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With a pitch of the melded Isengard theme, Five Beat Pattern and Mordor’s Skip Beat, a Warg-riding Orc pounces upon Háma, the Rohirrim’s scout. Aragorn rushes back to the caravan to warn them of an impending attack while infuriated French horns wrench forth, spinning the Rohan Fanfare’s opening pitches into a panicked klaxon. Théoden orders the women and children to depart immediately, though the Hardanger sings out Éowyn’s protests. With a roar of the Isengard theme and the Five Beat, a full company of Wargs charges the Horselords. Above, mixed chorus sings “The Call,” in Old English, building to the troops’ first clash.

With the wicked twist of the curdling Cruelty of the Orcs, the battle rages. Though the Rohirrim are winning, this motive, the sharpest and vilest of the Orcs’ collection, illustrates that the creatures are taking their toll. A riderless Warg positions his open maw over Gimli’s head, but with a brassy stab of the Fellowship theme, Aragorn is able to dispatch it at the last moment.

Abruptly, an inverted variant of the Cruelty of the Orcs knocks Aragorn from his horse’s back. The music spins, wrapped in a churning 3/4 meter as Sharku, the Warg riders’ captain, ensnares Aragorn and drags him to the edge of a precipice. Trumpet figures cycle restlessly, rising in pitch as Aragorn nears the cliff. With a dissonant sustain of blistering brass and strings, Aragorn spills over the edge.

Several changes affect this composition in the film. When Legolas watches the full compliment of Warg riders coming over the crest of a hill, a few measures are edited in from Fellowship’s Moria sequence, extending the build a bit further than Shore’s original “Wolves” composition.

Originally, after the Eorlingas ride up to where Legolas launches arrows at the Wargs, “The Wolves of Isengard” returned to the panicked klaxon French horn variation on the Rohan Fanfare, before presenting a deep setting of the Isengard theme over the Five Beat Pattern. In the film a thinner Isengard theme begins earlier, right after Éowyn departs with the women and children, expanding the score by a few seconds.

Finally, the charge of the Riders towards the Wargs was tightened in the final film, so Shore’s setting of “The Call” was shortened and a brass chord was edited in to bring the warring forces together earlier.

Text by J.R.R. Tolkien
Old English Translation by David Salo
First Heard: Disc Two | Track Thirteen
Hwæ ´r cwóm helm? hwæ ´r cwóm byrne? | Where is the helm and the hauberk,
Hwæ ´r cwóm feax flówende? | and the bright hair flowing?
Hwæ ´r cwóm hand on hearpestrenge? | Where is the hand on the harpstring,
Hwæ ´r cwóm scír fyyr scínende? | and the red fire glowing?
Hwæ ´r cwóm lencten and hærfest? | Where is the spring and the harvest
Hwæ ´r cwóm héah corn weaxende? | and the tall corn growing?
Hwá gegaderath wuduréc of wealdholte byrnende? | Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning?
Oththe gesiehth of gársecge thá géar gewendende? | Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?

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

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