Musical Analysis of The Fellowship of the Ring

An addition by Simpetarwen

Analysis of Track 17: The Tin Whistle

Lest this get buried below, re: music analysis, yes, that *is* a tin whistle on track 17 and although it is quite possible for the concert flute to "bend" notes, it is far easier to do on the whistle. On both flutes, this is accomplished by changing the embochure (i.e., with the lips).

Some of the "bending" you hear though is also very fast grace notes (little flicks of neighboring notes to the one being played) which gives the impression of a bent note, a technique borrowed from bagpipers. And then sometimes the grace notes are played slow enough to be just conscious of them and are used to accent or emphasize one particular note over another in connection with lipping/bending the note.

In all cases, these techniques are called ornamentation and are left completely to the discretion of the musician. H.Shore simply writes the basic note and leaves the rest to the player.

What I liked about H.Shore scoring for the whistle and not the concert flute in this track (because twice before in very significant scenes which are supported by the music, Frodo's theme is played by the concert flute), is that the whistle has a very plaintive hollow sound - this supports the emotional feeling of emptiness that Frodo is feeling in The Breaking, yet the sound of the whistle also carries within it something very like being grounded and filled with memories of "home" - both empty and full at the same time. Quite a nice trick!

I don't know who played whistle - might have been the piccolo player in the LSO. As a piccolo player myself, I have been called on to play whistle, but then again, I have a played at least one first chair part that required whistle (I believe it was a chart by Don Moen of Nashville gospel fame). The fingering is the same (almost) between concert flute and whistle, but blowing the whistle can be treacherous. (Especially if one breathes so loud as to be shot in the dark - something many a player sitting to my right has wished upon me as I reach the stratosphere while playing piccolo!!)

Totally off-topic, but I wear 25 decibel musician ear plugs when I play piccolo. I have been accused of making eardrums bleed...

(And my elvish name, simpetarwen, means piper-wench, as in flute-player - the solo simpetars were the shore pipers at the Grey Havens in ME history.)

Hope this helps the discussion - I, too, have analysed the score and play it constantly in the car. It is such excellent writing and scoring that I have yet to tire of it.

- Simpetarwen