Tutti Music Partners detail their role as orchestrators for <I>The Rings of Power</I>
October 26, 2022

Tutti Music Partners detail their role as orchestrators for The Rings of Power

Tutti Music Partners (TMP) is among the most sought after orchestrators in Hollywood. Founded by Jonathan Beard, Edward Trybek and Henri Wilkinson, TMP curates the highest quality music services for television and film projects. The company has contributed expertise to Oscar-winning films that include Lady Bird, King Richard, Green Book, Mank and Black Panther, and more recently, director Jordan Peele’s Nope and Marvel Entertainment’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. On the TV side, TMP’s credits include Amazon Studios’ epic series Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, as well as Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Netflix’s Bridgerton; and Disney’s The Mandalorian

Photo (L-R): Edward Trybek, Henri Wilkinson and Jonathan Beard

The partners recently took time to share with Post their roles as orchestrators and their contributions to The Rings of Power. The show’s first season spanned eight episodes and recently aired its season finale.

For those who don’t know, what is the role of an orchestrator, and how did you get involved with collaborating with composer Bear McCreary on The Rings of Power? 

Jonathan Beard: “At a most fundamental level, an orchestrator is responsible for delivering a final score that a conductor can use and from which all the parts for the players can be extracted. In terms of getting to that point, there is a very wide spectrum. In some cases, the composer is extremely detailed in their mockup/MIDI, thus the orchestration is largely a transcription and minute error-correction process. On the other end of the spectrum, a composer may leave a lot to the imagination, and in situations like these, the work involved becomes closer to arranging.”

Edward Trybek: “The three of us first started working for Bear McCreary in 2009, when his career started to take off in a substantial way. Prior to that, we did not know each other, but quickly realized that we got along well both personally and professionally. So much so that forming Tutti Music Partners organically grew out of our friendship, camaraderie and close working relationship.”

What was unique and challenging about orchestrating the music for The Rings of Power? 

Henri Wilkinson: “Compared to most television shows we work on, the scope of Rings of Power was much larger in almost every way. Every episode was around an hour of music, and the project felt similar to orchestrating eight movies back to back in terms of the scope, size of the orchestra, choir and world instruments, as well as the type, intricacy, and sheer amount of music.”
How long were you working on the show? 

Jonathan Beard: “In August of 2021, Bear had us sign NDAs and then called us for a private meeting with the three of us to discuss his vision on the approach and instrumentation. The orchestration of the score itself began a couple of months later, but there were extensive back and forth musical conversations with Bear during the entire process to clarify his musical vision and the direction that he wanted to go.”

Can you talk about producing the recording sessions? 

Edward Trybek: “Every episode had four full days of orchestral recording sessions, and two days of choir sessions. Soloists and percussion were in addition to those days. The sheer amount of recording sessions is extremely unusual for a TV show.” 

Jonathan Beard: “Both creative and logistical reasons contributed to the large amount of session time. As Henri mentioned, on the creative front, these eight episodes really are like mini-films rather than a traditional television series, and the size and scope of the orchestral score reflects that. We were fortunate to have very large string, woodwinds and brass sections for this score, as well as a large choir. Logistically, due to COVID, we could not have all the musicians in the room at the same time, so we needed to record the strings separately from the winds and brass. Sessions were often occurring simultaneously in London with the orchestra, while the choir was recording in Vienna.”

Henri Wilkinson: “Meanwhile, due to the tightness of Bear’s overall schedule, he could not actually be present to produce the orchestral sessions for each episode, because he needed to already be composing the following episode. As such, he asked us to take over primary producing duties for the orchestral sessions. He was always available to take a quick listen if there were questions, but it allowed him those crucial additional four days of writing time per episode. It was certainly beneficial that we have such a long-running and smooth-flowing working history with Bear, and we were honored that he entrusted us with this process.”

Quenyan has a big influence on the world of Lord of the Rings. Did this have any influence on the orchestrations? 

Henri Wilkinson: “Similar to opera, the various languages used on Rings of Power influenced the music and there was back and forth between Bear, language experts, and the showrunners to ensure the meaning and subtext of the words was always correct. Even if only a relatively small subset of fans will ultimately catch that meaning, the depth of intention behind the lyric choices arguably still has a positive influence on the ‘musical communication’ of the score throughout. For those who do understand these languages, it adds additional depth, but it can be musically appreciated by all listeners either way.”

How does the music for The Rings of Power differ from your other projects and other modern day TV and film music? 

Edward Trybek: “Compared to the majority of modern day TV/film scoring, Bear uses a truly massive armada of instruments, which gives him a very large palette to draw upon. The musical approach was more akin to an ‘old school’ film score, where they really emphasized the orchestra and showcased what the orchestra is capable of, compared to the more electronic-heavy approach that is more common in modern day TV/film scoring.”

Can you discuss the different musical themes, such as Sauron's evil theme and Galadriel's theme? 

Edward Trybek: “From an orchestration perspective, Galadriel’s theme changes quite a bit depending upon the dramatic content. For example, in one scene, her theme is sung by a solo soprano accompanied by minimal strings, and in another, it is given a full sweeping orchestral treatment, with all the strings playing her theme and the rest of the orchestra supporting that theme.” 

Jonathan Beard: “Sauron’s theme is usually featured with low male voices and a unique low string accompaniment; however, similar to Galadriel’s theme, there is a bit of variation based upon what is needed by the scene. When the vocals of Sauron’s material are present, they are also treated differently in different contexts. For example, with the Orc chants in Black Speech, we orchestrated the choir with an additional layer of whispery raspy voices, which was layered with the rest of the choral material.”

Do you have favorite tools for orchestration?

Henri Wilkinson: “We cater to whatever a client needs and has, but on the software side, we usually use Digital Performer for MIDI cleanup purposes and Sibelius for notation. Over the years, we have developed an assortment of custom macros, plug-ins, and fonts that help speed up our workflow and enable us to create notation that is otherwise impossible or extremely difficult to create. We also make extensive use of Stream Deck and Keyboard Maestro to trigger some of our more complex engraving processes. That being said, we have and use all of the major DAWs and notation software that are available on the market, so we can ensure that everything is compatible between the composer files and ours.”