From “The Lord of the Rings: The Making of the Movie Trilogy”, by Brian Sibley, Houghton Mifflin 2002.
Chap. 13, ‘Knowing the Score.’ Talking with Howard Shore:
“It was obviously going to be a challenging project but for me it was irresistible: I could see that Middle-earth would be a wonderful world in which to work.”
That work had begun in the dark, labyrinthine passageways of the Mines of Moria, creating the music for a sequence of the film that was scheduled for screening at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.
“When you are working with something literary, you have a responsibility to do it right: you are taking the words from the page and translating them into a musical score. Even more so with this particular book. It doesn’t feel as if we are trying to do a version of the book, so much as to create it on film. The music is a part of that – to create the world in a realistic way, so that the audience feels that they are in Hobbiton or Rivendell or Moria.”
The desk was scattered with sheets of manuscript paper (Howard is not only writing but also orchestrating all the various instrumentations in the score) and a well-thumbed copy of The Lord of the Rings.
“The book is always close by when I’m working and I am constantly referring to Tolkien’s text, looking for musical elements in it and trying to convey them in my music.”
Howard found plenty in the book to inspire his music for the ancient mine workings of Dwarrowdelf: “Moria has a very specific sound to it: Tolkien talks about ‘drums, drums in the deep,’ and later describes the ‘doom, doom of drumbeats’ that shake the walls. So the music will have drums and voices: a male choir of Maoris and Samoans singing a low, Dwarvish chant with a guttural – almost Tibetan monk – sound to it.”
Six months after that music was written . . . I remind Howard of our earlier conversation about Moria. “It was,” he says, “the perfect beginning. I spent a long, long time in Moria, and by researching and putting all that together really cracked it open for the rest of the score. It was fortuitous to have begun in Moria because the events there are pivotal. There is much leading up to the Fellowship’s journey through the mines, and everything that happens afterward is shaped by what happens to them there. I couldn’t have chosen a better route to approach the score: once I’d created that world, I was able to write my way both to it and out of it!” (pp. 177-78)