Friday, February 26, 2010

Publication of Middle-earth Minstrel imminent

Sound the Valaróma and lift your voices in the Hymn to Elbereth — the publication of Brad Eden’s new book, Middle-earth Minstrel: Essays on Music in Tolkien (McFarland, 2010), is on the horizon! Pictured at right, the cover features the 13th-century manuscript of the traditional English song, “Sumer is icumen in” — a very nice design. In case you weren’t aware of this title, here is the publisher’s description:
The twentieth century witnessed the dramatic rise of fantasy writing, but few works are as popular or enduring as the novels of J.R.R. Tolkien. Surprisingly, little critical attention has been paid to the presence of music in his novels. This collection of essays explores the multitude of musical-literary allusions and themes intertwined throughout Tolkien’s body of work. Of particular interest is Tolkien’s scholarly work with medieval music and its presentation and performance practice, as well as musical influences from his Victorian/Edwardian background. Discographies of Tolkien-influenced music of the 20th and 21st centuries are included.

This new book follows closely on the heels of the Walking Tree collection, Music in Middle-earth (separately published in German). It’s inevitable that some of the subject matter will overlap, but from what I can tell, the two books are really quite different and should complement each other nicely — like, say, a tonic and a major third. It’s also interesting to see that Brad Eden has an essay in both collections! I myself have the lead essay in Brad’s book. You can peruse the contents of Music in Middle-earth by following the link above, but for the contents of Middle-earth Minstrel, direct your eyes due south. (My thanks to Brad for permitting me to share this with you.)

  • Introduction, Bradford Lee Eden
  • Horns of Dawn: The Tradition of Alliterative Verse in Rohan, Jason Fisher
  • “Inside a Song”: Tolkien’s Phonaesthetics, John R. Holmes
  • Ǽfre me strongode longað: Songs of Exile in the Mortal Realms, Peter Wilkin
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: A Fortunate Rhythm, Darielle Richards
  • Tolkien’s Unfinished “Lay of Lúthien” and the Middle English Sir Orfeo, Deanna Delmar Evans
  • Strains of Elvish Song and Voices: Victorian Medievalism, Music, and Tolkien, Bradford Lee Eden
  • Dissonance in the Divine Theme: The Issue of Free Will in Tolkien’s Silmarillion, Keith W. Jensen
  • “Worthy of a Song”: Memory, Mortality and Music, Amy M. Amendt-Raduege
  • “Tolkien is the Wind and the Way”: The Educational Value of Tolkien-Inspired World Music, Amy H. Sturgis
  • Liquid Tolkien: Tolkien, Middle-earth, and More Music, David Bratman
  • Performance Art in a Tunnel: A Musical Sub-Creator in the Tradition of Tolkien, Anthony S. Burdge

This is going to be a terrific collection. I know, because I’m reading a proof now. And no, I can’t share, so do yourself a favor: follow this link to pre-order a copy. The list price is currently $35 USD, but if you pre-order and the price goes down, Amazon will honor the lowest price during the pre-order period. You get free shipping too. That’s hard to beat. And you’ll help out this humble blogger by putting a few cents into my Amazon Affiliate account. When exactly is the book coming? A date hasn’t been fixed yet, but my guess is late spring, early summer. Once it has actually arrived on bookshelves, you can be sure I’ll have more to say about it, and when any of you have read my essay, please don’t be shy about letting me know.


  1. I will defiantly buy this when it is released. There are not a lot of books that cover this important subject!

  2. Sur, la date de sortie est le 15 mai 2010.

  3. Thank you for also mentioning the Walking Tree book. I don't speak German; what is your opinion of the quality of the translations? Music is already so difficult to discuss in print alone.

  4. Sounds fab! Thanks Jason, and Im still not happy with my own chapter at all. Having it last in the collection can only mean one of two things-either its a strong piece to close on, or the weakest gets shoved to the back ;-(


  5. My contribution is essentially a written-up version - sans recorded examples, alas - of the series of talks on Tolkien-inspired music that I gave at several recent Mythcons.

  6. @Hobbit Freak: You’ll defiantly buy it, eh? Er, hmm, a spell-checker mishap? :)

    @Druss: Je pense que ce n’est rien de plus qu’une supposition, mais c’est possible.

    @ElanorTX: I couldn’t say. I haven’t seen the German version. I can tell you that one of the essays was written in German originally, and translated into English for the Walking Tree edition. So at least one of the German essays will be in a native speaker’s own words. Moreover, Walking Tree is based in Switzerland, where a large number of people speak (Swiss) German and English fluently, so I would expect a very competent translation.

    @Anthony: I read yours and found it very interesting. It’s a niche subject, to be sure, even for a book whose main focus is already a niche subject. So, a niche within a niche. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. :)

    @David: Your essay has perhaps the most overlap with another in the same collection, because Amy Sturgis talks about much the same subject. Yours is the more broad of the two, I think. Also, your essay and Amy’s make a nice complement to the essay on “black metal” music in the Walking Tree collection.

  7. I have not read Amy Sturgis's essay, but I believe there is little overlap between the musical fields that she and I are covering here, and even where there is, I am sure our approaches will be very different!

  8. Yes, David, true. The overlap is mainly in the discussion of 60’s—80’s rock and new age music inspired by Tolkien. This is the bulk of her essay, but only a section of yours. You both have David Arkenstone, Glass Hammer, Led Zeppelin, de Meij, Caprice, and a few others, in common in your bibliographies.