Projecting Tolkien's musical worlds a study of musical affect in Howard Shore's soundtrack to Lord of the Rings /
Per F. Broman, Advisor
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
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 Middleearth.
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.
This thesis is dedicated to my wife and parents for their constant support.
School:Bowling Green State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:tolkien j r shore howard motion picture soundtracks musical settings
Date of Publication: