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


Elk Hunt If music is meant to tell a story, then the "Elk Hunt" does that particularly well. One can so easily tell that there is a rush or an urgency, that something is clearly in a hurry and moving unevenly, that different elements are at play and are not joined or in unison, and that the whole is becoming increasingly intense until the final moment.

This piece, like the "Main Title", is in that dark key of D-minor. It appears to be in the count of either three or six (that is, with a time signature of either 3/4 or 6/8). "Elk Hunt" consists of three elements superimposed (playing simultaneously), each telling part of the story:

  • The bass (or lowest) "voice" consists of very short, fast 1/16th notes in a low tone, driving and constantly pulsing very much like the rapidly beating heart of someone running quickly.

  • The middle "voice" consists of uneven rhythms played on a synthesizer, consisting of varying unequal patterns, perhaps representing the three men in urgent pursuit of the elk over the uneven terrain. This middle voice is much easier to detect in the CD than in the movie, which helps the CD listeners to visualize the scene in the movie.

  • The top "voice" consists of the overarching variation on the "Main Title". This variation appears many times in the soundtrack, usually in moments of intense action and almost always when Hawkeye is present.
These three elements together clearly depict the chase through the forest, and building up the tension toward the end and then poises, as Hawkeye aims and fires the shot which kills the elk.

The orchestration is different between the movie version and the CD. The movie version has more bass (the low "voice") which overshadows the middle "voice" as noted above. Also, "Elk Hunt" in the movie is enhanced by a number of other sounds and noises, such as rattles, birds, and the distant cry of human voices (much like Native Indian calls or chants).


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