Eru Ilúvatar (‘The One’) conceived the Ainur from thought and taught each of them how to make music. In the beginning, the Ainur would sing only alone or in small groups; slowly they began to learn more about one another, as well as the mind of Ilúvatar. As their unity and harmony increased, Ilúvatar brought the Ainur together for the purpose of playing a song greater and more complex than any song they had ever sung before. They would be allowed to weave their own thoughts and ideas into the Music, as the Flame Imperishable, with which they had been kindled, gave them the power of creativity.
The First Theme
Following Ilúvatar’s instructions, the Ainur began to work. The great Music filled the Timeless Halls and passed far beyond them into the Void so that it was no longer void. Even in its early stage, the Ainur’s Music was flawless, and Ilúvatar was satisfied.
However, Melkor, who wanted to increase his own power and glory, soon wove his own discords into the great Theme, which clashed against Ilúvatar’s Themes. Many faltered in their singing as a result of Melkor’s discord, or they attuned their own songs to his. The original harmony of the Music soon became a “raging storm.” Ilúvatar responded by rising from the Sea and raising his left hand, and it seemed to the Ainur that he smiled. His reaction to the Music prompted a new Theme to begin amid the chaos Melkor had instilled.
The Second Theme
The Second Theme gathered new power and beauty; yet once again, Melkor’s discord rose up against it, and the sound became more violent than before. Melkor’s Theme triumphed over the Themes of the others, and many Ainur stopped singing out of dismay. Ilúvatar again rose from his seat, this time with a stern expression, and with his right hand raised, another Theme began.
The Third Theme
The sound of the next Theme was unlike the ones before it. Beginning quietly amid the chaos of the Second Theme, its notes were soft and sweet. Over time, it gained depth and power, until two different songs were being made: one filled with “immeasurable sorrow,” and the other a loud, pompous theme which played in opposition to the first. However, the second theme could not overcome the first (sorrowful) one, and the strife between the two themes caused the dwelling of Ilúvatar and the Void far beyond it to shake. This time, Ilúvatar raised both arms when he stood, and in one chord, the Music ceased.
Then Ilúvatar spoke to the Ainur about the Music and the consequences that would follow any attempts to bring discord into it. He led the Ainur into the Void to show them the result of their actions, saying, “Behold your Music!” The World that the Ainur saw before them was “a World that was globed amid the Void… but was not of it.” The Ainur also saw the history of the World as it unfolded, and each was able to witness the part they had played in its creation; even Melkor’s discords contributed to its glory.
They also saw the Children of Ilúvatar, whom Ilúvatar himself had sung into being during the Third Theme. Then Ilúvatar hid the rest of the vision from the Ainur, who did not get to see how it would end. This abrupt ending caused restlessness among the Ainur. Ilúvatar, seeing that they wanted the Universe to be as real as they themselves were, said, “Eä! Let these things Be!” And he sent the Flame Imperishable into the Universe, and a light appeared in the Void, signaling the beginning of the achievement of the Music of the Ainur.