For literature enthusiasts and film enthusiasts alike, there is one story with which everyone is more or less familiar: The Lord of the Rings. It’s a tale of good versus evil that has withstood the test of time and remains one of the leading fantasy stories in fiction to date. J.R.R. Tolkien uses successful literary devices to bring his characters and story world to life, and Howard Shore utilizes musical techniques to expand on these ideas.
All This Is to Say…
Music acts as a translator of what is said on the page and transfers that feeling to the big screen. Accompanied by visual cues, The Lord of the Rings offers music as a translation for storytelling’s most effective devices.
In order to create an emotional and successfully immersive film, literature and music bond to form a pseudo-fellowship of their own, creating a memorable story that remains impactful in the years since its release. This is the strength of powerful storytelling: it transcends generational and technological rifts.
Months after my research for undergrad, I’m still thinking about how seamlessly the music is incorporated into the film to make the story shine. And if you dig even deeper, there are so many other examples and treats to find!
Howard Shore’s use of leitmotifs throughout The Lord of the Rings trilogy expands on Tolkien’s classic story and acts as a bridge between the meaning Tolkien’s story conveys and how it is represented on-screen. From worldbuilding to foreshadowing to character development, these themes are prominent and important to the films’ core, as they connect ideas and characters to each other to give a sense of satisfaction through immersion. Just as Tolkien’s fiction is a work of art that features a mixture of genres and literary devices, Shore’s score mirrors these decisions by mixing musical styles and thematic transformation.
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Previously: Examples of Diegetic Music