Selected Riddles of Middle Earth (2016)

Premiered and Recorded in Futura Productions by Joshua Seo and ToAnh Vu on November 20, 2016 - made possible by the Montserrat Frontier Fellowship


Baritone Voice and Piano


I.     Teeth

II.     Wind

III.     Sun Shining On the Daisies

IV.     Darkness

V.      Time

VI.     The Strider

About the piece

JR Tolkien’s The Hobbit has a plethora of poems and songs. Among them are various riddles that I’ve set for baritone voice and piano.

First, I decided to set the “Riddles in the Dark”. In the narrative, Bilbo Baggins and Gollum embark in a battle of riddles; one character would present the riddle and the other would answer, and they would switch turns. The music reflects exactly that; the singer sings the riddle and the answer would follow right after (the only riddle that doesn’t get the answer is the riddle about time, which is how the narrative went). The singer is encouraged to sing in two different personalities in order to reflect the back and forth dialogue. I’ve selected riddles with the answer of Teeth, Wind, Sun Shining on the Daisies, Darkness, and Time. Unrelated to the “Riddles in the Dark”, the last riddle in the sequence is called the “Riddle of the Strider”. It is the longest riddle that prophesizes the epic story in the Lord of the Rings of King Aragorn’s rise.