The Rural Setting

of Music for the Shire and the Hobbits


The Rural Setting of the Shire/Hobbit Theme is, as Shore says, "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. This music is most often played with folk instruments: bodhrán, whistle, fiddle, dulcimer, guitar, mandolin, folk harp, musette, and celesta.

This music contains the basic melody that's heard in "In Dreams", but the lighthearted, folky approach to its orchestration makes it seem a bit different from the other settings. 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.

This setting is heard primarily in the earliest scenes in the Shire: Frodo and Gandalf riding through Hobbiton, and Bilbo's accounting, 'Concerning Hobbits' (an extended scene). It is mixed and combined extensively with many of the Hobbit Accompaniments. An analysis of the Frodo and Gandalf's ride can be found on THIS PAGE.


Places this setting is heard in FOTR:

  • Throughout most of the scenes of Hobbiton that we see as Bilbo reads as he begins writing his book "There and Back Again." (This is all extended material only on the EEP) Specifically, as he says:

    • "Hobbits must seem as little importance... being neither renowned as great warriors nor counted among the very wise."

    • "In fact, it has been remarked by some that a Hobbit's only real passion is for food. A rather unfair observation as we have also developed a keen interest in the brewing of ales and the smoking of pipeweed. But where our hearts truly lie..."

    • "And yes, no doubt to others our ways may seem quaint (chuckle) but today of all days," (finale music: "it is brought home to me it is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.") This is the party preparation scene for the EE version.

  • As Gandalf and Frodo roll into Hobbiton and we see the Mill. See detailed notes. (see note below)

  • A brief finale phrase plays as Frodo and Gandalf pass by the preparations of the Long Expected Party. (In the TE, this is shown when Frodo and Gandalf ride by. See detailed notes. In the EE, it is shown as Bilbo narrates "Concerning Hobbits. The music is similar but not identical in the two scenes.)

  • Just after Frodo says, "You've officially been labeled a 'disturber of the peace.'" a whistle plays a variant of the Shire B material with (I believe) a Rural Setting. See detailed notes.

  • As fireworks erupt out of the back of Gandalf’s cart. See detailed notes.

Places this setting is heard in ROTK:

  • The music heard while Sméagol & Déagol are fishing bears some similarity to the Rural Setting and/or Playful Setting of Shire music, especially the first three notes, the folky nature of the piece, the accompaniments used. It's strayed far enough that I hesitate to call it a variant, (in fact Adams calls it Hobbit music of a 'different breed' in the AS-ROTK) but I certainly think this was built on the Shire/Hobbit music.

  • When Sam gets up from the table at the Prancing Pony to approach Rosie with a 'proposal'. I originally thought the music heard as we cut to Sam and Rosie's wedding, was a Pensive setting of the Shire B melody melody played over a tapping bodhrán. But Doug Adams indicates it may be a continuation of the Rural setting. Possibly a very fast Outline figure or a Skip Beat is being played under the Shire melody. It seems to me that, in the movie's soundtrack, it's more discernible as Skip Beat. (see note below)

Note regarding identification of settings:

The Shire Theme is the best example of trying to retro-force a set of delineated theme categories on top of a well thought out, but organically created body of music. I had originally separated the Shire music into categories by melody. This included an A melody (the verse of "In Dreams") and a B melody (the chorus). When I reexamined this music using the categories found in the CR material (settings), I determined a similar example to what we hear during Sam and Rosie's Wedding to be a Rural Setting of the Shire A melody followed by a Pensive Setting of the Shire B melody (Gandalf and Frodo entering Hobbiton). Doug seems to indicate here that perhaps all this material is the Rural Setting (the info in the AS-FOTR was very brief).

For me, these sorts of determinations aren't really that important for the casual fans understanding or appreciation of the body of work as a whole. Perhaps this tiny detail will become clearer with Doug's book but I'm not too worried over it.