Listening to the Silmarillion on audiobook, and something occurred to me.
The three themes of the Ainur presage the three ages of Middle-Earth. From the Tolkien Gateway:
The Ainur’s flawless Music satisfied even Ilúvatar during this early stage.
The Second Theme was “like and yet unlike” the First; it gathered new power and beauty. Soon, however, Melkor’s discord rose up against it, and there was a “war of sound more violent than before”. This time, Melkor’s Theme triumphed over that of the others; many of the Ainur stopped singing entirely out of dismay.
The next Theme had a sound unlike the others before it. It began quietly amid the confusion of the Second Theme, and sounded like the rippling of soft and sweet notes. It gained power and depth over time, until two completely different songs were being made. One was filled with “immeasurable sorrow”, which gave it tremendous beauty, while the other was a loud, pompous theme playing in violent opposition to it.
Tell me that doesn’t parallel the events of the First, Second, and Third Age. The beauty of the first theme mimics the glory of Valinor. The strife of the second rages terrible as the Kinstrife and all the pain that grew from it, including the apocalyptic ending. And then the quietude of the third theme growing with sorrow for what was lost and the pompous violence set against that backdrop we see infused throughout the trials of poor old Frodo. And you can see the echoes of the first and second themes in the third, just as you see those echoes of the first and second age throughout Middle-Earth in the novels.
That Tolkien, boy, I tell you whut. Guy had a mind like a deep pond and a pen like a terrible swift sword.