Friday, January 18, 2013

Far Over Misty Mountains a capella

So, thanks to R.J.A. of the MythSoc list for posting a link to this interesting piece, in which singer Peter Hollens performs an a capella version of the dwarves' song from the new HOBBIT movie. Hollens provides all the voices, producing quite a nice effect. I still prefer the movie's original (Shore and Jackson seem to be particularly gifted at crafting a song to an actor's voice, as witnessed by Pippin's and Aragorn the King's songs in LotR), but this is an interesting and enjoyable variant of it. Besides, Hollens sings the whole song, where as in the film (the theatrical version at least) we only get the first half.

Here's the link.

There's also another version of it here, adding in a violin part by one Jun Sung Ahn

For my part, I much prefer the film version to either; the high voices on the latter parts of the first seem to depart from the tone and spirit of the opening. Perhaps I'm influenced here by JRRT's description of dwarven singing in a passage he wrote for the second edition:

"Dwarves had been long in the world and known much troublous history before the days of Thror, and when he wrote of old* he meant it: in the ancient past remembered still in those deep throated songs of lore that the dwarf-kin sang in their secret tongue at feasts to which none but dwarves were bidden. Some say that they sing still" [H.o.H.753]

As for the violin version, it made me want to hear what Shore's melody, sung by Armitage et al, wd sound like if set to the instrumentation the dwarves bring with them in Tolkien's original: harp, viols (two), clarinets (two), drum, flutes (three), and fiddles (two).** Might make for an interesting project for the musically inclined . . .

--John R.

*i.e., on the Lonely Mountain map: "Here of old was Thrain King . . . "

**so far as I can tell, Gloin and Oin have no instruments. Perhaps they're the singers.


Luke Hobbs said...

Interesting links; I'll have to check them out.

FYI, Shore did not write the "Misty Mountains" melody for the film; it was written by Plan 9, a musical group comprised of New Zealanders who also wrote and performed the Long-expected Party music in FOTR, along with the Elvish singing that Sam and Frodo hear while on their way to Bree in the extended edition of FOTR.

Also, Boyd and Mortensen actually composed their own melodies for "The Edge of Night" and "Et Earello," respectively. Mortensen also composed the melody for the brief snippet of the "Lay of Luthien" (as Aragorn calls it in the film) that he sings in the extended edition of FOTR.

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi Luke
I'd heard Mortensen composed the oath-song but had forgotten it in the years since. Hadn't known about the others not being by Shore. Shore and Jackson still deserve credit for allowing their actors to contribute creatively, but had I known of Plan 9's work obviously I wd have credited them for the melodies (which are and remain a v. gd piece of work).
Thanks for the information.
--John R.