The Lord of the Rings Score Analysis Project
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Isengard and the Orcs

Isengard Five Beat Pattern

Appears in:

1|2|2 The Caverns of Isengard
[01:27-02:09] From Howard Shore's dvd commentary: "Isengard is industrial age, and it’s written in 5/4 time, which is a rhythm that I use only in Isengard and only to evoke this kind of things being a little off kilter. I mean, the 5/4 rhythm is a little unusual enough that it always felt a bit unresolved whenever you were in Isengard. And the orchestration is very metallic, you know. It’s chains and metal percussion and it’s a actually quite simplistic. It’s a two part counterpoint with this 5/4 rhythm and all low, low horns all playing in unison and very primal and somewhat scary."
1|3|5 Parth Galen
[05:11-09:11] The Beat starts very subtly on piano underneath The Heroics of Aragorn and, accompanied by heavy percussion, never really stops until the very end of the track.
2|1|5 Uglúk's Warriors
2|1|7 The Banishment of Éomer
2|1|8 Night Camp
[01:45-02:02] The Five Beat Pattern begins in its trademark metallic percussion...
[02:02-02:13] ...and continues in the lowest range of the piano.
2|1|10 Fangorn
[02:32-02:44] from AS-TTT: The hobbit duo manages to scramble up a tree, but the Orc catches Merry’s legs, plucking him from the branches and slamming him into the dirt below. Once again, the score fumes, twisting the Five Beat Pattern into a jumbled spasm where its signature three-beats-plus-two is subdivided into one-and-a-half plus one-and-a-half plus two.
2|2|2 The Court of Meduseld
[01:30-01:52] from AS-TTT: "As the Fellowship battles their way to the fallen king, the blank rhythmic stride of Wormtongue’s theme gives way to a more telling shape. Rising bolts of brass in Rohan-esque Dorian modes snap to, while each angular phrase is stretched over five beats—an element of Isengard pitted within Rohan. "
It is worth noting that the horns are playing a 5 beat phrase with each beat having equal emphasis. This is not a lopsided 2+3 beat playing under another melody.
2|2|8 The Wolves of Isengard
[00:23-00:53] from AS-TTT: With a pitch of the melded Isengard theme, Five Beat Pattern and Mordor’s Skip Beat, a Warg-riding Orc pounces upon Háma, the Rohirrim’s scout.
[02:09-02:41] from AS-TTT: With a roar of the Isengard theme and the Five Beat, a full company of Wargs charges the Horselords. Above, mixed chorus sings “The Call,” in Old English, building to the troops’ first clash.
3|3|14 The Land of Shadow