Themes of The Hobbit – Chapter 3 – The World of Men, Nature & Old Friends ?>

Themes of The Hobbit – Chapter 3 – The World of Men, Nature & Old Friends

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Welcome to Chapter 3 of our epic guide to the themes of The Hobbit films. Howard Shore wrote well over 50 new themes and motifs to mirror Tolkien’s multifaceted story and characters. Among these are several unused or abandoned concepts that either did not make it to the film at all or were dropped after the first movie but can be heard on the soundtrack album. Also roughly 20+ themes from The Lord of the Rings reappear in the trilogy as required by the story, which during its opening third features many familiar characters and sights as Thorin’s company takes much the same route as Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring will 60 years later. Below the themes have been grouped based on the different cultures since the composer once more formed thematic families around the various races of Middle-earth. In Chapter 1, we discussed all the principal themes created for Dwarves, Bilbo and Wizards of Middle Earth. Chapter 2 covered musical ideas created for Elves of the Woodland Realm, Smaug the Golden, the Necromancer as well as various creatures and monsters that our heroes encounter while journeying towards the Lonely Mountain. In this concluding chapter, we will venture to Lake-town as well as learn more Tolkien’s wondrous world of, often strange and formidable, nature. Finally, we will revisit the musical themes that Howard Shore brought back from The Lord of the Rings in order to form a clever bridge between two trilogies.

 

The World of Men

lake-town

Lake-town

 

Peter Jackson’s original brief for this theme was 17th century smuggler and fishing village on the coast of Cornwall and the composer answered with a robust sea (or rather lake) shanty that characterizes the folk and the life of the town on wooden platforms upon the lake. It is a simple folk tune-like progression with clear jaunty downbeats typical of almost a work song that underscores shots of the city and the folk plying their various trades but also to give an almost sinister pace to the spy network of the Master of Lake-town as the settlement is firmly under his despotic rule.

Shore opens the theme to further developments in The Battle of the Five Armies as the people now deprived of their homes wander the wilderness in search of shelter and transforms it first through rustic orchestrations favouring solo fiddle into forlorn setting for a vulnerable and lost people. But slowly as Bard’s leadership takes hold and he rallies his people to fight against Azog’s host the theme receives a defiantly brassy and heroic guise.

The final variation of the theme however speaks of noble sacrifice, loss and sadness when Shore turns it into a tender emotional choral lament for the dead at the end of the third film when we see the casualties of the war.

First appearance: The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Disc 1, Track 14 ‘Protector of the Common Folk’ 1:45-2:23.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Desolation of Smaug: ‘Thrice Welcome’ 0:00-0:28, 2:06- 2:42; ‘Durin’s Folk (Extended Version)’ 0:28-0:51, 2:44-3:04 (compressed variant).

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘The Ruins of Dale’ 0:00-0:32; ‘The Gathering of the Clouds (Extended Version)’ 1:16-1:36 (A Heroic Setting); ‘Mithril’ 2:17-2:28 (A Heroic Setting); ‘The Darkest Hour’ 4:12-5:34 (A Lament Setting); ‘Ironfoot (Extended Version)’ 4:29-5:01 (A Heroic Setting), 5:02-6:11 (A Lament Setting); ‘Dragon-sickness (Bonus Track)’ 1:25-1:52, 3:24-3:52.

Politicians of Lake-Town (The Master of Lake-town) & Alfrid

 

This sneakily proceeding thematic line treads softly and insidiously much like the plots of the Master and his advisor Alfrid. The Master himself is a cowardly and pompous man who enjoys his despotic rule of the town and Shore has crafted him a theme that reflects these qualities.

The music slinks slyly through a gradually proceeding gloomy and mildly ominous melodic line which seems like a coldly calculating perversion of the jaunty and lively Lake-town music. It is coloured by a touch of finery as it is often accompanied by the stately sound of clavichord, offering a bit of worn elegance to the Master’s scheming and skulduggery.

Alfrid is the Master’s equally sly aide-de-camp, a wiry gaunt fellow who aims to serve the Master and in the process himself. There is no love or loyalty wasted between the two and the servant follows him through sheer opportunism but they are symbiotically linked and as such Shore illustrates this by the close knit relationship between the Master’s theme its ending phrase which becomes Alfrid’s own motif.

This idea is a simple rhythmic 2-chord staccato motto often heard on strings and it works as a musical end cap to the Politicians theme in its lowest readings and alerts listeners of Alfrid’s nasty presence with the sharp higher pitched variations. As long as the Master is alive Alfrid’s own music does not distinguish itself from its environment but in The Battle of the Five Armies the Politicians theme disintegrates (Alfrid can’t turn Bard into a willing new Master to manipulate for his benefit) and all that is musically left is the vicious and simple 2-chord motif for the lackey who only looks after himself (the renditions of this idea did not make it to the soundtrack album of BotFA).

First appearance: The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Disc 1, Track 11 ‘Bard, A Man of Lake-town (Extended Version)’ 2:55-3:18.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Desolation of Smaug: ‘Protector of the Common Folk’ 2:24-2:49, 2:50-3:02 (Alfrid’s motif), 3:05-3:17, 3:18-3:37 (Alfrid’s motif); ‘Thrice Welcome’ 0:29-0:45, 0:46-0:56 (Alfrid’s motif), 0:57-1:13, 1:14-1:19 (Alfrid’s motif).

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘Fire and Water’ 1:23-1:29; ‘Shores of the Long Lake’ 2:56-3:26.

Bard’s Theme

 

Heroic variation from The Battle of the Five Armies:

 

The heroic protagonist of the World of Men in The Desolation of Smaug, Bard, is a complex character with hidden motivations. This descendant of the noble line however has fallen to hard times and is a smuggler and a bargeman and the composer hones initially in on this quality of the character.

Bard’s theme begins moody, mysterious and suspenseful as we the audience or the dwarves or the hobbit do not know his true intentions and thus his melody is at first unassuming and subtle, rhythmically plodding almost in the same shadowy area as the Politicians of Lake-town theme, but slowly through The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies Bard becomes a hero and Shore accordingly reveals the proud burnished quality of the theme when it bravely calls on the brass as the Bowman rushes to protect his family and the people of Lake-town.

First appearance: The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Disc 1, Track 11 ‘Bard, A Man of Lake-town (Extended Version)’ 0:09-0:36, 2:33-2:43.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Desolation of Smaug: ‘Protector of the Common Folk’ 0:00-1:03, 1;20-1;43; ‘Thrice Welcome’ 1:29-2:05; ‘Girion, Lord of Dale (Extended Version)’ 2:44-3:06; ‘Durin’s Folk (Extended Version)’ 1:22-1:51; ‘The Hunters (Extended Version)’ 1:22-3:10.

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘Fire and Water’ 3:23-3:35; ‘Battle for the Mountain’ 4:24-4:40.

Girion, Lord of Dale/Bard’s Heroism (The Black Arrow)

 

Bard in addition to being a bargeman is also the heir of the line Girion, lord of Dale, and carries a haunted past for his ancestor failed to slay the dragon with the legendary Black Arrows that were the only weapon strong enough to pierce the armoured scaly hide of the fire drake.

The theme for Bard’s ancestry is a hybrid of his own thematic material that is combined with clearly dwarven music colours, linking the music with the House of Durin to mark the shared history and fate of the races. As with his own theme the Girion theme begins grim and dark as Bard feels the failure of his ancestor as a burden and a shame but when Lake-town and especially his family are threatened by the dragon, the character finds his burgeoning heroism which transforms Girion theme into a noble guise that embodies the character’s newfound courage and spirit.

In addition to speaking of Bard’s heritage the theme seems to connect with the actual artefact of the legendary Black Arrow, a weapon capable of slaying a dragon. It will ultimately be Bard who kills Smaug with such a bolt and in the process redeems Girion for his failure and the heroic readings of it on The Battle of the Five Armies connect with the dragon-slaying arrow and Bard’s and his son Bain’s efforts to slay the marauding drake.

First appearance: The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Disc 2, Track 2 ‘Girion, Lord of Dale (Extended Version)’ 0:05-0:57.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Desolation of Smaug: ‘The Hunters (Extended Version)’ 0:45-1:09

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘Fire and Water’ 1;52-1:59, 3:08-3:22.

Bard’s Family Theme

 

A tender melody depicting Bard’s family and his love for them, which ultimately leads him to become a hero to defend them and their home. It appears in a brief glimpse in the DoS score when the family is first introduced, but fully develops in The Battle of the Five Armies, when the bargeman truly has to protect his children through devastation and war. There it becomes a broad and sweeping, the melody informing the listeners what truly drives Bard to his heroic acts that finally lead in Smaug’s demise and rebuilding of Dale.

First appearance: The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Disc 2, Track 1 ‘Thrice Welcome’ 2:44-2:53.

Notable appearances in the trilogy

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘Fire and Water’ 3:35-3:54; ‘The Gathering of the Clouds (Extended Version)’ 1:07-1:15; ‘The Battle of the Mountain’ 3:08-3:21, 3:56-4:06.

Bard the Leader

 

After the destruction of Lake-town and demise of greedy Master, people look for a leader and find one in reluctant Bard the Bowman. They now look upon him as a hero and saviour for he was the one who slew the dragon. For Bard’s new found prominence and level headed humble leadership (he is of noble lineage of Girion of Dale after all), Shore penned another more mature and noble variant of Bard’s music reflecting his change of status to a real protector of the common folk. The new theme embraces the upward leaping figures that were once coyly hidden in Bard’s theme and where the old theme was prone to descend after every leap, the new leitmotif bravely climbs ever higher and higher in promise of a brighter future. At the same time the music seems to be tempered by sorrow and suffering and the wisdom gained from it.

First appearance: The Hobbit the Battle of the Five Armies Disc 1, Track 2 ‘Shore of the Long Lake’ 2:06-2:36, 3:38-4:01.

Notable appearances in the trilogy

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘Ironfoot (Extended Version)’ 3:01-4:00; ‘Dragon-sickness (Bonus Track)’ 2:03-2:30.

 

Nature

eagles

The Eagles of the Misty Mountains (The Eagle Rescue)

The Giant Eagles of the Misty Mountains, allies of Nature and Good, have always previously appeared underscored by the Nature’s Reclamation but for Unexpected Journey Shore originally wrote new motif for them. This new theme is heard in AUJ only in the film itself as it was a revision done late to the score and Shore initially composed a very different melody for the eagles for the film, which can be found on the AUJ soundtrack album but which was not used in the sequels. The new re-scored ending contains a haunting chorus and soloist theme which is then reprised in The Battle of the Five Armies as the noble avians arrive to turn the tide of the battle, the soaring but lyrical lines announcing elegantly their timely arrival.

First appearance: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (film only).

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: ‘A Good Omen’ 0:00-0:33 (An alternate new theme replaced by the Nature’s Reclamation in the film), 1:52-2:22 (original versions found on the soundtrack album, not used in the film or in the sequels).

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘To the Death (Extended Version)’ 4:43-5:05.

Beorn

The skinchanger Beorn, who lives in the Vale of Anduin, is the first new character Thorin’s company, Bilbo and Gandalf meet on their rapid escape from Azog’s warg pack as they seek shelter at his house in DoS. Shore takes his cue from the film’s depiction of him and crafts a moody musical portrait of this wild and feral looking man, who is able to take the shape of a gigantic black bear. The main line wanders grimly yet nobly on and rises slowly supported by the two-chord figure, almost like heavy footsteps of a great bear, imparting a sense of danger as Beorn is at the beginning an uncertain ally.

But an ally he is none the less and Beorn’s thematic ideas hide a musical hint, the series of ascending chords that tie him to the forces of Nature of which he is a mighty and fierce representative.

First appearance The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Disc 1, Track 2. ‘Wilderland’ 0:48-1:05,

1:45-2:14 (two-note accompaniment figure and theme), 2:22-3:00, 4:09-4:56.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Desolation of Smaug: ‘The House of Beorn (Extended Version)’ 0:00-1:03, 1:48-2:00, 2:24-2:36, 4:12-4:29.

Mirkwood

 

The greatest forest of the North, the dark, tangled and ancient Mirkwood is a treacherous place, where paths often lead astray and perpetual gloom lives under its thick canopy of leaves. The dark power of Dol Guldur has enfolded the trees into a black insidious sorcery that disorients and confuses the mind and the waters of its streams are dangerous and full of enchantment of sleep and drowsiness.

For this disorienting and gloomy place Howard Shore provides a small wisp of a melody, ominous, and fleeting. The six note idea feels always unfinished, much like the journey through the woods and slowly the motif is fragmented, fades and disappears into the eternal gloom under the branches as the dwarves and the hobbit become hopelessly lost on their way along the elven path.

The forest along with its thematic identification has also a whole textural level of musical identity as the composer depicts the deceptive, hallucinatory magic of Mirkwood with bowed cymbals, skittering orchestral colours, screeching metallic sounds from various sources in the percussion and finally even ghostly choral voices whispering in Sprechtstimme style to complement the nightmarish surroundings. It is music meant to make you woozy and frightened.

First appearance: The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Disc 1, Track 4 ‘The House of Beorn (Extended Version)’ 1:09-1:19.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Desolation of Smaug: ‘Mirkwood (Extended Version)’ 0:11-0:36, 2:47-5:31; ‘Flies and Spiders (Extended Version)’ 0:00-0:30, 2:18-2:27, 4:20-4:25.

 

Recurring Themes from The Lord of the Rings

gollum

Moria/Dwarves

The music of the dwarves first isolated in Moria in The Lord of the Rings, the deep chanting male voices, the rising perfect fifths and the at times harsh and sometimes finely chiselled arching musical structures return in The Hobbit as part of the larger dwarven musical culture, not confined to Khazad-dûm any more. While this musical idea is featured prominently in the flashback sequence of the battle of Azanulbizar at the gates of Moria it now assumes a more active role of a living rather than a past culture, the predominantly male choral music blooming into dramatic and heroic heights during the journey as Shore musically charts the course of the dwarven history and of our heroes. This thematic ideas starts to appear with more frequency throughout the scores to accompany our 13 dwarven protagonists at many turns, Shore often interpolating it cleverly underneath the action and more apparent leitmotifs.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 1 ‘My Dear Frodo’ 3:32-4:08, 4:36-4:57.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: ‘An Ancient Enemy’ 0:00-0:29, 0:51-0:57, 2:03-2:38, 3:02-3:57, ‘Out of the Frying-pan’ 2:42-2:54.

The Desolation of Smaug: ‘The Hunters (Extended Version)’ 6:58-7:52.

The Map of Lonely Mountain (FotR)

The little motif for Gandalf’s peek at Thrór’s map in The Fellowship of the Ring returns in An Unexpected Journey both when Bilbo himself glances at the map in the frame story and when Gandalf sets the whole quest in motion by scratching his mark on the hobbit’s freshly painted door.

The music bears also another secret, the melody faintly hinting at Thorin’s Theme, the music from FotR now revealing a surprising yet entirely fitting new connection to the past.

Heard in The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 2 ‘Old Friends’ 4:18-4:29.

Mithril (FotR)

Shore reprises in The Battle of the Five Armies the beautiful lyrical oboe line for Bilbo’s mithril coat, which Thorin gives to the halfling as a token of friendship and that Bilbo gifted to Frodo in the Fellowship of the Ring. Here the composer gives a singular musical moment a thematic significance and forges yet another connection between The Hobbit movies to The Lord of the Rings.

Heard in The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies Disc 1, Track 7 ‘Mithril’ 0:00-0:14.

The Shire (The Rural Setting)

 

The Shire is much as it has ever been with its peaceful way of life, which the sprightly Rural setting of the Shire theme conjures with vivid accuracy in the music the gait of the unhurried and homely life, the steady heartbeat of the Shire.

First appearance The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 2 ‘Old Friends’ 1:02-1:20, 1:51-2:26.

The Shire (The Pensive Setting)

 

This serene and bucolic setting of the Shire theme also accompanies the opening scenes in the Shire and provides the title card of the first film its warm glow, the deep rooted warmth and gentleness of the idea again providing level headed Hobbit sense to our smallest of heroes on his way in the wide world and even offering comfort to Gandalf in his moments of doubt.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 1 ‘My Dear Frodo’ 0:52-1:11.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: ‘Old Friends (Extended Version)’ 0:00-1:01; ‘Over Hill’ 1:37-2:08; ‘A Very Respectable Hobbit (Exclusive Bonus Track)’ 0:44-0:59.

The Desolation of Smaug: ‘The Quest for Erebor’ 0:50-1:05; ‘The Courage of Hobbits’ 0:09-0:32.

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘The Ruins of Dale’ 1:46-2:14; ‘There and Back Again’ 0:00-0:18, 2:22-2:33, 3:43-4:20.

A Hobbit’s Understanding

The simple wisdom of the Hobbits and the courage that springs from it guides Bilbo even when he is thrust in the middle of events far greater than he is and the wizard Gandalf also teaches him some worthy lessons along the way and so A Hobbit’s Understanding appears again at the most pivotal moments of decision in the story as our small hero shows his mettle, the gentle and honest way of life of the Shire, Hobbit nature and Gandalf’s wise words guiding his actions.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, Disc 1, Track 14 ‘The Hill of Sorcery’ 0:08-0:30.

The Hobbit Two-Step/End Cap

The rhythmic Shire accompaniment figures return in this score and once again follow the life of the Hobbits in the Shire and hurry along Bilbo’s awkward capering when the dwarves invade his abode but the End Cap figure does travel with Bilbo further afield when he goes on his adventure.

First appearance:The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, Disc 1, Track 2 ‘Very Old Friends’ 1:03.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: ‘An Unexpected Party’ 0:17-0:24.

The Desolation of Smaug: ‘Flies and Spiders (Extended Version)’ 4:36-4:52 (End Cap).

The Shire Skip-Beat

This motif illustrating the hobbits at their most boisterous, playful and energetic follows Bilbo’s exploits through the first part of his journey and adds a musical spring into his step especially in the opening scenes in the Shire weaving through Bag Eng as Bilbo tries to wrangle his rowdy dwarven guests. Shore also includes it subtly into DoS when we see the village of Bree in the prologue much the same way the four hobbits did in The Lord of the Rings and they were too greeted by this musical figure, the composer drawing another knowing connection between the trilogies.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 2 ‘Old Friends’ 1:33-1:41, 4:04-4:13.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: ‘Over Hill’ 3:05-3:16 (accompaniment string figures).

The Desolation of Smaug: ‘The Quest for Erebor’ 1:04-1:16.

Rivendell

 

Imladris the refuge of the Elves, the Last Homely House West of the Sea, is still unchanged at the time of The Hobbit and Shore brings back the glowing, majestic and nearly jubilant tones of the Rivendell Theme, this time perhaps even more sumptuous than before, female choir, tolling bells and harp glissandi expressing wonder and beauty, while the Elven arpeggios rise and fall in a calming and reassuring fashion as Elrond welcomes the company to the refuge of Rivendell. While absent in the second film it returns with Elrond to rescue Gandalf from Dol Guldur in the third movie.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, Disc 2, Track 1 ‘The Hidden Valley’ 1:00-3:15.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: ‘The White Council (Extended Version)’ 0:00-0:36, 0:52-1:30.

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘Guardians of the Three (Extended Version)’ 3:27-3:38.

Lothlórien

 

Galadriel, the Lady of Lorien, takes part in the White Council’s meeting and she is introduced by the more exotic of the Elven themes from the Lord of the Rings. The mystical glow of the Middle Eastern maqam hijaz scale suggesting the theme seemingly radiates from her persona, the ethereal presence of Galadriel earning a choral incantation of the material complemented by the specialty instruments and orchestrations emblematic of her realm and culture. When Galadriel appears to save Gandalf from Sauron in the Battle of the Five Armies this ethereal music follows her to battle.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 15 ‘Warg-Scouts’ 2:28-2:41.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: ‘The White Council (Extended Version)’ 3:49-4:26; ‘Over Hill’ 0:46-1:04.

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘The Guardians of the Three (Extended Version)’ 0:29-0:41, 1:04-1:43.

An Elven Blessing (FotR)

Howard Shore reprises another small musical moment from the Lord of the Rings and in the process creates a new thematic meaning for this melody by drawing connection between elven characters and their healing powers. As Arwen prayed for Frodo’s survival at the Ford of Bruinen in The Fellowship of the Ring a female chorus echoed her words in a gentle melodic fragment. In The Desolation of Smaug this melody is subtly suggested by the woodwinds when Tauriel the Wood-elven warrior saves the life of Kili the dwarf by using her elven healing craft and magic to draw the dark sorcery from the wound.

Appearance in The Hobbit the Desolation of Smaug Disc 2, Track 9 ‘Kingsfoil’ 1:56-2:25.

Elven Heroism (RotK)

In the Return of the King the greatest action moments of Legolas were accompanied by an energetic and heroic swashbuckling piece which contained animated swirling string lines that denoted the elf’s battle prowess and the turning of the tide, carrying him forward to slay a gigantic Mûmakil.

Now in the second Hobbit film these same figures celebrate the elven heroism when Tauriel and Legolas come to the rescue of the dwarves and Bard’s family while Bolg and his orcs assault Lake-town in their pursuit of Thorin’s company. In RotK these figures supported quick quotes of the Fellowship theme but here they propel bold statements of the Woodland Realm’s and Tauriel’s theme speaking for both of the elven characters.

Heard in The Hobbit the Desolation of Smaug Disc 2, Track 11 ‘The Hunters (Extended Version)’ 4:59-5:15.

Mordor/Evil of the Ring/Sauron

The Evil of the Ring, a motif that also stood for Mordor and Sauron in LotR now stands for the Necromancer and the Dark Lord once he has been revealed in The Desolation of Smaug.

See the entry for the Necromancer (Chapter 2).

The Witch King of Angmar/The Orcs of Mordor

Another subtle foreshadowing musical connection of the first score relates to a Fourth Age theme from The Lord of the Rings, Witch King/the Orcs of Mordor, that ever imperiously rose to crush the World of Men in Return of the King. In The Hobbit Shore hints at the dark revelations to come, when Gandalf tries solve the mystery of the Morgul Blade, and the theme was supposed to appear as a quiet but none the less uncomfortable whisper at the tombs of the long dead servants of Evil and their sorcerer king at High Fells. In the end it went unused in the films but can be heard on the AUJ Special Edition of the soundtrack album.

Heard in The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, Disc 2, Track 17 ‘The Edge of the Wild’ 2:23-2:49.

Sauron Revealed

This wicked, sharp and sinuous figure originated from The Return of the King when Mordor revealed its might and Minas Morgul marched to war. It is reprised with thematic significance when Sauron makes his horrible presence known in DoS. The Lord of the Rings shows his power in all of its terrible glory and the music for the scene takes its cue orchestrationally and thematically from RotK. The motif appears briefly in DoS but Shore continues to further develop its meaning in The Battle of the Five Armies as the White Council confronts the enemy revealed to be Sauron.

First appearance The Hobbit the Desolation of Smaug Disc 2, Track 5 ‘A Spell of Concealment (Extended Version)’ 2:24-2:35, 3:02-3:08.

Notable appearances in the trilogy

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘The Guardians of the Three (Extended Version)’ 0:00-0:11, 2:14-2:34.

The Threat of Mordor

As the truth of the Necromancer is slowly exposed, so are the origins of his music and Shore starts to introduce his old host of Mordorean themes and motifs. This is musical foreshadowing of the first order as the theme appears at High Fells to further impress on Gandalf’s mind that the old Enemy has indeed returned, the motif slithering to the fore in the darkness of the tombs.

First appearance The Hobbit the Desolation of Smaug Disc 1, Track 12 ‘The High Fells (Extended Version)’ 2:01-3:03.

The Mordor Descending Thirds

This accompaniment figure is the origin of the Dol Guldur Descending Thirds and in that way represents the revealed threat of Sauron and appears a few times to denote his true persona in the Hobbit films.

First appearance The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, Disc 2, Track 4 ‘The White Council (Extended Version)’ 0:36-0:48.

Notable appearances in the trilogy

The Desolation of Smaug: ‘A Spell of Concealment (Extended Version)’ 2:36-3:02 (accompanying underneath the Sauron/Necromancer theme).

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘The Guardians of the Three (Extended Version)’ 2:35-2:56 (accompanying underneath the Sauron/Necromancer theme); ‘Thrain (Bonus Track from The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition)’ 2:33-2:58.

Gandalf’s Fireworks

A recurring motif for Gandalf’s fireworks appears in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to draw a connection to The Fellowship of the Ring and providing another ancillary musical phrase related to Gandalf as he first meets Bilbo, the excited leaping motif rekindling memories of this wandering conjurer in the mind of our protagonist, who when he was just a small lad admired the wizard’s splendid skill at creating the most marvellous rockets.

First appearance: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 2, ‘Old Friends’ 3:42-3:55

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: ‘Old Friends’ 2:07-2:29 (regular soundtrack album – this additional passage not found on the Special Edition soundtrack)

Saruman the White (Isengard)

 

Saruman the White is once again represented by the ominous Isengard theme, whose appearance is tempered only by its brevity in the film, Shore offering us a savvy musical reminder but also observing thematic continuity.

Heard in The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, Disc 2, Track 4 ‘The White Council (Extended Version)’ 4:39-4:46.

Nature’s Reclamation

 

The proud and lyrical Nature’s Reclamation appears with majestic purity as the Eagles arrive at Gandalf’s behest to safe the dwarves from the hands of Azog and as they carry our band of adventurers away, the choral and orchestral forces celebrating as much the last minute rescue as they do the vanquishing of the evil Orcs that have pursued Thorin’s company. Shore’s theme for Nature is unchanged in The Hobbit, carried by pure choral sound that ascends gracefully to lofty heights, the power of the natural world as timeless as the Elves. The theme makes a brief appearance on the soundtrack album on the track ‘Out of the Frying-pan’ and originally Shore wrote a very different choral setting for the rescue sequence using entirely different thematic material but in the end the film makers ended up using a full fledged version of Nature’s Reclamation for the scene which can be heard only in the movie itself.

Finally the theme makes a triumphant return when the Eagles arrive to turn the tide of the Battle of Five Armies and destroy the forces of Mount Gundabad.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, Disc 2, ‘Track 10 Out of the Frying-Pan’ 1:58-2:07.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘To the Death (Extended Version)’ 4:23-4:43.

Pity of Gollum

 

This melancholy and altogether sad melody accompanies Gollum’s Smeagol side, the wretched creature’s almost childish fancy for riddles often underscored by slinking variation or hints at the harmonies of the this theme. This pleading, winding melody also awakens Bilbo’s gentler nature as he sees the ruined creature’s sad and lonely plight when it has lost the Ring and decides to spare its life. It is also the music that constantly shifts between the History of the Ring theme as Gollum’s slavish need for it and the actual object go hand-in-hand in all their scenes together.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, Disc 2, Track 8 ‘Riddles in the Dark’ 1:20-1:41, 3:26-4:17, 4:23-4:50.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: ‘Brass Buttons’ 4:25-5:48, 6:29-6:52 (Gollum’s Pity and History of the Ring hybrid).

Gollum’s Menace

 

Gollum’s evil and animalistic side once again creeps in with the help of a jittery cimbalom, the theme’s instrument of choice, but now it also subtly climbs into the string section, the slowly more violent readings suggesting deadly and murderous danger to Bilbo’s life as the schizophrenic creature plots to make Bilbo his next meal.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 2, Track 9 ‘Riddles in the Dark’ 1:44-2:08.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: ‘Brass Buttons’ 0:21-0:40.

The History of the Ring

 

What originally was inarguably the central theme of the Lord of the Rings, appears now in the Hobbit as a musical harbinger, flitting in an out of the score in quick variations, the composer often hinting at its opening pitches but veering to other directions, teasing the listener, the theme here a musical equivalent of a wink at the viewer/listener, its appearances always full of meaning. As the Ring finds a new bearer the theme is there to chart its progress, another new chapter in its long woeful history but interestingly Shore refrains from presenting the motif in its most traditional static guise heard so often in Lord of the Rings, the slightly askew versions heard on the soundtrack album suggesting perhaps the Ring’s active purpose to abandon its former bearer and get back to its true master and suggesting that for the moment its history is in flux in the Hobbit.

This is the primary theme that is used for the Ring throughout AUJ and its sequels whenever the magical Ring is somehow referenced and none of the other themes that are associated with the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings are used directly to refer to the artefact. The influence of the baleful treasure is subtle and its hold only growing on Bilbo and thus its passage through the story earns only the theme that has carried it from one hand to the other and from one time period to the next.

First appearance The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, Disc 2, Track 8 ‘Riddles in the Dark’ 0:14-0:29, 0:45-1:01, 2:34-2:46.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: ‘Brass Buttons’ 0:42-1:17 (History of the Ring/Pity of Gollum hybrid), 6:29-6:52 (Pity of Gollum/History of the Ring hybrid).

The Desolation of Smaug: ‘A Necromancer (Bonus Track)’ 0:42-0:51 (reference to first notes); ‘Flies and Spiders (Extended Version)’ 6:43-7:10; ‘Feast of Starlight’ 2:20-2:27.

The Battle of the Five Armies: ‘The Return Journey’ 3:06-3:26; ‘There and Back Again’ 2:58-3:39.

Evil Times

This little theme answered in The Lord of the Rings to suffering and toil the Ring caused in Middle-earth to those who tried to destroy it and was woven throughout the scores into the fabric of the music. A similar musical figure seems to emerge in The Battle of the Five Armies to denote the most tragic events taking place in the story, always presaging loss and death.

Heard in The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies Disc 2, Track 4 ‘Ravenhill’ 0:07-0:41; ‘Courage and Wisdom’ 0:00-0:52.

The Fellowship of the Ring

 

The Fellowship theme makes a brief cameo at the end of the Battle of the Five Armies when the elvenking Thranduil makes a quick reference to Aragorn and thus to the beginnings of the Fellowship of the Ring

Heard in The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies Disc 2, Track 6 ‘Courage and Wisdom’ 3:39-3:48.

 

Odds and Ends

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Gandalf’s Farewells

The final film version of the prologue of An Unexpected Journey contains several smaller musical adjustments compared to the original version heard on the soundtrack albums (My Dear Frodo) that deviate from the composer’s original intentions. One of these is the use Gandalf’s Farewells from The Lord of the Rings for the opening scenes of old Bilbo at Bag End. This theme was originally linked to the wizard and his death and subsequent moments where he bids goodbyes to his friends but among these modifications made very late in the post production to AUJ, this is yet another thematically strange even if emotionally resonate choice from the director Peter Jackson.

The Ringwraiths Theme

The final film version of the Out of the Frying-Pan sequence in An Unexpected Journey used the Ringwraiths Theme to underscore the duel between Thorin and Azog but with the noted difference of Khuzdul (dwarven) lyrics to address the situation, but still telling in no uncertain terms, who was the true evil behind Azog or where his powers originated. It also spelled out the outcome of the combat even before it happened, so strongly the music for the Nazgûl was emphasized in the scene. This version can be heard only in the film.

Shore’s original version on the AUJ soundtrack album is vastly different, employing clear dwarvish point of view by presenting material derived from Thorin’s music but transported to full chorus and orchestra into a victorious Khuzdul chant, that could be seen as some deftly handled dramatic misdirection. Shore rather illustrates through his music Thorin’s rash actions and pride and rage that drives him to a heedless headlong charge against a superior enemy, which all of a sudden turns from triumph to defeat and darkness, thus making it more of a surprise for the audience.

Gondor Reborn

A puzzling addition to the final scene in An Unexpected Journey is the inclusion of the Gondor Reborn theme for the moment when Bilbo and Thorin embrace as the dwarven prince finally accepts Bilbo fully to their group. Not only is it thematically strange since it has no bearing on neither the hobbits or dwarves or the story at hand, it doesn’t even belong to this part of the musical Middle-earth in the sense it represents the future of the world and more specifically Gondor, the world of Men after the Ring has been destroyed. This section was apparently revised at the director’s behest at a very late stage and the curious thematic choice speaks purely for the emotional element of the scene without any contextual or subtextual connection to the narrative or Shore’s intended thematic architecture.

 

-Mikko Ojala

The Hobbit soundtrack albums are available from Decca Records (Europe) and Watertower Music (United States).

This article is meant for educational purposes only – no copyright infringement is intended

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