Theme Music

it seems like we're imagining the same kinds of things... so this is like the fifth time in a month that I've tried to write this, and I've lost/forgotten a few things. maybe they'll come back later. also I have this thing where I don't like to use the same words twice

and I've edited the crap out of this, so it no longer flows as gud. and I have bad sentence structure.

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 really think it matters that this isn't another world, but that it's also important not to spoil it - maybe ever. context is still very important, though, relative to two things in particular. the Music is the most important by far; but a reference to the Lord of the Rings also matters for everyone who isn't already familiar with this.

choosing Aragorn as the main subject of the frame goes a long way toward establishing a connection to the LotR, which I assume has a lot to do with why you guys did it: but in terms of visuals, shots of Aragorn or Elrond won't be as recognizable to newcomers as the image of the One Ring, or a map of Middle-earth in the Third Age. but while these things are important, they're hardly central to the Silmarillion - still, it may be worthwhile to sneak them in somewhere among other things that place them in the proper perspective (the Lamps, the Trees, the Silmarils, or any of the memorable places or artifacts in Valinor or Middle-earth, etc). this imagery could easily be episode-specific, but some features could be present through the entire season, or the entire series.

another thing I'm considering is the difficulty of associating the early maps of Middle-earth with the ones that come after the fall of Numenor. most people, I think, get their bearings relative to the Third Age: but for me, it took seeing a map that showed the lands that were covered by water to realize that everything west of Ered Luin is now gone... this is valuable context, but it may not be very applicable until we arrive at that point in the story.

there are several ways that maps could be shown... one way would be as props, lying on desks or other surfaces, or as pages in books, or as murals, or carvings. they could be shown as still-lifes, or as part of scenes where characters are interacting with them, either in the background, or in clear focus - maybe even a different focus from the way the scene was originally shot. as pages, they could be turned, or otherwise shown in succession to indicate the passage of time (maybe for later seasons).

another way would be to include maps as partial or full-screen transparency layers, and have them pan or fade in and out; the borders could be animated, or the ink of the map itself, or both; we could show them being drawn by hand, or magically drawing and coloring themselves, or both. this could work with props as well, for that matter. or we could use 3d maps, either with miniatures similar to those in the Game of Thrones intro (personally I'd want to rip that as little as possible), or something more realistic, even if it's shaded like one of Tolkien's maps, which could be very cool, and also very appropriate; or as a magically-animated mural or carving, which could also be very interesting in the right style. I favor realism, so approaching an animated map with that perspective seems like an interesting challenge to me.

we could also show the world itself, from a distance, zooming in, or from a particular location, zooming out; or from several shots that showcase the natural splendor of various places in Arda, or that focus on natural forces, or life itself, as expressions of the powers of the Valar, in the wild, or in the cities of Valinor and Middle-earth. visual and musical themes could also be unique to certain episodes.

I've probably spent less time visualizing things that aren't the Music, but visuals from the Music alone seem to leave something wanting... also I think it would be good to consider how we might implement symbolism from various other creation myths; but this is the picture I have so far, which is, uh, mostly based on the familiar narrative, up to the point where I start reaching for some kind of detail beyond merely a display of fireworks. I should add, though, that I don't think it should look like this in the end - I'm just throwing this out as a starting point.

suppose it begins in total darkness, with a sudden spark like igniting phosphorus, or a dull, throbbing glow that eventually pierces the darkness with rays; or else the light is glimpsed in distorted reflections, until it's seen clearly, shining like a sun (maybe the best option in the interest of time); or it begins very small, like a distant star, then grows or zooms in, a̶l̶m̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶s̶o̶ ̶g̶r̶a̶d̶u̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶d̶o̶n̶'̶t̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶i̶c̶e̶, until it's close and bright - and then it dims, and begins to pulsate, as if engaged in contemplation. suddenly it shines out brightly, shooting out thousands of tiny glowing particles, with tiny voices that whistle and hum and buzz and tinkle; and large colorful flares shoot out in bursts of two and three, each with its own song, composed with multiple kinds of instruments, and tiny flares of their own that orbit or do their own thing, leaving trails of flame that twist into various shapes before they fade, with some that become separate, autonomous creatures of flame that morph and dance, with tiny sparks like embers glowing inside of them. a cloud of activity hovers around the parent entity, where sparks and fireballs trace patterns that hint at personalities and affinities, lights pulsing and voices chiming, each in rhythm with their own parent.

following this initial burst of random activity, the parent grows dark, and the surrounding lights grow dim and still, and their voices quiet, like an audience in a theater, breaths held in suspense, or concern. then the parent calls out, and one by one the children answer, followed by the chatter of their neighbors and offspring; and they begin to answer one another, until nearly all are singing each other's songs back to each other in different voices, pitches and tempos; and as more sing, the parent grows brighter, until finally it darkens again, followed by another silence, and more contemplation, with pulses of light rippling through the cloud. then the parent breaks into song.

activity explodes like collisions in a particle accelerator. rays shine in every direction, while hundreds and thousands of little golden sparks burst into flame and sudden motion, wave after wave tracing paths that increasingly resemble the surfaces of pillars, arches and vaults, like those of a cathedral, leading out and away from the central hall in winding paths, endlessly forming out new structures, while thousands of white particles stream out of the parent and drift downward in winding, spiraling trails, and the parent ascends to a position in the "skylight" of a dome like that of the Pantheon, beaming down with dancing rays of white light. sparks race over every surface, like Neo's vision of the Matrix; sparks of all colors dance on and around the central dome like animated constellations, and creatures of flame swirl around in ranks like the angels in Dore's Empyrean. shapes stand between the arches beneath the dome, like moving statues, lifting their heads and hands, singing like a choir, swaying back and forth, or gazing down in total transfixion at the scenes below. dark, glowing and glittering crystals grow like fractals from every surface; vines wind around the pillars, entwine amongst themselves like Celtic knots, and branch out among the vaults, where they bloom into brilliant celestial flowers, and sparks stream out of them like pollen, drifting through space, settling, taking root, and growing into all kinds of other branching, flowering forms, colorful and transparent like nebulae, and full of slowly drifting sparks. clouds of stars drift among the pillars like fog, created from streams of silver light falling through them from the edges of the dome, where rivers running down the walls pour themselves out into the empty space. they collect into a terraced well - a glowing, shimmering pool that resembles the Stargate, but vast, and round, like the crystal sea from Revelations, waves crashing against the walls with white molten spray, where the roots of Yavanna's creations gather and plunge. hundreds of shapes stand illuminated and backlit around the pool on each terrace - those of people, and other strange and previously invisible creatures large and small. faces can be seen gazing into the pool, while others are turned away, staring into the darkness, and they have hearts of fire burning inside them. a throng of lights resembling comets circle each other in a column beneath the light of Iluvatar, shooting out and returning from all directions, spinning silvery threads that drift and hang from the ceiling, or catch in the vines, and run between the pillars, entangling and forming webs that capture the glittering mists as they rise from the pool; tesselated shapes crawl in and out of the webs, or peel off in Escher-esque fashion, and drift or fly away. myriad creatures can be seen by this point: some with wings, limbs, tails, tentacles, spines, foliage or other appendages, and even multiple heads, flitting, crawling, dancing, splitting and merging, or drifting inert. some glow, while others can only be seen in profile: each of these carries a visible spark inside them as well.

this probably needs a lot of refinement to provide the best metaphors: some of that I only considered for its visual interest, specifically the part about webs coming to life. while I'm sure I could run with that notion, I'm not sure if I want to. still, I think the more we represent here that could be interpreted in the context of belief in superior or alternate realities, or depictions of heaven itself, the more grounded and balanced this vision would be. I'm sure we could dream up all kinds of things to add, or decide to take away or replace certain things for consistency, or as otherwise seems appropriate (or redo the whole thing, even). would be very interested to hear other thoughts, and if there are any questions about where in the heck any of that came from, I'll tell you exactly what I was thinking.

like in the videos posted before, I'm attracted to focusing on individual details before revealing the whole, but there are so many ways something like this could be choreographed. it wouldn't hurt to break this down, to try and identify individual Ainur and give them specific behaviors, like the difference between the children and creations of Aule and Yavanna for instance, or between Melkor and Manwe. in fact one of the best ways to imagine visuals for this would be, I think, to imagine what each of the Valar would have done prior to the world's beginning, or what could have inspired them in the things they did afterward; or what could the rest of the Ainur be engaged in, who never descended to Arda. I still have thoughts on Melkor that I don't believe I've shared that would be relevant at an early stage (where he would get the idea that creation belongs to him, for instance, and why so many would be deceived by that), but there is a difference between visualizing this for the script and visualizing for the intro. the three themes aren't touched on here at all, but they could be.

when I read about things like galactic filaments, superstructures, etc, I can't help but wonder what higher orders of existence they might form a part of. here I tried to imagine them as mist, while being fundamentally related to everything else - but there's also no real distinction here between stars or nebulae and everything else that appears. all the different imagery is fairly arbitrary, having more to do with representing the cosmic dispositions of the Valar at a supercosmic scale. the whole thing is a stretch, but to me, trying to guess what that existence is about feels like slinging ink at a blank page.

the Timeless Halls are an obvious projection upon the unknown, which is practically impossible to imagine, if they are to be held entirely separate from the Deeps of Time (which I thought the pool might represent). everything I try to picture just seems absurd, including this: but it's entertaining for me to think of them being connected somehow, whether by the rising of galaxies from out of a sea of light, implying there are worlds that have passed outside of time; or by celestial "flora" quenching their roots in the same (implying who knows what); or by any of the things that drift or "swim" down into the pool, hinting at the existence of tremendous creatures and structures within our own universe that have their origin somewhere beyond. a three-dimensional representation of any of this would unfortunately fall short, however, making this, or anything described to the Elves, a theatrical reenactment.

it may be most convenient to have Arda suspended somewhere above the pool, for the sake of camera angle - but this could also indicate that Arda is situated somewhere between things which are eternal, and things that are vastly more dynamic, and surrounded by angels as it were. while this could be seen to conflict with the notion of Arda being glimpsed afar off, maybe it wouldn't necessarily, as the spaces involved in this scene are incalculably vast.

but whether we see all of this, or something entirely different, after the whole picture is revealed, we zoom in on the mist, and the rest fades. stars rush past - lots of them. then we see a light that grows until sky, sea and land are visible: then everything vanishes. this could finish the intro for any episodes dealing with the Music of the Ainur, but once the story is completely within Arda, the Timeless Halls become irrelevant, and it's the worldly effects of the Music that ought to come into focus, as briefly discussed before.

all of that, only good for a few episodes.

I'll cut there for now because I'm having trouble remembering most of what I said before about visuals in Middle-earth and Valinor, and musical themes - this being the Theme Music thread, after all

I'm sure it'll come back to me
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