On our message boards, there was a note posted from Doug Adams’ official blog regarding Howard Shore and his future work on The Hobbit soundtrack. [Located here]
“Howard had his first extensive Hobbit conference with PJ last night. Incredibly exciting to see that ball beginning to roll . . .”
I know I found this to be very exciting news, more so than I could have anticipated. I’m sure I’m not the only fan of the films who considers the soundtracks to be one of the main points of enjoyment. And with the new films coming, we not only get to return to Middle-earth, but we get to re-enter that beautifully aural landscape as well. This got me thinking about what musical themes will carry over from the previous music, and what new themes we have to look forward to. Not being a musician at all, this is just an informal rundown, me thinking out loud, of what I hope to hear from the future The Hobbit score. (Please note, if you are unfamiliar with the story of The Hobbit, then this summary will contain spoilers)
I believe it’s safe to assume we get to hear more The Hobbit themes. The book opens with a similar pastoral sequence seen in FOTR, and I don’t doubt this film will do the same. It will be interesting to see how this melds with the dwarves’ music since it has been mentioned that we get to hear some musical renderings during the Unexpected Party. Previously, the only dwarf musical theme we heard was in the mines of Moria, especially when Gandalf lights up the great hall of Dwarrowdelf. I’m very much looking forward to hearing both an extension of this big, grand music when we see the caverns under the Lonely Mountain and hearing the sounds of dwarven drinking songs. I’m quite sure they can party with the best of them, and I predict we will be hearing fans singing these ditties at The Hobbit parties in the future.
There is a return to Rivendell as well, so I’m sure there will be some Elven themes we are familiar with. The book has the Elves of Rivendell singing happy songs, I’m not entirely sure I’m looking forward to Tra-la-la-la elves, but I’m sure Howard will find a way to make the elves sound not quite so silly. And with Cate Blanchett set to return, for what should be the White Council, we should also get a return of Lothlorien musical themes as well. And whereas the Elven themes in LOTR sometimes seemed a little sad, to reflect the overall theme from those books of the impending departure of Elves from Middle-earth, my guess is that in The Hobbit, all the Elven themes will be a little lighter. The wildcard are the Mirkwood Elves, I’m expecting they will have themes unique to their realm and yet it will still sound Elven.
And speaking of the White Council, I’m guessing it get’s a theme of it’s own to help impart its importance in the events of Middle-earth. And while it will be nice to see everyone gathered in one place, I’m rather excited to hear a theme for Saruman the White when he was still good, with none of the darkness of Isengard from LOTR. Gandalf already has a musical theme, but we will now get to meet Radagast as well, so that makes at least three wizards with their own themes. At least, I hope we get clearly defined themes for each to help underscore their separate personalities and skill set. And this mostly wraps up what should be known themes and those extended from existing themes.
The Hobbit has several characters and races that are not seen in the later LOTR and so we should get a host of new musical themes to enjoy. The first coming with the Trolls, who I do not believe really had a theme of their own in the trilogy, but I do expect some sort of theme during their imprisonment of our merry band of dwarves and hobbit. The Goblins are also rather new, having been mentioned in LOTR, but we get our first real look at them when our party journeys into the mountains. Since they will be important in the later meet up with the Wargs and then during the Battle of Five Armies, there is no doubt there will be a series of themes for the Goblins. And of course, while in the mountains, Bilbo does have his first encounter with the One Ring and Gollum, both of whom have well defined themes.
Once the dwarves and Bilbo make it out of the mountains and are chased up the trees by the Goblins and Wargs and then set ablaze, we have our first encounter with the Great Eagles. The Eagles already have a theme of their own, but we should get an extension of that as we see their homes high up in the mountains. I’m very much looking forward to this whole sequence since their appearance will include some beautiful shots flying over the mountains accompanied by some glorious music. I’m betting this is a highlight theme for the first film, but that’s just because I love Howard Shore’s soaring themes so much.
Another new character who should have a theme of his own is Beorn. I expect his theme to be very different and unique and can’t wait to hear the variations that should come with this two-natured character. Yes, I am expecting one theme for the Man and one theme for the Bear, and both should be powerful and visceral. A theme you will hear and know instinctively that Beorn is joining the fray, I’m already cheering for his appearance during the Battle of Five Armies.
When it comes to the Mirkwood Spiders, my guess is that they will have a theme that is a variation on what we heard with Shelob, including the battle between an invisible Bilbo and the spiders echoing Sam’s fight with Shelob. Mirkwood on the whole should have a theme, similar to that of Fangorn forest, one that highlights the threat of the stream that puts Bombur to sleep and the other dangers of the forest. And of course, this is where we will hear the first strains of the Mirkwood Elves, the two themes intertwining as the Elven party lures the Dwarves further and further off the established path.
The Men of Laketown will have a theme all their own, as unique as Rohan and Gondor, so that they are clearly defined during the Battle of Five Armies and every other encounter we have with the town and its people. It won’t be as ceremonious as Gondor’s theme, but it may have a similar feel of isolation inherent and Rohan’s theme. I can’t wait to hear the signature musical instrument for Laketown, much like Gondor’s trumpets and Rohan’s Norwegian fiddle, there should be a single instrument that embodies Laketown’s themes.
And this brings me to what I think will be the coolest and most magnificent piece of music we should find in the whole series of films. Smaug’s theme should be terrible and magnificent and powerful and awe inspiring, just like the dragon is. From recent casting of Thror and Thrain, it appears we should be seeing Smaug’s initial assault on Laketown and the Lonely Mountain, as well as Bilbo’s encounter and then his attack on the mountainside looking for the thief and his angry retribution on Laketown that ultimately leads to his demise. So there will be variations on Smaug’s theme to account for Smaug in attack mode, and Smaug in private as well. I can only hope we feel the weight of Smaug in his theme, a weight that should be Wagnerian in scope. Next to Beorn’s theme, I am most looking forward to hearing the music that accompanies Smaug on screen.
And now that I’ve rambled on and on about music that does not yet exist, and is partly guesswork on my part, I ask you what you are most looking forward to hearing and seeing in The Hobbit. We’ve got some 18 months to ponder these points, I can’t wait for these films and the accompany soundtracks, how about you?
Garfeimao is a long time event coordinator and staffer for TheOneRing.net. She is currently organizing the second ‘Cruise to Middle-earth’ – click here for more info. You’ve also seen Garfeimao on Comic-Con panels and involved in nearly all of fandom in Southern California.