Howard Shore blew away composers around the world with his soundtrack for the Lord of the Rings franchise. He wrote the soundtrack for the original trilogy and is also writing for the trilogy of The Hobbit. Before this, he composed the scores of many individual films, but it his work on the first in the Lord of the Rings series that settled him forever in my soundtrack and original score hall of fame. It is the music, not just the filming, that absolutely brings J.R.R. Tolkien's magical world to life. Shore's score is full of mystery, mysticism, excitement, magic, and, most important of all, purely unadulterated adventure. One of my absolute favorite songs of his is "Concerning Hobbits", which plays at the opening of the extended version of The Fellowship of the Ring. This song, which starts in the video above at 1:14, fully shows off and brings to life the lives of the hobbits. It is bouncy, charismatic, and straight-up fun. The song immediately arouses my interest in the series. What this music ultimately does, is it makes me, and many others, happy. It is a purely fun way to start off a series that we all know is full of adventure and mystery. This opening song brings us the proper introduction needed to understand the magical world of Middle-Earth.
In an article titled, Music and Mood, composer Gabriel Yared (Amelia, The Lover) said it best. When discussing how he composes his music, he stated, "When I write music for a film, I try to connect with its spirit rather than working shot by shot". Howard Shore is able to do this flawlessly. While his opening "Concerning Hobbits" shows us the fun and whimsical world of hobbits, he shows us the dangers of Middle-Earth as well. His song "A Journey in the Dark", which plays in the video below at 0:23, plays a key part in the scene. While it is not omnipresent nor loud, it gives a strong sense of mystery, of the unknown. Our heroes travel in the dark and we hear the waves of orchestra and voices banking in the background. When we see how big the mine is, at around 1:40, the music opens up, allowing us to hear how large this area is.
"A Journey in the Dark":
Howard Shore gives us a wonderful example of the importance of music in a film, neigh a world. I say this because, when I watch the Lord of the Rings films (which is quite often), I never feel like I am simply watching a film. I feel like I am in the world, following the action, living the adventure, and breathing the Middle-Earth air. I feel this way because of the beautiful fluidity between the filming, acting, and, of course, the soundtrack. This world is really brought to life, bringing with it messages and warnings. It has changed my life and the lives of many others through its reality. Music can absolutely make or break a movie, and in the case of the Lord of the Rings, Howard Shore breathes air into the world of Middle-Earth.
Howard Shore shows the grand impact that music can have in a movie, or in this case, a series. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is the first in a trilogy that blows away our ears in the best of ways. The soundtrack, beyond the two songs I have shown, truly create a living, breathing world that is full of adventure, danger, and, simply, fun. The soundtrack for The Fellowship of the Ring earns, no, deserves three director's cut for bringing the fictional universe into reality. I would certainly give my axe for this film! (Sorry, I thought I was Gimli for a moment).