page 3: The Reason

Why develop Middle-earth Music?

  1. The stories call for it. They are replete with references to music, to the point that it would be difficult to imagine even a work specifically about a musician being more so! Elves, of course, are known for their singing, but practically everyone sings in LOTR, from Gandalf and Aragorn right down to the orcs and barrow wights (probably the only reference to barrow wight music in all of literature :-) The Ents, Bombadil and Goldberry, men of every country and rank, dwarves, and even old Smeagol, all sing at some point. Hobbits, it would seem, can hardly do anything without singing somewhere in the course of it.

  2. Tolkien's work deserves it. His stories were not written merely for amusement. They were born out of his linguistic studies. His occupation, at least in part, was professor of the history of English. But even as a youngster he was fascinated with language, and began inventing and developing what eventually became the languages of Middle-earth. In his customary remarkable insightfulness, he recognized that languages, even fantastical ones, are meaningless in a vacuum; they are bound inextricably with living cultures. Thus, he was compelled to invent a world in which his invented languages could flourish.

    And in the process, wittingly or not, he invented a world in which not only stories, characters, and languages could flourish, but any of the other arts, as well. Much painting and poetry fitting Tolkien's patterns has been produced; unfortunately, Middle-earth inspired music has continued, by-and-large and as far as I know, to wander in the realm of modern styles, styles which have nothing to do with and are not fitting for Middle-earth in any direct way. I'd like to see that situation remedied.

    Tolkien created a world of unparalleled detail, and worked fastidiously to make those details as consistent as possible. Having written about both Gondolin and the Shire early on, he felt compelled to explain the connection between them, eventually building all the way back to the mythology of the creation of the world. A complete mythology, no doubt the first in Western history to be intentionally fabricated as fantasy, followed over the course of the rest of his life.

    Such monumental, focused, ingenious, rigorous work deserves the same kind of approach to music composition, and the same level of care. He cared a great deal about the details of his world, and I dare not sloppily ignore them if I am to claim to have written music to fit it. I must not be "hasty," as Treebeard would say. I must get to know Tolkien's world; I must "live" there for a while before I dare to compose what purports truly to be Middle-earth music. I must be a diligent student of Middle-earth lore.

  3. His faithful readers deserve it. Have you ever wished that Middle-earth were real, that you could actually go there and continue the stories? I, for one, feel drawn to visit Middle-earth far more often than I have time to sit down and read about it. But if I had music that could set a Middle-earth atmosphere, conjure up images in my mind of singing elves, dancing hobbits, mining dwarves, mysterious wizards, mighty kings, brave warriors, sly dragons, hideous orcs, star lit glades, creepy forests, ominous mountains, legendary horses and horsemen, cold barrow wights, magical swords--the list is virtually endless--, then perhaps I could go there nearly as well as if I were reading Tolkien's own words. And perhaps others could, too. And, of course, it would be great to play while reading.





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Written by David J. Finnamore
Orlando, FL, USA

Page last updated January 4, 2000