Friday, November 28, 2008

Update: Late November, 2008

Thank you so much to everyone that sent in birthday wishes yesterday, both through the blog and through email. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You all are the very best!

So it seems most appropriate that I return the kindness. How about an update, eh?

You’ll note I’m leaving the word “book” out above. This isn’t just a “book update.” Things are progressing on a number of fronts now. Believe me, we’re taking every imaginable advantage of the recent delay to create thing(s) like no one has before.

Take, for example, our long-established goal of providing “multimedia” material. That’s been one of the toughest nuts to crack, conceptually speaking. The rub? To maintain relevance within the confines of our overall approach, a documentary piece should be both procedural and analytical in nature. That’s great, but two risks arise: 1) We’d end up presenting material completely redundant to the book’s, thus negating the documentary’s reason to exist… or 2) If we specifically left material out of the book so that it would be unique to a documentary piece, we’d end up with a purposefully-incomplete book hardly fitting the comprehensive mold we’ve always envisioned.

We could always just plop ourselves in front of a camera and give you a 10 minute fireside chat, allowing audiences to put faces with the music and book, but that’s fluffy and insubstantial… and I can’t seen publishers being very happy about having to author and package a DVD that’s as useless as that.

So what happens? Should this “multimedia” idea be scrapped? No, not at all. We know that people respond to the personal side of things; we’ve seen it repeatedly in speaking engagements. And I think it’s important to show people that, look, all this music was created by a very real person.

We headed into last week knowing this—knowing that there was something of worth to be created, but unsure of what our angle should be.

A camera was set, we arranged a makeshift set, stashed away a few Altoids (talking heads are much closer in real life than they appear to be on camera!), and sat down to… just do some general work. It seemed the easiest way to find a piece was to let it find us. We had plenty of other work to tend to, so why not simply introduce the camera to the room. 

We started with a few book notes. As the text has moved from liners to full-fledged book, it’s become increasingly analytical. This means that there’s been more back-and-forth between Shore and me so that I can be certain I’m presenting his concepts as he imagined them. Example… I referred to recurring G-minor and E-minor chords as being a sixth apart. Howard actually thought of them as being a third apart. Same concept, different terminology, but it’s important to me that my language reflects his mind.

The book review only lasted a little while. We’d planned on managing the bulk of it the next day anyway. The Rarities were next on the docket. This was incredibly exciting for me. I’ve been rummaging through archives for nearly two years now, and though we’ve always discussed the findings, this was the first time we’d sit and listen through the music together.

And a funny thing happened here. In the process of reviewing this material I think we found our multimedia piece. Talking about the Rarities with Howard was incredibly interesting. Even though the conversation was ostensibly about a single topic, it proved a revealing way to touch on a number of subjects: the history of the project as a whole; Shore’s creative process, the collaboration with Peter, Fran and Philippa; alternate edits of the film; alternate musical concepts… we even found the very first mock-up Shore created for LOTR. Yes, the very first music he wrote for this project.

I suppose I should have known it would pan out this way. In order to discuss the unused music in the Rarities, we’d have to discuss the process at its deepest level. It’s the perfect device for these types of conversations.

And suddenly, everything clicked. By the next morning we were no longer just talking with a camera in the room, we were crafting a very specific piece. It would be something entirely different, something that, as far as I’m aware, no one has really tried before.

Now, don’t think I’ve gone senile in my newly advanced age! I’m not giving everything away here. Our plans for this video material are, as I say, anything but straightforward. I’m not yet ready reveal how exactly this will all be assembled. If current plans are realized, it’ll be very unique, very accessible, and (with a little luck) incredibly immersive.

The above also means we have some reconsidering to do. Obviously creating a piece around the Rarities is combining the Multimedia and Rarities concepts. This may mean that the book will not need a DVD component. (No fretting here… This doesn’t mean less material for you next year. We’re still talking all the same materials, simply bundled differently. In fact, this may mean you’ll ultimately see more content for less money!)

So within the next few weeks I should be getting my first glimpse of the footage from last week. We’re also very close to re-locking the book text with HS’ edits incorporated, and that needs to be in to the publishers very soon. Oh, and I also heard the very first ideas for the Master Box packaging, which should progress soon as well. Personally, I loved what I heard. It's a very sophisticated concept, much more than a cardboard sleeve!

In early 2009, I’ll return to NY to continue (and probably conclude) filming. Thank goodness the airlines didn’t lose my luggage since I now have to wear the same brown sweater every time we film so that it can be edited together. It began the morning of Nov 20 as a comfy pullover, and finished the day as a costume!

Oh, I almost forgot: We also discussed this past week how exactly to debut all this material next year… a long expected release party as it were. If current plans hold, I defy anyone to surpass what we’ve got in the works!

…That reminds me, I have a press release to assemble.

See you soon,


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Hi everyone,

A very happy Thanksgiving to all the U.S. readers out there! Due to a schedule chock full of rewrites and holiday responsibilities, the upcoming Book Update is lagging a bit behind, but will be along shortly I promise. As long as I'm chiming in, however, I thought I'd let you know that albums for both Doubt and The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) are officially on the way. Label and date info is still to come, but at least we all have two more things to be thankful for now.

Again, all my best to those celebrating this week. Updates will come soon, I promise.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lettres Letters

FrenchCulture.org has a nice write-up on last week's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres reception. You'll already know the Shore details, but the co-awardee's biographies are quite interesting.

Side note: Dr. Kathleen Weil-Garris Brandt, who was feted that evening, gave a long detailed speech about her passionate quest to prove that the cupid statue in Cultural Embassy's foyer was the work on Michelangelo himself, and not just some anonymous artist. She, of course, made her case, and the little Cupid is now accepted as the master's work. As the event was ending, I stood in front of the statue and locked eyes with the little fellow. Famed dancer/choreographer Douglas Dunn, who also just received the honor, sidled up to me and similarly looked at Cupid. After a few seconds he gently poked me in the ribs, leaned in and jokingly whispered, "I don't know, I still don't think it is..." With a dancer's timing he winked, turned and walked out into the night.

Look for a book update coming soon. This past week was huge, and some long-gestating major decisions have finally been made!


Complete Recordings Availability Fall, 2008 Edition [UPDATE]

I'm told we should have definitive word on this issue very shortly. It's been stressed to me that these sets are NOT discontinued at all; the problem should be resolved directly. If you were planning to pick up a box set or two for the holidays, be good for goodness sake: don't turn to price gougers or unsavory sources! Hang in there a little longer.

More to come... 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Complete Recordings Availability Fall, 2008 Edition

Haven't we done this dance before?

I'm beginning to get reports that Amazon is intermittently listing the Complete Recording sets as being "out of stock" or "discontinued." I'm already looking into this and should have details--and hopefully good news--soon.

Ordre des Arts et des Lettres Pictures

For your enjoyment, a couple of hastily snapped phone pictures from last Wednesday's reception. Click any to see a larger version.

Getting Pinned: Shore's honor is bestowed. 

Howard was awarded at the Officier level, the second highest of three potential levels. Via Wikipededia, here's a better look at the ribbon, rosette and medallion.

Les Trois: Howard Shore, past Ordre des Arts et des Lettres recipient (and Naked Lunch collaborator) Ornette Coleman, and co-awardee George Avakian.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I've been up since 3 a.m. Details (such as they'll be) coming soon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lingering Doubt

I lied! One more post before I sign off. This is from Jon Burlingame's terrific Variety piece on two stage-to-screen scores from 2008:

Shanley's "Doubt," starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, is set in a Bronx Catholic school in 1964. "I wanted to capture a feeling of that period," Shore says, "using folk instruments," including hammer dulcimer, recorder, Celtic harp and harmonium.

Shore, the "Lord of the Rings" composer who was overseeing the L.A. production of his opera "The Fly" while scoring "Doubt," used only 17 musicians. "It's a really intimate story," he says during a break on the Warner Bros. recording stage. "The dialogue is fantastic, and you want to work carefully with it."

And with the principal characters being a nun and a priest, the score often takes on a vaguely liturgical air. "I was trying to create an older, specific sound for the Catholic Church," he explains. There is already considerable organ and choral music in the score (traditional material, not written by Shore), so a cohesive fit was a must.

"Organ music is essentially string music," Shore explains, "so I have the strings playing in these long chords. I'm working off the sound of the church. Voices are used, but just for the color, their sound; they're not singing in Latin."

Shore -- who last worked with "Doubt" producer Scott Rudin on the Paul Newman film "Nobody's Fool" -- says "there are very strong thematic pieces that connect characters. The music is really used like another means of expression to tell the story. It's a pretty pure way to do it."

In the News

Thought I'd post a couple of quick news items as I pack up for NY.

indieWIRE has a nice piece here on The Betrayal, including a little background on Shore's initial involvement.

And Fiji-based composer and conductor, Igelese Ete, who acted as choirmaster for the New Zealand LOTR: FOTR recording sessions, has received one of this year's Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards. Read more at NZ's Scoop.

Finally, Doubt played in LA last night with much of the crew in attendance, including Mr. Shore. Word is the film is extremely powerful, as is Shore's score, and was a huge hit with the crowd.

...And now I'm going to finish cramming my suitcase. I'm told the ENTIRE catalogue of LOTR multitrack sessions is awaiting me in NY this time. ProTools, here I come.

Expect reports on Rarities, Embassies and Documentaries soon!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Making It Official...

Hi everyone,

I'm happy to announce that I'll once again be attending the concerts in Lucerne in 2009. Right now, I can confirm that I'll be present for The Towers Live performances on March 14 and 15. Still working out the details on March 13... due to prior commitments, I may have to miss that one, but I'm still trying to work something out.

Just as last time, Howard Shore and I are planning to speak before the concerts. 

Thanks to the Lucerne staff for their patience while my schedule was assembled. Hope to see many of you there!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Anyone else find this picture--NASA's first-ever shots of a planet outside our solar system--slightly disconcerting, or I have I just been working too hard on the book this week?

Lucerne announcements tomorrow. Sleep now!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Meeting of the Rings

Now on display at the Richard Wagner Museum in Lucerne, Switzerland:

That's Shore's guestbook signature from last March's visit. Thanks to Sabsi for the picture!

Speaking of Lucerne and Rings... stay tuned for announcements coming soon.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

THE BETRAYAL (Nerakhoon)

The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) tells the story of Thavisouk Phrasavath and his family's journey from Laos to New York. The film is the first pure documentary Howard Shore has scored. The original music primarily features solo cello with a handful of graceful orchestral touches throughout. Posted here is the film's theatrical trailer, in which you can hear some of Shore's music.

The film will open November 21 at the IFC Center in New York. Tickets will be available here.

City Choir of Washington Set for TTT Live

As with Fellowship last year, the City Choir of Washington has been tapped to handle choral duties for Wolf Trap's performance of The Two Towers Live.

Congratulations one and all! And start your warm-ups now... the Last March of the Ents awaits!

Thanks to Lynne Price for the news.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

TTT Live Poster

Wolf Trap's website has revealed The Two Towers Live's official poster. Thanks to Timdalf for the heads-up!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Those anxious to hear Shore's work in the upcoming Doubt will be interested to know that it's already earned its first positive notice:

"Howard Shore’s score provides unobtrusive strength."

Yes, that's the whole thing. But that's as about as much space Variety ever dedicates to film scores, so it's still nice to hear.

Read the full review here.

Lucerne: TTT Live Update

Only a few tickets remain for the world premiere of The Two Towers Live in Lucerne, Switzerland. Order yours here before it's too late!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Notes on Notes

The first batch of Music of LOTR notes is in from Shore's office New York. I plan to work my way through the material during the course of the week, so if it seems that I'm even more sluggish than usual with posts and emails, I'll at least have a valid excuse this time... 

-Doug (currently watching election results while adding music example captions)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ongoing Discussion Thread [November, 2008]

It's November now, time for the weather to cool off and the book work to heat up! This month I'll take a final pass at the book's text as I begin to incorporate editorial notes from Howard Shore's office. The notes will come in from New York next week. I'll have a month to get material reconfigured and set for delivery to the publishers December 1.

Also this month we'll begin work on the book's DVD content and continuing work on the Rarities Archives. I'll be in New York the week before U.S. Thanksgiving tending to both.

So stay tuned throughout November, there's sure to be plenty of news!

Image copyrights and trademarks are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law | Original Blog Content Copyright 2007 - 2012 Middle D, Inc. | Original Blog Template by www.blogerthemes.net