Themes of The Hobbit - Chapter 1 - Dwarves, Hobbits and Wizards

Themes of The Hobbit - Chapter 1 - Dwarves, Hobbits and Wizards


H1 Given the phenomenal success of the scores of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Howard Shore's challenge could probably not have been any more difficult when he agreed to compose the music for Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Hobbit. The music for the first trilogy had been widely lauded and examined by critics and fans alike and its staggering Wagnerian web of myriad interlaced leitmotifs has few if any equals in the world of film music. But importantly the music also tapped the zeitgeist and gained the love of the audiences on purely emotional level and has rightfully become part of the cultural phenomenon surrounding Tolkien's magnum opus with a life of its own outside the celluloid as it made a quick transition from the silver screen to the concert hall in various incarnations. So the music of The Hobbit was always going to be in the disadvantage of being forever compared to its illustrious predecessor.

The second trilogy might cinematically feel a good deal more light weight than its famous and loftier cousin but the music, it should be noted here, is by Howard Shore's passion, skill and efforts still as vibrant as ever. Quite a few fans have perhaps a tad harshly criticized these three new scores for not being up to par with the Lord of the Rings nor capturing that elusive lightning in the bottle the second time around but in scope and intricacy the music of The Hobbit is actually only a few steps behind The Lord of the Rings, just like the novel is smaller in stature than its more expansive sequel. When judged on its own merits the scores for the new trilogy is revealed to be a complex and powerful work where once again the well developed musical architecture of countless themes supports dramatically a whole world, a musical mirror to Tolkien's work as Shore himself has described his efforts on The Lord of the Rings.

It was inevitable that the scores for The Hobbit trilogy continue firmly on the established musical path of the Lord of the Rings, Shore approaching this new work and the beginning of the eventual six film series as a part of a grand leitmotivic opus. Highly thematic utilizing dozens and dozens of leitmotifs, blazingly dramatic and as colourful and complex as its predecessors, the scores for The Hobbit films are a carefully built and intelligent whole yet to a large degree retain the same melodically direct and resonate emotionalism that made Lord of the Rings such a success. The music comes once again to focus on the different cultures of Middle-earth, which was the emblematic quality of the The Lord of the Rings scores.

This time around the dwarven culture is given, through the 13 protagonists of the story, a major spotlight, not only in the film but also in the music without the composer forgetting the hobbits, the worlds of the elves and men, forces of evil, the wizards and the nature itself. Again these cultures are addressed with a multitude of themes but Shore also establishes specific instrumental colours and orchestral techniques for each of them along the way. So the listener is essentially stepping into  a familiar musical world with the same musical language and landscape as The Lord of the Rings.

A noteworthy aspect in these new scores theme-wise is the number of character themes Shore has composed. The composer has often spoken of his writing process and how often the musical ideas are inspired purely by the novel, by the script and naturally also by his response to the visuals. This time there seemed to be a need for individual themes for important individuals in the story and Shore did not often create a single theme for these people but assigned some of them several to denote their different aspects throughout the story and to reflect their character arcs. Bilbo, Thorin, Gandalf, Radagast, Bard, Tauriel and Smaug all have their own prominent themes in the trilogy and we can hear this approach expanded with each new film and with each new central character making their appearance.

Similarly Shore's cultural themes that were initially relatively isolated in The Lord of the Rings start in The Hobbit scores to travel and interact and forge connections as soon as the dwarven company crosses the strange lands and meets all manner of creatures and representatives of other races. Thus during the trilogy e.g. elven music and dwarven music come to share certain characteristics although they are initially drawn with a very culture specific musical brush. Some subtle hints of this start to appear already in An Unexpected Journey but this development becomes more and more prevalent in the sequels.

The names of the themes and motifs mentioned here are culled in large part from Doug Adams’s liner notes, articles and the author's blog but in places I thought more poetic identifications were in order. This listing is extensive but it is not definitive or complete by any means and other musical ideas will probably still be lurking throughout these complex scores. Several themes mentioned on this list did not appear in Mr. Adams’ analysis in the CD booklets but are rather the writer's personal observations, that might prove erroneous in the passage of time and it should borne in mind that this analysis is just a work of an eager fan, who delights in engaging in musical musings on his favourite film scores. For further information on Doug Adams' writings on the music of Middle-earth and its related news see his blog.


When examining the three scores in conjunction, the complexity of Howard Shore's thematic architecture for the Hobbit does not fall much behind its inarguably more complex predecessor. The composer wrote well over 50 new themes and motifs to mirror the multifaceted story and its characters. Among these are several unused or abandoned concepts that either did not make it to the film at all or were dropped after the first movie but can be heard on the soundtrack album. Also roughly 20+ themes from The Lord of the Rings reappear in the trilogy as required by the story, which during its opening third features many familiar characters and sights as Thorin's company takes much the same route as Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring will 60 years later. Below the themes have been grouped based on the different cultures since the composer once more formed thematic families around the various races of Middle-earth. I first introduce a list of new thematic material which is followed by the listing of the old returning themes. After each theme there is note of the first appearance of the theme in the scores followed by a selection of examples of its appearances in the trilogy. The timestamps for the appearances of individual statements correspond to the Special Editions of the soundtrack albums.

Following abbreviations appear for the film titles throughout the text:

AUJ: An Unexpected Journey,

DoS: The Desolation of Smaug,

BotFA: The Battle of the Five Armies


The Dwarves:



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This short six chord stoic and noble thematic motto aptly depicts the wealthy, proud and powerful dwarven kingdom of Erebor and its inhabitants but at other times the Erebor Theme transforms into a heroic call to action for the entire dwarven company and remains one of the most constant elements of the dwarven thematic family throughout the three films, like an ever-present memory of the mountain kingdom that calls to the dwarven company and urges them on to retake their old home.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 1 'My Dear Frodo' 1:57-2:16.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'Axe or Sword?' 0:57-1:14; 'Warg-Scouts' 2:08-2:28; 'A Good Omen' 1:24-1:36, 4:12-4:43.

The Desolation of Smaug: 'Flies and Spiders (Extended Version)' 1:24-1:31; 'Durin's Folk'  0:19-0:26, 0:52-0:56, 1:51-2:08; 'On the Doorstep' 0:00-0:16, 0:46-0:53, 3:16-3:32, 5:20-5:40.

The Battle of the Five Armies: 'Beyond Sorrow and Grief' 0:23-0:33 'The Ruins of Dale' 0:40-1:00; 'Sons of Durin' (1:12-1:28, 2:49-3:08).

Thorin Oakenshield

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A noble melodic line full of longing paints a thoughtful, proud and slightly melancholic image of the dwarven prince in exile, the music capturing the inherent heroism, resilience and will but also the sorrow he carries for his people and their lost realm and his duty as the prince of the noble house of Durin. The theme develops in a very Dwarvish fashion yet contains more warmth and direct emotionality than the often stoic music of race. Thorin’s own thematic material is seamlessly wedded to Erebor’s rising figure, the exiled king and his realm indelibly linked to one another, the roots of the prince’s theme actually fittingly derived from Erebor’s.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 1 'My Dear Frodo' 2:18-2:45.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'Axe or Sword?' 0:00-0:20, 2:14-2:37, 2:47-3:03; 'An Ancient Enemy' 1:54-2:01, 3:58-4:32; 'Over Hill' 0:22-0:38, 2:22-3:44 (in trumpet counterpoint to the Misty Mountains theme).

The Desolation of Smaug: 'The Forest River (Extended Version)' 3:28-3:49; 'On the Doorstep' 2:32-2:42, 4:55-5:20; 'My Armor Is Iron' 3:40-3:55.

The Battle of the Five Armies: 'The Clouds Burst' 2:03-2:33; 'Sons of Durin' 0:24-1:11; 'To the Death (Extended Version)' 1:46-1:49, 6:24-6:31; 'Courage and Wisdom' 1:50-2:40.

The Dwarvish Suffering

A weary and grim gradually rising and falling motif revolves around the exile and subsequent degradation of the fortunes of the Durin's folk of Erebor and more generally relates to the dwarvish suffering and fate. It ties strongly with Thorin’s sense of pride and honour and often stubborn unbending will and his obstinate way of keeping of grudges born out of the endured injustice and suffering. As such it also speaks of Thorin's notion that elves abandoned the folk of Erebor to the mercy of the dragon. This theme is woven into the fabric of the scores as the dwarves of Thorin's company continually face hardships on their quest to win back the mountain from Smaug.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 1 'My Dear Frodo' 6:30-8:03.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'A Troll-hoard' 0:45-1:19.

The Desolation of Smaug: 'Flies and Spiders' (Extended Version) 8:15-9:03.

The Arkenstone (The Map and the Key)

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The Arkenstone, the Heart of the Mountain, the most prized heirloom and treasure of the kings of Erebor, a multifaceted and magically radiant jewel very fittingly earns a string line and choral accompaniment that exudes almost supernatural ethereal awe and light of its own.

In AUJ this same figure seems also to be linked to the key and the map that Gandalf hands down to Thorin, a gift from his missing father Thráin. These two artefacts will enable Thorin and his company to reclaim the Arkenstone for their purpose of uniting their brethren from four corners of the world and in the sequels this thematic motto will come to represent the luminous presence of the King's Jewel itself.

First appearance:The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 1 'My Dear Frodo' 3:04-3:21.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'Axe or Sword?' 2:38-2:46.

The Desolation of Smaug: 'Wilderland' 0:16-0:22; 'On the Doorstep' 7:08-7:26; 'A Liar and a Thief' 0:36-0:41; 'Smaug (Extended Version)' 3:24-3:32.

The Battle of the Five Armies: 'A Thief in the Night' 1:26-1:47; 'Dragon-sickness (Exclusive Bonus Track)' 0:20-0:29, 0:44-0:51, 1:11-1:24.

The House of Durin

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The central dwarven thematic idea of The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies, the theme for the House of Durin makes its initial disguised variation in the opening and closing sequences of An Unexpected Journey. This noble, dignified yet introspective theme is a musical hybrid that combines the attributes of both Thorin’s and Erebor’s themes, creating a longing climbing figure that speaks of the dwarves' yearning for their home, the loss that the race of Erebor has endured and the unbending nobility of the dwarven race as Thorin's company attempts to retake their former kingdom.

Shore makes a connection between the dwarven culture of Moria and Erebor with this theme, both grandest dwellings of the House of Durin as the theme is in part modelled after the same faded glory that is heard in the Dwarrowdelf theme in LotR. It marks Thorin’s noble heritage as the heir to the throne and fittingly opens the whole story of the Hobbit with a musical hint at the central element of the plot.

First appearance:The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 1 'My Dear Frodo' 0:00-0:37.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'The White Council (Extended Version)' 3:00-3:22; 'A Good Omen' 0:33-0:47.

The Desolation of Smaug: 'Girion, Lord of Dale (Extended Version)' 3:07-4:10; 'The Hunters (Extended Version)' 5:49-6:37; 'My Armor Is Iron' 0:54-1:17, 1:51-1:56, 3:06-3:22.

The Battle of the Five Armies: 'Beyond Sorrow and Grief (Extended Version)' 0:00-0:23; 'The Gathering of the Clouds (Extended Version)' 4:58-5:35; Mithril 2:29-2:50;'The Darkest Hour' 1:11-1:45; 'Sons of Durin' 0:00-0:24.

Misty Mountains (Written by Plan 9)

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This theme starts as a piece of diegetic music, a song sung by the dwarves at Bag End, the lyrics adapted from Tolkien’s poem 'Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold', which comes directly from the novel itself.

The melody of the song was not composed by Howard Shore but by a New Zealand based group of musicians called Plan 9 (David Donaldson, David Long, Steve Roche, Janet Roddick and Stephen Gallagher), who handled all the diegetic music (music heard from an on-screen sound source, such as a song or instrument played by a character) for The Lord of the Rings trilogy and again for The Hobbit films. As the song had to be performed by the actors in the opening scenes at Bag End at the start of An Unexpected Journey, Plan 9 composed it well in advance of the shooting. According to the members of Plan 9 they initially conceived several different melodies for the film makers to choose from and the final version now heard in the film emerged slowly as the clear favourite of Peter Jackson and his team.

After the song’s initial appearance at Bag End in the film it migrates into variety of orchestral settings as Howard Shore integrates it into his score and it becomes a resolute thematic motto for Thorin’s company, a call to adventure and a symbol of the Quest itself. It signals the dwarven heroism and fighting spirit and follows the progress of their journey and appears at important junctions to sing out their valiant resolve to attain their goal.

This melody comes to represent the initial optimism and heroism of the dwarven company, a familiar song of hope and resolve that slowly fades as the characters cross into the true Wilderland. According to Doug Adams the film makers felt that this disappearance of this comforting musical idea would emphasize the danger, urgency and uncertainty of the journey in the sequels. Thus the Misty Mountains Theme is confined to the opening chapter of the story, its progression stopping at the eastern edge of the very mountains the song refers to in its refrain.

Additionally the New Zealand musician and song writer Neill Finn who was commissioned to write the end credits song for An Unexpected Journey took this melody as the basis of his 'Song of the Lonely Mountain'.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 6 'Misty Mountains'.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'The World Is Ahead' 1:28-2:20; 'Roast Mutton (Extended Version)' 2:22-2:31; 'Roast Mutton' (regular soundtrack album) 2:21-2:40, 3:04-3:21, 'Over Hill' 0:00-0:20, 2:22-3:15; 'Song of the Lonely Mountain (Extended Version)'.

Ancient Enemies

A thematic identification for the enmity between the dwarves and orcs but also specifically of Thorin and Azog the Orc king of Moria that runs deep indeed. It is initially heard in the flashback to the gates of Moria where the grievous final battle of the War of Dwarves and Orcs took place. There young Thorin confronts Azog and hews off his arm in this final contest, turning the tide of the battle and rallying the dwarves to him. The primarily dwarven theme of chanting voices evokes the fatal unyielding spirit of the conflict, while the melody advances stoically in almost staccato stanzas for male chorus and orchestra. Shore reprises this moment from AUJ in The Battle of the Five Armies with even more furious drive during the true final conflict between Azog and Thorin as the old enemies are once again pitted against one another in single combat.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 9 An Ancient Enemy 0:29-0:50.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Battle of the Five Armies: 'Ravenhill' 0:44-1:03.

The Dwarf Lords

This is actually one of the early concepts for one of the dwarven themes that makes a subtle appearance in the first score but was subsequently abandoned. A bold and victorious melody that seems to speak of the inherent nobility of the dwarven race and their heroic stature and by its first and only appearance in AUJ Shore seems to connect this melody with the dwarf lords and the Seven Houses of the Dwarves, presaging the future events of BotFAThe Battle of the Five Armies and Dáin Ironfoot.

The Dwarf Lords theme is used only once in An Unexpected Journey when Dwalin mentions Thorin and the council of the dwarven families in the Blue Mountains and can be heard in an expanded concertized form on the bonus track The Dwarf Lords on the Special Edition of the soundtrack but it was never used in the sequels.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 3 'An Unexpected Party' 3:45-4:09.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'The Dwarf Lords (Exclusive Bonus Track)'.

The Company Theme (Unused concept)

Shore composed an alternate heroic theme for Thorin's company for the film that was in the end replaced by the Misty Mountains theme. Traces of this theme can be heard on the Special Edition soundtrack album where an alternate version of a “Company theme” appears in passing in the score itself and on a couple of the bonus tracks.

First Appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 8 'The World Is Ahead' 0:41-0:54.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'Erebor (Exclusive Bonus Track)'; 'The Edge of the Wild (Exclusive Bonus Track)' 0:00-0:49.


Thorin's father Thrain is first only seen in glimpses in the flashbacks in the first movie but his story is further explored in the extended version of the second film. Shore's music for Thrain is strongly embedded in the established theme for Erebor but receives a mysterious arpeggio string accompaniment to denote both the mystery and the tragedy of the fallen monarch, held captive and stricken mad in the dungeons of the Necromancer where Gandalf encounters him.

First heard in The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Disc 2, Track 6, 'On the Doorstep' 0:00-0:50.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Battle of the Five Armies: 'Thrain (Exclusive Bonus Track from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition)' 1:19-1:48.

Dáin Ironfoot (The Iron Hill Dwarves)

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In the Battle of the Five Armies a new dwarven culture is introduced, the Iron Hill dwarves and their leader Thorin's cousin Daín Ironfoot who brings an army of tough dwarven fighters with him to aid his beleaguered kinsmen. Dáin is brash, impulsive, belligerent and a fierce warrior much like his men and Shore's new theme reflects this. As Doug Adams puts it in his liner notes for the BotFA: “This is the boisterous, Scottish-flavoured theme for Dain and the  Dwarves of the Iron Hills – a marching tune shot through with roguish triplet counterlines. Here at last is Dwarvish culture in its raucous prime.” It is a boisterous marching tune with Scottish flavour to it only enhanced by the Uillean pipes and the bold fanfaric theme is accompanied by a galloping rhythmic figure which seems to connect with the dwarvish cavalry as they come riding rams into battle.

First heard in The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies Disc 1, Track 10 'The Clouds Burst' 2:36-3:30, 3:45-3:52.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Battle of the Five Armies: 'Battle for the Mountain' 0:26-0:42 (the accompanying rhythm only), 1:00-2:07; 'Ironfoot (Extended Version)' 0:00-2:03.

War Preparations (Dwarven Warriors)

Thorin Oakenshield stricken with the dragon-sickness plans to defend the Lonely Mountain to the last dwarf and holes up in its halls with his 12 followers and fortifies the gates against those who would seek to steal the riches of the dwarves. For these military preparations and arming of the dwarves Shore strikes up a grim march theme which transforms the nobility and courage of the dwarven race into a dark and oppressive call to arms to Thorin's company that still loyally but increasingly ruefully follows him. The theme shows the combination of dwarven and elven figures as the composer through the last film continues to bring his themes together, combining them and sending them colliding, revealing competing goals of the two races that are now deadly at odds with each other through the obsession of their kings.

First heard in The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies Disc 1, Track 5 'The Ruins of Dale' 2:15-2:54.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Battle of the Five Armies: 'Mithril' 2:51-3:08.


The Shire/Bilbo:

NOTE: The themes for Bilbo which are so clearly featured on the soundtrack album of An Unexpected Journey represent Shore's original ideas for the character derived and built from the basic colours and contours of the Shire music but in the process of scoring the first film it was decided by the film makers, that they wanted to emphasize Bilbo's hobbitness and hobbit nature instead of him as a character specifically, which lead to the replacing of most of Bilbo's various thematic identities with the well-known Shire theme settings from The Lord of the Rings trilogy and these can indeed be heard throughout the first film. This decision was mostly carried through in the sequels, where Bilbo's themes make a scant few subtler appearances in favour of the Shire's musical motifs that keenly represent the hobbit's verdant homeland and all that is good and decent in the world.

Bilbo’s Adventure

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An optimistically ascending melody is a courageous but gentle music depiction of Bilbo’s burgeoning heroism, which grows from small roots in the Shire and can only grow in significance as he travels farther into the wide world to see its wonders. The leaping theme is presented a few key times in the movies at such points where our small protagonist is made to show his true quality. It begins heavily informed by the musical contour of the Shire material but soon links itself with the dwarven musical world as the hobbit joins their company and begins the quest of Erebor with them.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, Disc 1, Track 1, 'My Dear Frodo' 0:37-0:50.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'The World Is Ahead' 0:12-0:41; 'A Good Omen' 3:26-3:41; 'A Very Respectable Hobbit (Exclusive Bonus Track)' 0:00-0:30.

The Desolation of Smaug: 'Flies and Spiders (Extended Version)' 4:28-4:36; 'Barrels Out of Bond' 0:00-0:12.

The Battle of the Five Armies: 'The Darkest Hour' 0:18-0:33; 'The Return Journey' 1:39-1:51, 2:02-2:50; 'There and Back Again' 1:33-1:51, 1:52-2:20.

Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo Baggins, our stalwart if much of the time out of his depth protagonist is a model of a country squire, but he has Tookish blood in his veins, an adventurous streak that he didn’t even know was there, until it is awakened by the arrival of Gandalf and Thorin’s company. Shore treats this duality of his character in the first film with a two-part theme, one phrase calling him back to the comforts and peace of his beloved green Shire and the other drawing him inevitably to adventure. On his blog Doug Adams refers to this pair of thematic phrases a “theme-and-a-half”, which is a good way to describe this theme with dual purpose.

a) The Baggins Side (Dreaming of Bag End)

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The opening part of Bilbo’s Theme is a lovely and gentle extension of the Shire’s stepwise writing, lyrical, nostalgic yet thoughtful, full of the deep rooted Hobbit wisdom, ever calling Bilbo back to Bag End on his adventures. The melody at its mid-point bears some resemblance to the form of the Bilbo’s Song from the end of the Return of the King in its beautiful and involved lyrical emotionalism, perhaps the most sophisticated part of the Shire’s musical world.

b)The Tookish Side

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Bilbo’s timid peace loving façade hides a secret wish for excitement and adventure. Here the Shire material after an introspective and mature bridge section arches ever higher in yearning, perhaps for adventure, perhaps for heroism. It is this tug that finally leads Bilbo away from the comforts of home and to great deeds on his way to Erebor.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 5 'Axe or Sword' 4:35-5:59 (Both parts of the theme).

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'The Adventure Begins' 1:03-1:14 (Tookish Side); 'The White Council (Extended)' 1:30-2:22 (The Baggins Side); 'Dreaming of Bag End' (End Credits concert suite of the theme).

Fussy Bilbo (Bilbo's Antics)

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Bilbo’s fussy and out-of-his-element side is depicted by a dancing waltz-melody and rhythm that underscores his more awkward attempts to adjust to a life of an adventurer and the sudden change of his comfortable life in the Shire when the dwarves whisk him off to an adventure. The quirky folk tune like melody itself dances a bit uncertainly over the waltz rhythms, often conjuring an unbalanced feel, Bilbo threatening to topple with his music under the sudden new responsibilities.

This theme migrates into DoS where it provides few moments of hobbity levity to the otherwise quite dangerous and dark adventures the company experiences in the Wilderland but by the time of BotFA it disappears completely as Bilbo has outgrown his fussy stay-at-home nature even if his love for his homeland has grown all the more fond because of all the things he has seen on his adventures.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 3 'An Unexpected Party' 1:41-2:06.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: The World Is Ahead 0:55-1:28; 'Roast Mutton' 0:30-0:40; 'A Very Respectable Hobbit (Exclusive Bonus Track)' 1:01-1:21.

The Desolation of Smaug: 'Barrels Out of Bond' 0:21-0:31; 'Thrice Welcome' 3:00-3:17.

Bilbo Suspense Music (Bilbo the Burglar)

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This motif is a sneaky driving ostinato figure that follows Bilbo when he takes charge of the situation at a pivotal moment. This burglar theme is closely associated with Bilbo's new found determination in a tight spot, strength and ingenuity combined with burglarious stealth, showing a serious mature side of the character. Here the stepwise pitches of the Shire theme are morphed by Shore into a new suspenseful minor mode figure that proceeds cautiously as our small protagonist takes charge of the course of events and changes the fate of the quest.

The motif appears three times during the trilogy, once when the hobbit devises a daring rescue of Thorin's company from the Halls of the Elvenking, the second time in The Battle of the Five Armies as Bilbo sets out to bargain for truce with Bard and Thranduil, using his diminutive size and stealth to get past the guards to deliver the Arkenstone to the leaders of elves and men. Finally it is heard as we discover his personal growth when he has to after all the momentous events at his return to the Shire confront the fact that he himself has been declared dead and his estate is in process of being sold at an auction. Here the music registers his alarm and sees him take charge of the situation and reclaiming his lost life (and belongings) back.

First appearance: The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Disc 1, Track 9 'Barrels out of Bond' 0:32-1:09.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Battle of the Five Armies: 'A Thief in the Night' 0:39-1:15; 'There and Back Again' 0:37-1:22.


The Wizards


Gandalf the Grey

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Gandalf the Grey’s theme is a small musical gesture which sends Bilbo on his adventure and indeed Gandalf’s compact little theme seems to be closely related to the music of the Shire, a place the Grey Pilgrim holds dear to his heart. This small whole step melodic turn is insistent, always ready to peek through the fabric of the score. It denotes the wizard’s presence and his helping hand, whether meddling into the affairs of the dwarves or hobbits, appearing at the nick of time to bail them out of trouble and sending them on their way or when the Grey Pilgrim is forced to reveal his power as he is called upon to battle the rise of the Shadow.

First appearance: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 2 'Old Friends (Extended Version)' 3:32-3:41.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'An Unexpected Party (Extended Version)' 0:30-0:35, 2:12-2:21; 'Radagast the Brown (Extended Version)' 0:00-0:15; 'Roast Mutton (Extended Version)' 3:54-3:58, 4:42-5:57; 'A Troll-hoard' 1:46-1:49.

The Desolation of Smaug: 'The Quest for Erebor' 2:30-2:43 (inverted variation); 'A Spell of Concealment (Extended Version)' 0:00-0:11, 1:45-1:51.

The Battle of the Five Armies: 'The Guardians of the Three (Extended Version)' 1:53-2:12 (inverted variation), 2:57-3:19 (counterline to Rivendell theme), 3:38-4:23; 'Ruins of Dale' 3:25-3:39; 'The Darkest Hour' 0:00-0:26; 'The Return Journey' 2:54-3:06; 'Thrain (Bonus Track From the Extended Edition of the Desolation of Smaug)' 0:38-0:40.

Gandalf’s 2nd Theme/The Istari

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The order of the Wizards, the Istari, is also depicted by a theme of its own, which in the course of the Hobbit trilogy becomes most strongly attached to Gandalf's presence and his friendship, a searching lyrical melodic line. It seems to alternate with the more active primary theme as a musical identity for the wizard in the first Hobbit film. It appears most often when Gandalf is giving counsel or rallying his comrades, imparting a sense of confident strength tempered with wisdom and most importantly often underlining his friendship with the dwarves and the hobbit.

While this theme, which Doug Adams commented to have a broader usage than just a secondary melody for Gandalf and initially was meant to depict the whole order of the wizards (it does indeed make its first appearance when Gandalf is recounting the names and colours of all the Five Wizards) is largely absent in The Desolation of Smaug (as the wizard is largely away from Thorin's company), the idea returns at the end of The Battle of the Five Armies as the Grey Pilgrim and the hobbit meet in the aftermath of the battle and return home from their journey although the music appears in a transformed fleeting form, perhaps to show us the change in the characters.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 10 'Radagast the Brown (Extended Version)' 0:16-0:36.

Appearances in the trilogy:

The Battle of the Five Armies: 'The Return Journey' 0:00-0:10, 3:32-3:55.

Radagast the Brown

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Radagast is a wizard, who was always more fond of the natural world than the affairs of the Free Peoples and took upon himself to protect the plants and animals of Middle-earth. He makes his home in Mirkwood, where he lives under the eaves of the great forest at Rhosgobel, a house built around a living tree. There he keeps watch over the woodlands and is surrounded by his animal friends, birds being his most loyal and dear companions. He is a hermit of a strange sort and of wizardly powers, who one day senses the evil spreading through the forest and decides to act and alert the Wise of this threat.

Musically this befuddled and absent minded quirky nature wizard is depicted by a collection of musical devices: a constant pattern of nervous up-and-down haltingly swaying and sawing figures in the strings and woodwinds, a closely related sinuous solo violin line that weaves into this curious collage of sounds and a steady tapping of a collection of percussion instruments that underscore his nervous and jittery personality. The brown wizard's music was eventually largely cut out of the first film and the sequels so the AUJ soundtrack album remains the only place to find this quirky set of thematic ideas.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 10; 'Radagast the Brown (Extended Version)' 0:50-1:12, 1:39-2:03, 3:40-4:45.

 Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'The Hill of Sorcery' 0:46-1:40, 3:02-3:11, 3:24-3:51 (the spinning string figures); 'Warg-Scouts' 0:05-0:14 (the spinning string figures), (0:58-1:08).

Radagast's 2nd Theme

The Brown Wizard also has a secondary idea tied to him, but it is very closely knit into the collection of his other musical sounds. Radagast’s often nervously busy music surrounds an eerie choral and orchestral motif, which contains references to the nervous rising and falling string figures of his music wedded with another long lined melody winding on top of it, creating in the process a new theme. This music is according Doug Adams (commentary on his blog) also tied to Radagast and his powers. Its initial appearance in the orchestra and boys choir seems to suggest some subtle connection to Nature in the pure tones of the choral accompaniment but it later appears when Gandalf conveys his dark news and findings to the White Council where this musical motif underscores their grave conversation, the theme expressing both Radagast's message and the ominous weight of his findings, now transported into the more mature sound of a female chorus.

First appearance: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Disc 1, Track 10 'Radagast the Brown (Extended Version)' 0:37-0:49, 1:13-1:38, 2:04-2:14.

Appearances in the trilogy:

An Unexpected Journey: 'The White Council (Extended Version)' 6:41-7:41.


This is the end of Chapter 1.

Go to Chapter 2.


-Mikko Ojala

The Hobbit soundtrack albums are available from Decca Records (Europe) and Watertower Music (United States).

This article is meant for educational purposes only - no copyright infringement is intended