Monday, 24 December 2012

Music To Roleplay To: Middle-Earth

In celebration of the recent theatrical release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, today's entry of Music To Roleplay To is dedicated to brave adventuring in that legendary realm of high fantasy: Middle-Earth.


It perhaps goes without saying, that one of the largest collections of Tolkien-inspired music available comes directly from the films based upon the authors' works. I am mostly referring to The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the forthcoming The Hobbit trilogy by Peter Jackson with scores by Howard Shore. As a whole The Complete Recordings soundtrack editions of The Lord of the Rings amount to over 10 hours of music! Add in the Special Edition soundtrack for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and you have over half a days worth! Last Updated: 01/2014

  • The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

And don't forget the future release of the soundtrack for The Hobbit: There and Back Again!

Next, I need mention the brilliant work by the Danish group The Tolkien Ensemble, who've not only composed their own musical interpretation of The Lord of the Rings, but set their music to live recitations of the poems and songs from the books; including a number recorded by Christopher Lee (Saruman) himself!
At Dawn in Rivendell

  • An Evening in Rivendell (1997)
  • A Night in Rivendell (2000)
  • At Dawn in Rivendell [feat. Christopher Lee] (2002)
  • Leaving Rivendell (2005)
  • Complete Songs & Poems (2006)

But these works aren't the only music produced that's based upon Middle-Earth, there exists many more. Here are a few select choices:

  • If you can track it down, Leonard Rosenman's original soundtrack for Ralph Bakshi's J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is a bit bold-themed but may be a good addition to your fellowships' soundtrack.
  • The folksy vocal work by Glenn Yarbrough for the 1977 Rankin/Bass animated special The Hobbit deserves mention, that is if you think its very light-hearted tone works for your Middle-Earth games.
  • Though released the same year as The Fellowship of the Ring, David Arkenstone's excellent Music Inspired By Middle Earth is neither directly related or inspired by the film itself.
  • Symphony No. 1 (The Lord of the Rings) by Johan de Meij is a phenomenal piece of work.
  • The Celtic group, Brobdingnagian Bards, were headliners at the Oscar party for The Return of the King after gaining acclaim for their album Memories of Middle-Earth.

For those of you more inclined to "heavier" Middle-Earth tunes, try checking out Blind Guardian's themed album: Nightfall in Middle-Earth, Bob Catley's rock album Middle Earth, works by the Finnish metal band Battlelore and the Austrian metal band Summoning, and/or the song The Battle of Evermore by Led Zepplin.

The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild

There have been quite a number of RPG's based off of J.R.R. Tolkien's works, such as Iron Crown Enterprises' Middle-Earth Roleplaying and The Lord of the Rings Adventure Game; Decipher's Lord of the Rings RPG; Eä RPG; and The One Ring by Cubicle 7, who went out of their way to develop over an hour of music in half a dozen background themes collected in this playlist:




Other RPGs these tunes could work well in: The Mouse Guard hack Realm Guard; or any generic fantasy system adapted to Middle-Earth such as BRP, Dungeons & Dragons, GURPS, Harnmaster, etc.

I also feel that's worth mentioning MERP.com, which is an excellent resource for any RPG based in Middle-Earth.