Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Friday, December 13, 2013

Making Music For ‘The Hobbit’

Composer Howard Shore (

Howard Shore wrote the film scores for the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies. (

Composer Howard Shore has written dozens of film scores. He’s worked with directors Jonathan Demme and Martin Scorcese, and he’s a frequent collaborator with David Cronenberg. But he’s probably best known for his work with Peter Jackson.

Shore wrote the scores for all three “Lord of the Rings” movies, as well as the two “Hobbit” films, including “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which opens today. He’s won three Oscars for his work on “The Lord of the Rings” films.

As Howard Shore tells Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti, he sees the music that he writes for the movies as “a way to give clarity to objects, places, cultures, to moments in the story.”

Interview Highlights

On composing music for the dragon Smaug

“This is a very special dragon, and he’s a very powerful creature. He’s very sly, very cunning, sinister. He creates this sort of sickness in people, you know. He creates what we call, ‘dragon sickness.’ It’s almost a feeling; it’s a physical feeling that you get when you’re around him. … I’ve got the great story of Tolkien and the imagery, and I set to you. I mean, Smaug is a character that I felt came pretty easily.”

On what it takes to illustrate Middle Earth with music

“The compositional process really starts quite early. This is a rather large piece, it’s a large canvas, and there’s over a hundred themes and light motifs in the piece. So I must say when I started, quite like Tolkien, I believe, that you kind of put one foot in front of the other, and you kind of found your way through Middle Earth step by step.”

On writing over 100 pieces of music for the films

“I did it for clarity of storytelling. I mean it’s a very complex story, Lord of the Rings. By using the motifs, it was a way to give clarity to objects, places, cultures, to moments in the story. And it was a way to express differences in the culture.”


  • Howard Shore, Oscar-winning composer who wrote the music for the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

April 28 18 Comments

Men Read Mean Tweets At Women And The Video Goes Viral

Two Chicago-area sports journalists gathered the tweets directed at them and asked men to read them to their faces. The result went viral.

April 28 7 Comments

HBO's CEO On Virtual Reality And ‘Sesame Street’

In the second part of our interview with Richard Plepler, he discusses why the premium cable network picked up "Sesame Street."

April 28 Comment

Gloria Estefan Reflects On Her Life Story In ‘On Your Feet!’

Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson catches up with the Cuban-born American singer backstage after a performance.

April 27 27 Comments

Economist: NAFTA Benefits Economy Despite Job Losses

Gordon Hanson explains his research on the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement and why he still supports it.