TIW: [Letter discussing music in Tolkien in response to topic in Entmoot #2 , as well as Tolkien script and meaning of Middle Earth with in-line commentary by Greg Shaw]

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[page 7] Harry Warner: 423 Summit Avenue : Hagerstown, Maryland: 21740 A lukewarm admirer of Tolkien like me found more of interest in the second Entmoot than might have been foreseen. But as you might guess, the material about music for the Tolkien poetry was the easiest for a non-student of the books to think coherently about. To think out the question of musical settings requires first of all some decisions on basics. How authentic should we be? If we search through the novels for every morsel of information about music in Middle Earth, and apply the findings to the music we create for the songs, should we also seek authenticity in the form of rejecting musical features that have evolved in the past few centuries and wouldn't have existed in the time of the hobbits and the elves except through the most improbable coincidence? I'm thinking primarily of the tempered scale that has become common property in the western music of the past couple of centuries. Some genuine folk songs in rural areas exist today without tempered intervals, using instead the "natural" intervals that were abandoned when composers wanted to modulate from key to key freely and couldn't on keyboard and most brass and woodwind instruments. Moreover, should we consider the use of harmony in the accompaniments to the Tolkien poem settings to be authentic? Harmony in the sense that we know it is extremely rare in genuine folk music, which usually gets along with nothing more elaborate than drone effects or whatever harmony comes accidentally from primitive polyphony. Even if the world of Tolkien had once existed, it would be as difficult to reconstruct accurately its music from the clues the author gives us as it is to know exactly how the Greeks sang and performed music in the age of Sophocles. So I think that the fan who wants to provide music for the Tolkien poems must make some decisions. He can create music that is consistent with what we know about the folk music of the distant past and the folk music of the more primitive races of today. He can decide that Middle Earth was such a civilized and advanced era that its music would have been considerably more sophisticated than any folk music known to us fully or in part. Or he can simply decide which sort or @of@ music known to him is most appropriate to the Tolkien poetry, in his opinion, and write new music in that style. [page 8] existed. I'd like to hear music for the Tolkien poems that was capable of making sense when sung unaccompanied, as many of the poems must have been sung. It should be melodies that sound a bit different from art or folk music that we hear frequently, perhaps through the use of one of the rarer modes, perhaps by an occasional introduction of quarter-tones. One excellent way to get away from downright imitation of existing folk music would be avoidance of strophic settings: a different melody for each stanza or alternating melodies for long poems are ways in which composed music differs from folk music, which normally repeats the same phrase (in primitive stuff) or melody endlessly with as many variations as the words in each stanza require. In any event, I imagine that there are no legal obstructions to setting the Ring volumes' poems to music, now that the copyright absence is established. I'd like to try my hand at a couple of the poems if time permitted. The only effort I've ever made of this sort involved a half dozen poems from one of Dr. David H. Keller's novels. I worked on them for months, then when I had them all copied out nicely in legible inked notation, I decided that they were no good and never let anyone else see or hear them. I confessed to Dr. Keller what I'd done and he indicated that it was just as well, because he'd thought up simple melodies himself and would have been confused if he'd encountered mine. -/That's interesting. I wonder if Tolkien....?/- The Simpson-Shaw article frightens me a little. How can I maintain my loc reputation if I must begin to learn Middle Earth penmanship to understand what I'm to comment on? -/Ha! It's all a sinister plot to get _all_ fanzines to publish totally in Elvish, so you can't comment _at all_! Hig, hig!/- However, anyone who is young and energetic enough to indulge in this has my blessings. But will the Fëanorean script be comprehended by an Irishman when written by an American? The language barrier between this country and the British Isles is already severe, and if each breed of fans writes in Middle Earth letters according to its own understanding of how English is pronounced....! -/This is the major problem. However I am assuming that those whose accent deviates markedly from standard American pronunciation, if they want to communicate in Tengwar, will refer to a dictionary. But then, I don't think that use of the Tengwar would ever catch on on a large enough scale to make this a serious problem. There are very few people interested in this rather specialized area of study--and there have been no problems yet./- What does Middle Earth mean? I don't recall any flat explanation of the term in the four Tolkien books I own. The same pair of words occurs occasionally in non-Tolkienian sources, particularly around Elizabethan times when writers seemed to use them as a sort of short- hand for reminding their readers that earth stands midway geographically and from the standpoint of happiness between heaven and hell. Is Tolkien using the words because old writers usedthem @used them@ or does he mean them to refer to a time era between prehistory and known history? -/No, since the inhabitants of Middle Earth used the term themselves. I think the Elves may have introduced it--their name for Middle Earth (ennor, or endóre) means literally 'middle-land'. There are references to only 3 great geographical areas--the Far West, Middle Earth, and the East. The Elves, coming from the West and presumably having knowledge of the East, may well have dubbed it that. I am not sure, but this has always been my idea of what he meant by Middle Earth. I suppose my readers will have many views on the matter--we'll see./-

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