The call of the Fellowship’s theme announces their arrival at Edoras and the Golden Hall of Meduseld, where they are greeted by the Hardanger fiddle scraping the opening tones of the Rohan Fanfare over its strings. This fiddle casts a diffusely mild light on Rohan’s landscape, underscoring the kingdom’s beauty and fragility. All is not well in Rohan. The four-member Fellowship proceeds under a heavy shadow of Rohan harmonies, but there is yet a glimmer of hope. As the band nears Meduseld, a rising variant on The White Rider (In the Fellowship) begins—dour, bedecked in the most downtrodden of Rohan’s harmonies, yet directed nonetheless.
But the theme is cut short and unresolved. Inside, Éowyn finds that her cousin, Théodred, has died in the night. Wormtongue parts the shadows in self-serving consolation, pulling uncomfortably close to Éowyn, wrapping her in his poison words. “So fair. So cold. Like a morning of pale spring still clinging to winter’s chill.” Solo oboe lifts up a delicate, crystalline line as Éowyn pauses, caught in Gríma’s gaze. But she rebukes his seduction, and with her act of assertion, earns the first fully formed statement of the Éowyn Sheildmaiden of the Rohirrim theme. Proud horns carry her to Meduseld’s parapet just as the royal banner rips free and flutters to the feet of the arriving Fellowship. Again the Hardanger slowly draws Rohan’s theme forth. Éowyn watches the Fellowship approach the Hall’s main gate, nearly too heartbroken to care about these visitors. Her principle theme returns in a disconsolate variation for horns and cor anglais.
IN THE MAKING:
In the film the Hardanger’s first statement is dissolved, placing the Rohan Fanfare in solo trumpet. On this CD set, the trumpet and Hardanger are coupled.
J.R.R. Tolkien based Rohan’s society on the Northern European lands of the Nordic peoples. These cultures (both Middle- and real earth) were founded upon simple ideals: the relationship between men and the land, men and animals, pride, power, self-reliance. Reflecting these values, Shore set the music of Rohan in the same thickset brass style as the other music for the World of Men, but intermixed with solo strings that stress a rural type of sophistication.
Listening Example: Disc Two | Track One| 0:08
Although the composer was previously aware of many of the rare instruments in The Lord of the Rings’ collection, Shore had never come across the Hardanger fiddle before he began studying Nordic music as a basis for Rohan. “It was part of the research for The Two Towers, looking towards Northern European sounds and thinking about the Viking, Nordic culture.” Often referred to as the national instrument of Norway, the Hardanger fiddle was thought to have been invented in the mid 1600s. The tone is bracing and emphatic, but moderate at the same time. In Norwegian culture the instrument was used to relate history and lore, and it functions much the same in the music of Rohan. “The fiddle creates a nice counterpoint to the wooden flutes and the whistle in the other cultures.” When the Rohan culture is introduced, it is proud but sorrowful—a once great civilization beset by a failing king and unending assaults. Here the Hardanger underlines a brittleness within the culture.
© The Annotated Score (The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films)
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