Overview of Themes for

 The Shire and the Hobbits


In The Music of the LOTR  Films, Doug Adams identifies 6 settings for the Shire music as well as 5 themes and 5 accompaniments. This is quite different from my original organization of the Shire music by melody. Directly below is Shore's/Adams' organization (setting/accompaniments). Below that is my organization.

FAN COMMENT (Relationship between A Hobbit's Understanding & the Shire melody; When is the Shire Theme used and when isn't it?)


ASST SHIRE MUSIC - Somehow, when dealing with ROTK, I ended up with a lot of music associated with the Shire but not easily identifiable by setting - either because it didn't fit into a setting or I was too unskilled to do so. I don't know if the FOTR and TTT music was less complicated or if I just had more confidence. But rather than over fuss with it, I just created a page for everything that was left over.


PENSIVE SETTING - This setting is heard the first time we see Hobbiton. It is used during times when Hobbits are feeling affectionate for the Shire or things or people from the Shire. The melody is that of 'In Dreams'.

note: some settings of this melody are not easily identifiable by me. To see a list of all all versions of the melody heard in the song, "In Dreams", see my organization below.


RURAL SETTING - As Shore says, "This is more for Hobbiton." I in fact previously called this the Hobbiton Theme. It is folkier than the Pensive Setting but just as melodic. It makes strong use of the Hobbit Accompaniments. It denotes the carefree, happy, state of hobbits and once they’ve encountered the Ringwraiths, their carefree state is gone. It isn't heard again until the Hobbits are back home and things are moving from melancholy remembrance to hopeful prospects.


HYMN SETTING - These slow, chord-like notes "grieves the hobbits' loss of innocence as it celebrates their resolve in the face of adversity." (Doug Adams, CR-FOTR liner notes, page 11). The chords can appear on their own or under a hymn like version of the melody we hear in "In Dreams".

note: some settings of this melody are not easily identifiable by me. To see a list of all all versions of the melody heard in the song, "In Dreams", see my organization below.


"IN DREAMS" - This is the song, sung by boy soprano Edward Ross, that is heard during the FOTR end credits. It is a strong example of the most predominant melody used in association with the Shire and the Hobbits. For more information, see The Music of the LOTR Books.

(25 second sample)


A HOBBITS' UNDERSTANDING - DA notes that, instead of being a separate variation of the Shire/Hobbit Theme, "(i)t's more developmental bridging crossing portions of the Pensive, Folk, and Hymn Settings, but complicating them with extended melodic lines and realigned rhythms." (Doug Adams, CR-FOTR liner notes, page 11-12) his more complicated music crops up when the Hobbits' life become a little more complicated. When they have to move beyond their simpler view and understanding of the world.


LULLABY SETTING - This is only heard once, at Merry and Pippin drift off to sleep lulled by Treebeard's recitation. This slight variant of the Shire A melody languishly flows like a rocking boat... or a rocking tree branch. (Rock a bye baby, in the tree tops...)


PLAYFUL SETTING - When Doug Adams writes, "This is the most physical of the hobbit themes, backing the comical pair with jaunty, dance-like rhythms." (Doug Adams, CR-TTT liner notes, page 10) it's clear this music was created for Merry and Pippin. It is lighthearted in similar ways as the Rural Setting of the Shire/Hobbit Theme and accompanies scenes that show a playful respite from the more serious events surrounding them. It is often followed by The Hobbits' Antics, a Hobbit accompaniment based on the Hobbit End Cap.


HEROIC SETTING - This is a bolder, braver, more mature setting of Shire music. For the moment, I only have one iteration of the setting: As Samwise the Brave fights his way up the tower of Cirith Ungol crying, "That's for Frodo. That's for the Shire. And that's for my old Gaffer!"


MERRY THE WARRIOR - This is a hybrid of the Shire Theme, the B phrase of the Fellowship theme and Rohan's minor mode (Doug Adams, AS-ROTK).


BILBO'S SONG - The liner notes for the CR-ROTK call this song, sung by a boy's choir, the final development of the Shire music. Written especially for the last moments of the ROTK EE DVDs fan club scroll, the lyrics are an Elvish translation of a song from the book with the first line, "I sit beside the fire and think."

(25 second sample)



Doug Adams also identifies four accompaniments (and a variant), associated with the Shire and the Hobbits:


HOBBIT OUTLINE FIGURE - This 4 note motif represents "the hobbits' playful side. It's used as "an expectation of the next thing coming."" (Doug Adams, CR-FOTR liner notes, page 13)


HOBBIT TWO STEP - Even thought this is a 'two note' figure, it often has an 'om pa pa' feel to it. An initial, first beat anchors the measure. Then the two notes of the Two Step play on beats 2 and 3 and there's a pause on beat 4. When played alone, it is usually be repeated three times and then the Hobbit Skip Beat is heard. But it's also heard under other music, most notably, the Rural Setting of the Shire Theme.


HOBBIT END CAP - this is a two beat finale (with grace notes) to the Hobbit Two Step Figure (although I can hear something very similar to the notes DA referenced in the CR-FOTR liner notes at times not connected with the Hobbit Two-Step Figure.)


HOBBIT SKIP BEAT - This little phrase is often heard mixed in with the Hobbit Two Step Figure. The notes are derived from the outline with the first note dropped. Then it's played at double speed on the upbeat. It can be heard as a prominent figure, or as a quiet ostinato underneath other music.


THE HOBBITS' ANTICS - this is really just an expansion of the Hobbit End Cap and is only heard in one extended scene in TTT: Ent Draught




SHIRE REBORN - This Fourth Age theme and final statement of Shire music is heard as Sam says to Rosie, 'Well, I'm back'. The Shire theme retains but has matured beyond its original "In Dreams" melody. The Hobbit Outline, also matured from staccato and sprightly to deliberate and sober, joins in before "The End".



This is my original organization done prior to the Complete Recordings.


SHIRE A - This is the melody heard in the verses of "In Dreams": When the cold of Winter comes, starless night will cover day... This information remains intact on my site under my original name.


SHIRE B - This is the melody heard in the chorus of "In Dreams": But in dreams, I still hear your name...
This information remains intact on my site under my original name.


SHIRE B+ - This was music that seemed to expand upon the Shire B melody. It was more florid and variable. This 'theme' (or sub theme) was, in fact, the 'bridging' material now known as A Hobbit's Understanding. I just renamed the theme on my site and left the info intact.


HOBBITON & HOBBIT PIZZICATO - This was essentially comparable to the Rural Setting of the Shire Theme (with it's various accompaniments). All information from my HOBBITON section was converted to Shire Rural Setting. The HOBBIT PIZZICATO info was doled out to the appropriate accompaniment.


HOBBITS AT PLAY - This was essentially the Playful Setting of the Shire Theme. All information from my HOBBITS AT PLAY section was converted to Shire Playful Setting.


HEARTBEAT OF THE SHIRE - Not a theme or motif but merely an observation of mine about how the tapping bodhrán sounded like a heartbeat.


Why keep two ways of categorizing?

This site started with small intentions and grew as time went by. It was driven, to a large extent, by my obsessive tendency to organize. And having a strong left brain, I organized the music by melody. I suspect Howard Shore is more right brained and his 'organization' of the music was governed by more artistic elements. For most of the themes, our two ways of organizing didn't conflict. But that is not the case with the Shire and Hobbit Music.


I identified the 'Shire Theme' as being the melody of "In Dreams". Then I realized that "In Dreams" had a verse and a chorus and that HS sometimes used both for his Shire music, or sometimes one or the other by themselves. So I separated the Shire Theme into Shire A (the verse) and Shire B (the chorus). Then, through discussion, I started paying more attention to a 'variant' of the Shire Theme which finally got it's own page as the Shire B+... as it seemed to be a variant of the chorus melody.


I also took a look at what I called "Happy Hobbit" music. I broke this into Hobbiton, the music used lively music heard in "Concerning Hobbits"--the Hobbit Pizzicato, the plucky underpinnings of the happier Hobbit music--Hobbits at Play, a melody identified by members of SMME--and then made some comparisons between the Hobbiton music and that heard during the Déagol/Sméagol fishing scene.


I had plenty warning before the release of the CR-FOTR that this was not how Howard Shore looked at this music. The liner notes provided us with the first comprehensive look at how he did organize it. The Shire Theme seems to be a term used in general and when used, seems to refer to the melody of "In Dreams". But the music is organized by "Settings", which means (to me) differences in orchestration that provide differences in mood. Each of these settings can use either the verse or chorus melody separately, or together. One of the Settings included the music I had labeled Hobbiton. The 'variant', the Shire B+ material, was identified as "A Hobbit's Understanding", a developmental bridging crossing portions of the Pensive, Folk, and Hymn Settings" (Doug Adams, CR-FOTR liner notes, page 11-12) There were also accompaniments to the Shire music. My Hobbit Pizzicato fell into one of these categories as did some other material I had just begun looking at.


So my major Shire Theme pages, being organized by melody, actually included instances spanning multiple Settings. If I were going to align my organizations with the 'official' material, I would have to deconstruct those Shire theme pages, make new ones, and then go into all the other pages digging out the old references and links and creating new ones. And some information on those pages would be unnecessary, meaning they should be erased altogether.


I think some of the information on those original pages is interesting and potentially useful. I have created new pages that organize the Shire material by Settings and Accompaniments. But I will keep the Shire A and Shire B pages intact as a supplement to the newer information.

FarFromHome's thoughts about the Shire Music:

Magpie notes: This conversation predated the Complete Recordings and FarFromHome is using some pre-CR terminology here. Gandalf's Wisdom was one fan name for the music we now know as A Hobbit's Understanding. And by Shire Theme, she means the "In Dreams" melody in various Settings. My inserted comments are in grey.

Relationship between A Hobbit's Understanding & the Shire melody:
One of my favourite uses of the Shire theme is when it's combined with the theme sometimes called "Gandalf's wisdom" (A Hobbit's Understanding), which plays under Gandalf's words, "All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you" in Moria. When Frodo recalls these words before crossing the River, this theme begins and it continues and develops as Sam arrives and almost drowns. Then it resolves into the very pure 'hymn' version of the Shire theme as Frodo reaches out to hug Sam.

The same combination of themes is repeated soon afterwards, as the two hobbits look out over the Emyn Muil - first the "All you have to decide" theme (A Hobbit's Understanding) as Frodo speaks of never seeing the others again, resolving into the Shire theme after Frodo says "Sam, I'm glad you're with me" and Sam smiles in return.

TTT has the same sequence - the "All you have to decide" theme (A Hobbit's Understanding) under Sam's speech, and the Shire theme (this time on a deeper woodwind instrument - clarinet or cor anglais maybe?) as we see Frodo with tears in his eyes, finally over his Ring-induced despair and connecting with Sam again.

In ROTK, the final appearance of the "All you have to decide" theme (A Hobbit's Understanding) begins as Frodo turns to say goodbye to Sam at the Havens, but this time there is no resolution into the Shire theme. It ends on a note of finality as Frodo turns from Sam to board the ship. The absence of the comforting Shire theme here speaks volumes.

Other times the Shire theme plays (besides the ones mentioned in this post): when Sam comes into Frodo's room in the HoH; during "You bow to no-one" (this is perhaps the most full statement of the theme in the whole movie); and during Sam's 'proposal' and wedding to Rosie. Someone once pointed out before how at the end of this scene, when Frodo's smile fades, the music is at the exact same point as when Bilbo (in the Shire scene in FOTR, after he says "There's always been a Baggins at Bag End") adds wistfully "...and there always will be." A great echo - the lead-in to the revelation that there won't always be a Baggins at Bag End, as Bilbo perhaps sensed. (Magpie adds: the point that FFH is noting is a move from the Shire A melody to the Shire B melody.)

When is the Shire Theme used and when isn't it?
(Re:) the Herbs and Stewed Rabbit scene as one where the Shire theme might be expected. I would say that the reason the Shire theme isn't used in the scene is because of Gollum - it's not a scene of comfort and closeness between the hobbits, it's mostly about Gollum and Sam's very uncomfortable relationship. If the scene had played out like the book scene, where Frodo and Sam share the stew while Gollum is off hunting, the Shire theme would surely have made an appearance. But in fact, in the movie, they don't even get to eat that delicious-looking stew. Always seems such a waste, especially as poor Aragorn has to eat that really awful stew made by a certain Shieldmaiden of Rohan!

In reply to above paragraph, Magpie wrote: When Sam makes his speech at Osgiliath, there's a moment when the camera goes to Gollum and PJ asked HS not to use the Shire theme there. (From TTT appendices material)

FFH responded: I remembered this little moment from the extras too. In fact, PJ specifically asks Shore to hold off on the Shire theme until we see that Sam has connected with Frodo - the camera shifts to Frodo, who has tears in his eyes. This underlines, for me, that the Shire theme is being used here, in parallel to the boat scene at the end of FOTR, to show the emotional connection that lifts Frodo's spirits again. In the book, when Frodo realizes that he doesn't have to go alone to Mordor after all, and that Sam is determined to come along, there's a lovely sentence: "A sudden warmth and gladness touched his heart." The Shire theme at the end of these fraught, emotional moments is the perfect echo of these words of Tolkien's, for me.