|The Sea (painting by Ted Nasmith)|
“Behold, Iluvátar dwelt alone. Before all things he sang into being the Ainur first… teaching them all manner of things, and the greatest of these was music.” - J.R.R Tolkien, The Book Of Lost Tales
Below is a description of the tale, as posted at Silmarillion Writers' Guild.
The tale picks up where The Cottage of Lost Play left off.
Eriol is still in the Room of the Log Fire with his hosts, Lindo and Vairë.
Eriol inquires after the Valar--wishing to know more about them--but Vairë
suggests that they retire instead, reminding Eriol that he may remain with them
until his curiosity is sated. Eriol is led to a bedroom and sleeps soundly,
awaking the next morning and deciding to explore the grounds where he is
While wandering down a path, he encounters the Elf called Rúmil, who was the
door-warden who admitted him to the house the day prior. Rúmil is angry with a
strange blackbird who has happened into his garden, speaking a language that
Rúmil--a great loremaster--does not know. Once a thrall of Melko, Rúmil has
learned even the language of the dark beings that serve Melko; he speaks the
languages of the Elves, the Valar, and all of animal-kind, though he claims that
the language of Men changes too frequently for him to master it.
Eriol is made curious by Rúmil's words and asks if there is more than one Elven
language. Rúmil explains that the Noldoli speak a different language than the
other three kindreds (Solosimpi, Teleri, and Inwir). He explains that the
deviation occurred when the Noldoli traveled to the Great Lands and were
sundered for many years from their kin. Those Elves who remain in the Great
Lands, Rúmil imagines, would speak stranger still.
At this point, the two have reached a meadow, where they stop to rest upon a
rock as Eriol asks Rúmil about the Valar and the creation of the universe. Rúmil
explains that it began with Ilúvatar, who made the Valar. Eriol has never heard
of Ilúvatar, though this comes as no great surprise to Rúmil: The early legends
are neglected among the Elves and completely unknown to Men.
Here, the Link passage ends and The Music of the Ainur begins as Rúmil tells
Eriol the creation story. Creation began when Ilúvatar sang the Ainur into being
and built homes for them in the Void. He taught them many things, the chief of
which was Music, and had them sing for him many themes. In this manner, the
Music of the Ainur that called the world into being began.
This theme was greater than the others, and Ilúvatar invited the Ainur to sing
of what he had described, adding their own adornments to the theme. The Music
flowed out to dark places in the Void, and Ilúvatar listened, pleased by the
skill of his children.
At this time, Melko began to weave elements into the Music that were not of
Ilúvatar's design. Melko was known to wander off into the Void, seeking the
Secret Fire and desiring to create life of his own, going to dark and ugly
places where Ilúvatar had not yet been. Melko's contributions to the Music
became harsh, and those near to him fell into despondency or began to follow his
lead. When the Music became its harshest, Ilúvatar raised his left hand, and a
second theme began. However, Melko continued to strive against it, and his
contributions created chaos with the main theme.
Weeping, Ilúvatar raised his right hand, and a third theme began. Now, there
were two separate strains of music: one deep and sorrowful and the other brash
and attempting to trump the first with its volume. At times, the two would
inadvertently harmonize, despite Melko's efforts. Ilúvatar raised both hands,
and the Music ended.
Ilúvatar reminded the Ainur that the Music was not played by them but through
them, and that they were only carrying out his wishes. Even Melko's attempt at
disharmony would only do greater glory to Ilúvatar's purposes in the end, and
though Melko's music had introduced evil into the world, it would serve Ilúvatar
in the end and make the world a more beautiful place.
Some of the Ainur were puzzled by this revelation. Melko was ashamed. Ilúvatar
led the Ainur first to show them the results of their Music, and they saw that
the history of the world had begun. The contributions of each Ainu would form a
part of the world.
To Melko's credit was all that was harsh or violent in the world, yet Ilúvatar
pointed out that his attempts to dominate the works of his peers had only made
them lovelier still. He used the water created by Ulmo as an example: the
extreme colds of Melko had created ice and snow, substances more beautiful than
Ulmo alone had imagined.
The Ainur then wished to enter the world, and Ilúvatar permitted this. Some of
the Ainur remained behind, but the most beautiful and powerful sought to shape
and protect that which they had created. Melko went along under the pretense of
wishing to control the violence that he'd unleashed upon the world, though in
truth, he sought to dominate Elves and Men, the gifts of whom he was envious.
Elves and Men are chiefly of Ilúvatar's thought, and none of the Ainur dared to
add to this part of the theme. Elves are most like the Ainur in stature and
mood, and the Ainur have dealt chiefly with them. Men are given strange gifts.
Their time in the world is short, but they will endure forever, whereas the fate
of the Elves after the world's ending is not known. Men are not constrained by
the Music of the Ainur--and so they are not constrained by fate--and they are
free to add to and finish the world in ways that go beyond what was sung in the
Music. Because of this, Men often commit acts that go against Ilúvatar's will,
but Ilúvatar is patient with them, knowing that in the end, the harm that they
commit will only glorify his purpose.