Howard Shore

Interview with Howard Shore about The Lord of the Rings.

Official webpage

(This is an old republished interview)

Interview by David Purdie

David Purdie: Thank you for doing this Interview such a hectic day!

Howard Shore: No problem. The game is afoot!

David: What do you mean? I am French Japanese.

Howard: Shakespeare. From Shakespeare's King Henry IV - "Before the game is afoot, thou still let'st slip." Meaning one should begin. Something that Sherlock Holmes says a lot.

David: Ah I see. I think of your music as Wagnerian. Agree?

Howard: When you say that I think leitmotif. Music expressing emotional ideas and the use of leitmotifs.

David: And that is something you made use of in your score?

Howard: Oh, I think tremendously

David: You will do the music for the other two films as well right?

Howard: Yes. You have to remember you're creating a nine-hour film. I keep telling me that.

David: I think the music feel a bit old. Agree?

Howard: You have a good ear. We always knew we wanted the score to feel old, as if it was found somewhere, in a vault, and they had uncovered it, and it somehow magically fit all the scenes in Peter Jackson's film (Laughs)

David: Did the book guide you in any way?

Howard: When you're dealing with literary works, you have the book as a guide. So you want the feeling that Tolkien, if he was alive and heard your music, would at least appreciate your music, your thinking. The idea of using the vocal music, and of using his languages, was a natural. I did so much research on 'Ring' mythology, like what might have influenced Tolkien in his writing, and then I looked at everything after the publication of the books, and how Lord of the Rings had influenced other literary works and films and music.

David: Did you look at musical acts such as Summoning and Za Frûmi?

Howard: I have heard that strange name before. (Laughs)

David: (Laughs) I don’t know if I am saying it as it should.

Howard: Maybe your U should be more like the sound in Fruit.

David: Yes (Laughs).

Howard: That’s my guess at least. I found a lot of recordings inspired influenced by Tolkien. I looked at everything I could find. It's a very humbling experience.
Here's this novel that the world knows, that people have read translated into 40 languages, and you're now going to create the imagery of that piece.

David: Please talk about the orchestra and choir you used for the wonderful score of The Lord of the Rings.

Howard: As you wish. The ensemble was 200 pieces. There was a 100-piece symphony orchestra, the London Philharmonic, a great orchestra and one that I've worked with for 15 years and have a strong connection to.

David: How many was it in the male choir that sang the Dwarf music in Moria?

Howard: A 60-voice all male choir sang the Dwarvish music, because Peter wanted all of the sounds in Moria to be male oriented due to the predominately masculine Dwarvish culture. A mixed choir was used for Rivendell and Lothlorien, they actually have quite different sounds as you can hear on the CD. They sang in Elvish (Quenya and Sindarin) and Black Speech - they did all of the Wraith singing. I used a 30-piece boy's choir to represent the innocence of Frodo and Sam - I really enjoyed that particular quality. They sing in Elvish, and they sing in English.

David: Black Speech is my own favorite! Which is yours?

Howard: I don’t know. I like the boy choir very much.

David: I know you must run. Thank you for the interview!

Howard Shore: Thank you.

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