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Weary but driven, Frodo pushes on through the edge of Torech Ungol—Shelob’s Lair. A faint tremor in the music reveals that the giant spider is once again hunting Frodo, eager to make a meal of his flesh. Frodo senses something is wrong, his eyes combing the darkness for any sign of a pursuer. The score attempts vainly to locate Shelob’s eight-note motive, but it refuses to materialize. With a sudden plunge and a convulsion of strings, Frodo is struck. Shelob has hunted him from above. The demonic spirit catches Frodo’s paralyzed body and spins him, encasing him in her web. Shore’s music rattles with a chattering snare drum, what the composer refers to as a “diabolical sewing machine.” Metal chimes clank away, relating Shelob to the industrial militarism of Mordor, her home for centuries.

But a familiar glow catches the spider’s eye. Samwise, carrying Galadriel’s phial and Frodo’s sword, has come back. The Fellowship theme announces his appearance, brassily proclaiming Sam’s heroism. Shelob drops Frodo, launching her massive form at Sam. In the complex knot of Shelob’s musical voice the two fight. With a sustained horn line, Sam thrusts Sting into Shelob’s gullet, wounding her. She is staggered, her limbs flail in pain, and she is left to do naught but slink off back into the darkness, taking her compositional voice with her.

Sam rushes to Frodo and parts the webbing over his face. Frodo, eyes wide and unblinking, lies utterly motionless. Sam weeps while elegiac strings and cor anglias mourn his loss, the Shire theme here stained by the hobbit’s tears. But he hasn’t long to sorrow, for soon Sting glows blue. Orcs are about! Sam realizes now how near they are to Cirith Ungol, and ducks away just before a troop of monstrously gnarled Orcs arrives. The Descending Third motive follows them, extending, here in Sauron’s domain, far past its usual limit.

The first part of this composition, where Shelob hunts and strikes Frodo, was not used at all in the film—silence and sound effects carried the scene. The first part of Sam’s fight with Shelob was not used in the film either, though there music from earlier in the Shelob sequence was reused.

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

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