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Amazing TTT Score Review!

December 10, 2002 at 2:00 pm by xoanon  - 

Paul T writes:

The Two Towers soundtrack feels as if someone has taken the Fellowship score, altered it slightly, changed they key here and there, exchanged the choirs for a Russian version, exchanged Enya for a whole host of new voices of similar talent and mixed it with a very European sound and added a very Eastern, if not Arabian undertone. Overall, it is not a linear, or free-flowing as Fellowship, it feels like we are jumping around. There are a lot more themes in this film and we jump from one to the other very quickly. It feels darker, it feels like there is more sorrow but it also feels more like incidental music. There is nothing as grand as the Flight to the Ford, or the Bridge of Khazad-dum and there is not incredible climax like the Ambush on Amon-hen… It does however have a far greater sense of purpose, a far greater sense of action and doom, and a far greater sense of evil. This feels like the middle of the story, there is no beginning to it, and no end to it, it feels like it should keep going. Like the movie, if you have not listened to the first one, then this one won’t feel as good or anywhere near as powerful. Here is my track by track feeling of what I was listening to, I have jotted it down while I listened to it to hopefully convey best how well this soundtrack works. Enjoy!

The first track on the Fellowship soundtrack, in the end, sounded nothing like the score that opened the film. I hope for The Two Towers the first track “Foundations of Stone” is. It is darker, more imposing than the opening to Fellowship (referring to what actually played in the film) and has a sense of “welcome back” to it. It briefly re-caps the music from Fellowships opening and then extends it into a very rhythmic and slow, yet darker version of the Fellowship opening… and then… boom boom boom… A grand action piece! This is very obviously the re-cap of Gandalf’s confrontation with the Balrog on the Bridge and some of the music is note for note, although in a different key. The music fades as it does in Fellowship’s scene and we are left with a solitary base line. This time however it goes smack and you can feel yourself fall into the abyss with Gandalf. From here it is as if the theme from the Bridge of Khazad-dum sequence from the Fellowship soundtrack has been sped-up, layered with another line of dialogue and sung by a patriotic Russian choir. This is a fast paced grandiose opening to the film… and then… silence…

“The Taming of Smeagol” is a far cry from “Concerning Hobbits” and while some of the elements of that track are present this is far darker and far from happy Hobbits playing at home. Very nicely however the music that plays as Frodo reads under the tree is the same music that opens this track. Slowly a small choir appear and beckon us into the new domain the Hobbits have entered, this feels very strongly like Fellowship, until a new sound emerges. Sounding very Arabian this is very obviously the theme for Gollum, and boy does it suit him! It sounds mythic, ancient and very unusual, as if the music is torn between good and evil! Then bang, some more action! The capturing of Smeagol? It lasts only a short time, but it sounds like a scuffle, and it ends very darkly with more of the Gollum theme, the violins creak out and then again silence.

“The Riders of Rohan” to me opens in a very world war 2 epic about a bombimg raid, unusual yes but that is what I saw in my head. It is lively and sounds like it could be the music playing when the Riders meet the Three Hunters, that part then fades and a calmer episode follows. A sense of something appearing, and then a fanfare, but for what? It then fades again and rests into a more gentle rhythm. This is the first of the music that has no relevance to Fellowship and it uniquely its own. It then begins to quicken and we hear the already familiar theme for Rohan, played in many TV spots and specials so far. Then the solo viola, playing the tune, so very European to the ear, then again fading into something darker, more imposing. It then ends on a note of impending doom.

“The Passage of the Marshes” is starting to get darker, violins writhing in agony as very obviously the three pass the haunted marshes. This is an unsettling place, it is shrouded in mystery, but then something is happening. The music is building to a crescendo, there is a very Russian choir singing something in the background that fades into the same tossing and turning of the violins. Then, back to normal. The music becomes very personal, as if this is a scene where people are talking, you must listen, it beckons you to take note. Then again the Gollum theme leaves it mark and wraps up the track very nicely.

“The Uruk-hai” is very obviously a re-hash from Fellowship. It starts with the music form the clip we have already seen on AOL, where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli chase the Uruk-hai over the plains. The Fellowship fanfare bellows out as we see the three run like the wind. Then it slows down, very intimate as if it was a neo-Hobbit theme with a bit of the Fellowship mixed in, Pippin dropping the brooch? Then the Rohan theme, this time is mixes into the theme we heard when we first saw Barad-dur in Fellowship, what can this be for? It builds to a point and then finally it transforms into the Isengard theme, much darker, much more base than before and of course far darker.

“The King of the Golden Hall” opens again with the Fellowship theme, but is quickly disguised by more, very European sounds of the Rohan. This is some of the music from the clip we see of Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas and Gimli riding into Edoras as the flad is torn from its post and falls to rest next to Aragorn as he rides into the city. It continues in a very melodic fashion, as if to formerly introduce the Rohan. Then, danger, the music turns dark and confrontational. Is this the sequence in the hall where the guards attack them and Gandalf confronts Wormtounge? It quickly finishes and the music so familiar in Fellowship returns, the music we heard when Gandalf spoke to Frodo in Bag End. This time it becomes more operatic and free flowing, a choir has been added.

“The Black Gate is Closed” opens on a high, note! We are in a dark place here of great peril. The Barad-dur theme rings out very strongly here and you can feel the scale of what is so obviously being shown. The massive black gates and an army of Easterlings entering them. There is a tension in the air, Sam falling? Frodo to the rescue and his cloak hiding them? There is a sense of urgency and then it ends abruptly. Very quiet again, a series of violins break in with a new sound, I have not heard this before. It quickly starts to sound like doom again, a sense of awe oozes out of the music. It quickly becomes far more passive, and eventually ends on another dark note.

“Evenstar” is like taking a trip into the past, back to Rivendell and the music we heard there. This time there is far more sorrow, the music is not as haunting but it is very mellow and stirs a sense of despair. It continues like this for almost the entire track, very slow and full of emotion. The voice of Isabel Bayrakdarian is beautiful and it accompanies the sound of the score perfectly. It ends again on a dark note, and leaves that sad taste with us.

“The White Rider” opens powerfully, a very Russian sound as if Gandalf is charging across the plains on Shadowfax with a purpose, it feels like a stronger Gandalf then before. It quickly becomes calmer and lends itself to the sound of wonderment. Eventually the Rohan theme glides in and it becomes a massive fanfare that quickly fades to nothing.

“Treebeard” is at first a darker track then I thought it would be, as if the Ents are something to be feared. There is a very stilted sound of a choir amongst some heavy base lines, and then everything reveals itself. The music glides along with this sense of impending something, and then eventually ends on an almost Ewok sounding theme. Not entirely Eowk, but definitely feels ancient and something you would find in a thick wood. I have heard this before I think, but where I cannot tell. None the less is makes me picture Treebeard as a very large, very imposing, yet not so hasty figure in the woods. He is still dark however, are we sure he is friend I ask? A violin enters and the music builds, the darkness becomes louder and then… silence…

“The Leave Taking” feels out of place in the midst of all this. It sounds very heavily like Rivendell, almost the same note for note from Fellowship actually and it is not the same feeling as the rest of the score so far, not even “Evenstar”. Quickly however it becomes Lothlorien, this is much better, it suits the dark melody of the film. This is the music from the entry to Lothlorien, with a few new instruments added for a far darker feel. The choir has been turned down a little too, this makes for a scene of mystery, as if important events are being discussed. Then back to the music from Gandalf and Frodo in Bag End from the first film, note for note when they are discussing Sauron. It slowly fades into something more sinister and mysterious however, and ends.

“Helm’s Deep” is an odd track to begin with, it sound like a few themes from Fellowship rolled into one, it is hard to pick them as they have been altered and played with different instruments, but it sounds so familiar. There are now drums beating, a choir bellowing out, it is very grandiose, very strong and almost happy, or at least breath taking. The pace slows down and we are back to a violin style sequence. This is very romantic, very melodic, but it builds to a climax that fades off once again into the Rohan theme this time with drums beating out in the background.

“The Forbidden Pool” is a far more sombre track than anything else on the soundtrack. It is quiet, composed with a subtle dark undertone. It does not sound like anything else so far, it does have a small resemblance to Bree in Fellowship but it ends there. One imagines it is a scene based on dialogue, and perhaps the scene where Faramir is tempted to take the ring. There is a hint of Gollum’s theme here at some points, but it is very soft. There is a hint of a new theme, inter-woven into the theme of the ring, perhaps this is the beginning of Gondor for Return of the King? None the less it eventually resembles that Gandalf/Frodo scene again from Fellowship. It is probably the slowest piece of music so far on the soundtrack and it ends with the very familiar boy choir, that rings out every time a key character becomes entranced with the ring – when Boromir found the ring in the snow! When Aragorn was tempted towards the end. Very very beautiful and a very nice ending to the track.

“Breath of Life” continues in almost the same fashion as “Evenstar”, this time featuring the voice of Sheila Chandra instead. It sounds very mystical and full of sorrow, much like “Evenstar” did. This one is strange and I can only think this is the scene where Aragorn sees Arwen while he floats in the river, only to awake next to Brego, As if Arwen, when she kisses him, breathes life into him. The music does change from the other-worldly feel back to reality – I guess you could say. It now has a very unique feel again, like nothing so far in the soundtrack. It peaks with a violin solo and then changes quickly into something more grand, as if there is purpose. Aragorn is very obviously witnessing the march of the great host of Isengard to Helm’s Deep and he now has a purpose. To make it back to Helm’s Deep in time to prepare for war.

“The Hornburg” starts with the Rohan theme, very obviously as the Rohan accept that the encounter with the Uruk-hai is imminent and they may not survive the night. It feels like the Fellowship theme did at the end of the first film. Sad yet ironically heroic! Then it deepens, the choir returns very softly to the beat of a drum, this is a very sad moment. There is however a sense of pace, as if there is not time to rest and feel sorrow. A trumpet then rings out, the beating of drums and then the trumpet bellows out all by itself, it fades again and we are back to sorrow. The Fellowship theme returns, very quietly and in a very sombre mood. It transforms into a piece I have not yet heard and then the rhythm picks up. The Uruk-hai are marching into the deep, no time for sorrow, the gates of hell have just opened. It is almost endless, as if the host is enormous, and then it ends, drums ring out with a sense of power, and then it ends.

“Forth Eorlingas” then seems a little odd, it is back to the slower paced music, not like what I expected it to be. It builds slowly, the pace quickening, the choir gains strength and then it ends… Charge! This sounds like Theoden and his riders charging forth from the gates of the Hornburg, the Rohan theme bellows out in triumph! The Fellowship theme follows close behind, there is a sense of victory here. Then it transforms into a sense of wonderment again, a small boy singing to the heavens and a the Rohan theme then hits new heights… This is the magic part, just like the Fellowship theme from the Bridge of Khazad-dum when the movie was at its height. Victory!

“Isengard Unleased” starts off sounding something like Lothlorien, quickly the voices of Elizabeth Fraser comes to the for front, just like “Evenstar”… Then another fanfare, a theme I have not yet heard. This sounds like battle, this sounds like the Ents trashing Isengard. It is very grand, with a deafening pace, the Isengard theme makes an appearance amongst the chaos. Then it slows down, a trumpet bellows out, it is answered by another…. Then something is happening, the music is quiet, yet it seems to be building to something, there is pace in the undertones. It slowly builds, a choral voice rings out and it reaches a climax, the pace quickens – is Isengard being Flooded? The music continues, very grand and operatic, it is building to yet another climax. It seems to keep going at this intense level, not quite reaching the climax… then… silence…

“Samwise the Brave” starts like all the Hobbit orientated tracks do, very calmly and with a sense of Hobbit goodness. This sounds like an appropriate track to end the film. It sounds much like the Breaking of the Fellowship when Sam almost drowns and The Three Hunters set off. The theme of friendship rings out truly magnificently, especially amongst all the dark undertones that have preceded it in the soundtrack. Then finally the Hobbit theme comes full circle and the sound that opened the film with Frodo & Sam in Emyn Muil, the same as the one at the start of Fellowship while Frodo read under the tree, plays out. It shifts, this time to a far darker tone then expected, as if there is something else that is to happen before we end the film. This must be Gollum and his small rant about the fate of Frodo and Sam… Then all of a sudden it just ends…

“Gollum’s Song” is an eerie end to the film, and certainly well suited to the entire soundtrack. I can imagine watching the whole credits just to take all of this in. Emiliana Torrini’s voice is superb, harsh yet full of sorrow, it seems to summarise the soundtrack completely, let alone set a mood for the film. After the dong there is a small reprise, as if to say – there is more to come… Wait until next year for the final chapter it cries… Then silence.

Posted in Old Special Reports on December 10, 2002 by

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