Musical Similarities

Blue Man Group's Exhibit 13 / Children of Dune & Hymn for Gandalf



Although I was familiar with Blue Man Group's tribute to 9-11's Twin Tower tragedy, I didn't initially connect it with the Hymn for Gandalf (Gandalf's Farewells Theme) that's heard just outside Moria after Gandalf falls. One day, my son was listening to Exhibit 13 in another room and I could only slightly hear bits and pieces. At first, I thought he was listening to the LOTR soundtrack, which surprised me because he's not the fan I am. I stopped to listen more carefully and realized it was Blue Man Group. I knew immediately what had made me mistake the music. I was hearing the same four notes that are hummed just after Gandalf falls. Well, maybe not exactly.. I can't transcribe music. But pretty darn close. I would guess this to be a total coincidence but both pieces are poignant. Both deal with unexpected and tragic loss. Both, I think, address the concept that the rest of us go on. It makes me wonder if there's something about this chord progression that is perfect for evoking those emotions.

Don't let the Blue Man Group beat distract you. Listen for the sustained notes underneath.

Hymn for Gandalf, four humming chords - 4:42-4:56, FOTR OST, Track 13, The Bridge of Khazad-Dm
Exhibit 13, Blue Man Group - full length video HERE

Those same notes - or ones that were pretty close - were also used in a Wendy's commercial (just one time through) Just in case you noticed and wondered if you were nuts.


B. L. Collins wrote to me saying:

The "Hymn for Gandalf" comparison on your website can be expanded to include the "Dune" theme from Brian Tyler's Children of Dune soundtrack (possibly also the prequel: Frank Herbert's Dune, as well (I have only heard the soundtrack from Children of Dune).

The four chords that make up "Gandalf's Lament", are, in musical terminology, as follows;

vi, IV, I, V

so, if your tonic (starting) note is say G, in Gandalf's Lament, the first chord is e minor, followed by C Major, then G Major, then D Major.

This chord progression is a very common one, and in the slower arrangements of the Dune theme from Children of Dune, this progression can clearly be heard under the melody.

Hymn for Gandalf, solo- 4:58-5:28, FOTR OST, Track 13, The Bridge of Khazad-Dm
Children of Dune, End Title  - 0:31-0:57, Brian Tyler's website

This chord progression is also used for a very popular dramatic piece used for many movie trailers. Guessing, I'd say it's from a movie around the era of Crimson Tide or The Rock.