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Aragon and Éowyn have their first real conversation in Edoras’ stables, and though the Sheildmaiden is not yet won over by the Ranger from the North, she is, at the very least, intrigued. Cor anglais and flute with strings stir into a near romantic melody as Éowyn speaks to Aragorn.

But the line is shackled by the aberrantly bubbling tones of Isengard’s music and a muted brass variation of the Evil Times motive as a horse and rider approach Orthanc. With a low roll of the tam-tam the rider is revealed to be none other than Gríma, son of Galmod—the Wormtongue. The orchestra’s substratum lurches to reluctant life, contrabassoon, tuba, celli and basses again shuffling out Gríma’s lifeless motif. He informs Saruman that Théoden is now in league with the Fellowship, and describes a man wearing a ring with two entwined serpents.

The score pauses, dropping pairs of low C-naturals about the silence—figures that, in shape, recall the Ringwraiths’ theme, and remind Saruman of the power his victory would bring. Saruman now knows that Gandalf seeks to return the King of Gondor to the throne, but he is little concerned. His is still the seat of power, and the Rohirrim will soon feel his might.

Mounting clusters of Rohan-esque harmonies illustrate the urgency of the threat as the populace of Edoras prepares to abandon the city. King Théoden promises Gamling that, “This is not a defeat,” but the score suggests otherwise. Flute and violins knit the Evil Times motive back into the musical fabric.

Before departing, Éowyn practices her combat skills. She claims that, more than anything, she fears her own uselessness. Shore’s score tells the rest of the tale. The Éowyn and Théoden theme plays in the rich low register of the violin section, then cor—she wants to fight alongside her uncle and his men and prove her valor in battle. But that battle will have to wait. The fully realized Rohan Fanfare plays out for the second time in the score, but without the clear brass that previously intoned it. As the King casts a ragged glance back towards his home, only the Hardanger’s brittle, rugged strings present the theme.

Still conferring, Gríma guesses at the Rohirrim’s next move while Saruman lends but a fraction of his heavy-lidded attention. High strings perform a third iteration of Evil Times, but here the final descending whole-step is shortened to a half-step, moving the motive’s contours closer to the chromatic music of Mordor. Théoden’s people are playing right into Saruman’s hands, and yet the Wizard remains hazily disinterested. Disinterested, that is, until, in a disgusting snag of flutes, densely grouped high strings and gruff flicks of contrabassoon, two of Wormtongue’s words peak Saruman’s brow: women and children. The Rohirrim are vulnerable.

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

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