Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

I suppose I might as well make January the month for all things Tolkien and Howard Shore. For the record, this is one of my older reviews and reflects the original soundtrack that was first available and not the complete recordings as my image above showcases (it's just that this particular image is so darn pretty! Also I didn't know that existed until putting up this particular post).

When I see all the work that has been put into these productions (movie and music) I just have to admire them. I won't lie – years ago for the first few weeks every time I listened to this particular soundtrack I cried – I don’t know why – perhaps it was just that good, perhaps it was because I thought of the book (which also made me cry at the end, and I had never once cried from a book before), or maybe I was just moved to tears through this fantastic work of art and thinking of poor Frodo and all that he went through, fictional character or not.

As a writer, it is one of my highest ambitions to someday have a work of mine turned into a movie, and when that happens, I want music like this to accompany it. Because of all the differences and effort put into this score, I will go through each track and give you a little bit of an idea of what to expect from each. If you still for some bizarre reason haven’t seen the movie, beware, this might hold some plot spoilers.

1.) “The Prophecy” – Slow chorus and strings start off our CD (and movie) to a somewhat sad sounding beginning, but then if you know what this story entails, you can understand. If not, it still sounds intriguing. This track is all for luring in listeners and watchers to the story that is The Lord of the Rings.

2.) “Concerning Hobbits” – One of my favorites on here (though I have many) because it is one of the most light hearted songs you will hear for quite some time and it’s nice to go back to once and a while. Flutes and violins are the main focus in this song, a happy, simple, Hobbit-like atmosphere forming around you as you listen. You can almost see the green fields and Hobbit homes in the lovely ground. The fact that this song is so carefree, it makes the other, more intense and sad songs just that much more powerful when you remember that everything used to be okay...

3.) “The Shadow of the Past” – Our first taste of what dangers lie ahead for those who wish to stop evil. Slow and warning flutes and strings – and then the trumpets and drums of Mordor appear – along with it’s strong vocals. You wonder…will Gandalf find what he needs about the past that seems to have been forgotten?

4.) “The Treason of Isengard” – The Hobbit-like theme, along with the major theme of the movie shows up as Frodo prepares to leave, and then the music rises in trumpets and drums as Gandalf rides. He needs help from Saruman – but finds that bad things have happened. Building into wizard-dueling vocals, the music doesn’t contain much instrument wise, but doesn’t need much to be effective. The very sound makes you think “Oh no…” and then stops and you wonder…what happened?

5.) “The Black Rider” – This doesn’t start off the way it sounds, but instead a rushing, running Hobbit theme full of quick flutes and woodwinds, and then the crash of symbols and a stop as the Hobbits tumble head over heel down to the path. Here is the chorus again, threatening and warning against what lies ahead, trumpets sounding for the Black Rider and singing for Mordor. Tense seconds pass before the threat goes away.

6.) “At the Sign of the Prancing Pony” – Short bits of strings and flutes leading into slower pieces signal possible rest here. But not for long as the drums return, as well as strings rising into the chorus of the Black Riders. The drums beat hard before stopping and the music returns to silence.

7.) “A Knife in the Dark” – The silence does not last long before rising up again. The Black Riders are still here; only this time the chorus begins quietly, slowly growing in strength and speed as the suspense grows…and isn’t over. Beating drums return in what now has become a sort of Mordor-like fashion, threatening and dark. A brief repose occurs with a single singer, until drums and chain-like sounds return in danger, slowing again into nothingness.

8.) “Flight to the Ford” – Another favorite of mine. Quiet, almost heavenly vocals begin this track, signifying the arrival of one of Middle Earth, an elf. Slow and sweet, yet at the same time sad, strings soon give way to more suspenseful sounds of brass. You can sense the rush and need for swiftness as the Black Riders return. Vocals and then the triumphant arrival of help. But then it dips back down into quietness and singing, as hope is almost lost. More vocals here – and I just can’t get enough of them. I think that vocals can give a soundtrack just that much more scope.

9.) “Many Meetings” – Finally more elvish music! Choruses that sound as beautiful and graceful as the structures and crafts elves make. Here the Hobbit/LOTR theme returns in a smooth flute of simplicity and strings of gentle grace, then returning into the choruses briefly before going back again.

10.) “The Council of Elrond” – This song features “Aniron (theme for Aragorn and Arwen)” and it is a most beautiful song indeed. It is sung by Enya in elven and is a lovely piece. It is perfect for two whose love is undying and pure as Aragorn and Arwen’s is. You can even find the exact words and translation in the CD booklet for this song. There is a brief pause afterwards before the music returns, only this time as the true Lord of the Rings theme, soon floating into a happy Hobbit theme and then back once more to wrap the track up.

11.) “The Ring Goes South” – Starts off as just another day (so to speak), simple and yet sad, as now the Hobbits must go farther from home. Soon the music widens into the fully-fledged trumpeted, drumming, string singing version of the movie’s theme. A short, but effective piece.

12.) “A Journey in the Dark” – Now we’re getting to my more favorite pieces. Our Fellowship has entered Moria, a long, dark, dank trip under a mountain. And just like that trip, the music is also, dark, ominous, with deep men’s vocals, and a clarinet echoing the eeriness of this place. However, the music soon grows into a fantastic scope of amazement and wonder of Dwarven works and carving. But wonder soon turns to apprehension and danger with quick strings and pounding drums, signifying the coming of...

13.) “The Bridge of Khazad Dum” – Bursting into life, this is my favorite track. This is adventure brought to life in brass, strings, and those wonderful drums. You have a feeling inside you making you want to get up and go somewhere or do something. The song abruptly stops and dives into threatening vocals before swinging up again, drums beating in the arrival of the Balrog, a demon of the old world. This track shows the perfect tension the movie needs as the Fellowship flees for their lives. However, at the end it will slow to a crying song, for the Fellowship begins to break with a loss. A particularly moving part, and one I love.

14.) “Lothlorien” – Beautiful and melodious Elvish music plays here, a perfect match with the mystic and fantastic realm of Lothlorien. Here also is a lament for the lost member of the Fellowship by Elizabeth Fraser, an echoing song of sadness and respect. If you listen closely, you can hear his name in elven… Not much else can be said – the music so speaks for itself.

15.) “The Great River” – Here are more vocals that sing with the strength and majesty of the same kings of old that guard the river the remaining Fellowship members travel on. They rise in sound and power to a wonderful piece full of amazement and awe at what is seen upon the river.

16.) “Amon Hen” – Starting off slowly and quietly, nothing seems amiss – but you wonder what will happen. Then the music surrounds you once more as battle arrives. To save the Ringbearer is the only goal. Here also we get our first glimpse at the theme the fighting Uruk-hai march to, a dangerous bit of drums and brass. But soft vocals take over in another round of sadness and loss. Hope remains for a bit…and then fails…and falls. This, like the end of “The Bridge of Khazad Dum” is another piece that nearly moves me to tears.

17.) “The Breaking of the Fellowship” – The battle is over and if the last piece did not move you, this one should. This track is one of the most powerful on here for it’s meaning and the way the instruments are used and played if not for mere sound. Sadness will prevail until suddenly the music rises once more to the determination that Hobbits have, their theme returning again with one single flute and the hum of the chorus in the background, a truly beautiful sound. But you know now the Fellowship is broken, though not in spirit. The main theme takes over to show this before leading into strings asking what will happen in the future. Hope is alive as long as friendship remains true. The song ends with a breathtaking solo by Edward Ross, a song everyone is able to understand, named “In Dreams.” (heck, I’m listening to it now and I’m tearing up). It’s sad, and yet shows strength and trust that good will prevail. I love this part.

18.) “May It Be” – This is a beautiful song by Enya and another of my favorites, strongly rivaling “The Bridge of Khazad Dum.” This song is the perfect ending for this movie, it’s sad, and yet has a lightness to it that seems to show the future. If anything, just find a way to listen to this song on it’s own and decide for yourself.

I thought this was a great CD and made for great anytime listening music. If you like anything from instrumental, to soundtracks, to just fabulous composing, take a strong look at this one. Howard Shore really came onto the soundtrack scene strong, and has had a lot to live up to ever since then.


Originally posted on Epinions.com


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I am an author, I sell books for a living, and I love music like there's no tomorrow. I've experienced much of this country, from forested hills of the East, to the golden plains of the Midwest, the sandy beaches of the Southeast, and the oh-so-majestic mountains of the Rockies. And when all else fails, eat chocolate.