Amon Lhaw: [Excerpts from letter sent to Shaw, discusses Tolkien and music, including Bruce Pelz's Tolkien compositions, with introduction and commentary from Greg Shaw]

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[page 3] AMON LHAW Amon Lhaw was the anceint @ancient@ "Hill of Hearing" at Tol Brandir; I have dubbed this column of comments from the readers that on the spur of the moment - a superior title is desired, and any suggestions welcomed. First, here are two comments from HARRY WARNER JR., 423 Summit Avenue, Hagerstown, Maryland: "Bruce Pelz has published several musical settings of Tolkien poems. They consist of the vocal line and indication of the chords that should accompany the sing @song@, not a fully-written out accompaniment. It would be interesting to discover how many different notions exist on what kind of music the Ring poems should get. I imagine that most Tolkien fans would expect something simple, folksongish in character. But I don't remember much referance to musical instruments in the Tolkien novels, certainly the situations under which most songs were sung pre- vented accompaniment, and does this mean the songs should be set as unaccompanied meter, or should they have irregularities like most old folk songs? Should the settings sound in general like folk music of some part of the British Isles to go with the English allusions in the literary side of the Tolkien books? Should they be sung by men at all, since such tiny creatures as hobbits undoubtably had high-pitched voices from short vocal chords?" Well, now I don't really know, Harry ... you raised some interesting points there. Nothing in the Tolkien books suggests that the hobbits had unnaturally hich-pitched voices ... the suggestion that they might is there, but I can't think of any singular reference. Perhaps it is the same sort of thing as old ERB, who apparently never got used to the idea of green men being fifteen feet tall.. he used to speak of John Carter and Tars Tarkas fighting "shoulder to shoulder", which would of course be impossible unless Carter was standing on a hill, or Tars Tarkas was lying on his back. The question of music is also a moot point. I think that folksong, that is, modern folksong, type would sound well with the hobbits -- but what of the elves? What kind of music do you suggest forr @for@ the elven songs? Comments, anyone? Here's Harry again, on another subject: "There is ... evidence that some highly personal matters are interwoven into the novels. Notice the importance of the name Tuck and its similarity to the start of his own name. Someone else, Gina Clarke I believe, pointed out that so many names in the books of characters are simply two or three letters of the alphabet spelled out phonetically. This could mean that friends or relatives are symbolized by those characters. Unfortunately, I doubt that a century from now, learned men will spend years tracing down the origins of the Ring novels and hobbits as they do today for Lewis Carroll's Alice books. My opinion of Tolkien as a story-teller and as a writer is on the lukewarmish side." Even ignoring that last sentence, I'm fairly sure my co-editor will have a few comments on that, but in the meantime, I'll put in my two bits worth. First of all, I was unaware that learned men were scouring Carroll's books for references to real characters. If they were, a lot of the time they are just [page 4] wasting time, for some of his poems just spell out the persons @person's@ name reading down the first line. As for the names in Tolkien, I don't really know about the hobbits. Judging from his patronizing attitude towards them (he never had the heart to kill off Bilbo), I find it altogether possible that they could be named for friends -- but I don't know. I'm sure someone out there must be better informed than I. As for the names of non-hobbits, I'm inclined to doubt that theory. Their origins can probably be traced to his interest in linguistics and other sources. For instance, many of the dwarves can be traced directly back to the old Norse lays -- Thorin Oakenshield, from _the Hobbit_ @_The Hobbit_@, for one.. Gandalf himself was originally a dwarf in the Eddas. Other names that can be thusly traced: Dwalin (Dvalin), Dain Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Nori, Thror, Dori, Ori, Fili, Kili. I'm not sure which of those were actually names of the dwarves in either the Ring trilogy or Thorin's crew in _The Hobbit_, but I think it does indicate that any dwarves not actually there were derived from the same root.

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