The Music of the LOTR Films

A look at the content areas




This page functions as a barebones look at what's in the book's content areas with a few observations and opinions by me. It is not an assessment or appraisal of the actual content nor should it be considered a review of the book.

Foreword Introduction Prologue
Themes Annotated Score Recording Sessions
Epilogue Appendices Indices
Rarities Archive    


Foreword - written by Howard Shore - 1 page


Introduction - written by Fran Walsh  - 2 pages


Prologue - 10 pages (3 with full page illustrations)


Themes - 123 pages (10 with full page illustrations)  that include:

90 themes (including settings, accompaniments, etc)

musical notation

what themes represent and relationships between themes

analysis directed at those knowledgeable about music, music theory, and music terminology

occasional footnotes explaining music terminology

discussion of the music that doesn't require advanced musical knowledge


Magpie Notes:

This section is comparable to, but not identical to, the theme discussions as found in the Complete Recording liner notes. But the text is not identical between the two. I'm sure part of the difference in the book was a result of Doug rethinking something he wrote in the liner notes. But I think most of it is the difference in focus between the two products. The liner notes for FOTR, for example, addressed the music as heard in the FOTR. The same is true for the next two CRs - with the addition as to how the music was changing.

The book is addressing the themes in terms of the whole story - across three movies and scores. I actually think the content in the Complete Recordings liner notes is still useful and relevant and the LOTR score fan would be well served by owning and referencing both the book and the liner notes.

Magpie Thoughts:

I think Doug does a very good job of serving both the most musically astute and the casual music fan with no musical knowledge. To those of us who can't read music (much, anyhow) and wouldn't know an A from a G, or a a whole step from a half step, or a Lydian from an Aeolian mode... the musical analysis of each theme may make our eyes glaze over or induce some mild panic that we're in over our heads.

But it's important to realize two things:

The inclusion of musical analysis is not meant to define the intended audience for this book.

There is plenty of discussion in there that does not require musical knowledge.

Doug is attempting to - and succeeding, imo - to respect and address the wide range knowledge and interests of LOTR score fans. If you love delving into minor and major modes, there's stuff in there for you. If you love pondering how the Shire theme changes for different types of scenes, there's stuff in there for you.

My approach to all kinds of literature, and my suggestion in regards to this book, is to simply take in what interests you and skip over what doesn't... or what seems to hard to sort out at the time. Some parts of this section may never appeal to you. But you may find, the more you read and listen and discuss with others the music of the LOTR films... the more you do start to take in.

How this website supports the Theme section of the book:

For most of those 90 themes, I have a page dedicated to listing where the theme can be heard, an audio example of the theme, and a link to a site that lists some time stamps for when to find that theme on a Complete Recording track. These can be very helpful for someone who can't read the musical notation in the book to figure out what 'that theme' sounds like.


The Annotated Score - 225 pages (15 with full page illustrations) that include:

discussion of music as heard on each track of the Complete Recordings (FOTR, TTT, & ROTK)

identification of most themes heard in each track

source text for singing heard in that track - Tolkien language (where used) and English translation

occasional footnotes explaining music terminology

some musical notation


Magpie Notes:

This section is comparable to, but not identical to, the Annotated Scores pdfs that were released in conjunction with the Complete Recordings. Those pdfs were pulled off the 'market' when the book was released. One thing that was in the pdfs but not in the book (that I have found) are the occasional side bars of 'In the Making' and 'Unused Concepts.' It seems a shame. That info was interesting and useful.

The music as heard on the Complete Recordings is not always the same as in the movie. That said, I think - even if one doesn't have the Complete Recordings - one could glean a lot from the Annotated Scores by applying that info to the movie.  


The Recording Sessions - 21 pages (5 with full page illustrations)


Epilogue - 2 pages


Appendices - 4 pages that include:

list of performers - vocal & instrumental

list of instruments categorize by the Middle-earth culture they were associated with


Magpie Notes:

The section is comparable to information found in both the Complete Recordings liner notes & the Annotated Score pdfs..


Indices - 2 pages that include:

Thematic Index - alphabetical list of themes that provides the page that theme can is primarily discussed in the Theme section of the book

Choral Text Index - alphabetical list of source text for score lyrics


Magpie Notes:

The Thematic Index does not provide page numbers for places where a theme is discussed in context (under the heading) of another theme in the Theme section of the book. Nor does it provide page numbers for when that theme is discussed in the Annotated Score section.

How this website supports the Indices section of the book:

I hope to, in the near future, provide a index of page numbers where a theme is discussed in the Annotated Score section of the book. I would hope, over time, to expand that to the Theme section and any other pertinent section of the book.


The Rarities Archive - 9 pages and 1 CD that include:

23 tracks on the CD

21 of music - "alternate versions or subsequent compositions" never before released

2 of conversation between Howard Shore & Doug Adams

brief annotation and source text for lyrics when applicable for each track