Tolkien's Overture: Concerning the Music of the Ainur

Tolkien's Overture: Concerning the Music of the Ainur

by John M Carswell


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How well do you know Middle-earth?

In Tolkien’s Overture, writer and podcaster John Carswell continues his exploration of Tolkien’s lesser known works by turning his attention to “Ainulindalë”, also known as “The Music of the Ainur.”

Originally published as part of The Silmarillion in 1977, “Ainulindalë” is the creation story of Middle-earth. Like the biblical creation account, it begins mysteriously with one great Divinity, but from there goes down a far different path. Whereas the biblical story involves speaking creation into being, Tolkien’s vision involves the creation of lesser gods who then create a great music that brings Middle-earth into reality.

In Tolkien’s Overture, John conducts a close reading of the text of “Ainulindalë”, and then goes on to explore the role of music in Middle-earth’s history, from the creation of Elves, Dwarves, and Men in the First Age to the great events of the late Third Age as recounted in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Furthermore, it delves into the mystery of evil, as embodied in the mighty Melkor, the great villain of the First Age and the master of Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor.

From the mystical song of the seas to the powerful voice of Lúthien Tinúviel to the strangely musical ways of Tom Bombadil, the reader will come away with a far deeper understanding of Tolkien’s imaginary world, and see clearly how music is truly the mysterious fabric from which Middle-earth is made.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780692086506
Publisher: True Myths Press
Publication date: 07/16/2018
Pages: 162
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.35(d)

About the Author

John Carswell is the co-host of The Tolkien Road podcast ( and the author of Tolkien's Requiem - Concerning Beren and Lúthien. He writes about Tolkien and other matters at

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Part I: The Music of the Ainur
    • Chapter 1: The Music
    • Chapter 2: The Vision
    • Chapter 3: The Reality

  • Part II: Music in Middle-earth
    • Chapter 4: Ulmo, Lord of Water and Music
    • Chapter 5: Lúthien, Mighty in Song
    • Chapter 6: Tom Bombadil, the Musical Master
    • Chapter 7: Musical Mathoms

  • Coda
  • An Invitation
  • Works Cited
  • Patrons

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