In Summary: Choral Interpretation of Tolkien’s Elvish Verse

Well, the summer is over and so is my project. Finally.


In my proposal I set out to compose a piece of choral music two to three minutes in length, using the text of one of the songs that J. R. R. Tolkien wrote into his epic novel The Lord of the Rings. All being said and done, the finished piece is just a hair over three minutes long, and the text I decided to use is known as the Ambar-metta, which translates into English as “world’s-end” or “end of the world.” It was originally quoted by Elendil, an outcast on the isle of Númenor, when he fled the island shortly before it was Sodom-and-Gommorah’d by the Valar (the gods of Middle-earth) for being full of corruption fraught by Sauron. However, Elendil and a small band of his followers were still faithful to the Valar, who took pity on them and deposited them safely on the shores of Middle-earth. The Ambar-metta was recited a second time by Aragorn, descended from Elendil after forty generations and the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor, during his coronation ceremony following the destruction of the One Ring. In both of these instances, the Ambar-metta is sung amidst a context of overwhelming grief and loss of life, and yet the words carry hope for a future brighter than the tragedies that have just occurred. I attempted to bring across this mood in my composition.

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Portfolio of Original Compositions: Second Post

For the next five songs in my portfolio, I moved away from songs in the vein of American Standards and instead focused on works that are more contemporary in sound and lyrics. The five original songs I notated this week are Teardrop, Change My Mind, I Already Know, Diesel, and Teenage Soul. While these songs are easier to play and notate harmonically, the new challenge of translating parts I play on the guitar and bass guitar arose. Rearranging was not without its benefits; transcribing songs in different instruments than they were originally written allowed me to take an important critical look at the first round of writing I had done in the past. With this extra step of translation, I was able to revise chord progressions and even lyrics to create ultimately a stronger song.

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Portfolio of Original Compositions: First Post

At this point, I am finished with my first week of creating my portfolio of original compositions. Although in my abstract, I expressed my desire to notate 16 original compositions, I realize now that I will probably have fewer than sixteen compositions in my portfolio at the end of two weeks. While creating my piano vocal sheets for my original compositions (the first one a song called “Someone Doesn’t Love Me”), I have realized that it is more difficult than I had thought to transcribe the nuances that I naturally sing and play. In order to reach the level of perfection I desired in my transcriptions, I spent a day on each song, resulting in 5 fully notated songs at the end of last week. These songs are, “Someone Doesn’t Love Me”, “I Just Don’t Love You Anymore”, “What Broken Hearts Do”, “Back Again”, and “I Know Your Type”. At this rate I will have 10 notated original compositions in my portfolio! It is also important to note that this week I am moving into the more contemporary pop side of my compositions, as last week I transcribed my older sounding compositions!

Portfolio of Original Notated Musical Compositions

Music has always had the extraordinary ability to bring people together. A song or instrumental piece can tell a story or describe a feeling in ways that normal speech cannot, allowing individuals to attach their identity to a song. However, in order for a song to reach a large audience or culture that may identify with it, the composer of the song must be able to communicate their work with other musicians. Although teaching another a song by ear may be a sufficient way to share one’s work, creating a lead sheet, or a transcript of music, is often clearer and more precise about the writer’s vision.

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