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LEFT: The ORIGINAL Soundtrack - RIGHT: 2000 Release - Redone & In
Music is a personal thing. People are responsible for playing it as they feel it;
people as directors and conductors are responsible for interpreting how others will play it; and most importantly,
each person who hears it, hears it somewhat differently. Writing ABOUT music is therefore also a personal thing,
as the only way one can write about music is to describe how it sounds to that person and how he or she feels about
the music. Of course, a discussion on music must also include standards and basics, such as time signatures,
key signatures, tempo, orchestration, but all that has little meaning without an interpretation.
Here, then is one person's interpretation of the music of The Last of The Mohicans.
While these Musings are written for non-musicians, they nevertheless present technical musical terms to help
explain the music. It is difficult to explain musical terms to non-musicians, but the hope is one can learn
a bit more about the music from these extra details. You might find it useful to print these musings and have
them to read as you listen to the CD or watch the movie.
It is important to know three things about the LOTM soundtrack:
"The short of it is that [Trevor] Jones was taking so long revising cues
for director Mann that a separate composer, [Randy] Edelman, had to be
hired to finish the picture. However, neither composer really talked
to the other, and confusion has reigned to this day. We expect to have
Jones's comments on the film shortly from one of his representatives..."
(Lukas Kendall, Film Score Monthly: "This News Friday 8/8/97").
The liner notes to one CD recording of the "Main Theme" described the music and the
dual composer controversy with an interesting turn of phrase:
Two musical scores were commissioned��one from Trevor Jones, the other
from Randy Edelman��with the vacillating producers picking tidbits [sic]
from each. The resulting amalgam of cues proved somewhat unholy��but
Trevor Jones' scoring appropriately engages rhythmic native American
elements and delivers a supremely soaring theme as lofty, as indomitable
as the mighty Appalachians themselves.
(David Wishart, for Silva Screen Records Ltd., 1998)
Khalid Zahid writes:
In Pakistan the most recognized Hollywood movie music looks like this:
a. Superman "March" b. Theme from "Love Story" c. Theme from "Jaws"
d. Theme from "Chariots of Fire" e. Raider's March" f. Star Wars March
g. Baby elephant music from "Hatari" h. The Last of the Mohicans.
Notice how this writer refers to "Theme from Jaws" but just "The Last of the Mohicans"
(not "Theme from..." or "'Main Theme' from"), as though
that is all that is needed for readers to know exactly which musical piece he is referring to.
The LOTM theme has been heard at hockey games, figure skating championships, tennis matches at Wimbledon,
jousting tournaments in Las Vegas, any number of commercials (as has other pieces from the movie, including
Clannad's "I Will Find You" in a recent commercial aired globally), and innumerable orchestral and symphonic
concerts. It is considered a standard in the set of
"Great American Themes"music rented to orchestras for a set program of hit movie themes. (It is interesting
that one organization which rents the score can rent it ONLY to verifiable orchestras, and cannot sell the
score at all, in part because of the dual composer controversy.
Film Score Monthly and others who track movie soundtracks have noted that the LOTM
soundtrack was disproportionately successful compared to most other box office hits. By this they mean that hugely
successful movies money-wise (and we must honestly admit that The Last of the Mohicans, as much as some of us love it,
was not a smash hit) have not had nearly the success in soundtrack CD sales as that of LOTM. This speaks volumes for
the soundtrack's quality and overall appeal. Given the original success in 1992 and its continued success
so many years later (for example, in May '99, this writer
watched someone purchase the soundtrack in a CD store on the Champs Elysee in Paris),
many people ask why it wasn't nominated for an Academy Award. The answer to that question is not widely known; however,
around the time of the release of LOTM, the Film Academy did change it rules to state soundtracks written by two or more
composers were not eligible for an Oscar, which would have eliminated LOTM. This ruling is problematic for
many quality scores which otherwise would be Oscar contenders.
The logic of this argument doesn't quite hold up, but there is some truth to the statement "we are trying to 'escape
into the movies through the music.'" It does seem to do well in transporting us to the 1750s' Appalachian frontier.
It excels in telling the story of the movie. And it beautifully paints musical pictures with or without
the movie to support it. The soundtrack reflects so well the element of what might be called Nature, or Fate,
or some Great Spiritwhatever one wants to call it, but it
is bigger than we humans. And it is in the film itself as much as in the music.
Many listenerswomen and menunderstand that same sense of something bigger than us in the music,
and appreciate the music for its ability to touch the heart and soul.
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