Comments and Reviews

Early Comment on the Music (1991) -- The music is modal, so that although the verses appear similar, there are subtle differences in each line and stanza. Rhythm is often 4/4 time. They have a pleasant, sometimes minor key, sound. Some are rather haunting.

Beyond Bree, May 1991, p. 1

Customer Review (1999) -- I just received The Music of Middle-Earth . . . today, and I've really enjoyed listening to it. The best part of all 51 songs is the fact that each is original, and each, I believe, truly represents the theme expected from the song's title. You can just sing along with the actual song and they all fit so perfectly. I'd have to probably say that my favorite four would be (starting with the best): The Ent's Marching Song (I could just see the ents marching toward Isengard and the Tower of Orthanc!! Great Beat!!), Frodo's Lament for Gandalf (This song seemed very deep, beautifully depicting Frodo's morosity for the death of such a majestic being as Gandalf. I must ask, though, what was the synthesized last five or so seconds after the actual poem/song ends representative of?) [answer: fireworks], Oliphaunt (These magnificent creatures were wonderfully represented with this graceful song. I really liked the portion almost three-fourths of the way through on "Oliphaunt am I" with the bells or chimes.), and Adventure Song (I could just see the group of hobbits preparing for and starting the beginning of their long adventure!). Well, thanks again for the magic!

J. P. Charlton, March 1999

Review from the Web (2001) -- We have reviewed both the CDs and the music book. The amount of work that [Gene Hargrove] has put into writing all the music shows a great love for the books and Middle-earth. As the foreword in the book tells us, it has been a project that took about 30 years to complete! The music on the CD is instrumental and is all played with a synthesizer. The songs themselves are very diverse in tempo, melody and general feeling. They give a very good interpretation of the songs in The Lord of the Rings. Although the songs are very diverse, the sound of the synthesizer stays pretty much the same and gives a electronical sound to the songs. The Music Book gives all the lyrics and the music to play all the songs yourself. If you play an instrument this will give the CDs and the Book a whole new dimension as you can play and sing them yourself.

Lord of the Rings Fanatics Site

Print Review of the Songbook, The Music of Middle-Earth, vol. 1 (2001) -- Following the linguistic principle of using Old English for the language of Rohan, Celtic for the people of Bree, etc. Hargrove has attempted to reconstruct the music of Middle-earth using antique musical styles. His settings of Tolkien's poems are monophonic and modal, a single vocal line varying to accommodate the changing rhythms of the poems (i.e., not repeated verses). Simple chord accompaniment added to accommodate modern musical tastes. The first of two books.

Beyond Bree, September 2001, p. 5

Print Review of the Songbook, The Music of Middle-Earth, vol. 2 (2003) -- Volume 2 contains settings for every song, poem, etc. in English in LOTR from Gimli's "Song of Durin" through the end of the story, plus "Fastitocalon" and "Princess Mee." (The songs of the Shire were covered in Volume 1). There is a Foreword, the music, and "About the Songs and Poems" (7 1/2 pp.), a paragraph about each song, with considerable background detail including material in The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, and various observations. Hargrove refers to Shakespeare's Birnam Wood under "The Ents' Marching Song," and contrasts differing views of suicide and responsibility in the deaths of Denethor and Théoden under "The Burial Song of Théoden."

Beyond Bree, April 2003, p. 8

Customer Review of the Songbooks, The Music of Middle-Earth, vols. 1 & 2 (2009): A Delightful Experience to Share with Family and Friends -- As a child, my bedtime stories were often adventures taken from the Lord of Rings, told to me by my father. We would recite the poetry and songs of Middle-Earth, always curious as to what these songs would sound like if we were ever to actually hear them. Last Christmas, I purchased these two delightful volumes as a gift for my father, and our Christmas eve was spent with my family singing the songs of Middle Earth by the piano, remembering always that "The Road Goes Ever On." I recommend these books to anyone who delights in the stories of Middle-Earth and would enjoy bringing them to life by song.

Alexandria K. Poole, February 29, 2009

Customer Review of the Songbooks, The Music of Middle-Earth, vols. 1 & 2 (2007): So, You Want to Sing like an Ent? -- These 2 volumes of piano music set to Tolkien's lyrics have provided my family with lots of fun, and will instantly usher anybody who plays them back into the wondrous world of Middle Earth. The tunes are comparatively easy to play and sing, and are delightfully melodic. Perhaps most importantly, they are faithful to the spirit of Tolkien's masterpiece. Eugene Hargrove, one of the world's premier environmental philosophers, has given a scholar's careful attention to Tolkien's characters and settings (see: http://www.cep.unt.edu/songs/tolkien.html#30) and his tunes carry the spirit and contexts of the lyrics perfectly. But these songs are not merely, or really, the result of scholarship--they are the product of a creative and witty person who, moved by the Ring trilogy, found the chords and melodies that makes the aires, plaints and hero ballads of Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves, Humans, and (my daughter's favorite) the Ents come alive. We love "The March of the Ents"!

Kurt Heidinger, September 27, 2007

Customer Review of the Songbooks, The Music of Middle-Earth, vols. 1 & 2 (2007): Singing Stories as It was done in the Old Days -- The Music of Middle-Earth offers a collection of simple and lovely melodies that put music to songs written by J.R.R. Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings and other related books. The melodies are diatonic, with only a few chromatic turns, and most of them are modal. Dorian, Lydian, Aeolian, and Ionian modes provide a suitable atmosphere to the old songs. The composer, Eugene Hargrove is an environmental philosopher who has studied the work of Tolkien during the last thirty years. Consequently, the focus of the scores and the book is the content and ambiance of the stories. Probably, for that reason songs are syllabic (i.e., each syllable of the text is matched to a single note), which facilitates the comprehension of the lyrics. In addition, the total intervallic range of all songs is kept within a tenth (or composed third, from central C to E, reaching only occasionally over to a g or f above pentagram), and the melodies are accompanied with chords that could be easily played on guitar, piano, or keyboard. In this way, Hargrove's scores provide a collection of songs that are easy to be sung by children and in families. At the end of the book, there is a brief explanation about the context of each song within Tolkien's narratives. In summary, The Music of Middle-Earth brings a nice invitation for families and children to get familiarized with Tolkien's work, and enact the spirit of an ancient practice of storytelling.

Ricardo Rozzi, September 9, 2007