I released this, my 5th album, last week. It’s been a very long time coming. I actually began working on some of the pieces on this album way back in about 1989, (always a Tolkien nut!) Then, when I heard that Peter Jackson was making the Lord of the Rings films, I enlarged the pieces and orchestrated them. I recorded that first version on my Korg N364 keyboard, and sent it (possibly on a cassette!) to Wingnut Studios in New Zealand, because, I thought, nothing ventured, nothing gained. They actually had the good grace to write back thanking me for my little offering. But of course I didn’t really have a hope of getting the job, and I’m very glad that Howard Shore was given the job of creating what surely must be his life’s masterpiece.
But I’ve often thought about those little pieces I composed, and have always had a special place in my heart for them. So during the lockdowns, I slowly worked on refining them, re-orchestrating them where necessary, and wrote a number of new pieces. So what you will hear on this album is the culmination of 33 years work. Which isn’t to say that it’s taken 33 years of composing to come up with this (I do actually work quite fast once inspiration strikes) – but that it started as a seed of an idea all those years ago, and in recent months I have been able to bring the whole work to flower.
Briefly here is a description of each piece and the ideas which went into them.
- Middle Earth – this starts with the forging of the Ring of Power – the Ring theme is heard sung by a wordless female voice. After a musical clearing of the mists, we launch into the Theme that forms the Middle Earthy motif, representing the quest to return the ring to Mount Doom in Mordor
- Hobbiton – the mood lightens considerably, as we hear two complimentary themes for the hobbits – one with a heroic undertone, and the other with an almost comedic feel.
- The Story of the Ring – This describes the scene in which Gandalf relates the story of the ring to Frodo, and casts it into the fire to see if it is indeed the one ring. In this we hear the ring theme predominantly, but we also hear the first inkling of what will become Frodo’s theme, the Ringbearer.
- Leaving Home – an elegiac theme as the Hobbits leave home and hearth behind and face the unknown. Hidden in this are quotations of the ring theme (this is after all the reason for the need to leave home) as well as the Middle Earth quest motif.
- Tom Bombadil – Tom always struck me as being a rather silly character, but he wields great power over the elements of nature, and I wanted to capture these two ideas in his theme.
- Flight to the Ford – one of my favourite parts of the book, this represents the perilous pursuit of Frodo by the Black Riders towards Rivendell, until they are lost in the river.
- Rivendell – one of the more recent additions, this stately yet whimsical theme describes the elves in all their majesty and otherness.
- Caradhras – this is a massive statement of the quest motif, evoking the dangerous journey of the Fellowship of the Ring over the mountain, before they are forced to take an alternative route, through Moria.
- Moria – the halls and mines of the dwarves, full of grandeur and dark secrets, which the Fellowship awaken as they pass through.
- Lothlorien – one of the earliest pieces that was written, this evokes the beautiful and mysterious elven kingdom of Galadriel, the lady of the mirror.
- Gollum – I always felt sorry for Gollum. He so wanted to be good at times! But in the end, the lure of the ring is just too great. I wanted to create a quite pathetic sound for him, tinged with danger.
- Ride of the Rohirrim – This was fun! I wanted to create a sense of the landscape of Rohan, with it’s rolling grassy hills and plains and rocky outcrops. At the same time, I wanted to suggest the muster of a great army, ready to ride to Gondor’s aid.
- Ent March – No lord of the Rings music would be complete without an Ent March! The use of low woodwind at the start represents their treelike quality.
- Minas Tirith – another of the earliest pieces, this is a stately theme dominated by brass.
- March of Gondor – this is a set of variations, all creating a layered militaristic mood, conveying the armies of men as they group on the Pelennor fields.
- Isildur’s Heir – a theme for Aragorn, son of Arathorn, the rightful king of Gondor.
- Shelob – a series of uncomfortable harmonic and timbral ideas to represent the enormous spider who stands guard on the Stairs of Cirith Ungol.
- The Ringbearer – Frodo’s theme
- Where the Shadows Lie – the quest motif makes a reappearance as Sam and Frodo make their way into the terrifying land of Mordor.
- Shadowfax – the majestic white stallion whom Gandalf adopts. Again, this was one of the earliest pieces written, but I use it here to bring things to a triumphant close.
So I include here a link to the album on Spotify, as well as Soundcloud, and lower down you will find links to the album also on Amazon Music and youtube.
I hope you enjoy listening to my musical interpretation of “Lord of the Rings”