Composer Howard Shore discusses The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and more


Composer Howard Shore etched himself into cinema history with his exemplary work on THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and that trend continues with his scores for THE HOBBIT. As any film score enthusiast can tell you, Mr. Shore is one of the few composers working today who creates a rich musical tapestry for films that weave in and out of the viewer's subconscious and (oftentimes) conscious. He's undoubtedly one of the greats, and he's also worked with the likes of David Cronenberg (THE FLY, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE), Martin Scorsese (HUGO, GANGS OF NEW YORK) and David Fincher (PANIC ROOM, SEVEN). With THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES being released in one week, Mr. Shore was kind enough to answer some questions via Reddit. You can check out the whole AMA here, but I've included some of the juicier bits below. For those of you unfamiliar with his roots of being Saturday Night Live's musical director for a time, you may surprised at the hand he had in creating The Blues Brothers!

Howard Shore's contribution in creating The Blues Brothers:

Apparently I did? And it came out of what we call "The warmup to the show" and we always played music as the audience was coming in and assembling, getting ready for the show. And during that process, of the warmup, we started inviting Danny Ackroyd up to play a little blues harp, and John wanted to get in on that, so my fond memories are those warmups with the two of them onstage, with the band on the show.

Even before it took off into what we know of it as the Blues Brothers, that was the early part of that - that was the fun part.

Well, this year, we're celebrating the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live. And it went from The Blues Brothers idea - went from the Warmup and playing blues before the show began, to doing a few sketches and things on the show - we did performances actually on the show, a couple of them as I recall, I remember doing one called "King Bee," and then it kind of progressed from there, and John and Danny wanted to do live concerts, and it became a film, and many things happened.

His process for writing THE HOBBIT/LORD OF THE RINGS scores:

It's a step by step process, and you begin with the words, of Tolkien's great stories, his books to work with, and you have Peter Jackson's great imagery, but I always start with the words and ideas inherent in the story. And I start writing themes and motifs trying to create a mirror image of what Tolkien wrote.

Regarding the themes for each location and culture:

And the process that I went through for writing the score was very much a journey, a step-by-step journey. We didn't go in with a complete plan for th work, it was just something that we worked on LOTR - I worked on LOTR for almost four years - and the story GREW in the telling, the piece evolved as you were working on it.

I started in the Mines of Moria, and then I wrote my way out of the mines to Lothlorien, and then I would back up and go back into Rivendell, and so it was this step-by-step accumulative process.

And Doug Adams wrote a book called The Music of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and in the book he describes all the themes and motifs and how they were used in the film, and you might enjoy reading it.

Doug Adams spent almost 9 years creating the book. He had COMPLETE access to my archive. It's much too complicated to go into! There are over 100 themes and leitmotifs in the story that are used musically.

If his dreams include some epic orchestrations:

Yes. When you write music, you actually dream about it. You can see the pages going by in your sleep.


I think it's safe to say that THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT wouldn't be the films they are today without Howard Shore's contribution. The man's development on themes is one of a kind and there's no doubt you could whistle any number of themes from THE LORD OF THE RINGS and a film fan could peg it. Word on the street is that THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES is the best of the three HOBBIT chapters and, if anything, I'm most looking forward to his music that will close out this new trilogy.

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES will bring The Hobbit trilogy to a close on December 17.

Source: Reddit



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