J.R.R. Tolkien's constructed Elvish languages have such elegant characters — and have been the subject of so much Tolkien-influence art — that it's easy to forget that they was meant to be spoken. Tolkien was, after all, a linguist, and he wanted his Elvish languages to sound a certain way as they rolled from a practiced tongue. In the recording above, Tolkien reads Namárië — Galadriel's lament — giving us a first-hand pronunciation of the Elvish tongue Quenya and a feel for the poem's rhythm.

According to Tolkien Gateway, Tolkien made this recording in August 1952, before The Fellowship of the Ring was ever published. Later, composer Donald Swann would set many of Tolkien's works to music in The Road Goes Ever On. Tolkien was reluctant to see Namárië set to music. He insisted on singing the poem to Swann, giving it a chant-like quality. This is what Swann came up with in response:

Other composers would try to set the poem to music, including Martin Romberg, who has arranged many Tolkien-inspired works. Here, his Namárië is performed by the rio Medieval, the Norwegian Girls' Choir, and harpists Johannes Wiik and Ellen Sejersted Bödtker:

It's certainly more fitting to hear the piece sung by female voices, but there's nothing quite like hearing the author himself trill through his own complicated tongue.


[via reddit]

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