Music of The Lord of the Rings film series

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Howard Shore, composer of The Lord of the Rings series film score.

The music of The Lord of the Rings film series was composed, orchestrated, conducted and produced by Howard Shore. Shore wrote many hours of music for The Lord of the Rings, 10 hours of which have been released in the Complete Recordings CD/DVD boxed sets. Additional music, including alternative and unused compositions, was released with the book The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films in 2010.

Shore composed the music in an emotional, operatic way, threading through the scores over 90 identified leitmotifs, which are categorized by the Middle-earth cultures to which they relate.[1] Shore began his work on the music for The Fellowship of the Ring in late 2000 and recorded the first pieces of music (the Moria sequence) in spring of 2001. Additional music for the extended DVD version was recorded in March 2002. A similar pattern was followed for The Two Towers and The Return of the King, with the final sessions taking place in Watford on March 20, 2004.

The music was performed primarily by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Voices, with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra contributing some of the early Moria music, written for an early edit of the film. A wide variety of instrumental and vocal soloists, including members of the films' cast, contributed to the scores as well.

The scores for The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King won Academy Awards in 2002 and 2004. The latter film also won an Oscar statuette for Best Song, as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and Best Original Song. Shore's music for The Lord of the Rings has become the most successful composition of his career and one of the most popular motion picture scores in history.


Principal leitmotifs[edit]

Howard Shore wrote a series of Letimotifs that were used, developed, combined or fragmented throughout the three scores. These were then complied into a menu by Musicologist Doug Adams, who worked with Shore on the documentation of the Score. Doug identifies about 89 motifs in the three scores.[1][2][3]

First appearance in The Fellowship of the Ring[edit]

This theme is usually associated with the One Ring and its history.

Themes for the One Ring[edit]

  • "The History of the Ring": a minor-key string melody plays over the Lord of the Rings title card for all three films.
  • "The Seduction of the Ring": a slow, melancholic choir sun in Quenya and is also hummed.
  • "Sauron (Mordor/The Evil of the Ring)": menacing, "ethnic" flavored theme, associated with Sauron and Mordor. It is played on the rhaita.

Themes for Mordor[edit]

  • "Mount Doom"
  • "The Threat of Mordor"
  • "The Ringwraiths" motif: fast-paced, parlous, operatic music featuring roaring chorals. It is first heard in the Battle of the Last Alliance in the prologue, applied first to the Orc Armies and than to Sauron himself. Afterwards it is used almost exclusively with the Ringwraiths.
  • "The Power of Mordor": An elaboration on the Ringwraith theme, this music was originally used by Shore in the initial takes on the Prologue (presented in the Original Soundtrack Release), but were later decided to appear in the third installment, with only a short quote at the Council of Elrond.
  • The Footsteps of Doom
    This theme represents Mordor, its orcs and the evilness of the Ring.
Mordor Accompaniment Figures[edit]
  • Descending Thirds
  • The Mordor Skip-Beat
  • The Mordor Outline
The theme of the Shire and the Hobbits (Hymn Setting).

Themes for The Hobbits[edit]

The Shire[edit]
  • "The Pensive Variant": The basic, reflective version of the theme. On the soundtrack, it starts with a solo tin whistle, followed by a solo fiddle and then the complete orchestra repeating the same phrase. The track then quietens down and the solo tin whistle plays a second melody, again followed by the orchestra. The track ends with the violin and then the tin whistle repeating the first theme. There are four Variants:
  • "The Rural Variant": usually heard only in Hobbiton. Here the melody is twisted by the improvisations of the fiddler. A variant of this music plays during the Prologue to the final film.
  • "The Playful Variant": Usually applied to Merry and Pippin.
  • "The Hymn Variant": A series of hymn chords play underneath a slowed Shire melody. It is applied mostly as a theme for Frodo Baggins.
  • "In Dreams": The song variation of the Hymn Variant used in the End-Credits suite of the film.
  • "A Hobbit's Understanding": used when the Hobbits come to understand the hardships and struggles of their journey.
Hobbit Accompaniments[edit]
  • The Hobbit Outline: An "Expectation" motif played under a lot of the Shire music, most notably the Rural variant.
  • The Hobbit Two-Step: A motif for Hobbit Playfullness played under the Shire and Hobbiton music.
  • The Hobbit Skip-Beat: Another motif for hobbit Happiness and playfulness playing under the Shire music. Dark variations of it start to appear later in the series.
  • The Hobbit End-Cap: A finale figure to the Hobbiton theme and the Accompaniment figures, that usually serves as a motif for the Hobbits' Bafflement.

Themes for Gollum[edit]

  • "The Pity of Gollum": a slow, gloomy piece which acts as a theme for Gollum. It is first heard in the prologue when Smeagol discovers the Ring.

Themes for The Elves[edit]

  • Rivendell: a theme for female chorus, usually accompanied by a series of string arpeggios.
  • "Arwen"
  • Lothlórien: a soft, ethereal chorus accompanied by cellos in the Phrygian mode. A more hard-edged, brass-driven version of the theme appears in the second film during the battle of Helm's Deep.
  • "Elvish Pledge"

Themes for Isengard[edit]

  • "Isengard" theme: industrial-themed, suspenseful and brisk, usually accompanied by a 5/4 percussive rhythm.
  • "Five Beat Pattern": The accompaniment to the Isengard theme, serving as the musical representation of the Orcs in general. It is played on anvils, Bell Plates and other metallic percussion instruments.
  • "The Orc Crawl": A four-pitch motif for the Uruk-Hai band that hunts down the Fellowship, usually sung by choir.
The ominous, pulsating theme of Isengard.

Themes for Nature[edit]

  • "Nature's Reclamation" (commonly referred to by fans as the Nature theme): the theme was first heard while Gandalf was trapped in Isengard when a moth serving as a messenger for the Eagles arrived at the pinnacle of Orthanc; the moth and the Eagles represent nature here as well. The theme has a grander version in "The Two Towers" during the "Last March of the Ents". A more heroic and robust brass version is heard in the third film when the Rohirrim leave Edoras for Dunharrow, leading up to a grand statement, scoring the sunrise behind the Rohirrim before they charge at Pelennor Fields.

Themes for the Dwarves[edit]

  • "Moria"
  • "Dwarrowdelf"
  • "The Dark Places of the World": A danger motif for the Moria sequences. It is associated with the deep chasms of Moria.

Themes for Gondor[edit]

  • "Realm of Gondor" theme: the basic version of this was established during the Council of Elrond in the "The Fellowship of the Ring", and also existed in the Extended Edition of "The Two Towers". It occurs in three variants: Gondor in Decline (used in the first and second film), Gondor in Ascension (used in the third film), and a "Numenore" variation used in the Rarities.
  • "Minas Tirith" theme: the basic version of this was established during a scene with Aragorn and Boromir in Lothlórien in "The Fellowship of the Ring". In the third film, a variant of this theme also stands for Anduril, when it is played in a heroic fashion over the Rivendell Arpeggios.
The Fellowship theme, heard prominently in the track The Ring Goes South. Usually regarded to be the main theme of Lord of The Rings. It may have been borrowed from the end of the first movement of Sibelius 3rd Symphony.

Themes for the Fellowship[edit]

  • "The Fellowship of the Ring" theme: a heroic, sweeping piece using principally brass and orchestra. It is heard in various versions during the first film, but after "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm," the last time that the entire Fellowship is together, it can only be heard infrequently and sparingly throughout the next two films until the remainder of The Fellowship charge the Black Gate "The Mouth of Sauron" and "For Frodo". This theme is colloquially known as the main theme of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
  • "The Drive of the Fellowship"
  • "Strider": Doug Adams identified The Strider variant of the "Heroics of Aragorn" theme, used for his initial appearance in The Prancing Pony and in Amon Hen, as a separate theme. There is also a Second-Age variant of it used in the Prologue that pertains to Elendil and Isildur.
  • "The Heroics of Aragorn"

Themes for the Monsters of Middle Earth[edit]

  • "The Watcher in the Water": Appears several times in the track "The Doors of Durin", this piece is distinct but also informed by the other monster themes.
  • "The Cave Troll".
  • "The Balrog": a theme for percussion and male chorus appearing under a lot of the Moria material in the "Bridge of Khazad Dum".

Themes for the Ring-Quest[edit]

  • "Nameless Fear"
  • "The Journey There"
  • "Dangerous Passes"
  • "Evil Times"
  • "Weakness motif" (Weakness and Redemption)
  • "The Fall of Men"
  • "A Noble End"
  • "Gandalf's Farewells"

First appearance in The Two Towers[edit]

Themes for One Ring[edit]

  • "The Fate of the Ring"

Themes for Mordor[edit]

  • The Way to Mordor

Themes for The Hobbits[edit]

  • "The Hobbit Lullaby Variant".
  • "The Hobbit Antics"

Themes for Gollum[edit]

  • "Gollum's Menace": featuring the cimbalom.
  • "Gollum's Song": The melody for the End-Credits Song, Gollum's Song, also appears in the finale of the film and is informed by the other themes for Gollum.

Themes for the Elves[edit]

  • "Evenstar": a slow, serene piece.

Themes for Isengard[edit]

  • "The Cruelty of the Orcs"
  • "The Uruk-Hai in Battle"
  • "Grima Wormtongue"

Themes for Nature[edit]

  • "Gandalf the White in Nature":
  • "The Ent theme"
  • "Treebeard's Stride"
  • "Small Stones"

Themes for Rohan[edit]

  • The Riders of Rohan
  • Éowyn's theme: using open fifth intervals (lacking the third of the chord – this means that the chords cannot be defined as major or minor).
  • Eowyn and Theoden
  • Eowyn and Aragorn
  • "The Rohan Fanfare": featuring the hardanger fiddle.

Themes for the Fellowship[edit]

  • "The White Rider and the Fellowship": a waltz-time, sweeping, full-orchestra crescendo with heavy strings that represents Gandalf the White.
  • "The Fellowship in Rohan"

Themes for the Monsters of Middle Earth[edit]

  • "Mumakil theme"

First appearance in The Return of the King[edit]

Themes for The One Ring[edit]

  • "The Destruction of the Ring"

Themes for Mordor[edit]

  • "The Witch King of Angmar": This theme also has a variant, closer to the Isengard theme, which is applied to the Orcs of Mordor.

Themes for The Shire[edit]

  • "Meriadoc the Warrior"
  • "The Shire Heroic Variant"
  • "The Shire Reborn": This is the Forth Age Shire theme. It is accompanied by a Forth Age Shire Outline figure.
  • "Bilbo's Song"

Themes for the Elves[edit]

  • "Arwen's Song"

Themes for the Dwarves[edit]

  • "The Dwarf End-Cap"

Themes for Gondor[edit]

  • "The Realm of Gondor in Ascension"
  • "The Stewards of Gondor" (Faramir and Denethor)
  • "Battlefield Heroism"
  • "Gondor Reborn": A Forth-Age theme, based on the Minas Tirith theme. It was also used in the fall of Barad Dur (and in the finale of the first Hobbit film) as a more general "good triumphs over evil" musical idea.

Themes for the Monsters of Middle Earth[edit]

  • "Shelob's theme".

Themes for The Ring Quest[edit]

Reprised Themes from "The Hobbit"[edit]

In The Hobbit film trilogy Soundtracks, aside from adding well over 60 new leitmotifs to the Middle Earth catalog, Howard Shore chose to reprise pieces of music that did not initially have thematic significance in the Lord of the Rings, thereby turning them into themes:

  • "Durin's Folk": Shore reprised the low, male-chorus chant for the Dwarves, turning it into a theme for the Dwarves.
  • "The Shire's Heartbeat": A heartbeat-like tapping on a Bodhran drum was used under various themes in the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.
  • "Bilbo's Birthday": The short finale figure to the Shire Rural theme used at the erection of Bilbo's Party banner was used again.
  • "The Map of the Lonely Mountain": This melody is heard in "The Fellowship of the Ring" when Gandalf takes a gander at the Map of the Lonely Mountain at Bag-End. It appears several times in The Hobbit, and is connected to Thorin's theme.
  • "Smoke Rings": A short variant of the Shire theme, used for Bilbo and Gandalf puffing Smoke Rings from their pipes, was reused for a similar shot at the Beginning of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", with a harmonic hint towards The History of the Ring theme.
  • "Gandalf's Fireworks": In "The Fellowship of the Ring", Gandalf's fireworks, set up by Merry and Pippin, were scored with a tune based on the Hobbit Accompaniment figures. That piece was used twice in The Hobbit to illustrate Bilbo's memories of Gandalf. A menacing variant of it's B-Section was used over the opening credits to The Desolation of Smaug, connection the firework (which was fashioned in the likeness of Smaug) and the titular dragon.
  • "Bree": A "dark" variation on the Hobbit Skip-Beat, used as the Hobbit enter the town of Bree in "The Fellowship of the Ring" was reused for shots of Thorin walking in Bree in the prologue to The Desolation of Smaug.
  • Minas Morgul: In both versions of the "High Fells" cue, a short musical figure from "A Coronal of Gold and Silver" appears, standing for the abode of the Ringwraiths.
  • "Legolas' Heroic Feats": a swirling-string piece used for Legolas taking down a Mumakil from The Return of the King was reused for his scenes in Laketown.
  • "Sauron Revealed": A variation on Sauron's theme, played over Descending Thirds accompaniment, was reused for Sauron's appearance to Gandalf and again in "the Guardians of the Three" from the Battle of the Five Armies.
  • "Elvish Medicine": Related to Arwen's theme, this was heard in the Fellowship of the Ring when Frodo succumbed to the effect of the Morgul Blade. It was reused in The Hobbit for Tauriel healing Kili.
  • "The Edge of Night": Reprised for the Five Armies Trailer. The actual End-Credit song to that film was also composed and performed by Billy Boyd, and is informed by "Th Edge of Night" which, in and of itself, happens to share similarities with the Gondor theme.
  • "Galadriel's Powers": When Galadriel appears in wrath and banishes Sauron, Shore quotes a piece for brass that he used for Galadriel in "The Mirror of Galadriel" from the Fellowship of the Ring.
  • "Mithril Vest": An Oboe line that scored Bilbo giving the Mithril Vest to Frodo was used for Thorin giving it to Bilbo.

"None-Canon" themes[edit]

The themes above have been identified by Musicologist Doug Adams in his Liner Notes and "The Music of the Lord of the Rings films" book, based on the intentions of Howard Shore as presented in the Complete Recordings. However, there are other recurring melodies, particularly within the various alternates of the final score, which could constitute as themes:

  • "The Prophecy": This was used for the original take on the Prologue. A snippet of it appears in the final Prologue and again in the Two Towers when Galadriel and Elrond converse. In both instances, it is related to the corrupting power of the Ring.
  • "The Shire Expansive Variant": a lush setting of the B-section of the Shire theme, often played after the first section is played in the Pensive or the Rural Setting.
  • Aníron
  • "Emyn Muil": This melancholy melody for chorus was dialed out of the finished film, and appears only once in the Original Soundtrack and the Complete Recordings, yet appears twice in the Rarities Archive version of the track.
  • "Duel of the Maiar": In the film, the duel between the different Maiar, both between Gandalf and the Balrog and between Gandalf and Saruman (over Theoden's mind) were scored with different melodies. The Fan Credits, however, present an alternate to Gandalf's final stand against the Balrog, which follows the melody used in Edoras. There are also recurring choral outbursts at Gandalf's dramatic entrances throughout the series (including The Hobbit) which might constitute a theme.
  • "Breath of Life"
  • "Shadowfax theme": this choral melody appears only once in the finished film (and the Complete Recordings) where Gandalf, astride Shadowfax, charges with the Rohirrim at the Orcs at Helm's Deep. However, in the Original Soundtrack Release, this melody was also used when Shadowfax makes his first appearance.
  • "The Argonath": In the Extended Editions, Howard Shore used the Fan Credits to present alternates to his scores. In the Fellowship of the Ring, one of these Alternates reprises the Argonath piece heard earlier in the film. This music was also concertized in the "Lord of the Rings Symphony" and reappears in yet another alternate in the Rarities Archive.
  • "The Ring of Power": In the liner notes, Doug identifies a process of combining the different ring themes, starting with combinations of the History and Evil themes, followed by a combination of the Evil and Seduction theme (in the prologue to the Return of the King), and climaxing with the combination of all three themes to a "'Meta'-Ring theme" at Mount Doom. However, he does not list this as a separate theme.[4]
  • "Asea Aranion"
  • "Use Well the Days"
  • "Arwen's Song" (Alternate)
  • "Frodo's Song" (Two Alternates)

Also, several source music pieces, not by Shore, were used in the series in a recurring and narrativelly significant way, such as the Hobbiton Party Music (reprised for the Extended Edition of The Hobbit), The Ring's sound effects, the Orc Chant, several horn calls and the like.


Howard Shore made use of a large orchestra using the following instruments:

Use of Tolkien languages[edit]

The film score for The Lord of the Rings incorporates extensive vocal music blended with the orchestral arrangements. The great majority of the lyrics used are in the invented languages of Middle-earth, representing the various cultures and races in Tolkien's writings. These languages include Quenya and Sindarin associated with Elves, Adûnaic and Rohirric for Men, and Khuzdul of the Dwarves. Some of these languages had been developed extensively by Tolkien, while others were extrapolated by linguist David Salo based on the limited examples of vocabulary and linguistic style available. (Old English was used as an analog for Rohirric.) The lyrical texts were derived from several sources, including songs and poems written by Tolkien, as well as original and adapted material from screenwriters Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and others, all translated by Salo.[5] The vocal music serves primarily to give texture and cultural aesthetic to the score; there is never any translation of the lyrics in the on-screen presentation, and in many cases only fragments of the source texts are used.


  • "Aníron" (The Fellowship of the Ring) performed and composed by Enya
  • "May It Be" (The Fellowship of the Ring) performed and composed by Enya: nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song in 2001.
  • "To the Bottle I Go" (The Fellowship of the Ring) performed by Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Elijah Wood, and other Hobbit cast members
  • "The Song of Beren and Lúthien" (The Fellowship of the Ring) performed by Viggo Mortensen
  • "In Dreams" (The Fellowship of the Ring) performed by Edward Ross
  • "The Funeral of Théodred" (The Two Towers) performed by Miranda Otto
  • "Gollum's Song" (The Two Towers) performed by Emilíana Torrini is musically related to Gollum's Pity Theme. The lyrics are by Fran Walsh. The song was to have been performed by Björk, whose name actually appeared in the closing credits of the film as shown in theaters; Björk had to decline because of her pregnancy, however, and Torrini was credited in the DVD. This track is also titled "Long Ways to Go Yet," in The Complete Recordings. This version of the track includes additional instrumental music at the end, making it a medley of themes to cap off the album. Artist Geoff Keezer has released a jazz piano version of the song. Unrelated to the song of the same name in the book.
  • "The Green Dragon" (The Return of the King) performed by Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan
  • "Arwen's Song" (The Return of the King) performed by Liv Tyler.
  • "The Edge of Night" (The Return of the King) performed by Billy Boyd
  • "Asea Aranion": Performed by Sissel Kyrkjebø.
  • "The Return of The King" (The Return of The King) performed by Viggo Mortensen
  • "Into the West" (The Return of the King) performed by Annie Lennox: won the Academy Award for Best Song in 2004.

Deleted tracks[edit]

There exist several pieces of music written by Howard Shore that never made it into the final cut of the film trilogy or any existing soundtrack. Among these are various pieces written for battles throughout the film. There was also a special musical arrangement written for the trailer for The Return of the King, which primarily consisted of principal leitmotifs along with movie trailer-like music. Additionally, there was a song entitled "Use Well the Days" sung by Annie Lennox, which can be found on a supplementary DVD included with The Return of the King soundtrack in some packages released in 2003.[6]


For the three films Shore worked with many vocal and instrumental soloists.


Cast performers


Original soundtracks[edit]

Recordings of the score were originally issued on single-disc albums, that closely followed the theatrical release dates of the films or presented earlier versions recorded during the film's editing. All soundtrack albums of the trilogy have been released through Reprise Records, Enya's label at that time of the first soundtrack's release. While the cover art for The Fellowship of the Ring uses an original compilation of film characters, the covers for The Two Towers and The Return of the King reflect the respective film posters.

List of original soundtracks, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications

The Fellowship of the Ring 29 2 8 2 2 3 7 21 8 10
The Two Towers 43 2 31 11 3 8 20 14 28
The Return of the King 36 2 33 5 5 10 19 9 8 34
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

The Complete Recordings[edit]

Starting in 2005, a year after the extended release of The Return of the King, Reprise Records began to release one multi-disc set for each part of the trilogy. These annually published collections, titled The Complete Recordings, contain the entire score for the extended versions of the films on CD, along with an additional DVD-Audio disc that offers 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround mixes of the soundtrack. Each album also comes with extensive liner notes by music journalist Doug Adams which reviews all of the tracks and provides information about the process of composing and recording the score, as well as a detailed list of all musical instruments, people and organizations involved. These Annotated Scores have been made freely available by New Line on the promotional website for the soundtracks (see below). The cover artwork uses common elements for the three albums like the film series' logo and an inscription in Tolkien's tengwar letters. The background of each album cover differs though in that it shows an aspect from the map of Middle-earth drawn by Christopher Tolkien that fits the title of the release and the location of the plot: The Fellowship of the Ring depicts the The Shire, Rhudaur and Eregion in dark red, the cover for The Two Towers shows Rohan and Fangorn in dark blue while The Return of the King shows a map of Gondor in dark green.

The Fellowship of the Ring[edit]

The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring:
The Complete Recordings
Soundtrack album by Howard Shore
Released December 13, 2005
Length 180:35
Label Reprise

The Complete Recordings for The Fellowship of the Ring span just over three hours of music on three CDs. The set was released on December 13, 2005.

Track listing
Disc one
No. Title Length
1. "Prologue: One Ring to Rule Them All" 7:16
2. "The Shire" 2:29
3. "Bag End" (feat. "The Road Goes Ever On", performed by Ian McKellen) 4:35
4. "Very Old Friends" 3:12
5. "Flaming Red Hair" 2:39
6. "Farewell Dear Bilbo" 1:45
7. "Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe" (feat. "The Road Goes Ever On", performed by Ian Holm; feat. Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan) 8:54
8. "A Conspiracy Unmasked" 6:09
9. "Three Is Company" 1:58
10. "The Passing of the Elves" 2:39
11. "Saruman the White" 4:09
12. "A Shortcut to Mushrooms" 4:07
13. "Strider" 2:34
14. "The Nazgûl" (feat. "The Song of Beren and Lúthien", performed by Viggo Mortensen) 6:04
Total length: 58:30
Disc two
No. Title Length
1. "Weathertop" 2:14
2. "The Caverns of Isengard" 4:54
3. "Give Up the Halfling" 4:49
4. "Orthanc" 1:06
5. "Rivendell" 3:26
6. "The Sword That Was Broken" 3:34
7. "The Council of Elrond Assembles" (feat. "Aníron (Theme for Aragorn and Arwen)", composed & performed by Enya) 4:01
8. "The Great Eye" 5:30
9. "Gilraen's Memorial" 5:01
10. "The Pass of Caradhras" 5:04
11. "The Doors of Durin" 6:03
12. "Moria" 2:27
13. "Gollum" 2:26
14. "Balin's Tomb" 8:30
Total length: 59:05
Disc three
No. Title Length
1. "Khazad-dûm" 8:00
2. "Caras Galadhon" (feat. "Lament for Gandalf", performed by Elizabeth Fraser) 9:20
3. "The Mirror of Galadriel" 6:21
4. "The Fighting Uruk-hai" 11:32
5. "Parth Galen" 9:13
6. "The Departure of Boromir" 5:29
7. "The Road Goes Ever On... (Part 1)" 5:58
8. "May It Be" (composed & performed by Enya) 3:26
9. "The Road Goes Ever On... (Part 2)" (feat. "In Dreams", performed by Edward Ross) 3:41
Total length: 63:01

The Two Towers[edit]

The Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers:
The Complete Recordings
Soundtrack album by Howard Shore
Released November 7, 2006
Length 188:13
Label Reprise

The Complete Recordings for The Two Towers span over three hours of music on three CDs. The set was released on November 7, 2006.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[23]
ScoreNotes A[24]
Track listing
Disc one
No. Title Length
1. "Glamdring" 3:50
2. "Elven Rope" 2:19
3. "Lost in Emyn Muil" 4:15
4. "My Precious" 2:56
5. "Uglúk's Warriors" 1:41
6. "The Three Hunters" 6:12
7. "The Banishment of Éomer" 3:55
8. "Night Camp" 2:50
9. "The Plains of Rohan" 4:15
10. "Fangorn" 5:13
11. "The Dead Marshes" 5:08
12. ""Wraiths on Wings"" 2:08
13. "Gandalf the White" 6:48
14. "The Dreams of Trees" 1:55
15. "The Heir of Númenor" 6:51
16. "Ent-Draught" 2:54
Total length: 63:10
Disc two
No. Title Length
1. "Edoras" 4:34
2. "The Court of Meduseld" 3:11
3. "Théoden King" (feat. "The Funeral of Théodred", performed by Miranda Otto) 6:12
4. "The King's Decision" 2:08
5. "Exodus from Edoras" 5:43
6. "The Forests of Ithilien" 6:38
7. "One of the Dúnedain" (feat. "Evenstar", performed by Isabel Bayrakdarian) 7:13
8. "The Wolves of Isengard" 4:22
9. "Refuge at Helm's Deep" 4:00
10. "The Voice of Saruman" 1:12
11. "Arwen's Fate" (feat. "The Grace of the Valar", performed by Sheila Chandra) 3:59
12. "The Story Foretold" 3:39
13. "Sons of the Steward" 6:03
14. "Rock and Pool" 2:55
15. "Faramir's Good Council" 2:21
Total length: 63:59
Disc three
No. Title Length
1. "Aragorn's Return" 2:12
2. "War Is Upon Us" 3:36
3. ""Where Is the Horse and the Rider?"" 6:16
4. "The Host of the Eldar" 2:51
5. "The Battle of the Hornburg" 2:53
6. "The Breach of the Deeping Wall" 3:03
7. "The Entmoot Decides" 2:06
8. "Retreat" (feat. "Haldir's Lament", performed by Elizabeth Fraser) 4:41
9. "Master Peregrin's Plan" 2:32
10. "The Last March of the Ents" (feat. Ben Del Maestro) 2:31
11. "The Nazgûl Attack" 2:45
12. "Théoden Rides Forth" (feat. Ben Del Maestro) 5:48
13. "The Tales That Really Matter" 12:01
14. ""Long Ways to Go Yet"" (feat. "Gollum's Song", performed by Emilíana Torrini) 8:06
Total length: 61:12

The Return of the King[edit]

The Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King:
The Complete Recordings
Soundtrack album by Howard Shore
Released November 20, 2007
Length 229:17
Label Reprise

The Complete Recordings for The Return of the King span almost three hours and fifty minutes on four CDs. The accompanying DVD-audio disc is double-sided to accommodate all of the material. The set was released on November 20, 2007 and is currently the only of the three to be available for digital download.[25]

Track listing
Disc one
No. Title Length
1. "Roots and Beginnings" 6:31
2. "Journey to the Crossroads" 2:17
3. "The Road to Isengard" 2:18
4. "The Foot of Orthanc" 4:45
5. "Return to Edoras" 1:51
6. "The Chalice Passed" 1:51
7. "The Green Dragon" (feat. Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan) 0:35
8. "Gollum's Villainy" 2:10
9. "Éowyn's Dream" 1:24
10. "The Palantír" 3:10
11. "Flight from Edoras" 2:19
12. "The Grace of Undómiel" (feat. Renée Fleming) 6:21
13. "The Eyes of the White Tower" 4:33
14. "A Coronal of Silver and Gold" 8:27
15. "The Lighting of the Beacons" 9:03
Total length: 57:32
Disc two
No. Title Length
1. "Osgiliath Invaded" (feat. Ben Del Maestro) 8:48
2. "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol" 2:41
3. "Allegiance to Denethor" 3:20
4. "The Sacrifice of Faramir" (feat. "The Edge of Night", performed by Billy Boyd) 4:09
5. "The Parting of Sam and Frodo" 4:04
6. "Marshalling at Dunharrow" 4:57
7. "Andúril - Flame of the West" 3:28
8. "The Passing of the Grey Company" 4:12
9. "Dwimorberg - The Haunted Mountain" 2:26
10. "Master Meriadoc, Swordthain" 1:40
11. "The Paths of the Dead" 6:22
12. "The Siege of Gondor" 9:01
13. "Shelob's Lair" 8:53
14. "Merry's Simple Courage" 2:09
Total length: 66:03
Disc three
No. Title Length
1. "Grond - The Hammer of the Underworld" 1:33
2. "Shelob the Great" 5:13
3. "The Tomb of the Stewards" 3:58
4. "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields" 4:10
5. "The Pyre of Denethor" 2:59
6. "The Mûmakil" 0:57
7. "Dernhelm in Battle" 2:06
8. "A Far Green Country" 1:28
9. "Shieldmaiden of Rohan" 5:07
10. "The Passing of Théoden" 2:16
11. "The Houses of Healing" (feat. Liv Tyler) 2:58
12. "The Tower of Cirith Ungol" 4:41
13. "The Last Debate" (feat. "Asëa Aranion", performed by Sissel) 4:21
14. "The Land of Shadow" 6:29
15. "The Mouth of Sauron" (feat. Sir James Galway) 8:16
16. ""For Frodo"" (feat. Ben Del Maestro) 3:17
Total length: 59:44
Disc four
No. Title Length
1. "Mount Doom" (feat. Renée Fleming) 4:09
2. "The Crack of Doom" 4:02
3. "The Eagles" (feat. Renée Fleming) 2:24
4. "The Fellowship Reunited" (feat. Sir James Galway, Viggo Mortensen, and Renée Fleming) 12:18
5. "The Journey to the Grey Havens" (feat. Sir James Galway) 7:35
6. "Elanor" (feat. Sir James Galway) 1:28
7. "Days of the Ring" (feat. "Into the West", performed by Annie Lennox) 11:10
8. "Bilbo's Song" 2:58
Total length: 45:58

The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films[edit]

The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films (ISBN 978-0-7390-7157-1) is a book which was written by Doug Adams and released on October 5, 2010. The book contains a detailed look at the themes and leitmotifs in the films' music.[26] It also contains snippets of sheet music and illustrations. The book was released with a companion CD, The Rarities Archives. The CD has 21 tracks of previously unreleased music created for the films, as well as an audio interview with Howard Shore.

The Rarities Archives[edit]

The Lord of the Rings: The Rarities Archives
TLOTR the rarities.jpg
Soundtrack album by Howard Shore
Released European Union on September 28 and in the U.S. and worldwide on October 5, 2010
Length 1:19:25
Label Howe Records
Track listing
No. Title Length
1. "Prologue: One Ring to Rule Them All (Alternate)" 5:56
2. "The Shire/The Hobbits (Mock-up)" 2:00
3. "Out From Bree (Theatrical Version & Alternate)" 4:04
4. "Flight to the Ford (Alternate)" 4:04
5. "Moria (Mock-up)" 1:44
6. "The Fighting Uruk-hai (Alternate)" 1:47
7. "The Argonath (Alternate)" 2:18
8. "Gwenwin in în ("Arwen's Song" Alternate/Mock-up)" 2:02
9. "Arwen's Song (Complete)" 2:11
10. "Emyn Muil (Alternate)" 3:23
11. "The Rohan Fanfare (Mock-up)" 3:09
12. "The Eaves of Fangorn (Alternate)" 5:25
13. "The Ent Theme (Mock-up)" 2:00
14. "The Return of the King Trailer" 2:34
15. "The Gondor Theme (Mock-up)" 2:18
16. "The Muster of Rohan (Alternate)" 6:43
17. "The Siege of Gondor (Alternate)" 3:13
18. "Shieldmaiden of Rohan (Theatrical Version)" 2:00
19. "Sammath Naur (Alternate)" 8:51
20. "Frodo's Song ("Into the West" Alternate/Mock-up)" 2:23
21. "Elanor (Alternate)" 1:30
22. "In Conversation (Audio Interview Part 1)" 5:05
23. "In Conversation (Audio Interview Part 2)" 4:27


The scores and soundtrack albums of the film trilogy have won several awards:

The Fellowship of the Ring
Preceded by
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Academy Award for Best Original Score
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album
Succeeded by
The Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers
Preceded by
World Soundtrack Award for Best Original Soundtrack
Succeeded by
The Two Towers
Preceded by
The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring
Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album
Succeeded by
The Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King
The Return of the King
Preceded by
Academy Award for Best Original Score
Succeeded by
Finding Neverland
Preceded by
"Lose Yourself" by Eminem from 8 Mile
Academy Award for Best Original Song
with "Into the West" by Annie Lennox
Succeeded by
"Al Otro Lado del Río" from The Motorcycle Diaries
Preceded by
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Succeeded by
The Aviator
Preceded by
The Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers
Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album
Succeeded by


The Lord of the Rings Symphony
LOTRS symphony.jpg
Soundtrack album by Howard Shore
Released September 13, 2011
Recorded Lucerne, Switzerland
Length 1:55:15
Label Howe Records

Following the theatrical release of all three films, Howard Shore reworked the film scores of the trilogy into The Lord of the Rings Symphony, a more structured six-movement work for orchestra and choir. This has been performed in various concert halls around the world, accompanied by a light and visual art show by Alan Lee and John Howe. A DVD titled Howard Shore: Creating the Lord of the Rings Symphony—a composer's journey through Middle Earth has been released. The 50-minute-long DVD features extensive excerpts of the concert given by Shore and the Montreal Orchestra and Grand Choir at the "Montreal en Lumiere" Festival, interspersed with spoken commentary by Shore, who recounts his approach in composing the music for the three films and then reworking it into the LOTR symphony.

On September 13, 2011, Shore released "The Lord of the Rings Symphony" on CD and MP3 format. The double-album was recorded in Lucerne, Switzerland and performed by the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra & Chorus (including treble Loris Sikora, Boy Soprano Manuelle Polli, Mezzo-Soprano Kaitlyn Lusk and Bass-Bartione Marc-Olivier Oetterli) under the direction of Ludwig Wicki.

Track listing
  1. "Movement 1" - 11:25
  2. "Movement 2" - 34:04
  3. "Movement 3" - 18:15
  4. "Movement 4" - 10:28
  5. "Movement 5" - 15:26
  6. "Movement 6" - 26:13

Live to Projection[edit]

Live to Projection is a series where The Lord of the Rings theatrical films (which only had dialogue and sound effects) were projected while the music is performed live in sync with the films. It is conducted by Ludwig Wicki and Erik Eino Ochsner[27] and was performed around the world, including Switzerland, Australia and the United States.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Adams, Doug. The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films. Carpentier, 2010, p. 11.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Doug Adams, The Music of the Lord of the Rings films, part III: The Return of the King, The Annotated Score, p. 28
  5. ^ Adams, pp 2-4.
  6. ^ "The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King". (in German). Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  7. ^ "Lord Of The Strings". Gardiner Houlgate. Retrieved 25 April 2017. 
  8. ^ a b Peak Billboard chart positions:
  9. ^ "Discography Howard Shore". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Discographie Howard Shore". (in German). Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Discography Howard Shore". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Discographie – Howard Shore". (in German). Media Control Charts. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  13. ^ "Discografie Howard Shore". (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 9 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "Discography Howard Shore". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  15. ^ "Discography Howard Shore". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "Howard Shore" (select "Albums" tab). Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c "American certifications – Lord of the Rings". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 4 January 2014. [permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – 2003". Ultratop & Hung Medien / Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b c "Certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original (To access, enter the search parameter "The Lord of the Rings" and select "Search by Title") on 16 July 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "Soundtrack" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  21. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Soundtrack; 'The Lord of the Rings')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b "Canadian certifications – Lord of the Rings". Music Canada. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  23. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers -- The Complete Recordings - Howard Shore". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  24. ^ "The Two Towers by Howard Shore". ScoreNotes. Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King - The Complete Recordings". Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  26. ^ Burlingame, Jon (October 7, 2010). "New book explores 'Lord of the Rings' music". Variety. Retrieved 8 October 2010. 
  27. ^ "Erik Eino Ochsner to Conduct Lord of the Rings Performance". Wallstreet Online. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011. [dead link]
  28. ^ Morgan, David (October 6, 2010). "Middle Earth Returns to Radio City". CBS News. Retrieved 8 October 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Adams, Doug (2010). The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films. Carpentier.

External links[edit]