Instruments of the LOTR Soundtrack



The cimbalom was used to play the Menace of Gollum theme. Shore said, "The hammered dulcimer seemed like a good one because it has that jittery sound and because it was one of the instruments of Hobbiton."

HS COMMENT (TTT Audio Commentary)



The Hungarian cimbalom (emphasis on the first syllable) is closely related to the hammered dulcimer. The two differ in their tuning and their range of octaves. It has many strings (large ones can have 125) that are hit with mallets. If the mallets are padded, the sound can range from bright to soft but bare mallets produce a sound more like that of a banjo. The picture to the left shows a floor model which is the sort used in the LOTR concerts. But some are smaller and hang from a strap around the neck or sit on the players lap.

The dulcimer, on the other hand, was used for Shire music, especially the Rural Setting of the Shire Theme.


The cimbalom is closely associated with the Menace of Gollum theme. It can also be heard in some unused music written for the 'Brace of Coneys' scene (found on the CR-TTT, Disc 2, Track 6, The Forest of Ithilien) and as we see Sméagol fishing in the Forbidden Pool.

It's interesting that the cimbalom was used for Menace of Gollum theme, which portrays the Stinker/Gollum side of this personality, but in the two non-thematic uses of the instrument, we're seeing the Slinker/Sméagol side of the personality. I think it works because of the instrument's association with the Hobbiton music's dulcimer which provides an association with the more Hobbity side of the creature.


Edward Cervenka and Gregory Knowles both played the cimbalom in TTT and ROTK.

1. Sample from Balada, The Art of the Cimbalom, Alexander Fedoriouk

2. Sample from CR-TTT, Disc 1, Track 3, Lost in Emyn Muil, 2:13-2:21

3. Sample from CR-TTT, Disc 2, Track 14, Rock and Pool, 0:31-0:39