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MohicanLand Musical Musings: The Music of The Last of the Mohicans

Trevor Jones has a long career as a musician, composer, and conductor. Jones was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1950. In 1967, at the age of 17, Jones won a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of music. He continued his education at York University (where, finding no course of study specifically related to film music, Jones fashioned his own course with the help of a professor), and earned a Master's Degree in Film and Media Music. Jones furthered his expertise at the National Film Theater, where he learned the process of screenwriting, photography, editing, etc.

A few of his more than 70 movie credits include Analyze This (1999), Talk of Angels (1998), Desperate Measures (1998), The Mighty (1998), GI Jane (1997), Richard III (1995), In the Name of the Father (1993, also starring Daniel Day-Lewis), Cliffhanger (1993), Arachnophobia (1990), Mississippi Burning (1988), and Excaliber (1981), plus the miniseries Gulliver's Travels (1996) and The Last Days of Pompeii (1984). For more details on Jones' filmography, visit the IMDb.

Jones was the original composer for LOTM, but according to Randy Edelman (who was the other primary composer for LOTM), Jones was not writing music quickly enough for the movie producers to be able to do their work (as the producers relied on the music for some of the filming cues) and Edelman was brought in near the end to write nearly half the music. But of course, this is Edelman's viewpoint on this subject, from an interview by Film Score Monthly. The Film Score Daily website did not follow-up on Lukas Kendall's statement, Film Score Monthly did, in Volume 3, number 6 (9/98). David May, of Zomba Screen Music, contributed a brief article detailing the music production. Zomba reveals in his article that Michael Mann originally hired Trevor Jones to compose "an innovative, electronics-based score" for LOTM. Zomba adds that as the picture was re-worked however, "the fundamental nature of the score changed several times in the process of scoring this picture. Several key changes came nearly at the end of the process when the essential character and complexion of the score were almost totally revamped. At this point, Trevor and Michael Mann had worked well beyond the original schedule for the score." Zomba goes-on to say that Jones had other projects to which he was committed and had to therefore leave the project, which of course necessitated the hiring of another composer.

Although Jones has declined to explain exactly why he was one of two composers in LOTM, there was an interview in the UK magazine Music From The Movies, which interviewed Dan Carlin, jr., who served as music supervisor, and conductor of Jones' score on LOTM. This was in issue #6 (Autumn 1994), where he was interviewed by the magazine's co-editor, John Williams (no relation to the "other" film-score king John Williams). Carlin's comments are insightful, and shed light on why Jones was unable to finish the score in time:

"Trevor Jones introduced me to Michael Mann early in the editing process. I started out as a consultant and was later promoted to music supervisor. My duties included supervising the "temp score" collaborating with the music editors, performing liaison duties with Elliot Lurie (20th Century Fox's Vice-President of music) and assisting Trevor Jones as he designed and wrote the score. Michael Mann works dialectically, which meant every time we matched music to picture, it prompted him to make a new edit. We spent so much time adapting to these changes that I finally went to Elliot Lurie and informed him that either some powerful person was going to have to alter this method, or Fox was going to have to bring-on another composer to write the cues that otherwise we might never address. Randy Edelman was then brought on to write most of the dialog-travel and transition cues while Trevor completed scoring the major action sequences and thematic moments."

In fairness to Jones, he wrote the lion's share of the LOTM music time-wise, but more importantly he wrote the most memorable pieces, including the main theme and the variations on "The Gael". In this soundtrack, Jones made abundant use of the material he had written or had had at hand. The most recognizable instance is his use of "The Gael" in two different places: both "The Kiss" and "Promontory" are based on "The Gael". But more importantly, Jones was responsible for the "Main Title" and most of the themes and motifs in the movie that are used and re-used to such extraordinary affect.

On the CD, Jones was responsible for:

"Main Title"
"Elk Hunt"
"The Glade Part II"
"Fort Battle"
"The Kiss"
"Monro's Office/Stockade"
"Top of the World"

Many thanks to Paul MacLean (no relation to Dougie MacLean) for his updates and good comments, quoted here.

On to Randy Edelman
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