Seven years after Peter Jackson's vision of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings captivated imaginations and revolutionized filmmaking there's another reason to discuss the films. This time the discussion centers on Howard Shore's Grammy winning score. The films were brilliant. and part of the reason was certainly the beautiful, epic soundtrack. If we take Howard Shore's musical score of The Lord of the Rings films as a musical interpretation of Tolkien's work (which it is) then Doug Adams book chronicling the story behind the score would be The Silmarillion. Adams wrote the history of the musical creation of the cultures, characters, alliances and tragedies of Middle-earth. Adams had unrestricted access to Shore's work and recording sessions and truly made a "comprehensive" guide to the music.
The work that went into this score is staggering, at least to me. Shore began his work in 1999 and he really delved into the world of Tolkien and made it real. One sentiment repeated in the book is that Shore wanted the music to sound ancient and as if it had just been discovered as opposed to written just for the movie. This is reflected in the music. It is incredibly moving and memorable and, like the book itself, it does indeed feel as if it has just always been, as if it's really part of the history of the world.
Adams begins the book with a review of the themes that are used throughout the films for the different cultures of Middle-earth: Men, Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, and even for Sauron and the Ring itself. He mentions often the instruments used in the composition of each theme, or the singers and choruses used. While reviewing these themes, Adams focuses on the theory behind each one and how it relates to various other themes in the movies. There is a good deal of technical music jargon in this first section, accompanied by excerpts from actual sheet music so not only can you hear the music in your head you can see it play out on paper. Seeing the music, for example the "down-and-back" notation used extensively and the intertwining notes of the themes, greatly helps in understanding Shore's approach to the score.