Instruments of the LOTR Soundtrack

 Army of the Dead


In the AS-ROTK, Adams indicates that the clash of gongs represented the noise of the ancient battles of an army now dead.


Tibetan Hanging Gongs (and Tam-Tams)

Although the gongs are only mentioned in association with the Army of the Dead, and the Army of the Dead music was in ROTK, Doug Adams has a photo of Tibetan gongs used in May 08, FOTR Live concert in Lucerne.

From what I can tell, Tibetan hanging gongs are a form of chau gongs (which are completely flat on their face with no raised nipple) A large chau gong is called a tam-tam and tam-tams are also used in the score. An image of a tam-tam can be seen in the lower center of this image from the March 09, TTT Live concert in Lucerne.

There is a segment in the TT, appendices feature, "Music for Middle-earth", that deals with Peter Jackson playing the tam-tam for a scene with Éowyn.


The Tibetan gongs are combined with low men's voices and high, diaphanous strings to create an eerie mixture that forms the Army of the Dead theme. The Tibetan gongs are also heard as the Dead King contemplates Aragorn's challenge to join with him.

The tam-tam is used throughout the score. Although it isn't attached to any one theme or culture, all mentions of it the annotated scores are associated with moments of mystery, danger, apprehension, uncertainty, or forces of Shadow. Sometimes it is struck with a mallet, sometimes it is bowed, sometimes it is rubbed and sometimes it is scraped with a stick.


No artists are listed for either types of gongs. The instruments were probably played by percussionists in the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

1. CR-ROTK, Disc 2, Track 11, The Paths of the Dead, 1:12-1:24

1. Sample of bowed tam-tam from Bronzed Cloud, 10,000 Shades Of Blue, by Richard Lainhart

I couldn't really discern the sound of the bowed tam-tam in this sample so I provided a non-score example for comparison. To differentiate it from strings, keep in mind that the bowed tam-tam will not be changing notes really. If you visit Lainhart's site, you can hear more variations of the bowed tam-tam.

2. Sample of bowed tam-tam from CR-TTT Disc 1, Track 11, The Dead Marshes, 0:40-0:50

3. Sample of scraped tam-tam from CR-TTT, Disc 1, Track 8, Night Camp, 0:53-1:03

4. Sample of struck tam-tam from CR-ROTK, Disc 2, Track 9, Dwimorberg, The Haunted Mountain, 1:16-1:25

Tam-tam is struck on the last note of the sample.

5. Sample of rubbed tam-tam from CR-FOTR Disc 1, Track 8, A Conspiracy Unmasked, 0:22-0:30