Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Soundtrack – What Do The Song Titles Mean?
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power score does a great job of transporting fans back to Middle-earth. But what do the songs actually mean?
The soundtrack for Amazon Prime’s upcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is out now, and the titles of the tracks are a pretty interesting collection that might offer us a few hints about what we’ll see in season 1 of what Amazon hope will be a several-season series.
The score itself is really rather lovely and sits very nicely alongside Howard Shore’s scores for the six Peter Jackson movies set in Middle-earth. Bear McCreary, the composer for Outlander, is a great choice for this job. His Outlander score incorporates Scottish and Celtic folk music beautifully into a fantasy drama score, as you might expect for a series about an 18th century Highland community. This makes him a perfect match for The Rings of Power, as Howard Shore was heavily inspired by Celtic music in his work on the films. Shore has written the main theme for the new series, so McCreary’s Celtic-flavored composition is the perfect continuation of Shore’s work (with just the tiniest hint of Outlander echoing in the background!).
Many of the track titles are references to various different elements of Tolkien’s mythology. We’ve listed them all, and grouped them by theme, with our explanation of what each title is about and what hints it might offer as to the series itself.
And if you want to have a listen, you can do so in the player below:
“Galadriel”, “Nori Brandyfoot”, “Sauron”, “Elrond Half-Elven”, “Durin IV”, “Halbrand”
These are all character names, some familiar, some new, and these tracks will be the main theme for each character. Galadriel, Sauron, Elrond, and Durin are all original Tolkien characters, and the Elves Galadriel and Elrond and Big Bad Guy Sauron are familiar from the Peter Jackson movies. Durin is the King of the Dwarves in Moria at the time the show is set.
It’s interesting that Elrond’s theme specifically names him as “Half-Elven”; between that and the romance between new characters Bronwyn and Arondir, it looks like tensions between Elves and Men, and the difficulties that creates for those in mixed relationships or of mixed heritage, will be a major theme of the series.
It’s also interesting that Sauron appears under his own name. Sauron initially comes to Celebrimbor (forger of the Elven Rings of Power) in disguise. This suggests that his true identity will be revealed, at least to the audience if not to the other characters, at some point during this first season. Nori Brandyfoot and Halbrand, meanwhile, are entirely new characters created for the series – Nori is a Harfoot (the ancestors of Hobbits) and Halbrand is a Man.
“Bronwyn and Arondir”, “Elendil and Isildur”
More character names, but these ones come in pairs! We know that new characters Bronwyn and Arondir will fill the role of Elf-Human romance in the series, in the place of the First Age couple Beren and Lúthien and Third Age couple Aragorn and Arwen. Tolkien didn’t write an Elf-Human romance for the Second Age, but this is such an important theme in his works, not to mention for himself personally – his tombstone, which he shares with his wife Edith, names her as Lúthien and himself as Beren – that it makes sense to create a story along these lines for the series. Bronwyn and Arondir are gender-flipped in the sense that Bronwyn is a female Human and Arondir is male Elf, rather than a Man and a female Elf like the other two relationships, which should help their story to have its own identity.
Elendil and Isildur, on the other hand, are Tolkien characters, and they are father and son. They were both among the very first characters we met in the Peter Jackson movies. Elendil was briefly seen being killed by Sauron and his sword Narsil broken, and then Isildur took up the sword, defeated Sauron, and refused to throw the One Ring into the Crack of Doom, thus creating a whole lot of trouble for a lot of people. In Tolkien’s books, Elendil fought alongside the Elven king Gil-galad, who also died in the same battle (technically he appeared in the film, but blink and you’ll miss him), so we can expect to see more Elf-Human relations developing here as Gil-galad will also appear in the series. The focus on the father-son relationship is interesting, and parallels the focus on father-son relationships between the Men Denethor, Boromir, and Faramir in The Lord of the Rings.
“A Plea to the Rocks” (feat. Sophia Nomvete), “This Wandering Day” (feat. Megan Richards), “Harfoot Life”, “Nobody Goes Off Trail”
Sophia Nomvete plays the Dwarf Disa in The Rings of Power, so we can assume that “A Plea to the Rocks” relates to the Dwarves’ storyline in the series in some way. The piece is quite slow and heavy on big orchestral sounds and vocals, suggesting it probably covers a scene taking place in some of the great Dwarven halls we saw in Moria in The Fellowship of the Ring, before their destruction and before they were over-run by Orcs.
Megan Richards plays the Harfoot Poppy Proudfellow and “This Wandering Day” is in English, so it’s fairly clear what this one is about. The Harfoots, unlike their more settled descendants, are nomadic, and this song is all about their nomadic lifestyle. It includes the lyric “Not all who wonder or wander are lost,” which echoes the poem Bilbo wrote for Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, “All that is gold does not glitter / Not all those who wander are lost.” We’d hazard a guess that “Harfoot Life” and “Nobody Goes Off Trail” are on the same topic, though the more sinister sounds at the beginning of “Nobody Goes Off Trail” highlight the more dangerous side of the nomadic lifestyle.
“Khazad-dûm”, “Númenor”, “Valinor”, “Sundering Seas”, “The Secrets of the Mountain”, “For the Southlands”, “In the Mines”, “Where the Shadows Lie”
These are all locations in Tolkien’s secondary world, though not all of them are in Middle-earth. Khazad-dûm is the Dwarvish name for Moria, so that’s a pretty clear indication that, as suspected, we will be seeing Moria in its glory days, before the coming of the Balrog and a lot of Orcs. “The Secrets of the Mountain” could refer to any significant mountain really, but we suspect that might be a reference to Moria as well, and “In the Mines” is almost certainly another Moria score.
Númenor, Valinor, and the Sundering Seas aren’t on the main continent of Arda, or Middle-earth. Númenor is a Human island civilization loosely inspired by the myth of Atlantis, so we all know where that story is eventually going – decline and a great flood. That probably won’t happen in season 1, though, and we expect to see Númenor at the height of its power, like Moria. Valinor is the Undying Lands, the place the Elves eventually sail off to across the Sundering Seas, where Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, and Frodo go at the end of The Lord of the Rings (and Tolkien’s appendices tell us they were eventually joined by Sam, Legolas, and Gimli).
During the Second Age, Valinor was not cut off to anyone but Elves in the way it was later. These track listings suggest we might see the attack on Valinor by the Númenoreans under their king Ar-Pharazôn, who will be appearing in the series played by Trystan Gravelle.
“In the Southlands” is a fairly vague reference to the home of new Human character Bronwyn; the “Southlands” could be the area that is later Gondor, or it could even be the land that later becomes Mordor. “Where the Shadows Lie” is much more obviously a reference to Mordor – this is the line in the Ring Verse, the poem describing all twenty of the Rings of Power, that comes right before the inscription on the One Ring:
“One for the Dark Lord on his Dark Throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.”
This may be an indication that we’ll actually see the forging of the One Ring towards the end of season 1, or it may refer to the rise of Sauron’s kingdom of Mordor out of the Human-inhabited Southlands.
“Nolwa Mahtar”, “Nampat”
These are both titles in Tolkien’s invented languages, but neither is a quotation from a pre-existing poem or other bit of Tolkien lore. Tolkien fans on Twitter and Reddit have suggested that the first is probably Quenya for “Brave Warrior.” Quenya is the ancient language of the High Elves, which Tolkien constructed partly from elements of Latin, Ancient Greek, and Finnish. It’s an archaic language by the time we get to The Lord of the Rings, but is a bit more widely spoken in this earlier period as the Men of Númenor learned it, so this could refer to either an Elven character or a Human one.
“Nampat” has been harder to identify but seems likely to be the Black Speech of Mordor, though no one is quite sure what it means. The aggressive chanting and eerie background screeching definitely suggests this is going to cover a scene set in Mordor or about Sauron, whatever it means!
“White Leaves”, “The Promised King”, “Water and Flame”, “True Creation Requires Sacrifice”, “Wise One”
We can make very rough guesses about these titles. “White Leaves” is probably a reference to the original White Tree, a gift the Elf Celeborn brought to Númenor and which would provide the seedling that would eventually become the White Tree of Gondor, seen in The Return of the King. “The Promised King” could be any one of several characters, many of them familiar Third Age characters like Thorin or Aragorn, or it might refer to a Second Age character we’ll meet in the series. “Water and Flame” doesn’t give much away but might be a reference to the stirring of the Balrog, the fiery monster that eventually falls into deep water with Gandalf in Moria in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Speaking of Gandalf, “Wise One” sounds like a reference to wizards, but according to Tolkien’s timeline, none of the five Istari, the wizards, arrive on Middle-earth until the Third Age. It’s not impossible that the series has moved up their arrival, since we know it will be compressing the timeline of the Second Age, so adding an incident from the Third Age isn’t impossible.
Finally, “True Creation Requires Sacrifice” is presumably a reference to the forging of the Rings. Whether this is about Celebrimbor forging the Elven Rings or Sauron forging the One Ring isn’t clear; it seems like more of a Sauron-type thing to say, but that’s far from certain.
“The Stranger”, “In the Beginning”, “The Boat”, “Scherzo for Violin and Swords”, “Sailing into Dawn”, “Find the Light”, “Cavalry”, “The Veil of Smoke”, “The Mystics”, “Perilous Whisperings”, “The Broken Line”
Honestly, this lot could mean anything, though we do love the title “Scherzo for Violin and Swords.” As far as information goes, there’s not much to be gleaned here. There’s going to be a boat. And a lot of fighting (obviously). If the story were set later, “Cavalry” might be a hint of the Rohirrim, but this story is set far too early in Tolkien’s mythological history for them to show up. “The Mystics” has a lot of ominous chanting in what sounds like the Black Speech of Mordor in the background, so that’s probably something to do with Bad Guys!
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres on Sept. 2 on Amazon Prime Video.