Tuesday, October 11, 2016

LOTR Music Questionnaire

Orchestra today was amazing...best class ever.

We listened to...wait for it...

The Lord of the Rings soundtrack!

We answered some questions about the music as we listened, and it was just perfect.  I answered the questions even before I it started because I just knew what was coming and was too excited.  

Here are my answers to the questionnaire, what would yours be?

People Playing Violin

1. How does the presentation of the orchestra (stage presence) affect the performance of the music?

Hearing music in the room it is being performed in is so much more powerful because you can feel the vibrations of the instruments. Everything also feels much more grand because you see the huge scale, all the people, all the different instruments that come together to make the music. I think what Howard Shore said about all the musicians coming together like the Fellowship is actually pretty neat and when everyone is on stage you can really sense that everyone is working together. Also, there were a couple instruments used that I didn't know about, like the one used by Gollum, and so seeing them actually on stage was really interesting because I learned something I didn't know about it. I would never have known that had I not watched the actual musicians on stage.

2. How are different instruments and compositional techniques used to create elements of the story?

Certain themes are used for particular subplots. For instance, there is a particular female voice (sung by Enya for the film score I believe) which is reserved only for parts of the plot concerning Aragorn and Arwen. Whenever you hear this theme, you think of that storyline almost subconsciously and it brings another layer of depth to the music so that you can follow it and be reminded of characters indirectly. Other instruments, like the upper strings in the theme of Rohan create a very epic sound, but also have almost a folksy-quality (the violin solo at least) which represents Rohan well since it is very powerful when it wants to be, but is also a quiet and country-like place in peacetimes. I think the use of the bouncy violin theme used in Concerning Hobbits also creates the same effect and highlights the homeliness and lightheartedness of the Hobbits.

Image result for howard shore writing music

3. Are there any specific instruments used to represent characters or themes in the movie?  If so, what are the instruments and what are the characters or themes?

The brass instruments are generally used to represent the servants of Mordor and Isengard. Isengard exemplifies some negative aspects of industrialization and so the metal sounds are very appropriate, I think. Also the theme for Isengard is written in 5/4 time to give it a sort of unsettling quality where it is never really resolved. The pan flute is used for Concerning Hobbits which is played in Hobbiton and at moments where the Hobbits are thinking of home or being particularly content or homely. The young choir voices are used to represent the voice of the Ring tempting Boromir, Frodo, and even on one occasion Aragorn. The voice seems very sweet at first but there is something sinister about it.

Image result for violin lindsey stirling lord of the rings

4. List any other observations you made as you watched and listened to the music.

One thing that just struck me was that everyone in the orchestra was very organized--you could see everyone's bows moving the same direction and everyone knew exactly when to come in.  I found this pretty impressive since lots of instruments didn't play for long periods of time, but they were still paying attention for when they should come in.  Another thing is that Howard Shore used a lot of the languages invented by Tolkien in the music which I think is very impressive.  He uses Sindarin in the scenes with Aragon and Arwen, Aduniäc in the Revelation of the Ringwraiths, and Quenya in Lothlorien.  I thought this was a great attention to detail.  I also noticed that just hearing the music would bring to mind specific moments in the movies which was really cool and just goes to show how much music affects a movie and the person watching it.

Image result for percussion lord of the rings symphony
JW Pepper

5. How do you think music impacts the movie experience for the audience member?

The music tells the audience how to feel; sad music after Gandalf falls, triumphant music as the Fellowship first embarks on their quest, suspenseful on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, terrifying music as we get a glimpse of the Ringwraiths, etc. Also the music can remind the audience of things they weren't necessarily considering--for instance, when the newly-crowned Aragon and the people of Gondor bow to the Hobbits, the fully developed theme of In Dreams plays which brings all kinds of memories of the Shire and the heroism of the characters rushing back which adds to the scene so much. The music also tells the audience where the story is; for instance, when Sam and Frodo first take a step out of the Shire, we get the first strains of the Fellowship theme which is hinting to us that the Fellowship is first starting to be formed, then as the fully put together group of nine leaves Rivendell, there is a more fully-pronounced theme, and finally, when the fellowship breaks at Amon Hen and Boromir betrays Frodo, the same music is played but at in a different way which tells the audience that the Fellowship is beginning to collapse and giving us hints about the plot.

Image result for crying during movie
Psychology Today