Shore: I'm not sure we need a vastly inferior copy.
Personally, I found the second track to be the most pleasing, maybe because I felt it was subtly evocative of Shore, without being overly annoying about it - the final track (The Last Alliance?) was quite good for a moment there, before it suddenly transitioned rather awkwardly into the Fellowship theme. I just don't think we need that sort of thing for the show - I want them to establish their own sound and style, with only hints and echoes of Shore's music.

"It is my duty to fight" - Mulan

 
 

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