When it came to composing a grandiose score for Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, composer Bear McCreary knew he needed to write 17 distinct themes. “This show really needed 17 different ideas to carry it through it,” he said during a panel at Deadline’s Sound & Screen awards-season event.
Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, the series is set thousands of years before the events of the novels. During a time of relative peace in the Second Age of Middle-Earth, the series covers all the major events of the period, from the creation of the Rings of Power to the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron.
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“I wanted to give each place a theme, and within that a sort of style for each place – you can hear some of those exotic drums in Númenor, you can hear the workman-like industrious feeling for the dwarves, the imperial feeling for the elves,” said McCreary. “But even within that framework, I had to write melodies. For me, melodies are the most magical part of music, it’s the thing that gets stuck in our head… that’s the power of the melody especially in regards to narrative.”
In writing themes for each character, McCreary encountered a challenge in composing for Halbrand and Sauron – two characters whose connection isn’t discovered until Season 1’s final episode. “I couldn’t have just completely unrelated themes and I couldn’t the same theme,” said McCreary. “So actually, Halbrand’s theme is Sauron’s theme played backwards… the difference is that I make [Halbrand’s] theme sound more noble – I reharmonize it, I play it in a solo French horn.”
Check back Friday for the panel video.
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