When fans of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy return to Middle-earth for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of three films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s earlier book, there will be plenty of familiar sights and sounds. Ian McKellen’s Gandalf plays a major role in this adventure, of course, and a few other favorite actors from LOTR return as well. But it’s the music that immediately washes over the audience like a warm blanket and reminds them that they’re “home” again. Composer Howard Shore, who won three Academy Awards for his work on the previous films, has weaved the now iconic “Concerning Hobbits” melody throughout the new film while expanding upon Middle-earth’s musical palette. “The Hobbit is a more gentle story than Lord of the Rings,” says Shore, in an exclusive video about the making of the film’s music, recorded by his wife, Elizabeth. “I always begin working with the book, the words, the most important thing.”
A lifelong Tolkien enthusiast, Shore revisits the books almost daily, and he often plotted the music as he read. That literary connection, in addition to his deep relationship with nature, helped create the musical fabric that has become so synonymous with Jackson’s films. “I just try to capture the spirit of each scene,” he explains.
Watch the clip below, which also shows him working with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at historic Abbey Road Studios. “More chaos,” he demands of his musicians at one point. “More, more terror.
The 2-CD soundtrack, which will be available for purchase on Dec. 11, three days before the movie opens, can be heard in its entirety at Rolling Stone’s site. You can pre-order your own copy now from Amazon or iTunes.