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Sam enters the chamber to find Frodo standing over the fire. The orchestra spins dizzily, a nauseous mix of harmonies swarming about its many ranges, as overwhelming as the broiling fires themselves. Frodo holds the Ring out over the flaming pits. Here, returned to its fiery womb, the multifaceted Ring is refocused, its history, its seductiveness and its great evil melded into a singular existence. Horribly, uncontrollably, the orchestra’s high strings and winds begin the History/Evil of the Ring hybrid in a canon at the octave, while below low strings and voices sing the Seduction of the Ring. The overlapping motifs and tonalities create a sonic blur, a hallucinatory slice of disjointed time. Frodo turns.

“The Ring is mine.”

The Mount Doom theme howls its two mammoth chords—the same harmonies that drove Gollum’s Pity theme—the same harmonies that now press Frodo’s actions. The Mordor Outline pounds beneath, the timpani’s strokes falling like hammers. The hobbit places the Ring on his finger and disappears. Sauron’s gaze turns instantaneously back towards the Cracks of Doom, the Nazgûl pulling away from the Black Gate and rushing southwards.

From the acrid smog, Gollum emerges, bashing Sam on the head then, using his footprints as a guide, leaping onto the invisible Frodo. The vile creature locates Frodo’s arm, extends it forcibly, and bites his ring finger, his teeth sinking through flesh, through muscle, through bone. Gollum hews the finger from Frodo’s hand and spits the Ring back out. Frodo falls aside, and Gollum holds his precious skyward, beaming.

Mount Doom’s boisterous music halts. A single voice becomes the sole focus of the score. Renée Fleming sings the Ring’s purest celebration. It has stayed its destruction. It has won its existence. It is victorious.

But the music of the Ring is not done yet. Frodo returns to his feet, his snarling face turned towards Gollum. He rushes him… either to destroy the Ring or to reclaim it, even in his own heart, Frodo may not know. Mount Doom’s theme fumes forth again. The two struggle furiously until they both pitch over the edge.

The meta-Ring theme, which combines the History, Evil and Seduction themes into a single contrapuntal device, was not used in the final film.

Text by Philippa Boyens
Sindarin Translation by David Salo
Nu dalav | Beneath the ground
Úrui tuiannen na ruith | Swollen hot with anger
Leithia Orodruin oe ín phan. | Oroduin releases all its ruin.
Ristannen i geven, | Earth rips asunder
Danna eliad morn. | Black rain falls.
Sí, na vethed | Here at the end;
Meth i naid bain | The end of all things.
I wilith úria | The air is aflame,
I ardhon ban lacha! | All the world is on fire!

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

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