Photo: Bear McCreary, Season 1, Outander
The Season 4 soundtrack, by this genius, is available for purchase today! (I am listening now). I especially love the way Bear creates musical themes for each major character, and couple, and then weaves those themes into the background of where the story is currently taking place, musically. As we watch, we don’t (or I don’t) always pick up on these subtitles in real time, but this adds to the overall richness of the experience (much like the costumes and the sets do), and then we get to go back and enjoy his artistry for itself. It’s amazing how the music evokes recall, like the River Run piece immediately takes me back to the first meeting between Jamie and Jocasta – such a touching moment.
I especially like the beautiful, evocative Fraser’s Ridge, the Skye Boat Song, by the lovely Raya Yarbrough (Bear’s wife) with the added banjo and mandolin, etc. to represent the colonial period in America. The Familiar Blacksmith is a new favorite, it’s a beautiful piece, and of course, it evokes the reunion of Murtagh and Jamie. Fraser Family Reunion is also beautiful. Life in America is a really interesting one; I hear Brianna’s theme and Jamie’s theme woven together and then the added bluegrass, it plays like a story itself. The American Indian pieces are haunting, like Bear Killer.
Not surprisingly, it works the same way for scenes I didn’t particularly care for , i.e., Brianna in the Snow, but the music is so lovely, I will eventually (maybe) drop the association – we’ll see.
Outlander really is the gift that keeps on giving!
The soundtrack is available for purchase on Amazon today, for streaming, and on I-tunes, but it looks like the physical CD’s don’t come in until June 8th (on Amazon).
Bear has done a full blog entry on his site on the making of this soundtrack. (link to it below)
BAGPIPES AND BANJOS
My work began as I set out to rearrange a new version of “The Skye Boat Song” for the season’s Main Title. Changing a series’ Main Title is relatively rare in television, and yet this marks the sixth, arguably seventh, iteration of the beloved folk song I have produced for Outlander. (The previous were Season 1’s original, Season 2’s “French” and “Jacobite” versions, and Season 3’s “After Culloden” and “Caribbean” versions. I also produced an “Extended” version for the Season 1 Volume 2 soundtrack album, though it was never used in the series itself.)
Before I began writing, the producers requested that my music help transport the audience to a new setting. They wanted the music to sound different. With the season taking place entirely in America, it was clear this new Main Title arrangement – and the fourth season score as a whole – would need to sound distinctly American. I worked with a musicologist, and researched the popular folk music of pre-Revolutionary America. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of American folk songs of this era were imported from England, frequently set to new lyrics. One of the most famous early Revolutionary songs was “The Liberty Song,” with lyrics by John Dickinson, and yet drawing its melody from “Heart of Oak,” the anthem of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, and the Irish song “Here’s a Health.” (In fact, I already featured this song prominently in the end credits of the Season 3 finale!)
Stripped of their lyrics, these colonial American songs are essentially British, played on mostly the same instruments with only subtle performance practices separating them. Had I scored this season of Outlander using only historically accurate American music, the audience would have discerned very little difference between this season’s score and the music for when our story was rooted in Scotland. I had to look outside the realms of what was historically accurate to find a new sound. I chose to integrate into the score twentieth century Appalachian music.
A large chunk of the story takes place in the Appalachian Mountains, a region of America with a strong musical identity. Over the course of a few hundred years, Appalachian music developed into what we categorize as bluegrass, country and folk music today. These genres emphasize specific vocal styles: clear, sonorous vocal tones stacked in triadic harmonies, often featuring high falsettos. This music also popularized instruments such as banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and a fretted dulcimer, used so often it became known as an Appalachian dulcimer. In the early 1920’s, Appalachian music began to be recorded in field recordings, and in the coming decades commercial studio recordings would eventually transport it around the world, peaking with a massive influence on the resurgence of interest in folk music in the 1960’s…
For the full article: Outlander Season 4, by Bear McCreary.
For other in depth pieces like this one, go to OutlanderBTS Deeper Dive.
A new OutlanderBTS What’s New, and going into the editor: my interview with the lovely and talented Sera-Lys McArthur.
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Blessings to you! xo