page 5: Middle-earth Music

Music in the second category, Music of Middle-earth, has somewhat less latitude of style, for it must be as true as possible to Tolkien's world itself, and to his own ideas about what music in Middle-earth is like. Thankfully, he did make some comments about the subject. (See Gene Hargrove, "Music in Middle Earth".) In addition, his works are filled nearly to overflowing, as I was surprised to discover, with references to music. A close study of those references will help to provide a fairly clear idea of how to proceed.

With that goal in mind, I have painstakingly catalogued them all in LOTR, "The Hobbit," and "The Silmarillion," and am in the process of extracting them from "The Lost Tales." They will be entered into a database, searchable by race, instrument, purpose, and content. The results of my analyses of that data will be posted to this site as it becomes available. You may when that happens.

Middle-earth is mostly modeled on medieval and Renaissance western Europe with a fantastical, mythical twist. Therefore, it makes sense to use European music from before the 17th century in a similar kind of way as a model for the music of Middle-earth. It should not be quite like real Gothic music, as Middle-earth is not quite like real Gothic Europe. But it should be reminiscent of it, and have the same sort of twist. According to Gene Hargrove, when Donald Swann was setting the lyric "Namarie" to music, Tolkien himself dictated to him a medieval chant-like melody.





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Written by David J. Finnamore
Orlando, FL, USA

Page last updated January 4, 2000