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Frodo and Sam encounter a parade of Orcs moving through the Black Land. The music of Mordor cackles all around them, spewing from the orchestra in a leathery gale. Though the Wraiths are not present, brass plays with their murky harmonies nonetheless, as if to expose the roots of the Nazgûl’s power. The Orcs come upon the disguised Frodo and Sam, but in their brutish ignorance, only whip them, commanding them to fall back into line. The hobbits join the Orcs’ march, rendering a disfigured combination of the Five Beat Pattern and the Threat of Mordor. A melodic line somewhere between Isengard’s theme and the Orcs’ Fourth Age motto sinuates through the pulsing, the orchestra a ropy net of timpani, bass drum, contrabassoon, low strings and brass.

From the other side of the Black Gate, Aragorn’s army continues its march, mankind’s brass striking chords against the growling Five Beat.

The Orcs pause for inspection, their bullish overseer, his face half rotted away by violence and neglect, combing through their ranks. He detects the hobbits! Aleatoric low brass juts in odd, scattered angles as he approaches. Sam saves Frodo in the only way he can—he hits him. Energized by the violence, the surrounding Orcs spread a riot, and again the Five Beat/Threat rants in the orchestra, the near-Isengard theme bellowing its war cry over it. In the midst of the violence, the hobbits steal away, climbing the final ridge before Gorgoroth. The orchestra coughs long, parched phrases, seeking the Journey There but too weary, too light-headed to find it.

While Frodo rests, Sam stares up at Mordor’s starless sky. Evil Times situates itself in the score’s foreground, again, unmoving, unflinching, unfeeling. But the clouds part slightly, and a sole star peeks through. Violins gather a collection of major harmonies into a swath of hope on the plateau.

Over a hushed march the first three pitches of Gondor sound. In the valley, the men can now see the outer border of Sauron’s lair.

Sam offers Frodo his water, but Frodo finishes his reserve and worries there won’t be enough for the return trip. Sam shakes his head, “I don’t think there will be a return journey, Mr. Frodo.” Shore passes the opening pitches of the Shire up and down, reading the line forwards and backwards, sorrowfully echoing the discussion of a roundtrip. But with a swell, Sam helps his friend to his feet.

The subtle trod of military drums returns and the Army of the West organizes itself before Morannon, the Black Gate.

Frodo swats the air before him, hallucinating. Harrowed violins seem to suggest Ring themes, yet keep them hidden from sight. But Sauron’s eye falls upon Frodo, the ensemble recoiling in a sudden sting of thick dissonance. Frodo drops; the great eye sees nothing.

With the snap of a snare drum Aragorn leads the Fellowship to the Gate’s seam.

IN THE MAKING:
The music just before the eye comes to rest on Frodo was dissolved out of the final sound mix.

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

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