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The Fellowship of the Ring has been broken. The Dark Lord Sauron’s influence reaches deeper into Middle-earth, while those who would stand against him suffer. And yet, hidden from view, the One Ring continues its journey towards the fires of Mordor. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers opens with horns and strings delicately ascending, until the London Philharmonic Orchestra comes to rest in familiar territory. Howard Shore’s History of the Ring theme parts the curtains with a cold, bi-tonal setting of the figure that sets the A minor melody over an F minor harmony, and nestles us back into J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

But before the plot can move ahead, it must remind us from where we have come. And so we plummet back into Moria, back to the Fellowship’s darkest hour as, having just crossed the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, they wait breathlessly for Gandalf the Grey to ward off the fiery Balrog. Shore’s score sharpens its corners, returning to the same Dwarf style used for the last appearance of the underground city. Blocks of brass and percussion scuff against one another as the Balrog’s ingress causes the Bridge to crumble and fall. Howard Shore scored this sequence anew for The Two Towers, but select passages from Fellowship’s Moria music are quoted verbatim. “The percussion is similar throughout, and the same phrase plays as Gandalf slips,” the composer recalls. with an orchestral wince, wizard and demon fall, but this time we leave the Fellowship behind and follow them down through the rocky bowels of Moria. Chorus erupts with Philippa Boyens’ text “The Abyss,” while the rising colonnades of the moria theme and the stinging brass pyramids of The Dark Places of the World battle for dominance.

The score churns to a rhythmic frenzy until Gandalf and the Balrog plunge into a vast open cavern. The pair has left the world of the Dwarves, and the score suddenly broadens into great rolling chords for mixed chorus and arpeggiating low strings. Voices in 3/4 time sing out in the Elves’ formal tongue, Quenya, for “The Fight.” one final violent assault of percussion carries the battle into the lake below, shaking Frodo from this disturbing dream.

Text by Philippa Boyens
Adûnaic Translation by David Salo
First Heard: Disc One | Track One
Irkat-lukhud ma | No shaft of light
katabrikihu | Can breach it
Ulfat-atam ma | No breath of air
tanakhi uduhu | Comes from it
bin-nât aznân tarsisi | Only an endless dark rises
Bazar udu agânî-furkhîn | Deep from the beginnings of the world.
Gurd! | Have fear.
Ma nîd sakhu! | Do not look down
Ma satf unkhai! | Nor step too close
Atkât zatagrafizu | The silence will take you
Zatablugi sulluzu | It will swallow you whole

Text by Philippa Boyens
Quenya Translation by David Salo
First Heard: Disc One | Track One
Cuiva Olórin | Awake Olórin
Nárendur | Servant of fire
Tira nottolya | face your foe
Tulta tuolya | Summon forth your strength
An mauya mahtie | For you must fight
Ter oiomornie | Through endless dark
Ter ondicilyar | Through chasms of stone.
Mettanna. | To the end.
Nurunna! | To the death!

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

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