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Projecting Tolkien's Musical Worlds: A Study of Musical Affect in Howard Shore's Soundtrack to Lord of the Rings

by Young, Matthew David

Abstract (Summary)
In their book Ten Little Title Tunes: Towards a Musicology of the Mass Media, Philip Tagg and Bob Clarida build on Tagg’s previous efforts to define the musical affect of popular music. By breaking down a musical example into minimal units of musical meaning (called musemes), and comparing those units to other musical examples possessing sociomusical connotations, Tagg demonstrated a transfer of musical affect from the music possessing sociomusical connotations to the object of analysis. While Tagg’s studies have focused mostly on television music, this document expands his techniques in an attempt to analyze the musical affect of Howard Shore’s score to Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. This thesis studies the ability of Shore’s film score not only to accompany the events occurring on-screen, but also to provide the audience with cultural and emotional information pertinent to character and story development. After a brief discussion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s description of the cultures, poetry, and music traits of the inhabitants found in Middle-earth, this document dissects the thematic material of Shore’s film score. The first part of the analysis focuses on Shore’s incorporation of the music and culture of Tolkien’s text into his film score through instrumentation and style. The second part of the analysis incorporates Tagg’s musematic analysis to argue the musical affect of Shore’s major themes that is projected on the audience. Additionally, leitmotiv analysis is used to trace the major themes throughout the trilogy, and to investigate how Shore’s alterations of the themes modify their musical affect. By comparing Shore’s film score to Tolkien’s text, considering the visual representation the score accompanies, as well as by comparing Shore’s themes to other music possessing connotations, an argument is made that Shore’s score does more than accompany Jackson’s screen. Since Shore’s score reflects music and culture as described by Tolkien, and the themes correlate appropriately to other music which reflect similar cultures, Shore’s score plays an integral part in influencing the audience’s perception of the inhabitants of Middle-earth. Additionally, Shore’s modification of established themes throughout the trilogy aid in the audience’s emotional understanding of the evolution of the characters of the films
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:musical affect lord of the rings howard shore philip tagg

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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