A concept for the Ainulindalë and Iluvatar's theme that takes things literally

Kilby

New Member
I've been thinking about the Ainulindalë on-and-off for months, and I think I have a solid concept for the way it starts at least, and Iluvatar's theme. I'll be using proper musical terminology, so I'll try and include links to some stuff for people who don't know heaps of theory.

The Ainulindalë is the creation of the world. Before it there was nothing — not even music. I think the Ainulindalë should be as much the story of the creation of music as it is Arda, and the story of music, from harmonics, to tonality, to chromaticism, to atonality, fits with the story presented in the Ainulindalë.

I think it should start with the basics, and have the Ainulindalë build up modern music from first principals: it would start with a single note, then build up the overtones, resulting in a broad and rich major chord. That's Iluvatar's theme; if we ever want to infer the hand of Iluvatar in the series, we have the music pause and hang in the air, then have Iluvatar's series of overtones build up, then resume the music as a continuation of his chord.

But back to the Ainulindalë. After the basic harmonic series is established, we then build the 12 tone scale, moving from Iluvatar's chord to its dominant, the from that chord to it's dominant, playing though all 12 major chords in the scale, and returning to the initial chord. Now we have the basics of musical tonality constructed.

The next section is the lovely bit of music that comes before Melkor enters. This would be pure tonal music, restricted to a major pentatonic scale, focussing on the tonic, dominant and sub-dominant (in Cmaj, that's C, G, and E); changing tonal centre, but never changing scale ...

Untill Melkor comes in. Melkor is represented by tritones; diabolus in musica, the Devil in music. Liberal use of Diminished 7th chords, as they have the magical ability to resolve into any other major/minor chord. That opens up possibilities to have Iluvatar easily work Melkor's motives into his own.

Then the rest of the Ainulindalë kinda writes itself; Iluvatar's music slowly opens up into minor chords, chromaticism, and ends up somewhere in the romantic period. Melkor goes full Schoenberg. Dramatic tension, contrast in orchestration, developing atonality, resolving to a mighty rendering of the initial chord set out by Iluvatar.

What do you think?
 

Phillip Menzies

Moderator
Staff member
I like it. That's why I "liked" it.
I have forgotten a lot of my music theory, and it was a long time ago, but I get what you are saying.

In terms of narrative the Ainulindalë is MORE than the creation of the world. Most people seem to forget that it also includes Iluvatar alone, then giving birth to the Ainur from his thought. Then comes a long period where the Ainur sang for Iluvatar, by themselves and then experimented with harmonies and singing together, few at first and then more. I think this period fits in with your idea of building up modern music from first principles.

It wasn't until they were proficient that Iluvatar presented to them the great theme through which comes the creation of the world.
I can tell from your description that you have thought about it a lot. Have you jotted down any of your ideas on manuscript yet?
 

Sep

New Member
Cool idea! I don't know enough about theory or composition to put something like this together, but if there's someone around with more experience, I'd love to hear what this might sound like.
 

Alex Long

Active Member
So, Batman V Superman came out the weekend of my writing this post and seeing it reminded me of how emotionally powerful Hans Zimmer's new Superman theme is. Now, I am a huge proponent of not basing a movie's score off of existing material (and I think we should do our best to distance the musical ideas for the Silm Film from the beautiful compositions Howard Shore has produced for Jackson's films.) But to not take my own advice (don't judge me...) I couldn't help but think of the Man of Steel theme when reading about this idea for the Ainulindale and Iluvatar's theme.

Hans Zimmer's Superman motif in both Man of Steel and Batman V Superman works by building up and individually highlighting different elements before bringing them all together in an explosion of magnificent unity.


Also, in most of its occurrences in the films, the full theme only plays for a few measures before dropping back down into individual parts (usually the awesome percussion undercurrent created by twelve professional drummers on full-drum sets. Epic.) This waxing and waning between a full swell and a softer base rhythm could get us through the creation of the Ainu (slow initial build,) the first theme (the culmination of the build,) the discord (literal discord obviously,) Iluvatar stopping the theme (back to the base rhythm,) and the subsequent two themes and breaks. Then, after all of this, Iluvatar silences everything and everyone. He shows them something like the history of the world (very quick flashes of images or something- no music, maybe some foley and other sound effects.) The images fade away. Silence again. Eru stands and opening his 'mouth' saying...

"EA!" <-- Video link (pardon any ad, no ads are a part of my pitch)

(Also, in case my attempt at hyperlink magic didn't work, that video is supposed to start at exactly 12:57. Adjust accordingly...)

He creates the universe in an explosion of the themes as all of matter and energy rips its way through the vacuum of nothingness. The Ainu enter into Ea and begin their subcreationing to brilliant harp and horn. All the while, a driving rhyme or beat underlies the whole process. Might this be what we use to represent the presence of Iluvatar? Heck, maybe we even use percussion like with Zimmer's Man of Steel theme. After all, the percussion section is both the driving force of the orchestra and the tempo keeper. Obviously, Iluvatar is better represented by the conductor in an orchestra analogy, but since we can't have a mysterious ball of light waving a baton in the back of every scene, percussion or the percussion-like use of another instrument in a rhythmic motif may be a good way of signifying the presence of Iluvatar.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
I really enjoyed the beginning of Zimmer's Superman score, but by the end of Man of Steel it really felt to me like a perfect example of what Melkor's theme ought to sound like, braying trumpets hammering the same notes over and over again every time Superman punched something (which was a whole hell of a lot in MoS). I have not heard anything approaching the same kind of praise for the SvB soundtrack, but if his other films are any indication, Snyder will have asked for something "epic" and Zimmer probably delivered okay.

I think it would be a gross oversimplification to go with something as one dimensionally "epic" as what I remember of the MoS score. I think it should be an element, for sure, and not limited to Melkor's part, but I really do think that the flavor of MoS' music is leaning too much in that direction. It's too simple. It hasn't got enough facets to it to be really representative of the Valar themselves, let alone creation. Remember, the broad, mythic, larger than life nature of the Valar is only one part of what they are:
"Now the Children of Ilúvatar are Elves and Men, the Firstborn and the Followers. And amid all the splendours of the World, its vast halls and spaces, and its wheeling fires, Ilúvatar chose a place for their habitation in the Deeps of Time and in the midst of the innumerable stars.
And this habitation might seem a little thing to those who consider only the majesty of the Ainur, and not their terrible sharpness; as who should take the whole field of Arda for the foundation of a pillar and so raise it until the cone of its summit were more bitter than a needle; or who consider only the immeasurable vastness of the World, which still the Ainur are shaping, and not the minute precision to which they shape all things therein."

There are definitely elements of that score that should be used in our score but I think overemphasizing them to the point where people would make overt comparisons would be a pretty huge tonal mistake.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
I've been thinking about the Ainulindalë on-and-off for months, and I think I have a solid concept for the way it starts at least, and Iluvatar's theme. I'll be using proper musical terminology, so I'll try and include links to some stuff for people who don't know heaps of theory.

The Ainulindalë is the creation of the world. Before it there was nothing — not even music. I think the Ainulindalë should be as much the story of the creation of music as it is Arda, and the story of music, from harmonics, to tonality, to chromaticism, to atonality, fits with the story presented in the Ainulindalë.

I think it should start with the basics, and have the Ainulindalë build up modern music from first principals: it would start with a single note, then build up the overtones, resulting in a broad and rich major chord. That's Iluvatar's theme; if we ever want to infer the hand of Iluvatar in the series, we have the music pause and hang in the air, then have Iluvatar's series of overtones build up, then resume the music as a continuation of his chord.

But back to the Ainulindalë. After the basic harmonic series is established, we then build the 12 tone scale, moving from Iluvatar's chord to its dominant, the from that chord to it's dominant, playing though all 12 major chords in the scale, and returning to the initial chord. Now we have the basics of musical tonality constructed.

The next section is the lovely bit of music that comes before Melkor enters. This would be pure tonal music, restricted to a major pentatonic scale, focussing on the tonic, dominant and sub-dominant (in Cmaj, that's C, G, and E); changing tonal centre, but never changing scale ...

Untill Melkor comes in. Melkor is represented by tritones; diabolus in musica, the Devil in music. Liberal use of Diminished 7th chords, as they have the magical ability to resolve into any other major/minor chord. That opens up possibilities to have Iluvatar easily work Melkor's motives into his own.

Then the rest of the Ainulindalë kinda writes itself; Iluvatar's music slowly opens up into minor chords, chromaticism, and ends up somewhere in the romantic period. Melkor goes full Schoenberg. Dramatic tension, contrast in orchestration, developing atonality, resolving to a mighty rendering of the initial chord set out by Iluvatar.

What do you think?
This is really good, though I would love it is the 7th chords were few and far between at the beginning of his theme and get more and more frequent towards the end.
 

Phillip Menzies

Moderator
Staff member
I consider the Ainulindale to be the overture of this vast world we call Middle Earth. For that reason I feel it should be tackled last and will incorporate many of the themes presented during the course of season 1 and possibly further ahead. I think discussion on its structure is good and in particular what the main themes should sound like. When it comes down to it, it is such a metaphysical idea that no earthly music could do it justice.
 
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