Monday, August 20, 2012


In the summer of 2011, the producers of The Hobbit began releasing still images from the film. One of the first -- maybe it was the very first, I'm not sure -- featured Bilbo Baggins carefully reviewing his contract with the Dwarves. I remember the day well because that afternoon I also received a contract. Mine, if somewhat less perilous, also offered a grand adventure full of new challenges and an unparalleled chance for self-discovery. It was my contract for a book on Howard Shore's music to The Hobbit.

I read the contract over during the day, and by that evening had set it back on the shelf. I was beyond excited, but I also knew to be patient. After all, the creation of The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films was a long, long journey. It was on May 16, 2001 that I originally received the call to do "something"with Howard Shore's music for these stories. And it was in October 2010 that the book was finally released. The Hobbit contract loomed large, but as of summer 2011, there was not yet any Hobbit music to speak of. Howard Shore was still very much in the world of Hugo -- and, frankly, even I hopped into that world for a short but memorable stay. So my Hobbit contract sat still, ready to go, but on hold.

The funny thing about adventures, though, is that you're rarely sure when they'll begin or when they'll end. Shortly after Martin Scorcese's charming film -- and Shore's brilliant score -- was in theaters, a new trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey appeared featuring new music by Howard Shore. The composer's work on The Hobbit had quietly overlapped Hugo. Sure it was just a trailer, but it ensured that the new music for Middle-earth would be firmly lodged in our ears for months to come. I honestly cannot remember the last time a piece of music from a trailer had so many YouTube covers a year before the film's release.

As 2012 rolled in, Shore made his official return to Tolkien's world. He was now a full-time resident, though he made committed excursions to oversee his new Cello Concerto and the releases of his vibrant scores to Cosmopolis and S.U.N. He and I would chat from time-to-time, and I would record the important details in the back of my mind, but I was also overlapping projects a bit. By this time, I had begun work on a second book that followed up both on three Hugo articles I penned for Shore's official site and on a piece I wrote for the Seattle Opera. And while this new book occupied much of my creative time, there was also a wedding to tend to ...

By June of 2012, I was 200-something pages into writing book two when real-life dictated a pause. It was time to sign a wedding license. I tend to get a little too focused when writing, and temporarily abandon such niceties as eating and sleeping, so it's good to have someone pull me away from the desk now and then. I don't mind the intensity, but I'm sure it's better for me to take breaks. However, no sooner was the wedding contract signed than I received an email: it was time to return that Hobbit contract from a year ago. I jotted down another sloppy signature and signed my second contract of the day.

About two weeks ago that contract returned to me in the mail. It was now countersigned, binding, and official.

This post is going online on Monday, August 20, 2012. Why? Because today marks the official start of The Hobbit recording sessions in London. Today the musical world of Middle-earth begins expanding once again. Today, you can no longer say that you know every note of Shore's music for Tolkien's world. In fact, you only know about half of it. (This is a ballpark figure; I have no idea how long the three Hobbit films will be!) Today the subject of The Music of the Hobbit Films exists not just in concept, but in reality. Today a new journey begins ...

I'm going to keep working intently on book number two for the time being, but I expect to be fully drawn into Middle-earth during the course of the next month. In fact, I expect to embark upon a rather less-metaphorical journey in just another few weeks. I'll keep you posted. From there, it's back to the constantly moving world of plane tickets, review deadlines, and stacks and stacks of score pages. I believe the book I'm currently writing will hit shelves before the book on the Hobbit scores does. However, I tend to think that you'll see some form of my Hobbit work before either book.

So this is it, the official start to my work on The Music of the Hobbit Films. It's now a project being pursued in earnest. I've been promising for a long time that this site would pick up in the late summer of 2012, and here we are! Of course, I'm not going to be a source of freely flowing news -- official announcements will still be made via press releases, etc. -- but I'm very much looking forward to the subtle hinting and suggesting of days of old. Anyway, it's a long process, and you wouldn't want me to give everything away all at once, would you?

I don't know exactly where this new road ends, but somehow I feel perfectly content to have found its beginning. But that's Tolkien for you: "You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

Today, we step onto the road ...

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