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Old 02-17-2010, 01:35 PM   #1
Faramir Jones
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Pipe 'Music, Myth, and Literary Depth in the "Land ohne Musik"', Gregory Martin

Another favourite article of mine is Gregory Martin's 'Music, Myth, and Literary Depth in the "Land ohne Musik"'; because it deals with Tolkien's musical aescetics, and in particular his belief, made clear in his letters, in a parallel between music and language. I also found out from this article that Tolkien had made an address to the Lincoln Musical Society, which dealt with this parallel.

I loved the comparison the author made between Tolkien and the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, because

Both men were rooted in the pastoral idyll of late Victorian and Edwardian England and saw their vision of arcadia slowly overcome by industrialization, and then abruptly punctuated by the Great War, in which each served. (p. 132)

I had suspected this myself; but here the comparison between the two is explored in detail, (pp. 130-141, 144-146) and is a fascinating read. My particular favourite, however, has to be the author's look at the recording of Tolkien 'imitating' Sam singing 'The Stone Troll':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9wvDTv6fvI

When I listen to this recording, I always get a thrill; because it's the nearest I can get to hearing how an 'ordinary' hobbit singing was supposed to sound. Mr. Martin points out that this song shared ''many features' with 'the music Vaughan Williams encountered on his folksong-collecting exhibitions in mid- and south England'. (p. 145) The details he gives of this sharing I leave to readers to find out for themselves. (pp. 145-146)

I agree completely with the conclusion:

Middle-earth owes its existence, literally and mythically, to the impact of sound - in the languages Tolkien created, and in the music of Ilúvatar’s imagination... (p. 147)

This article is another one very worthy of the reader's attention, and one that answered a suspicion I had regarding Tolkien and Vaughan Williams.

Last edited by Faramir Jones; 02-17-2010 at 01:38 PM. Reason: Needed to add some page numbers
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Old 02-26-2010, 09:47 AM   #2
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Pipe

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Originally Posted by Faramir Jones View Post
recording of Tolkien 'imitating' Sam singing 'The Stone Troll':

When I listen to this recording, I always get a thrill; because it's the nearest I can get to hearing how an 'ordinary' hobbit singing was supposed to sound.

Middle-earth owes its existence, literally and mythically, to the impact of sound - in the languages Tolkien created, and in the music of Ilúvatar’s imagination... (p. 147)
I have that recording somewhere, I think on the "Tolkien reads excerpts" set of CDs. It is engaging, and very enjoying. The whole story of The Stone Troll is a challenge to me, because of its humor: the same man who penned "The leaves were long, the grass was green" also penned "Thy nuncle was dead as a lump o' lead afore I stole his shinbone."

Middle-earth humor is challenging to me. What do Hobbits laugh at? What do elves laugh at? When Lindir laughs at Bilbo I am tempted to be offended on Bilbo's part, but Bilbo is not. Rangers? Rohirrim? They all find plenty to laugh about. But it seems that we are given the humorous songs of only the hobbits.

Except in The Hobbit. There we are given marvelous musical glimpses of elvish humor-- singing at barrels; lullabies with humor in them; Tra-La-La-Lally is one of my favorite songs. Have you heard the Hobbiton version? You must hear it. If you don't have it, let me know.

We are told about mirth for most of the races. We are told that they sing and laugh. But I wish we read more of it.

Joy is a clever and evasive quarry. Sometimes I envy Tolkien that he was able to enjoy writing such things as "The Stone Troll."
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Old 02-26-2010, 12:12 PM   #3
Faramir Jones
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1420! Gondorian humour

Nice to have you on this thread, mark.

I was interested in what you had to say here:

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Originally Posted by mark12_30 View Post

Middle-earth humor is challenging to me. What do Hobbits laugh at? What do elves laugh at? When Lindir laughs at Bilbo I am tempted to be offended on Bilbo's part, but Bilbo is not. Rangers? Rohirrim? They all find plenty to laugh about. But it seems that we are given the humorous songs of only the hobbits.

Except in The Hobbit. There we are given marvelous musical glimpses of elvish humor-- singing at barrels; lullabies with humor in them; Tra-La-La-Lally is one of my favorite songs. Have you heard the Hobbiton version? You must hear it. If you don't have it, let me know.

We are told about mirth for most of the races. We are told that they sing and laugh. But I wish we read more of it.
We have a possibility of reading Gondorian humour in one poem, said by Tolkien to be from the Red Book: The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon, the 'ancestor' of our nursery rhyme. The 'editor' of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, the published 'collection' in which it appears, suggests that this poem and The Last Ship

must be derived ultimately from Gondor. They are evidently based on the traditions of Men, living in shore-lands and familiar with rivers running into the Sea.

In this first poem, the Man in the Moon comes down in 'the windy Bay of Bel'; there is the tolling of a bell in the Sea-ward Tower (Tirith Aear) or Dol Amroth; and he recovers at an inn in the city, after the greedy innkeeper has stripped him of his valuables.

It is reasonable to conclude that, while the poem was recorded by hobbits, it was of Gondorian origin. I'm sure that this was because the former found the humour in the poem to be similar to their own. We saw that Pippin got on very well with ordinary Gondorians.
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Old 02-28-2010, 04:34 PM   #4
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Nice to have you on this thread, mark.

I was interested in what you had to say here:

We have a possibility of reading Gondorian humour in one poem, said by Tolkien to be from the Red Book: The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon, the 'ancestor' of our nursery rhyme. The 'editor' of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, the published 'collection' in which it appears, suggests that this poem and The Last Ship

must be derived ultimately from Gondor. They are evidently based on the traditions of Men, living in shore-lands and familiar with rivers running into the Sea.

In this first poem, the Man in the Moon comes down in 'the windy Bay of Bel'; there is the tolling of a bell in the Sea-ward Tower (Tirith Aear) or Dol Amroth; and he recovers at an inn in the city, after the greedy innkeeper has stripped him of his valuables.

It is reasonable to conclude that, while the poem was recorded by hobbits, it was of Gondorian origin. I'm sure that this was because the former found the humour in the poem to be similar to their own. We saw that Pippin got on very well with ordinary Gondorians.
...and the Hobbitons have a version of that song too-- one of my other favorites. Have you heard it? You must, you must. Great song.

So-- all right, I had missed (or long forgotten ) that that song was gondorian in origin. Fair enough...

"He twinkled his feet at the thought of the meat..." always makes my son laugh and giggle and repeat "he twinkled his feet... hee hee hee.". I laugh at the part that says "He tripped unaware on a slanting stair, and like a meteor ..."
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Old 03-01-2010, 05:43 PM   #5
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1420! Someone from the Moon on a lunatic quest

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Originally Posted by mark12_30 View Post
...and the Hobbitons have a version of that song too-- one of my other favorites. Have you heard it? You must, you must. Great song.

So-- all right, I had missed (or long forgotten ) that that song was gondorian in origin. Fair enough...

"He twinkled his feet at the thought of the meat..." always makes my son laugh and giggle and repeat "he twinkled his feet... hee hee hee.". I laugh at the part that says "He tripped unaware on a slanting stair, and like a meteor ..."
I must check that version of the song out...

My favourite bit is the punchline at the end:

For puddings of Yule with plums, poor fool,
He arrived so much too soon:
An unwary guest on a lunatic quest
From the Mountains of the Moon.


I personally think that there's a joke in Tolkien's use of 'lunatic' as an adjective. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as

Originally, affected with the kind of insanity that was supposed to have recurring periods dependent on the changes of the moon. In mod. use, synonymous with INSANE; current in popular and legal language, but not now employed technically by physicians.

It was derived from 'luna', the Latin for moon. I don't think it's a coincidence that Tolkien used a moon-derived word to describe a mad scheme of the Moon's most famous resident.
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