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

"Pieces of a Story" is a good name for this music, as it represents so many different thoughts and moods. This piece (by Randy Edelman) is scattered throughout the movie, never played in its entirety, only in snippets here and there. Those snippets, though, are the pieces of the story: some warm and graceful, some portentous, some grim, some without form or recognizable melody. The opening 1:00 consists of a lovely, melodic section highlighted by flutes possibly native flute which has as a more breathy sound than metal flutes. This first section, like the opening section of "Riverwalk and Discovery" is in the key of D major. The remainder of the piece is a conglomeration of small sections all of which are in total contrast to the opening melody (beginning at 1:00 on the CD version). This latter part being is fairly ominous and not really melodic, and the key is hard is hard to pin down (again, without seeing the music), although it (as with "Discovery") seems to end in a somber key of E-flat major.

"Pieces of a Story" appears in four separate locations, to help tell the story:

  1. The first snippet occurs in the Cameron's cabin, when Uncas grabs the Cameron boy and says "Turn me old too fast." This snippet is a small portion of the beginning melodic section, corresponding to the first 40 seconds on the CD.

  2. Next, a portion of "Pieces of a Story" appears in Webb's office in Albany, when Webb reads that Duncan will be going to Fort William Henry while he, Webb, will March the 60th to Fort Edward. This is the first ominous portion, which on the CD is from 1:01 to approximately 1:24.

  3. The third time "Pieces of a Story" appears is in Colonel Monro's office at Fort William Henry, when Hawkeye and Jack Winthrop, backed by the Mohicans and some colonials, are having a heated debate about Indian war parties raiding colonial settlements. Duncan, who notices Cora watching from the doorway, denies seeing anything at the Cameron's place except evidence of a pack of savages bent on thievery (in spite of the fact that nothing was taken, "everything was inside"). This portion begins at about 2:40 on the CD and continues until the end of the scene. While it is hard to figure the key here, as the music moves all over the chromatic scale, it appears to settle into and end in a somber E-flat minor.

  4. The last time we notice any of "Pieces of a Story" is when Hawkeye is "running the gauntlet" in the Huron village. In this case, we hear from 4:07 on the CD to the end, which in the movie is when Hawkeye comes to stand next to Duncan to face the Sachem.

The first snippet, heard in Cameron's cabin, is preceded by and followed by a snippet of what appears to be the opening of "River Walk" in "River Walk and Discovery", a four-measure motif, and it is impossible to tell if the motif as heard in Cameron's cabin is the part of "Pieces of a Story" or the opening to "River Walk". The following sound bite plays the four-measure motif of the opening of "River Walk" (0:00-0:16 on the CD), and then the very same motif as it appears in "Pieces of a Story" (at 0:43-0:59 on the CD).

Click on the Play arrow to hear these snippets.

In any case two works ("Pieces of a Story" and "River Walk") are of similar style and orchestration, and both are perfect for representing the Cameron's welcoming homestead and the friendship between the white men and the native Indians. This might even be stronger in the CD, which has a greater emphasis on the native flute. The two are very similar, both being earthy, melodic sections in the same key, with the main tune carried by breathy, gentle flutes.

On to "The House in Rose Valley"
Back to "River Walk and Discovery"
Back to the beginning of MohicanLand Musical Musings

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