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!
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!