Listening to the Water and the Music – Part 2
Part 2 – An interview with Dan Cruver and John Pletcher

With this two-part, interview-style article, authors Dan Cruver and John Pletcher dialog regarding J.R.R. Tolkien’s unique use of the music and the water.

In Part 1 they discussed a few of their favorite scenes where Tolkien includes the great trifecta of water, music, and trees. And they dove into some discussion about the unique role that music played in the creation of Middle-earth, as revealed in The Silmarillion.

Enjoy their interaction now, as they share insights and banter about a couple more questions!

1. Tolkien claimed that in years to come, the original music theme could still be heard in flowing, rushing water. What do you think he was saying?

Specifically, Tolkien shared this idea—in The Silmarillion—as Arda, the Earth, was being framed and filled out. We are told that the Ainur looked upon the creation and

. . . of all these water they most greatly praised. And it is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance else that is in this earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen.

It’s rather intriguing to realize how the spotlight turns onto water. They praised water! Tolkien proceeds to tell us of Ulmo, the Ainu whose expertise was water, “and of all most deeply was he instructed by Ilúvatar in music.” So, we see this ongoing connection of the water and the music as Arda-Earth takes on greater texture and detail.

I agree! If we are to understand the connection between water and music, Ulmo is the key! And I think the significance of Ulmo’s charge to serve as the primary sub-creator of the waters through Music can be seen when he says:

Truly, Water is become now fairer than my heart imagined, neither had my secret thought conceived the snow-flake, nor in all my music was contained the falling of rain.

In the quotation above, it seems to me that water’s varied forms—from the beauty of a single snow-flake to the tenderness of a gentle falling rain—means that of all things within the natural world, water is best suited to capture something both of the crescendo that bridges the third and fourth movements of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and of the tranquility of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1…

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