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Here, at Rohan’s darkest hour, the Fellowship of the Ring steps into the kingdom’s gnawed core and finds…a worm. Contrabassoon, tuba, celli and contrabasses wallow in a sepulchral, debauched chromatic line, spewing out the Gríma Wormtongue theme, colored by resonant bass drum strokes and a film of high string clusters. Wormtongue slithers his way around Théoden’s seat, the true commanding force in the throne room.

And yet, even Wormtongue’s words belong to another. As the Fellowship battles their way to the fallen king, the blank rhythmic stride of Wormtongue’s theme gives way to a more telling shape. Rising bolts of brass in Rohan-esque Dorian modes snap to, while each angular phrase is stretched over five beats—an element of Isengard pitted within Rohan. As Gandalf reaches Théoden, we understand: Wormtongue is in league with Isengard, and Saruman has possessed the King. The Five Beat Pattern returns unencumbered as, with a single Quenya word, full chorus reveals that Gandalf the Grey is now Gandalf the White: “Mettanna,” (“To the end.”) The language of the Rohirrim introduced Gandalf to Fangorn Forest, and now the language of the Elves introduces him to the Rohirrim. Chorus continues with “The King,” and Gandalf attempts to rescind Saruman’s influence. Above this, a brass line enunciates the score’s downand-back-up shape twice, first as Isengard’s half-step, then as the Fellowship’s (and Gandalf the White’s) whole-step, in a battle for Théoden’s soul.

TEXTS
THE KING
Text by Philippa Boyens
Old English Translation by David Salo
First Heard: Disc Two | Track Two
Lim-strang wæs geboren | Strong-limbed he was born
Bearn léod-cyninga | The son of kings
Magorinc Mearces. | The warrior of Rohan.
Bunden in byrde | bound by birth
Tó læ ´denne | to lead
Bunden in lufe | bound by love
Tó thegnunge | to serve
Lang beadugear cyythath | long years begin to show
Líc onginneth búgan | the body begins to bend
Swift déadlíc géar | swift mortal years
Stieppath geond willan | outpace the will
Ac éagan gíet lóciath | but eyes still watch
Beorhtre gesihthe; | clear sighted
Heorte gíet béateth. | The heart still beats.

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

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