The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – Bear McCreary

In the early 2000s, The Lord of the Rings trilogy took the world by storm. The three movies were superb adaptations of the book, with excellent visuals, great acting and magnificent scores as a cherry on the cake. Howard Shore was responsible for composing the scores for all three of them, and the music he wrote for them was stunning. I would argue that his orchestral scores with superb themes are part of the trilogy’s success. When the television series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was announced, Shore’s name was mentioned again. 

Howard Shore did not write the music for the entire season of the show. Still, he is involved with the show by writing its main theme. You can hear his work in “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Main Title.” It is a gorgeous orchestral piece that fits perfectly in the soundscapes he has created for The Lord of the Rings

I was extremely excited when I heard that Bear McCreary was on board to write the rest of the score. I know that McCreary is influenced by Shore’s music for the trilogy, and I also know that he can write stunning music with excellent themes for fantasy, with his scores for God of War and Masters of the Universe: Revelation as outstanding examples. 

What McCreary likes to do with his passion projects is to write blogs about composing the music for them, and he has done the same for The Rings of Power in four blog posts on his website. When he writes those extensive blogs, I’m not particularly eager to go into more detail of the themes because there is no better way to retrieve that kind of information than directly from the source. I recommend reading McCreary’s blog posts about his journey of writing the music for the show and creating its many themes. 

The album I am reviewing here is the main album for the first season. On it, you can find most of the fleshed-out themes McCreary has written for the show. What I love about them is that they all contain recognizable melodies. In addition, their instrumentations are also ideally suited for what they represent, and many themes embody a location or a race as a whole. In “Nampat,” for example, you can hear the war cries of the evil orcs, while in contrast, in “Valinor,” you can listen to the soothing melodies of a choir representing the elves. In “Khazad‐dûm,” you can hear the might of the dwarves in the music performed by a choir and orchestra.

McCreary wrote many themes for characters as well. “Sauron” is an orchestra with choir cue that sounds dark and ominous, while “Durin IV” and “Nori Brandyfoot” come across as uplifting and joyful, performed with many solo instruments. But my favorite theme on the album is “Galadriel.” The melody of this theme, first played on the French Horn, perfectly represents the grace of the famous elf. In the piece’s finale, the whole orchestra performs the same melody, showing off her strength and resilience.

In addition to these stand-alone themes, you can also find some of the musical highlights of the score on the album. Each of them shows the strength of McCreary’s writing: Integrating his recognizable themes perfectly into the music, telling the same story as seen in the corresponding scene. The themes transition marvelously into each other and are altered in such a way as to give the scene the emotion it needs, or the themes are combined into one cue if multiple theme aspects are present in the visuals. It makes each track a fun exercise to dissect.

While writing this, I have seen every episode of the show, except for the finale, and I loved every minute of it. One of the reasons I like it is because of the music. I think the soundtrack fits the story perfectly and well with the music Shore wrote for The Lord of the Rings, tying both narratives together. If you like the music from this album and want to listen to more, you are in for a treat because there is a separate album released for each episode, containing almost all of the music of that episode.

I hope this show will be successful for many more seasons. I want to see where the story goes and what the music will do. McCreary mentioned in his blogs that these themes are only the foundation and that he had created them with the full story in mind, covering multiple seasons. If this soundtrack is stunning already, I am incredibly curious about what the end product will be.

Listen or buy

Tracklist

The highlights are in bold.

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Main Title [by Howard Shore] (1:33)
  2. Galadriel (3:43)
  3. Khazad‐dûm (3:20)
  4. Nori Brandyfoot (2:49)
  5. The Stranger (5:03)
  6. Númenor (4:31)
  7. Sauron (2:45)
  8. Valinor (2:39)
  9. In the Beginning (7:49)
  10. Elrond Half‐elven (3:23)
  11. Durin IV (3:04)
  12. Harfoot Life (2:21)
  13. Bronwyn and Arondir (2:47)
  14. Halbrand (2:55)
  15. The Boat (4:08)
  16. Sundering Seas (2:41)
  17. Nobody Goes Off Trail (4:25)
  18. Elendil and Isildur (4:16)
  19. White Leaves (4:41)
  20. The Secrets of the Mountain (3:49)
  21. Nolwa Mahtar (2:02)
  22. Nampat (2:34)
  23. A Plea to the Rocks (3:47)
  24. This Wandering Day (2:10)
  25. Scherzo for Violin and Swords (1:52)
  26. Sailing into the Dawn (4:18)
  27. For the Southlands (4:32)
  28. Cavalry (4:06)
  29. Water and Flame (3:29)
  30. In the Mines (8:14)
  31. The Veil of Smoke (4:59)
  32. The Mystics (7:54)
  33. Perilous Whisperings (2:41)
  34. The Broken Line (5:55)
  35. Wise One (8:44)
  36. True Creation Requires Sacrifice (5:51)
  37. Where the Shadows Lie – Instrumental (3:04)

Total length: 2 hours and 29 minutes
Amazon Content Services (2022)

Author

  • Anton Smit

    Anton is the editor-in-chief and founder of Soundtrack World. After writing about film music occasionally, he thought it was time to create his own site to celebrate music from film but also other media. Next to working on this website, Anton is a member of the International Film Music Critics Association, has a job in IT and plays the tuba in a local orchestra.

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