Now playing: one film score to rule them all
Ahead of a Dublin performance, ‘Lord of the Rings’ composer Howard Shore answers questions about matching Tolkien’s vision and why the music is better heard live
HOWARD SHORE has composed film scores for more than 80 films, most notably collaborating with David Cronenberg, Martin Scorsese and Peter Jackson.
He won three Academy Awards for scoring the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and was also nominated for an Oscar for his score for Scorsese’s Hugo.
This Sunday, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra performs The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers at the O2 in Dublin.
When you start to write, do you envisage the type of sounds or instruments straight away, or do you sketch things up, with the specifics emerging later?
When I start I always work from counterpoint and harmony – the real basics of music – and I don’t think in terms of orchestration or colour. That’s a separate process for me, so I always work counterpointedly first. I work a lot from words, from the story or book. Whatever I’m working on, I like to read a lot, so having a piece like The Lord Of The Rings was really a gift.
How important is a writing setting for you?
It is quite important. I live in a forest in New York and a lot of Tolkien’s work is about nature. I think I feel really connected to his work because I love nature so much, so I always write in a very woodland setting.
Were you always a fan?
Oh yes. I read The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings in the 1960s and I really fell in love with the stories.
Could you ever have imagined you’d end up working so extensively on it?
I never really did. I never imagined it at the time; I just enjoyed it as a reader. Later on, when I started to delve into the work and the writing, I revisited all of Tolkien’s work, of course, and I fell in love with it all over again.
When you set out to score The Lord of the Rings, did you feel challenged or intimidated by the vastness of the trilogy?
Well, I went to visit the set and I saw the quality of filmmaking at work. It was so beautiful you wanted to be a part of it. Of course it was quite a journey – almost four years of writing and composing and orchestrating and conducting. It’s quite a massive work, but really it’s the culmination of all those years of work and being so deeply involved in Tolkien’s story.