Aragorn, the Ranger from the North, reads the ground surrounding the Uruks’ pyre—hobbits were recently here! Aragorn traces their paths while the writing builds intently, chords signaling back and forth between the orchestra’s mid and low ranges. He follows the tracks to the edge of the Forest of Fangorn, and the music shivers, releasing two major chords a tritone apart (A and E♭). A new tone enters: the low, grumbling roll of the bass marimba presents the music of the Ents in an early version of its rising and falling line and dispassionate rhythms. But the theme is incomplete, and lacks its characteristic harmonization. Fangorn is a place of mystery, and it’s still unclear if this land will welcome hobbits.
Cowering in Fangorn’s underbrush, Merry and Pippin are discovered by Grishnákh, now hungry, bloodied, and more than a little resentful. The Orc storms towards them while the score bursts into a berserk polyrhythmic conflagration, joining Mordor’s Skip Beat and Isengard’s Five Beat Pattern into a grim alliance. Story-wise, this combination is noteworthy because this is a Mordor Orc; thus the Five Beat Pattern has officially begun to spread throughout all Orc cultures that stand as enemies against Nature. “This was tricky to write,” recalls Shore. “It took a while to achieve the rhythmic elements and the flow.”
The hobbit duo manages to scramble up a tree, but the Orc catches Merry’s legs, plucking him from the branches and slamming him into the dirt below. Once again, the score fumes, twisting the Five Beat Pattern into a jumbled spasm where its signature three-beats-plus-two is subdivided into one-and-a-half plus one-and-a-half plus two.
The score holds its breath, poised on a single C-natural as the Orc lifts his blade preparing it to work it edgewise into Merry’s belly. Without warning, Pippin’s arboreal hiding spot peels open a pair of eyes. The hobbit’s own eyes open wide with shock, and again Shore’s score utilizes two major triads a tritone apart (this time A♭ and D). The Five Beat attempts to dominate the music, but is soon flattened by a roll of timpani, bass drum, low strings and tremolo piano octaves. The wonderment of the tritone chords returns a final time in muted brass as a great bark-skinned creature takes the two hobbits high in his clutches and regards them.
“Tree? I am no tree! I am an Ent.” The moment Treebeard reveals his true nature, the score transforms, its aggressively dangerous edge replaced by a wobbly genial character. This is the fully realized signature music of the Ents. Bass marimba, log drums and strings patter about while solo bassoon circles in low creaks, probing a charmingly ponderous melody.
IN THE MAKING:
Several sections of Shore’s Fangorn composition went unheard in the final film. The piece’s opening 45 seconds, meant to underscore Aragorn’s first moments of hobbit tracking, were replaced with sound effects. The initial strokes of the bass marimba, meant for a wide shot of the tree line, and the second and third iterations of the tritone chords, meant for Treebeard’s Orc-squashing steps, were replaced with music from elsewhere in the film.
Once identified, Treebeard is accompanied only by the Entish bass marimba, log drum and low string figures—the solo bassoon was removed from the film. “Peter tried mixing the bassoon solo in, but there was so much sound in there already, we didn’t use it,” Shore remembers.
Here on CD, all elements on Shore’s composition are returned to their intended places.
© The Annotated Score (The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films)
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