Theme Music

Phillip Menzies

Staff member
Question: Should the show as a whole have theme music that plays every week in the opening and closing credits? If so should we keep the same theme throughout the entire series (considering that we are most likely going beyond the end of the Silmarillion into the second and third ages) or have different theme music for each season? What should the theme or themes revolve around?


New Member
Well I remember someone (my apologies because I can't remember his name) on the forums had the idea of using the Ainulindale music for the opening credits music. I thought that was an appealing idea, At least for series 1. Maybe the music can progress further each episode. Just like the history of Arda.

Daniel Spinola

New Member
I found this in youtube. I know it's cartoonish and anime-like, but I liked it very much:

About using the Ainulindale, I think it's an ok idea. Instead, there could be something like the intro to Nausicaa. Like ancient paintings on a wall, or carvings (in celtic or nordic with art-nouveau, elvish style) sliding through. The paintings or carvings would show scenes from the stories of that season (so each season would change it slightly). Think of pictograms on the border of the pages of medieval books, or ancient tapestries or even perhaps the stained-glass windows of Catholic churches.

Intro to Nausicaä: (Up to 1:40 aprox.)

Note that the Intro to the movie is not exactly like I described but just gives some idea.

Ideas for the carvings (it could look like a wooden acient panel, or stone carvings):

I think you guys get the idea.

What do you think?
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New Member
This is a fantastic idea for representing the Children of Iluvatar, especially the Men. I really love the idea of using the Ainulindale as opening credits. We have a central theme, but each season will change, and there will be subtle differences for each episode reflecting the events of that particular story. The imagery too will change to go along with the music.

So, these carvings and tapestries would make an appearance when the Elves and Men are referenced - so in season one, there will be images about the story of Estel to represent the frame, along with more fantastical, shifting cosmic nebulae and sweeping landscapes to represent the machinations of the Valar.

Alex Long

Active Member
I was imaging that the pilot episode wouldn't have an opening theme song (just the names of cast and crew popping up as Estel runs through Rivendell.) Then when we get to the Music at the end of the episode, that's the first time we hear what will become the series opening theme. The second episode would then be the first episode to start with proper opening titles.

The real question is whether we start every episode immediately with opening titles or whether we have a cold open for each episode. (Honestly though, a lot of shows switch this up- sometimes they have a cold open and sometimes they start with the titles. So it's not really a huge issue. There's precedent for us to do whatever the heck we want.)


Staff member
While it is true that shows use an opening sequence to hook in viewers, they almost inevitably have opening credits with the names of the actors (as I'm pretty sure that's required).


How I Met Your Mother



The Man in the High Castle

and of course Game of Thrones

Note that the minimum here is a set of stock images, the title of the show - 13 seconds and done. The next two are only 30 seconds long - they just have to introduce the core cast and some locations. The Man in the High Castle is a minute long, because it is introducing the alternate history premise. And Game of Thrones has many, many characters and locations to introduce, with a complicated map - not surprising that they need a 1:30+ opening credit sequence.

But we should keep in mind that that is the MAX time frame for this - we're not making a 3 minute sequence to be repeated week after week.
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Well-Known Member
I said this somewhere else, but I'm with Marie on this one. I think at best you get a pared down version of the Ainulindale score from the Pilot; there certainly isn't time to do the whole thing. Personally I would kind of like the imagery to focus on the frame, since the idea is currently to change who's in the frame every season, both so it's immediately obvious what season you're in just watching the credits, and also to help veiewers get comfy with who's new in the earlier episodes of a new season.


Staff member
Variations on a theme, of course, can be applied to a wide variety of scenes.

From this basic starting point:

We get this:

Quiet Gondorian music in the background as Boromir speaks at the Council of Elrond introduces us to this theme, and we later hear it as the lighting of the beacons, one of the most iconic scenes in that film (carried entirely by the music and impressive visuals).

We can turn pretty much anything into the 'theme song' for the show, and tailor it to opening credits as necessary. other news, I can now play the Realm of Gondor theme on D tin whistle :)
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Staff member
Most TV shows are fairly episodic, and thus the importance of introducing the audience to the premise and the main characters/location is all the opening has to do. For the shows that have a 'cast of thousands' and multiple locations and a progressing can be a bit more challenging.

I don't know too many live action shows that do this, but anime does all the time. I mean, Game of Thrones is going to be the obvious comparison to the Silmarillion, both for style and for 'there's incest and everyone dies!' But animes tend to vary their openings as the show progresses - they'll totally change the song and sometimes even the style or purpose of the opening credits. They don't include all characters every time. Etc. Maybe a bit...too artistic? Obviously, I am *not* suggesting this style of music for this project.

Here's a couple of examples:

Code Geass

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Attack on Titan

Gunslinger Girl (I'm just including this one for the drastic change; it's a small enough cast)

Gankutsuou (The Count of Monte Cristo)
is this still up in the air?

while it seems like something that could be highly specific to each episode, generally speaking, the Music of the Ainur could used to frame everything from the show itself, to the beginnings and ends of seasons and episodes, and even individual scenes. relating the Themes to the timeline would be an obvious starting point - the Ages, if that's what they're actually meant to correspond to (although the Third Age seems to have been arbitrarily cut short, because there were only three Themes, and the third Theme obviously didn't end with the Third Age. from the description of the Music, there is a tremendous conflict still to come).

intros could be a combination of maps, like GoT, cg visuals representing the creative energies or hidden influence of the Valar (maybe the ones most involved in that episode), or vague but important details, portentious clues or scenes from the episode itself - compare intros like The Night Of, for clues, or Westworld, for themes (notice the strings), or Penny Dreadful, for either (or The Borgias, for style)
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for instance, the music for each episode could be different, but every show of the series might begin a certain way, followed by something characteristic of the season, and then the general themes of the episode
I gotta say, Game of Thrones intro always reminded me of the maps of Middle-earth - it's just what you think of

I can just imagine seeing the Trees being sung into existence like the Weirwood of Winterfell there, or all kinds of other things springing up the way those castles do

but you wouldn't wanna rip that too much, probably
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Staff member
To be honest, the Borgias intro reminds me more of a film than a TV show - very artistic, and painting a mood, rather than showing clear close ups of the actors. I think something like that could be good for the Silmarillion, as you reach a point where...there's just too much; you have to sum up, not explain. And I agree with you - how can you tell Tolkien's stories without the maps? So of course the opening credits would seem to be the place for them. Perhaps a combination of the maps and some sort of more colorful artwork of the locations would help to differentiate this from the GoT openings (which are awesome, but I agree on avoiding copycat issues).

Of course, an actual film can have a longer main theme - just as an example, 'Red Dragon' has 2 1/2 minutes of Main Titles, which continue the story from the opening scenes (almost 6 minutes). The use of the serial killer's journal format is pretty cool, and very appropriate for the story they are telling. For a TV show, we should probably limit the opening sequence to 1:30 at the longest. We can have a 'previously, on Silm Film' reminder before episodes to introduce the ongoing storylines of the main characters in that episode, if needed.

are there any chapters of this that might be considered as a possible feature-length presentation? like Beren and Luthien perhaps?

1:30 seems pretty standard, though... all of those I posted were right at, except Westworld and Game of Thrones both ran a little bit over, between 1:40-45. I don't think we'd have any trouble staying in that window, it would just be a matter of selecting what goes in it, and this seems like it would be among the final touches

but the art factor, the hidden things it contains, and its relevance to the episode can make an intro enjoyable to watch, although this depends on the music as much as anything. my nephew has always liked the Game of Thrones intro: he calls it 'that part' and makes me watch it over and over - and honestly I don't mind for two or three times, but when I'm rewatching, I tend to skip, because it is a bit on the long side.

but if each episode were unique, and something difficult to fully unravel in one sitting, like the Westworld intro (I must've watched that a dozen times back-to-back, trying to spot all the stuff they crammed in there) - not to do all of this for the sake of credits alone, but as a prelude, and as a hook for the show itself - it could be well worth the effort

even though sitting here listening to myself, what I'm really thinking is more like 'what I think it deserves', or 'what I've always wanted to see'.

I guess my whole notion is, assuming people recognize it when it comes on, why should it be that if you've seen one intro, you've seen them all? what Game of Thrones did was really cool, adding new locations as they come into the story, but even that was only good for one play.

there is already something of a theme here that we could seize upon and develop, being that all of this is already played out, from beginning to end: and all we're doing by watching, listening or reading further is revisiting, and getting down into the details, like the Ainur themselves. it could be a brief opportunity to see events through the perspective of a Vala - like a vision of our own. you get the preview, and then you get the full experience, which includes more than you probably noticed; and when you go back and watch/listen again, you find out what was there all along... just as Ulmo, Manwe and Yavanna did, with clouds and ice, and the eagles, and the shepherds of the forest.

we could bury things throughout, were we so inclined - things no one would catch until they'd watched the entire series, even. I just love stuff like that.

but I wonder how many themes could be developed from the timeline itself, and to what extent could we "recreate" the Music that's described?

while it isn't from the Music itself, I'm imagining this from literally the first paragraph:

"And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was glad. But for a long while they sang only each alone, or but few together, while the rest hearkened; for each comprehended only that part of the mind of Iluvatar from which he came, and in the understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly. Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding, and increased in unison and harmony."

we could totally create this very effect throughout the series, musically and visually; this would be different from actually depicting the Ainulindale, but the Ainulindale could obviously play into this, which is really the whole idea - to expound on what was only briefly covered before. the intro music could gain complexity as each season progresses (combining themes, adding or substituting instruments, etc) until it culminates with the end of each age, and the following season begins with something new

but we would need to consider the possible themes of each season and each episode, to take that approach.
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actually the intro is not the only opportunity to see things from unusual perspectives...

if you watch Game of Thrones, you may notice how they visually draw attention to (or merely include) things that are potentially ominous, and also the dialogue is often foreshadowing, unbeknownst to anyone (until later) - and despite that I haven't read the books (I know, shame on me), I assume this is in there as well, probably to a greater extent.

but one thing I've noticed in general (SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT for anyone who hasn't watched): after they introduced the Red Woman, who seemingly has the ability to scry through open flames, I began to look at all the candles and torches, and even the sun as potentially being observers in any given scene (and they're in almost every scene, whether naturally or to deliberately create such an effect), while suspecting that there were other forces to be taken note of as well (it's called the Song of Ice and Fire, after all).

I believe this kind of thing translates directly to Tolkien's works, if it didn't in fact originate there. I only mention it here because this last comment made me think of it (though it's pretty off-topic really): but we might also consider the Valar to be present in those scenes where their powers are somehow represented, as extensions of themselves. this could be applied to the arrangement of the contents of a scene, or background action or noise, as easily as it could be applied to camera angles themselves. it could also be something the Elves (or some of them) are conscious of, and have the ability to invoke. could add a few deeper dimensions to things, which is always interesting

maybe a good topic for Sets and Props? or Script even, if we're including those kinds of notes at this stage
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Staff member
The story of Beren and Luthien will be Season 5 of the show.

I think we could have a different intro for each Season. I don't think that's unusual for TV shows. An intro that changes in every episode makes it....well, less an intro, and more part of the episode? But the main reason not to do that is the money/effort involved, so obviously if someone wanted to plan out or design an opening sequence that varied as the show progressed, mostly what I'd say to that is...knock yourself out!

But really....what types of artistic touches would we want? We know we want to use music from the Music of the Ainur as the theme music for the show. And I think that (after season 1, anyway) we'll want some maps. But what do we use to make it instantly clear that this is a story that takes place in another world and another time? I recall Tolkien making a big deal about artwork illustrating fantasy work having a border around it, to show that remoteness, one step removed. Perhaps there could be some sort of vine or tree that grows all around the borders of the screen as the intro starts up, and when it finishes is when the title shows up? I wouldn't want to take a page from Disney's book on this (knowing that Tolkien was not exactly a huge fan of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), but that started with the story book opening, and turning pages to tell the beginning of the story.

A well done opening can be skipped when binge watching, but does help to draw the audience into the show. If your hour time slot allows for 42 minutes of show with commercial breaks, you jealously guard your time and don't want to give too much of it up to stock footage. So, if you're going to have a minute and a half intro, it needs to accomplish something, or else you just flash up the word 'Silmarillion' superimposed on a Map of Beleriand for 3 seconds as a title card and call it a day.