LOTR Online Score Unleashed

The Lord of the Rings Online game commemorates its 10th anniversary with a HUGEsound Records commemorative soundtrack release, featuring the original music of Chance Thomas.

Thomas, whose game scores include James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game, packed 26-songs into the double-album release, drawing from his Lord of the Rings work over the past two decades.  “Seeing this collection of music released to the world is like watching a dream come true,” says Thomas, whose extensive research into the world of Tolkien at the service of his meticulously crafted score is legend among game composers.

“Who could have imagined such a thing, when I was growing up an obscure and geeky kid in Oklahoma?,” ponders Thomas, who used a full orchestra to create the tracks, “classically trained musicians, pouring their passion into fine acoustic instruments. All so skilled, so talented, and so engaged. It is beyond belief to me.” Thomas has contributed to nine games and expansions and just started work on tenth expansion, this time working in his own HUGEsound studio in Salt Lake City

Thomas began writing music for The Lord of the Rings even before Howard Shore tackled the soundtrack for Peter Jackson’s film trilogy. His first step in tackling he project was diving into the books to research every aspect of the music of Middle Earth.

The process, which he thought would take months, eventually turned into years as the composer meticulously documented everything Tolkien wrote about music, song, voices, instruments, even the effect that music had on the characters and environments of the tale. He collected these references, sorted through them, organized and then distilled all of his research into a 26-page document which became his Tolkien Music Style Guide.

For each of the five key races in Middle-earth, his Style Guide lists specific instrumental palettes, vocal ranges, stylistic guidelines, even home keys – all based on references and inferences drawn directly from the text.

Combining that information with the inspiration gleaned from a world he found as enthralling as any hardcore J.R.R. Tolkien fan, Thomas calls the process of writing the music “the longest and most passionate musical thread running through my career.” When it came time to record it, he opted for a combination of orchestral, choral, and acoustic ensemble music.

“It’s completely original,” the composer emphasizes. “Everyone knows about Howard Shore and his work on Peter Jackson’s movies.  But what many don’t know is that in the video game world, another composer started writing LOTR- based music back in 1998.” Thomas has made his tremendous institutional knowledge and study of game music available to others in the form of a definitive textbook, Composing Music for Games, published last year.

And while Thomas has interpreted many high-profile entertainment properties through his career – from Dungeons & Dragons to King Kong – he concedes that his LOTR may be his most popular work.And now fans can enjoy it in remastered splendor, downloadable from iTunes and major outlets.

Disc One:

  1. The House of Tom Bombadil
  2. Moria
  3. Drums in the Deep
  4. Ages of the Golden Wood
  5. Learning to Ride
  6. Horse Lords of Norcrofts
  7. Khazad Dum
  8. Tears of Nimrodel
  9. Urgent Errands
  10. Hills of the Shire
  11. Song of the Dwarves
  12. The Hollin Gate
  13. Calm Before the Storm

Disc Two:

  1. LOTRO Legacy
  2. Theme for Rohan
  3. The Eored
  4. Corruption and High Treason
  5. Rivendell
  6. Chant for Sauron
  7. Boromir’s Last Stand
  8. Shadow of the Argonath
  9. The Entwash Vale
  10. Orc Hunt
  11. The Grey Havens
  12. Party in the Shire
  13. Heart of a Hero
Composer Chance Thomas poses at the keyboard.

When it comes to compelling videogame music, Chance Thomas wrote the book — literally! (Photo courtesy HUGEsound)



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