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Why does everybody seem to think this is so great?
• Posted by: Trond H   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Thursday, December 26, 2002, at 1:06 p.m.
• IP Address:

I have followed the discussion on the music for this film, and also for the FOTR with great interest, and I honestly have to ask: What on earth is all this fuzz about? It is not that good!!!!

Ok, for those of you, who now leap out of your chairs in anger for this comment, let me just say that i have listened thoroughly to both scores (what little is released on cd...) and I also have seen both films a number of times.

Let me explain: Firstly, I am slightly surprised by the themes chosen for this grand epic. As stated in the review, strong thematic relations are needed in this kind of genre, but in my opinion Shore only partially succeeds. The themes are all too often one-dimensional, they are in their own nature insufficient to convey the different elements presented in the story. A couple of examples: the theme for the Ring, it displays a kind of uncertainty, something you can't quite control. But the theme itself doesn't have the power to describe the POWER hidden in the ring. a good theme would allow this kind of transformation, but the ring theme has only one basic setting, so to say. Of course one could argue that it is not the ring itself that is the power, it depends on whoever has it in his possession, but nonetheless.
Likewise, Frodo's theme (or what one may call the Shire-theme) doesn't have the qualities to convey something more than a naive, friendly-sounding enviroment. We never get to feel the battle Frodo is fighting with himself, thematically speaking. Frodo changes during the story, but musically, he is the same boy who jumps onto Gandalfs wagon in the first film. This is in my view a major letdown!
The whole point about strong themes is the possibility to change them, to adjust them to the story, so that they become something else than just musical nametags. A strong theme is just the startingpoint, and this score doesn't even have that.

I'll give an example of something that would make this score instantly worthy of an Oscar (at present time it doesn't, sadly enough...):
If Gandalf the grey had a stronger musical theme, imagine what effect it would have if this theme could "transform" itself into Gandalf the White! From a slightly "grey" but yet prominent theme, to a gloriuos statement of a new, stronger character. This moment is lost with Shores music...
This is in my view another letdown in the music. In lack of good themes, Shore have problems using them properly, they most often appear in their original form... That prevents the music from going to a higher level. It also seems that we are never presented with the themes in full, one are only trusted with fragments. The fellowship-theme looses strength just for this reason, there isn't enough musical material to work with!

Harmonically, the music isn't that challenging as well. The same progressions are used over and over again, to the limit of boredom...

Now there are some things that makes this music good however. Some themes in particular have strength, curiously enough mostly for the bad guys The 5/4 rythmical motife, used both in Isengard and Mordor, works very well, because of its diversity.It is so prominent that you recognize it at once, no matter how disguised it is.
The different soundscapes are also quite good, I like the portrayal of the Ents, and also the Rohan colour, a kind of nordic sound...(by the way, the Hardanger-fiddle used in the theme is originally designed to be played at several strings at once. It also have a set of strings that just resonates from the original sound. The fiddler used on the recording has to have a hell of a technique to be able to play on one string only...)

I could go on about likes (the vocal parts, use of elvish) and dislikes (unimaginative instrumentation in the more standard settings, unaided by exotic instruments) but my main disappointment is that the music only adds colour to the film, it doesn't TELL it...

A good score, but FAAAAAAR from excellent!

PS: Pardon my english, as I am a norwegian, not used to writing english everyday

Trond H

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