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Featuring The Road Goes Ever On performed by Ian McKellen. Music composed by Fran Walsh, Lyrics by J.R.R. Tolkien.

While Frodo reads beneath a shady tree, the whistle makes its first appearance, revealing the hobbits’ serene internal life—a quality upon which Middle-earth will soon rely. “The whistle seemed right. It had a nice peaceful sound to it, simple and not too orchestral.”

Gandalf’s cart pulls up the road as the grey Wizard gently sings to himself. Though Shore provides orchestral support with a few glowing string chords, the melody comes from Fran Walsh, and the lyric (see The Road Goes Ever On), from J.R.R. Tolkien. As Gandalf and Frodo struggle to suppress their smiles, Shore’s jocund Hobbit Outline figure begins. “Here Frodo is giving a little history,” says the composer, “so I just paced it with the pizzicato Outline Figure.”

Back in Bag End, Bilbo, in a moment of paranoid tension, believes he’s lost his beloved magic ring. Shore drums obsessively through building phrases of the Hobbit Skip Beat figure, but the trinket is found, and all is well in the Shire. The Outline and Two-Step figures bumptiously usher Frodo and Gandalf about town until the two reflect upon the Wizard’s return. “He’s looking at Frodo leaving and getting dreamy about it all, so you hear this bucolic setting—a slower version of the Shire,” says Shore.

The Hobbit/Shire theme’s Rural Setting is most closely connected to these signature hobbit instruments. But
as the hobbits depart the Shire and adventure their way through Middle-earth, these Celtic sounds continually make their way into the edges of the orchestra as a reminder of what the Shire folk have left behind.

Listening Example: Disc One | Track Three | 0:00
The Irish whistle (also known as the penny whistle, vertical flute, flagolet, stáin or feadóg) may be the oldest instrument in Celtic music. Originally carved from bone, today’s whistles are generally made of wood or metal.

Listening Example: Disc One | Track Three | 1:11
The musette is a small, diatonic, accordion-like instrument consisting of a keyboard affixed to bellows. Howard Shore wrote a handful of musette lines to provide harmonic accompaniment to the Shire theme’s Rural Setting.

Listening Example: Disc One | Track Three | 2:58
Guitar plays the same role in the Shire music as the mandolin, but it enters in more sprightly passages, using a highstring tuning. The high strings of a 12-string set are strung on a 6-string guitar resulting in a bright sound.

Lyrics by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.

© The Annotated Score (The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films)

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