The Lord of the Rings Score Analysis Project
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The Pity of Gollum (Sméagol's Theme)

Appears in:

1|1|1 Prologue: One Ring to Rule Them All
[05:51-06:08] Fades perfectly into the Nameless Fear theme.
1|1|7 Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe
1|1|8 A Conspiracy Unmasked
1|2|13 Gollum
2|1|3 Lost in Emyn Muil
[00:35-00:47] From Howard Shore's dvd commentary: "Gollum's Theme is created as two pieces that reflected two different creations of Gollum. You hear little fragments of Gollum's Theme in Fellowship. He's very closely tied to the Ring. So Gollum's Theme, that central theme that you hear in Fellowship, is tied to the Ring Theme. So I thought of using a sound from Hobbiton, that had been taken out of Hobbiton, in the same way that Gollum had been removed from Hobbiton, or from the world of the Shire. And had become something else, transformed into something else. So I took one of the instruments and used it as a solo instrument for Gollum. And I thought the hammered dulcimer was a perfect one of the instruments. Other instruments that we used from the Shire were... there's a musette and the whistle and there's an open-string guitar, Celtic harp and the bodhrán, the Irish drums. But the hammered dulcimer seemed like a good one, because it has that jittery, by the very nature of it, because it has that sound and it always has that tremolo kind of feeling to it and I thought that was a perfect one to take, to remove from the Shire, distort it a bit, and use it as the central sound for that character, for Gollum."
2|1|4 My Precious
[00:55-01:01] From the Annotated Score: "Sam is suspicious. He rushes the captive as low strings recoil with an extension of the Pity of Gollum."
[02:43-02:55] From the Annotated Score: "Freed, Gollum lopes though Emyn Muil's blades of rock while a grotesque twist on his Menace theme provides a bit of traveling music, first in cimbalom, then in stopped French horn. As he leads the hobbits on, winds and strings pick up the first three notes of the Pity of Gollum, flinging them through a harmonic gamut as the trio passes out of sight."
2|1|11 The Dead Marshes
[00:18-00:39] From the Annotated Score: "Bb minor and F# minor, the opening harmonies of Gollum's Pity theme, swell and ebb as the wretch leads the hobbits forward."
[01:00-01:48] From the Annotated Score: "A weightier discomfort binds Frodo and Gollum, however. Gollum knows the painful allure of the Ring, and Frodo sees in Gollum his own potential future. Gollum approaches Frodo, half in sympathy, half in helpless dedication to his precious. Cor anglais taunts the two with the opening pitches of the History of the Ring theme, but the melody is never completed. Instead, it's intercepted and redirected by the first four pitches of Gollum's Pity theme, which shuffles in to artificially complete the line."
[03:49-04:09] From the Annotated Score: "With a blast of horns, Gollum grabs Frodo and pulls him from the water. Gollum, perhaps even showing some concern for his master, offers a bit of advice: "Don't follow the lights." Low strings uncoil an F-major arpeggio figure based on The Pity of Gollum - perhaps a heroic moment? But they fade immediately back to an F-minor arpeggio. It is transient heroism, if any."
2|1|12 "Wraiths on Wings"
[00:00-00:23] From the Annotated Score: "Violins rise through the three opening pitches of Gollum's Pity. But instead of proceeding back down the line, the strings leerily divert up for two sighing pitches a half-step apart - the first notes of the History of the Ring. Frodo probes Gollum's history, even calling him Sméagol for the first time in the story, but in one short passage, the score tells us everything we need to know. Gollum's sad theme now interweaves with the Ring's History theme. The Pity of Gollum and the History of the Ring have twisted into a single, tortured whole. Gollum's history is the Ring's history."
2|2|6 The Forests of Ithilien
[00:00-01:04] From the Annotated Score: "Solo clarinet returns the story to Frodo, Sam and Gollum. The clarinet, of course, relates to the two citizens of the Shire, but the melodic line is anything but hobbit-like. Lifting through an F-minor arpeggio then descending, the clarinet seems to be toying with the opening of The Pity of Gollum. "It's tying the two of them - Frodo and Gollum - together," Shore acknowledges. "Frodo could become Gollum.""
[01:04-02:14] From the Annotated Score: "Soon the hobbits retire for the night and Gollum is alone with himself. Fractures of the Pity theme tumble through the orchestra. Violins and bass clarinet examine the telltale ascending minor arpeggios under flittering celesta trills as the subservient Sméagol and the treacherous Gollum vie for dominance - the winner being announced, not with a blast of trumpets, but with the squawk of a contrabass clarinet."
2|2|14 Rock and Pool
[01:48-02:10] From the Annotated Score: Threatened with Sméagol's death, Frodo coaxes the creature to him. Violin and cor pull the Pity tune apart as Sméagol agrees to follow his master, only to be constrained by Faramir's Rangers."
2|2|15 Faramir's Good Council
[00:00-00:51] From the Annotated Score: Captured and beaten, Sméagol weeps. A familiar voice returns - it is Gollum taunting Sméagol. The Pity theme's opening passes from harp to strings to woodwinds, shattered throughout the ensemble, trying to collect itself, but unable to cohere. The bits collide and clot instead, building to a close-voiced collection of pitches as nasty Gollum reclaims the gangrel creature's dichotomous psyche."
2|3|13 The Tales That Really Matter
[08:22-09:06] From the Annotated Score: Oboe appears, first presenting four pitches that we will soon come to recognize from "Gollum's Song," then segueing directly into his Pity theme. Strings continue, combining Pity and "Song" fragments as Sam speaks with Gollum, reminding him that Frodo has his best interests at heart. Gollum claims to understand, but the score's instability sends mixed messages."
[11:16-11:35] From the Annotated Score: Sméagol is no longer free of Gollum, and though the Pity theme tugs imploringly at the strings, an even older theme reminds him of his true allegiance. Once again the Pity theme winds slavishly into the History of the Ring theme, and Gollum's true master takes hold."
3|1|1 Roots and Beginnings
[06:17-06:32] From the Annotated Score: "As Sméagol twists and withers we hear the earliest incarnations of The Pity of Gollum."
3|1|8 Gollum's Villainy
[00:34-00:45] ...though it's soon intercepted by the opening triplets of the Pity of Gollum. Sméagol's transformation into Gollum illustrated the pity of the creature's servile devotion to the One Ring. The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers presented that needy creature in all his sadness. This was the Gollum represented by Shore's Pity theme. By The Return of the King, Gollum has made a choice. He has put aside the neediness, the vestigial traits of Sméagol, and has decided to kill Frodo and Sam in order to retrieve his precious Ring. Shore's Pity theme appears very little in this score, though its broiling, seething relative will dominate a later sequence. The cimbalom-based Menace of Gollum overtakes the creature's musical representation, vellicating* with deadly intent. As Sméagol enthusiastically agrees to follow through with Gollum's plan to deliver the hobbits to "her" the Pity theme all but hands the reigns of this ravaged creature over to Menace."
3|1|14 A Coronal of Silver and Gold
[01:27-01:30] From the Annotated Score: "Subtle hints of the Pity Theme's opening triplets lope beside [Gollum], likewise playing the Sméagol role without commitment."