If you’re a regular reader here at TORn, you know by now about composer and sound engineer Jordan Rannells’ immersive audio soundscape of music and ambient sounds, bringing to life Middle-earth. His soundscape is designed to be listened to whilst reading The Lord of the Rings – and in fact, is timed perfectly to fit with Andy Serkis’ recording of the books.
The Hobbit and The Silmarillion
Following the success of his Long-Expected Soundscape, Rannells is at it again! This time he’s tackling two more of Tolkien’s works, in epic scale. Read on below to find out what Rannells told us about his latest projects.
A new kind of Middle-earth experience for Hobbit Day
Jordan Rannells composed an original score, designed sound FX and recorded nature ambience to match all 60+ hours of Andy Serkis’ The Lord of the Rings audiobooks. Each moment is timed exactly so that when you hear Serkis describe Grond tearing through the gates of Minas Tirith, you hear it happening; when the eucatastrophe happens, we hear its theme; when the water of Wellinghall rains down around us, we hear it come and go. It is so simple to put the Soundscape together with the audiobooks, but you can also listen without them and just escape to Middle-earth any time you need to. Listen to the wind in the grass on your way to Edoras; hear the turmoil in the score as Boromir confronts Frodo; duck as the wings of the fell beast fly over you.
Rannells uses Dolby Atmos to achieve the highest level of 3D immersion possible, using the latest technology and sound design tools used in big franchises like Marvel, Game of Thrones and more.
Now, after spending a year and a half designing his first soundscape experience, An Unexpected Soundscape and A Soundscape of Eä are on the way. The Hobbit and The Silmarillion are next on Rannells’ journey, as he seeks to complete the Legendarium in this new immersive adaptation.
Listeners will be able to hear the dwarves as their barrels crash by; catch whispers of Gollum and the spiders of Mirkwood; witness the Coming of Tuor to Ulmo, and even the creation of Arda itself. New challenges present themselves in bringing the up-close-and-personal world of The Hobbit to your ears, such as recording movement and footsteps for each of the dwarves. Then, in the opposite direction, large scale and epic abstract sound design are required for moments in The Silmarillion.
Find out more about Rannells’ epic undertaking on his website. You can also experience the first chapter of the Long-Expected Soundscape on his YouTube channel. Celebrate those Baggins’ birthdays surrounded by the sounds of Middle-earth!
Now, The Towers Collection (for The Two Towers) is available – and we have some promo codes for TORn’s followers! Read on below to find out more…
The Long-expected Soundscape is designed to be listened to whilst reading Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (and is timed specifically to sync up with the Andy Serkis audiobook recording). It is created with Dolby Atmos for full 3D immersion in headphones, and includes an original score, ambient nature and environment sounds, and designed and recorded sound effects. The soundtrack is downloadable at https://jordanrannells.com/ – and can also be accessed very easily through all usual podcast apps.
Ways to listen
Rannells suggests various ways to enjoy his creation:
1. Simply experience the atmosphere alone, without the books
2. While reading Tolkien’s works (yes you might read a bit faster, but all you have to do is wait and enjoy the music and sound effects for a bit until you hear the next significant sound or cue, and then keep reading)
3. Synced up (perfectly!) with Andy Serkis’ audiobook so you can enjoy them together (step by step process on how to do that on Discord)
4. Just as background for DnD, Lotro and so on…
Exclusive promo codes
If you’d like to get your hands on this wonderful soundscape, you can use the code TORN25 (for a discount on the whole collection), or TORN10 (for a discount on an individual book). These promo codes are good only until June 10th, so don’t delay!
Once you’ve experienced this beautiful aural world, you’re definitely going to want more! So you’ll be glad to know that Rannells has plans for The Hobbit and The Silmarillion soundscapes! He’ll be launching a Kickstarter for these, this coming December; if you’re interested in getting involved, and perhaps even having a small voice or performance role on one of those projects, join the Long-expected Discord. Happy listening!
We’re excited to share with you news from the London Philharmonic Orchestra about an upcoming episode of their podcast LPO Offstage featuring Howard Shore.
During the podcast, Howard Shore talks about the recording sessions for the Lord of the Rings films. He is also joined by Principal Percussion, Andrew Barclay and Principal Trumpet, Paul Beniston, who both took part in the recording sessions. They cover a range of topics such as the timeline from Shore’s initial ideas, through drafts to the final version. They discuss the recording process, and Howard making changes overnight. Howard also tells why he decided to work with the LPO for these movies.
The episode is hosted by YolanDa Brown. It will be available for your listening pleasure on July 7th on the London Philharmonic’s website at LPO Offstage.
LPO Offstage is in it’s 4th series and takes you behind-the-scenes of the Orchestra, bringing you closer than ever to the world of classical music. Past episodes have covered things like performance anxiety, the logistics of how a full symphony orchestra goes on tour, and how the music gets from the library to the music stand to name just a few. Tune in to hear from players and special guests to get your access-all-areas pass to the Orchestra.
Have you ever wanted to listen to the sounds of Mirkwood? Hear the flow of the Brandywine River? Or perhaps stand in the midst of whistling winds on Caradhras? Soon, you will be able to – thanks to the extraordinary concept and creativity of Jordan Rannells.
Jordan is a composer and sound engineer, with many years experience in the business. His work will be familiar to some Middle-earth fans: he’s an editor for the Prancing Pony podcast. He also has his own podcast – Music of Middle-earth – and, as if that wasn’t enough, he worked with renowned Tolkien artist John Howe on his audiobook Ultimate Fantasy Art Academy.
But Jordan has a dream and a vision – or perhaps one should say, a ‘hearing’! He has long felt that audio books are lacking something. In computer gaming, the artificial realm is brought to life with music, sound effects and ambient sound; the same has long been true of radio plays. And yet, when we listen to books record by brilliant readers such as Stephen Fry and – most recently in Middle-earth – Andy Serkis, we generally only hear their voices delivering the text.
Jordan has a plan to change that. He’s creating (to quote his own words) ‘an audio soundscape to accompany your journey through Middle-earth while you read J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings’. He tells us:
This is something that has never been done before. It is on a scale far above any of our wildest Tolkien fan dreams. I will have CHAPTER SPECIFIC audio.
I will be writing an entire score. Each piece will run alongside the length of an entire chapter of the book.
I will be using advanced 3D immersive audio equipment to record the natural world. These recordings will be inserted into the Soundscape to make you feel like you are walking alongside the Fellowship.
I will be designing and mixing sound FX for creatures like the Balrog, Ringwraiths, and many more to appear along your journey through the story.
All of these layers will be presented separately and together to have a multitude of listening experiences for your adventures in this world. They will be composed and mixed for the purpose of listening while you read, but these files will also be excellent for relaxing, D&D nights, immersing into other fantasy worlds, and more!
Jordan recently shared with TORn some insight into HOW exactly he will create this incredible soundscape. Thanks to the latest technology (such as 3D microphones), he can capture locational sound, which will surround the listener. He intends to record specific, different sound environments for all the realms of Middle-earth (no two forests will be the same!); and to have continuous, through-composed audio, with no looping. He also plans to create different speed versions of the soundscape – with one timed perfectly to be played as background whilst you listen along to Andy Serkis’ recording of The Lord of the Rings!
All of this is a huge undertaking, of course! We’re looking forward to hearing how Jordan’s journey to create this audio feast progresses; we hope to connect with him in the coming months, as he conjures and explores his soundscape for Tolkien’s world. Meanwhile, if you’re as excited by this project as we are, you’ll definitely want to know more – and see how you can get involved, and perhaps even lend your voice to the work! Click here to read all the details about this amazing undertaking. We wish Jordan the best of luck – can’t wait to hear the finished product!
Brian Sibley and Pauline Baynes are names which will be instantly familiar to many Tolkien fans. Author, broadcaster and screenwriter Sibley scripted a radio version of The Lord of the Rings for the BBC, and his wonderful book The Maps of Middle-earth was illustrated by John Howe. Sibley also wrote The Making of the Movie Trilogy for Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies, and the three ‘Official Guides’ for his Hobbit trilogy.
Artist Pauline Baynes, who died in 2008, worked with Tolkien himself, creating maps and illustrations for his works. Many fans will have had her art work on their walls, as she illustrated Middle-earth posters in the early seventies. Her work adorned covers of various editions of the Professor’s works, and she first collaborated with Tolkien when she illustrated Farmer Giles of Ham back in 1949. She also illustrated all of C S Lewis’ Narnia books.
Baynes and Sibley were friends for many years, and together they created a tale of Osric the Extraordinary Owl. TORn’s good friend Jay Johnstone has finally been able to publish this wonderful work, in a limited edition of just 250 – with a foreword by none other than Tolkien scholar Wayne G. Hammond! Here’s what the official press release tell us:
Osric the Extraordinary Owl resulted from the collaboration of two friends: artist and illustrator Pauline Baynes and writer, dramatist and broadcaster Brian Sibley. It was a friendship spanning more than two-and-a-half decades, with many shared interests, among them the work of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis famously illustrated by Pauline and the subject of acclaimed dramatisations by Brian.
Sibley’s tale of a small grey owl in search of the courage to establish his individuality and ‘be himself’ (but which can be also be read as a ‘coming-out story’) was written in 1970 but had to wait until 2007 to find an artist at a time when Baynes was without any commissions and was wanting opportunities to keep drawing and painting. As a result she produced 22 delightful, double-page illustrations featuring not just Osric and his owl family but also an entire aviary of the most spectacular, colourful birds from black swans and peacocks to flamingos and toucans.
Baynes completed her pictures for Osric the year before her death in 2008 but ‘the extraordinary owl’ had to wait another decade to find a publisher. At the Tolkien Society’s 50th anniversary conference in 2019 noted Tolkien artist Jay Johnstone met Brian Sibley and another of Pauline’s friends, Wayne G. Hammond who, with his wife Christina Scull, is responsible for many key works of Tolkien scholarship and who, as Librarian of the Chapin Library of Rare Books at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, has curatorship of the Pauline Baynes bequest of paintings, drawings. Out of that Tolkien encounter came the decision to finally get Osric’s saga into print.
After a delay, caused by the Covid pandemic, Jay Johnstone is now pleased to announce the publication of Osric the Extraordinary Owl. This collector’s edition hardback book is written by Brian Sibley and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, with a foreword by Wayne G. Hammond. It is designed and produced by Jay Johnstone and comes in a gilded presentation box. Each book is individually numbered and comes with signed book plates by Brian, Wayne and Jay.
Fans of Bayne’s art and Sibley’s writing will not want to miss out on this very limited release. You can find out more by clicking here.
Our good friends over at The Minister of Chance have let us know that the second series of their popular podcast will be available to fans in 2015. Their press release tells us, ‘Radio Static, the company behind the groundbreaking Minister of Chance franchise, have delighted geekdom by announcing the production of a second season of the award-winning podcast series.’
There are also still plans in the works to create a film of the series, which would include actors Jed Brophy and Sylvester McCoy, reprising their roles from the first season; and we’re also told, ‘A Minister of Chance convention is now in the works for autumn 2015 which will also be held in the county [of Cheshire in the North West of England], and this is also expected to bring in a legion of fans to meet the famous names involved.’