LOTRO composer shares behind-the-scenes stories of the soundtrack

In case you missed it in the 10th anniversary post earlier this month, Lord of the Rings Online is bringing back famed composer Chance Thomas to do a YouTube retrospective. The series, which is ongoing, sees Thomas picking his favorite musical pieces and sharing the creation and message of each.

We’ve got the first three tracks and Thomas’ comments for you after the break!

“Frodo. Bilbo. Sam. The heart and soul of Lord of the Rings, right there! There’s a goodness about these Hobbits, an innocence, a simple grit and integrity, all wrapped up in a good meal and a lazy summer’s day.

“This music track, ‘Heart of a Hero,’ tries to convey some of those ideals. I open with broad, open harmony in the strings. The pipes and whistle echoing off in the distance conjure images of green hills and a happy homeland far away. Fiddle and cello round out the palette, organic, resonant, touching on Shire themes I created in my earliest early days of scoring LOTRO.

Some great performances here. Daron Bradford plays all the woodwinds on this piece. Aaron Ashton performed the solo fiddle. Nicole Pinnell played the cello. The Utah Film Orchestra played everything else, conducted by Judd Maher.”

“The long dark of Moria. I have fond memories of writing this music — always at night. You know, I only worked on Moria at night, with the lights out in my studio, sometimes composing until 3 or 4 in the morning. There was a certain energy I would tap into that seemed to be at its peak when all of North America was sleeping. The low brass, the deep voiced choir, the epic melancholy in this piece… it all found expression in the late hours in my dark cave of a studio.”

“There was joy in the studio when we recorded this track. And some unusual experiences too. The penny whistle was slightly out of tune on a couple of notes, so we put a sliver of tape over those two holes, constantly adjusting until we found just the right encroachment, and it actually fixed it. The fiddle player held her instrument low, with the end pointed toward the floor, and bounced as she played. I’ve never seen a studio musician do that before! The hammer dulcimer player wanted to practice for a few days before we recorded, so I sent her the music in advance. She said she dreamed the music in her sleep, in some sort of mystic Celtic vision (I’m not making this up). It all came together when we recorded, and had us dancing around the studio like Hobbits in the end.”

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