BOOK REVIEW - THE MUSIC OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS FILMS
The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films
Written by Doug Adams
Carpentier and Alfred Music Publishing
416 Pages + bonus CD
At times I despaired this book would ever be published but, having delved into its pages, it is more than evident as to why it took almost ten years to write, for author Doug Adams, who had, even before this book was put together, written many guides and conducted numerous interviews for recordings and publications concerning the LOTR music, has obviously spent countless hours going through the films, identifying all the many themes and motifs and discovering where they appear and how they develop through the course of the trilogy.
With a Foreword by the composer himself, Howard Shore, who also contributes throughout, an Introduction by LOTR screenwriter/producer Fran Walsh, all illustrated with countless original sketches by John Howe and Alan Lee, as well as numerous colour stills from the films, this impressive tome is basically split into three sections, the first being an exploration of the many themes Shore wrote for the films, illustrated with musical examples that, with my lack of musical training go somewhat over my head, though it's nevertheless fascinating to discover how themes I didn't really notice until later in the story often had their roots in the very beginnings of the trilogy. To illustrate just how many there are, this section takes no less than 123 pages.
There is a kind of diary of episodes from the many recording sessions that took place in London, Watford (north of London) and Wellington, New Zealand, which includes insights from those involved, including musicians who played on the scores, which is a rarity.
However, the bulk of the book (some 225 pages) takes the reader on a complete musical tour of the trilogy, the author detailing both the plots and the music that accompanies each scene, so that even if the exploration of the themes in the first section did, like me, go somewhat over your head; if you are as familiar with the films as I guess you are, should you have waited as patiently as I have for this book, you will certainly recognise the themes and their development in the context of the plot. Of course, in an ideal world, should you have the time to pour over the book with the films playing alongside you'll get the maximum benefit but, I recognise only too well that this might not be possible - certainly not in one sitting, anyway. All-in-all, this is the perfect guide to Shore's musical masterpiece.
But before concluding, I should firstly bring to your attention the appendices, which provide mini biographies for the many vocal and instrumental performers featured in the scores, a description of the principal instruments, many of them of course unusual, and which characters and/or scenarios they illustrate; and finally, I should mention the bonus CD that comes with the book, that can be found inside the back cover, and which features all new material,consisting of everything from alternate takes, to pieces originally written for scenes that were subsequently changed, to early demos of themes that will become familiar to us when fully fleshed out. There's plenty to enjoy over the 23 tracks of this 79-minute disc, with many of my favourite themes cropping up in one form or another; and the final two tracks feature a brief conversation between author and composer.
Already widely available in the European Union, The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films will be released in the U.S. and worldwide from October 5th.
I am unfortunately too late to point you in the direction of events that have taken place in the U.K., including a signing and Q&A, and the Return of the King concert at the Royal Albert Hall but, if you reside in the U.S., there's a signing and Q&A with Shore and Adams at Barnes and Noble in New York on October 7th and The Two Towers concert at Radio City Music Hall, in the same city on October 8th-9th.
My thanks to the publishers and to publicist Beth Krakower of CineMedia Promotions for the opportunity of reviewing this groundbreaking publication.