Tolkien Gateway

Musical instruments

The Harp No Longer Sings by Jenny Dolfen

Musical instruments of different types appear in the legendarium.

Contents

Dwarven musical instruments

Among the Dwarves, several types of instruments are recorded in the stories from Middle-earth. Thorin and Company played the following instruments at the unexpected party at Bag End:

Apparently, other members in Thorin's Company also played the harp, since it is written that the dwarves produced "music of harps and of fiddles" when visiting Lake-town.[2] In Smaug's treasure, Fíli and Kíli found "many golden harps strung with silver": these were magical (and apparently made by Dwarves[3]), always staying in tune.[4] The Dwarves of Khazad-dûm were also known to have played the harp.[5]

Elven musical instruments

There and Back Again speaks about "elven-harps",[6] and the harp is indeed frequently associated with the Elves. Among the elven peoples known to have performed the harp are the Elves of Mirkwood,[7], the Galadhrim,[8] the Vanyar,[9] and possibly the Nandor and Avari.[note 1] When Elrond took the White Ship to Valinor after the War of the Ring, he is said to have brought "a silver harp".[10] Other instruments known to have been used by Elves include the flute,[11] and trumpets (although mostly spoken of being used in battle).[12]

Hobbit musical instruments

At Bilbo's Farewell Party, hobbits were heard playing "'trumpets and horns, pipes and flutes, and other musical instruments". Among these other instruments were "musical crackers" (which "contained instruments, small, but of perfect make and enchanting tones") and bells.[13]

Mannish musical instruments

The Rohirrim are said to have played the harp.[14]

When the people of Minas Tirith prepared for the arrival of the victorious Army of the West, there came "the harpers that harped most skilfully in all the land" from Dol Amroth, and "there were players upon viols and upon flutes and upon horns of silver". As Aragorn passed the streets of Minas Tirith during his coronation, the Gondorians played "music of harp and of viol and of flute".[15]

The Númenóreans had trumpets,[16][17] although it is unknown if they were used for musical purposes.

Ælfwine is said to have played the harp.[18]

Ainu musical instruments

Among the Ainur, Ulmo is said to have made music upon his great horns of white shell, the Ulumúri.[19]

Names

In Gnomish, the word for "music" is gling, and "musical" is glingrin.[20] Other words in Gnomish related to musical instruments are:

  • thibin, "a flute"; thimpa-, "to play a flute or whistle"; thibindon , "flute-playing".[21]
  • tifin, a "small flute".[22]
  • lintha-, "sound (tr.) strike or ring bell, etc. play an instrument"; linthanin, "playing or music of instruments".[23]
  • ross, "pipe. especially musical"; rogli, rothli, "little pipe. especially musical."[24]

In the Etymologies, the roots NGAN-, NGÁNAD- signify "play (on stringed instrument)". From these derive:

  • Qenya nande "a harp"; nandelle "little harp"; nandele "harping"; nanda- "to harp"; nandaro "harper"
  • Noldorin gandel, gannel "a harp"; gannado or ganno "play a harp"[25]

Other words related to music appearing the Etymologies include Qenya words tyalangan ("harp-player")[26] and lindele ("music")[27].

Other versions of the legendarium

Searching for Maidros in the Iron Mountains, Fingon took out "his harp and played a fair song of Valinor".[28] In order to befriend the people of Beor, Finrod Felagund is said to have entered their camp and taken "a rude harp which Beor had laid aside, and he played music upon it such as mortal ear had never heard".[29]

Portrayal in adaptations

Musical instruments in adaptations
A "Cherry Lute" in Middle-earth Role Playing  

1982-97: Middle-earth Role Playing:

About a dozen different musical instruments are included with stats in the supplement Treasures from Middle-earth, most of them first described in other supplements. Examples of instruments imbued with magical powers are Elrond's Silver Harp, Boromir's Great Horn, and Maglor's Lute of the Golden Hand.[30]

See also

Notes

  1. When Finrod Felagund plays the harp for the people of Beor, the narrator notes that "Men had as yet had no masters in such arts, save only the Dark-elves in the wild lands" (J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, VI. Quenta Silmarillion", p. 275).

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Warm Welcome"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party", Far over the misty mountains cold (poem)
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Not at Home"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark", Song of Durin
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Gathering of the Clouds"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Flies and Spiders"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Lothlórien"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "Bilbo's Song at Rivendell: Errantry and Eärendillinwë", p. 97
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Grey Havens"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "The Last Ship"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: The History of the Silmarils", passim
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Long-expected Party"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The King of the Golden Hall", Lament for the Rohirrim
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Steward and the King"
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Númenor"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part One: III. The Lost Road, (iii) The unwritten chapters", p. 87
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Valar"
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), p. 40
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), p. 74
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), p. 71
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), p. 55
  24. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), p. 66
  25. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", p. 377
  26. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", p. 395
  27. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", p. 369
  28. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, VI. Quenta Silmarillion", p. 251
  29. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, VI. Quenta Silmarillion", p. 275
  30. Wolfgang Baur (1994), Treasures of Middle-earth (2nd edition) (#2010), pp. 126-8