Misc.

March into Middle-earth: The One Where Rinn and Claire Fangirl, Part Three

March Into Middle-earth

And we’re onto Part Three of the fangirl session! If you missed the previous posts, you can find Part One here and Part Two here. This is part of a series of posts of the two of us discussing Tolkien and all things Middle-earth. Although we are asking each other the questions, we’d love to know your answers to them too – leave your responses in the comments! I ended the last post with the following question for Claire:

Rinn: Now my next question for you: the musical score for the films, composed by Howard Shore, was such an important part of creating the right atmosphere. To me, it is perfect and completely sets the mood. Are there any other songs or pieces of music that remind you of Middle-earth or The Lord of the Rings?

Claire: I agree with you, in everything that you say (and you say it so eloquently as well!). I’d love the idea of that kind of magic, or that world as you say. The magic is in the earth and ground and how we read it and survive and live with it is key. Being from the Caribbean, an especially rocky, almost treeless place I can imagine our own version of this Middle-earth. We wouldn’t have forests or volcanoes or horse masters, but I can image island fiefdoms and oceans filled with magic. We’d have talking dolphin guides and yes- mermaids even!

But to get back on track, to answer your question: I loved the Lord of the Rings series soundtrack. I am a huge fan of movie soundtracks in general, I am planning to see Hans Zimmer in concert soon (April!) and would love to see something by Howard Shore as well. The soundtrack was a big influence for me in how much I loved the film series because it set that mood, it made that place so real and tangible to me. I have always been a fan for choirs, violins and dramatic drums and Shore totally uses them to his advantage here- especially in battle scenes!

This one always makes me cry. I get such goosebumps.

I’ve also been a lifelong Enya fan (I grew up with her music) and I thought she was the perfect choice for May It Be! Any Enya song will always remind me of this world- its potential and love of country. So whenever I hear a violin, piano or harp I have to imagine an Elf in a wood or Hobbits laughing in a country side. I don’t know a lot of songs like this but I’d love it if you shared any that inspired you or made you think of Lord of the Rings and Middle-earth!

Now, something I’d like to know (besides your LOTR music loves) is what you think of the art this series inspired. Artists have always been captivated by Tolkien’s world and I, myself, discovered many an artist through their LOTR pieces. There are some classically known artists like Alan Lee who illustrated the covers for an edition as well as doing the storyline art for the films and covers in the special extended editions. I AM A HUGE ALAN LEE FAN, but are there other artists or pieces inspired by Lord of the Rings that you like?

Rinn: First of all, SUPER jealous that you’re seeing Hans Zimmer! I’m a big fan of his, and film soundtracks in general, like you.

GANDALF FALLS NO NO NO. Now that I’m listening to it, I can perfectly picture that scene just after the Fellowship leave Moria, where it’s all in slow motion and we see Merry and Pippin sobbing, and Frodo turns slowly to the camera with a single tear rolling down his cheek. IT HURTS. Even though, obviously, we known Gandalf is fine. It was a beautifully acted, scored and shot scene.

My absolute favourite piece of music from the series is Concerning Hobbits, to me that is the ULTIMATE Lord of the Rings piece and just sums everything up. It’s gorgeous and peaceful and so wonderful. I also love any of the vocals, like when Pippin sings to Denethor, or others in the background – for example, the ‘Houses of Healing’ song is sung by Liv Tyler, who played Arwen, and of course Aragorn/Viggo Mortensen sings too. I like that the cast were involved in the music as well, it ties it all together nicely. And like you say, May It Be is gorgeous, as is Gollum’s Song and Into the West, the end title songs for The Two Towers and The Return of the King respectively. And if we’re venturing into other territory, all of The Hobbit end songs are awesome too – especially the final song of the trilogy, The Last Goodbye, which just makes me want to cry because it means it’s all over. Goodbye to various characters, goodbye to Middle-earth.

Frodo understands my feels.
Frodo understands my feels.

In terms of your question – I actually own a book entitled ‘The Art of Tolkien’ which shows just how much he has inspired artists all over the world. Some of my favourite pieces (apart from the great, great Alan Lee) include those by Dutch artist Cor Blok. The style is just so unique and all the characters look adorable. And on doing some more research, I have discovered that he actually lectured at my alma mater, the University of Leiden! I wish I’d known that when I was there. That just goes to show though, you can find links to Tolkien just about anywhere. Here is Blok’s illustration of the Mumakil:

Mumakil Cor Blok

And his version of Gollum is like a little duck, look!

image07

Aren’t they interesting and unusual? (Also Claire, this Gollum is less creepy 😉 ) But I have to say, Tolkien’s very own illustrations are just magnificent. That classic image of Smaug, that beautiful anniversary edition of The Hobbit – those are both his works. This means we get to see scenes exactly as Tolkien imagined them, which is not something you often get with epic fantasies. In fact the Bodleian Library sells postcards and posters with Tolkien’s illustrations on, and I really need to buy some…

My next question for you is: is there a moment in any of the books that feels completely pivotal to you? Perhaps it revealed a character’s true self, it changed the course of things, or was completely unexpected.

Claire will answer the next question in Part Four of our fangirling! If you want to answer any of the questions in this post, let us know your responses in the comments 🙂

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #6: Fantasy Soundtracks

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: my favourite fantasy soundtracks.

Yup, another excuse for a Spotify playlist! As I have discussed many times, I absolutely love film and game soundtracks, and often listen to them when I’m reading. So today I want to share some of my top tracks with you.

  • ‘Alice’s Theme’ by Danny Elfman, from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland – whilst the film wasn’t really the best of Burton’s work, the soundtrack is pretty stunning. I love the choral part of this theme, which is used through many of the other tracks.
  • ‘A Proper Story’ by Darren Korb, from Bastion – this game is gorgeous on every single level. Visuals, voices, music and gameplay. Even if you’re not a gamer, the soundtrack is definitely worth a listen.
  • ‘The Legend of Zelda Main Theme’ by Koji Kondo, from The Legend of Zelda video game seriesThe Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is one of my favourite games (cell-shaded graphics <3) and the main theme throughout the games is absolutely wonderful. It's epic, heroic and totally fits in with the theme of the games. It makes me want to pick up a sword and go off on an adventure (donning a little green hat of course).
  • ‘Fenris Theme’ by Inon Zur, from Dragon Age II – although the entire soundtrack is great, this track is a particular favourite. I love the harsh, scratchy violin/stringed instrument (yeah… not sure what it actually is) combined with the rest of the music; it feels as though it is comparing Fenris’ previous life as a slave as the one he has in the game.
  • ‘I Am The One (High Fantasy Version)’ by Inon Zur, from Dragon Age: Origins – because this is the ultimate song of the entire game for me, it’s the ‘defining’ piece (not the actual main theme…). What does it matter that I can’t understand it, it still sounds beautiful!
  • ‘Sovngarde’ by Jeremy Soule, from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – I’m going to avoid the obvious choice of the main ‘Dragonborn’ theme here, and go for ‘Sovngarde’, which is similar but much more focused on the choral element. It sounds so primal and wonderful and conjures up all these images of Nords singing by a flickering fire in the dead of night.
  • ‘Main Title’ and ‘Mhysa’ by Ramin Djawadi, and ‘The Rains of Castamere’ by the National, from Game Of Thrones – I am never not going to be completely in love with the Game of Thrones title sequence, and ‘Mhysa’ is a more recent version from series three, which is more appropriate for Daenerys. And ‘The Rains of Castamere’, well it’s haunting and… do I have to explain?
  • ‘Obliviate’ by Alexandre Desplat, from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – BECAUSE OF ALL THE FEELS. Last Harry Potter book, last of the films (kind of). This was the moment that meant the trio were going on their journey, away from Hogwarts. And I’m not going to lie, the first time I saw Hermione obliviate her parents’ memories I may have shed a tear or two.
  • ‘Harry and Hermione’ by Nicholas Hooper, from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – I’ve included this one in a previous soundtrack, and all I want to say about it is that I think it is absolutely beautiful and I will never not listen to it.
  • ‘Misty Mountains’ by Howard Shore, from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – and another one I will never not listen to. How can you not love this song?? Not only the dwarves’ perfect voices, but also Tolkien’s beautiful lyrics.
  • ‘Feast of Starlight’ by Howard Shore, from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – there are quite a few similar themes on Shore’s soundtracks for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but there’s something really different and quite magical about this track.
  • Literally every song on any of The Lord of the Rings soundtracks, by Howard Shore – don’t ask me to pick. I love absolutely anything to do with LotR perhaps a bit too much.

What are some of your favourite fantasy soundtracks?

Misc.

Reading Soundtracks

I am the sort of person who hates silence. I need music on, constantly. I have to take my iPod everywhere, I even use it for the five minute walk to work. However, some music can be particularly distracting whilst reading, so I prefer to listen to instrumental pieces – specifically, soundtracks. Here are some of my top ones!

Just a small selection! I think that Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is my favourite of the Harry Potters, because I absolutely love the song ‘Harry and Hermione’, plus the Umbridge inspired ones are fun. The Mass Effect 3 soundtrack is known as the one that makes me sob like a baby. Especially this song – the one that you get with your love interest (Garrus!)

I just have so much love for film and game soundtracks. Imagine how different our experiences would be without them. It would be so much harder to build up the right atmosphere, make your viewers/players feel excited, scared, sad. To me, they are perfect to read books to, and you can even match the genres! Something creepy? Prometheus. Something a bit wacky, and exciting? Doctor Who. Something epic? Lord of the Rings.

Now for my readers! What do you read along to, if anything?