Shire B Melody

The 'In Dreams' chorus melody


THE SHIRE B is what I call (see note below) the melody used for the chorus of the song, “In Dreams.” (But in dreams, I still hear your name...) It is sometimes used alone, and sometimes paired with the Shire A Theme. The A phrase is the primary phrase and used more frequently than the Shire B Theme.

A full overview of the Shire music is found on The Shire and the Hobbits page.

Below are some thoughts Estelwyn and I had about this music.


Places this theme is heard in FOTR:

  • TE: A lush version just after Gandalf’s cart rolls through town and we hear a Hobbit say, “It’s Gandalf”. The wagon goes through a narrow cut in a hill and we see the Hobbit holes and off in the distance, Bag End. (And just before they see preparations for The long-expected party.)
    EE: The same lush version - slightly longer - as Gandalf's cart
    begins to climb up a gradual slope towards Gandalf's destination. In a voice over, Bilbo says, For things are made to endure in the Shire, passing from one generation to the next. There's always been a Baggins, living here under the Hill in Bag End. (Back in his study, Bilbo puts the finishing touches to his opening chapter.) And there always will be. (see note below)
    (This early scene is considerably different in the TE & EE. The music follows a similar path for each although the scenes might be different.)

  • Another perky variant just after Frodo says, “you’ve been officially labeled a disturber of the peace.” to Gandalf as they ride on the wagon.

  • The perky variant moves into a lush variant as the children spot Gandalf and start running through the grass toward him.

  • A quick mention of the Shire B phrase can be heard as Bilbo tells Frodo that he was "the one Baggins that showed real spirit." (FOTR EE)

  • When Frodo spots Bilbo in Rivendell, the Shire A Theme plays. It moves into the Shire B Theme after Bilbo says, “Age, it seems, has finally caught up with me.” Frodo says, "I miss the Shire. I spent all my childhood pretending I was off somewhere else... off with you on one of your adventures." It moves back to the Shire A Theme after Frodo says, “My own adventure turned out to be quite different.”

  • When Frodo reaches in the water to grab Sam's hand.

  • During the chorus of "In Dreams". "But in dreams, I still hear your name."

Places this theme is heard in TTT:

  • After Sam speculates about the stories that will told about their adventures and Frodo says, "Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without Sam." Sam tells him not to tease, but Frodo is serious. Sam considers this... "Samwise the Brave."

Places this theme is heard in ROTK:

"There will always be a Baggins at Bag End."

Estelwyn wrote:

The same phrase of the Shire theme* which plays in FOTR EE (Concerning Hobbits scene), *exactly* as Bilbo says "For things are made to endure in the Shire, passing from one generation to the next. There's always been a Baggins living here under the Hill, in Bag End, and there always will be", ALSO plays in ROTK (Homeward Bound scene), *exactly* as we cut from the Green Dragon to Sam and Rosie's wedding kiss. In fact, the rising "swell" in the music, which underlies Bilbo's words "For things are made to endure in the Shire" exactly matches the "swell" which is heard as we see the wedding kiss.

There's also a kind of fade, or dwindling, at the end of the phrase in each case (not an exact match, as the phrase is a little longer in ROTK, but the fade is pretty darn similar). In FOTR we hear it as Bilbo wistfully says "...and there always will be.", and in the ROTK scene it is heard as the camera cuts to Frodo (just before the fade to him wandering forlornly in an empty Bag End).

This subliminal (for want of a better word) musical link between these two scenes, whether it was deliberate or not, speaks to me of both:
a) the hope, and promise of continuity, that Sam and Rosie embody (life *will* endure in the Shire, passing to the next generation etc), and
b) the bittersweet sadness of Frodo's passing, and the "ending" it signifies (there *won't* always be a Baggins under the hill, in Bag End).

For me this is just another example of the evocative power of Howard Shore's score. I am even more grateful than ever for the rich emotional subtext he has added to these films.

Then she added:

(C)onsidering these two scenes together has brought home to me both how "right" and how "wrong" Bilbo was. Things ARE made to endure in the Shire, and Bag End will pass on to the next generation, but it won't be a Baggins.

Bilbo's hesitation (or is it wistfulness?) at the end of his statement suggests that he already realises this on some level; that he already has some vague concern about Frodo's future. It is the subtlest of foreshadowings of what is to come for his dear, younger cousin. For us as the audience, seeing Frodo adrift and alone at the end of ROTK almost seems like proof that Bilbo's concern (however vague) was justified.

Sam and Rosie, on the other hand, are the living joyous proof that Bilbo's confidence in the continuity of the Shire, and life in it, was also justified. And that is an encouraging thought.

There is more in this thread worth reading. Visit the links I've provided if you wish to do so.

*This is a distinctive lush version of the Shire B Melody. Although hints and snippets and variants of the Shire B can be heard throughout the trilogy, these two iterations are the only ones that 'complete' the melodic phrase "But in dreams... I can hear you name. But in dreams... We will meet again."

Sept. 2006:

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 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. As it turns out, the Shire A and the Shire B might have either a Pensive Setting or a Hymn Setting. The Shire B+ was considered "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)


If I were going to align my organizations with the 'official' material, I would have to deconstruct the 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.


Not only do I not have the heart to do the work this would involve, I think some of the information on those pages is interesting and potentially useful. I will create 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. Therefore, the lists below will contain the Shire B phrase with either a Pensive or Hymn Setting.