page 1: Introduction
"Roads go ever ever on ..."
It's funny how you never know where things will lead you. This project began in the Summer of 1995 when I was reading "The Hobbit" for about the 4th or 5th time. As I read about the Dwarves at Bilbo's house playing their various instruments and singing of wonderfully dark and mysterious things, I began to wonder what it would have sounded like to be there. If Hobbiton of the Shire in Middle-earth were a real place, and I were a mouse in the corner of Bilbo's smial, what would I hear? Immediately I fired up my MIDI studio, set up the instruments described in the story, and began to let my imagination guide me through a set of melodies; and they did seem to evoke the appropriate setting, rough though they were.
"Over rock and under tree ..."
I've had a detour or two since then, but time after time I have come back to this project. It has grown in scope and in importance to me until now I am ready to develop it in earnest. Frankly, it's a bigger job than one person can handle. I'm actively seeking like-minded composers, instrumentalists, and ancient music experts to aid me. That said, what follows is the project from my current view and understanding. Comments and corrections welcome.
Music inspired by Middle-earth literature is not necessarily "Middle-earth music."
There is a great deal of music which was inspired by the Middle-earth literature of J. R. R. Tolkien. It encompasses a wide variety of styles, from folk to jazz to black metal. A long list of such music may be found at The Tolkien Music List.
"By caves where never sun has shone ..."
I was surprised, upon hearing much of the music on that list and doing further web searches for Middle-earth music, that most of what currently seems to be out there would fall into the "black metal" category. I like dark, heavy rock, and have written and recorded lots of it, but it generally doesn't make me feel like a Hobbit, elf, or descendant of Numenorian kings. It might make me feel like an orc or other such Middle-earthly villain but that doesn't seem to me to be in the spirit of Tolkien's work, which is entirely favorable to the side of goodness and light, never of darkness and evil.
One cannot rule out the possibility that dark, heavy rock might be useful as "Middle-earth music"; it could underscore a battle scene, for instance. And music need not be "bright" or "happy" to be truly in the spirit of Tolkien's stories. It is quite possible to make music that sets the dark atmosphere and undertone of sadness which Tolkien's stories often exhibit, without it having snarling guitars, a snare drum back beat, and demon-screaming vocals.
"By streams that never find the sea ..."
Surprising, too, is that there seems to have been very little, if any, music written so far that attempts to express the essence of the mythical world of Middle-earth, much less music that might fit into that world itself. Those are the criteria for what I call "Middle-earth music." That's not to say that it's a bad idea to make Middle-earth inspired music of whatever style one is accustomed to making. But I dream of taking things a bit further.
If you share my dream, I hope that you will join me; please . The following pages detail my dream. They will be expanded and updated frequently, as the concepts develop. The Next and Back dragon buttons at the bottom of each page will let you navigate the main pages of this site sequentially; you may also use the side bar buttons to jump to any main page. You will find links within some pages to "footnote" pages; and you may find the Site Map useful for jumping to any page at any time.
But be careful! Frodo tells us that Bilbo "used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. "It's a dangerous business ... going out of your door ... You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."' A word to the wise ... ;-)
I've composed dozens of tunes for Middle-earth, and mangaged to get a couple of them recorded. Feel free to download the mp3s:
If you enjoy these and would like to see more free Middle-earth music for download here in the future, you can help finance the project!
Donations of all sizes gratefully accepted. It's easy, it's secure, and you can use any form of payment.
Continue to "The Goal" ...
If you don't see a colorful navigation bar on the left side of this page, please go to the first page of Music for Middle-earth.
Written by David J. Finnamore
Orlando, FL, USA
Page last updated October 17, 1999