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Welcome to the blog and this collection of original artwork inspired by The Lord of the Rings and J.R.R Tolkien's wider mythology of Middle-earth. Aside from the influence of the source writing of Tolkien influence is also drawn from Director Peter Jackson's film trilogy (2001-2003) and the highly regarded Tolkien illustrators Alan Lee and John Howe. The magnificent musical score written for the film trilogy by Howard Shore also holds a significant influence upon the atmospheric and evocative quality of the works in this collection. From Mordor to the Misty Mountains combines landscape, miniature-scale and composite photography to depict locations, dramatic scenes and characters from the enduringly popular stories.

Contact: johncockshaw@gmail.com

PLEASE NOTE: This blog showcases Artwork (completed and in progress) and related exhibition news. There is NO option to purchase Art through this site at this time. Please visit from time to time as this may well change soon.

Copyright of all images belongs to John A Cockshaw

22.6.14

Ascension, decline and a ring resounds: essay and artwork


A Ring resounds in Middle-earth:

An artistic response to the thematic theatrics of 
Howard Shore's scores

by John Cockshaw


Ring Cycle (2014)
Ascension and decline (2014)
A scene quietly unfolds onscreen.

A well-known wizard sits in front of a warmly-lit hearth in concerned contemplation,

The focus of his thoughts is simply a ring.

The orchestra stirs gently,

The strings swell ever so slightly,

An ancient-sounding musical theme is heard, circling with a breath-like regularity.

This is an early appearance of the History of the ring as identified and analysed by musicologist Doug Adams chronicler of Howard Shore’s score for The Lord of the Rings, and this breathing quality is a trademark of much of Shore’s music but also stands as one of the components that brings his Middle-earth writing to life so enticingly.

This is a theme of many guises and permutations over the course of a 10 hour plus film score that gives a musical voice to that most central of objects in Tolkien’s Middle-earth; The One Ring.  Through this theme the ring of power is bestowed with anthropomorphic qualities and assumes its central spot in the weighty drama with ever increasing diversity as the storytelling progresses.

Variations on a theme of The Ring of Power (2014) 
Howard Shore’s film score taken as a telling of J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in its own right is a tremendously vast operatic work, a masterful orchestral powerhouse of a score written in the digital age of film music. Tied to the film trilogy it works beautifully and away from it works exactly the same on account of its multi-textured and thematically rich presentation.  It is a kingly gift to devotees of Tolkien’s books as well as enthusiasts of the film it accompanies and also to lovers of grand symphonic film music who might lament the lack of that trend in film music today.  Each of the separate scores for The Fellowship of The Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King form a separate act in a unifying and immensely satisfying whole.

Concert performances, lectures, a symphony, a whole book by Doug Adams and a trio of ‘complete recordings’ releases have sprung from this grand musical work – the legacy of Shore’s work has extended much further beyond the film trilogy it accompanies, but of course wouldn’t have been afforded the necessity or budget to come into being without it.  There will always be other fine orchestral interpretations of Tolkien’s Middle-earth to give it company, such as Johan De Mej’s Symphony No. 1 The Lord of the Rings, Stephen Oliver’s music for the much-loved BBC Radio adaptation and Leonard Rosenman’s score to the Ralph Bakshi animated film.  But none of these offer such an extensive effort at world-building through music that Shore achieves, and that is another particular aspect of Howard Shore’s score that defines its brilliance.  The benefit of in-depth planning and roughly a year-long period of preparation for each of the film scores is a circumstance that happens all too rarely on film projects simply for the lack of time, impossibly short deadlines and other conspiring circumstances. Shore’s The Lord of the Rings is a product of its unique circumstances with the composer being involved in the film production from an early stage in its development.  Canadian composer Shore came to the production with prior experience of composing music for literary adaptations and approaching projects with an operatic sensibility.  In his 2010 book The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore’s Scores Doug Adams comments that the search for the right composer for the project was a crucial element for the production team to get right, “the author’s complex literary structure required a worthy musical equivalent.  And then there was the epic tale itself, overflowing with cultures, customs, friendship, sacrifice, adventure and danger.”