Most of the music boxes contain a medley of three or so similarly themed tracks. Most of these are pulled from all over the game, but some are rarely heard outside of houses, so I thought these deserved another look. Plus, the original music for LotRO is quite gorgeous in spots and holds up very well over the years.
For those looking for a buyer's guide to these ambient themes, may I point you to CSTM? For the rest of us, I have six favorite music boxes waiting for you after the jump.
1. Tom Bombadil
Any excuse to whip out the Tom Bombadil theme is one that I'll shamelessly use, so here it is! I've always been in love with this track from the game, and I love having it in my house. It's an obscenely cheerful flute-and-string melody that dances between instruments, keeping the mood light and cheerful. I especially like how the track drops everything at the end to let the flute perform a solo reprise of the theme.
The band Fathom did its own slightly more elaborate cover of Tom Bombadil, which I recommend to any fans of this track.
2. Autumn Ale
I've long found that portions of the original LotRO soundtrack use instruments and sounds in such a way to sound, for a lack of a better descriptor, old and authentic. Autumn Ale is a good example of this, as it doesn't sound like a track recorded in a studio, but something a Middle-earth adventurer might indeed hear if he or she walked into a certain tavern at night.
As the track moves through several movements, there is a swirl of bittersweet emotions: sadness, quiet wistfulness, and even contentment. It's all quite soothing, something to put on during a Hobbit-themed dinner party.
3. Caras Galadhon
Elvish music is often, to my dismay, some of the best parts of any fantasy soundtracks. While Caras Galadhon might be a little too rich and buttery for my simple tastes, I can't deny that it's beautiful and mysterious. The use of the harp often helps in that regard, as does the wordless female vocalist.
4. Hills of the Shire
Hobbits get all of the best tunes, as they should! Hills of the Shire is rather interesting for how completely subdued it is, but even so it sucks me in with a simple guitar melody that speaks of the little folks' pastoral life. This track might be a little too simple without taking the opportunity to develop into something more, but that's OK by me.
5. Prancing Pony
While I like the Peter Jackson movies well enough, what I appreciate more from the MMO is how it knows that not every moment in Middle-earth needs to be some huge epic battle or a huge epic revelation or a huge epic walk to the outhouse. LotRO knows that there is an actual world wrapped around these fantastic adventures, and music like this from the Prancing Pony speak to the larger landscape. It's moody and suggestive of a the dark forces in the world without surrendering the light that it contains. Plus, it's so renaissance faire that it hurts, man.
6. Silent Hope
Silent Hope is the soundtrack to great sunrises... or sunsets, if that's your thing. It's a slow, dreamlike anthem that never fails to fill my heart up with joy. After the sunrise comes a happy-go-lucky jig that is criminally short.
For those LotRO players out there, what music did you put in your house?
MMOs aren't just about looks; they also have great soundtracks that often go unnoticed. Heroes don't stand for that! Massively's Jukebox Heroes examines game soundtracks and features the best tunes to share and discuss. Your DJ for the hour is Justin Olivetti, and the request line is open!