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


As Cora looks out onto the lake and realizes the thunder she's been hearing are from cannon and mortar fire, deep notes of a string bass enter like rumbling in the distance. Suddenly the full force of the "Fort Battle" burst upon us. This is a powerful piece, driven by the militaristic tattoo of the snare drums. The horns give it a sense of grandeur or significance, and yet in spite of the feeling of power, this piece is set in a minor key (as are all Trevor Jones' works in this soundtrack). "Fort Battle" is in A minor, which a fifth higher than the key of D minor used in the "Main Title" and in the other battle scene music, "Massacre/Canoes". If "Fort Battle" was in a major key, it would be more triumphant, perhaps, but the minor key just keeps that dark pall over the entire scene, including the would-be joy of Monro daughters being reunited with their father.

However, being set in the key of A minor allows easy incorporation of elements from other pieces set in D minor. For instance, "Fort Battle" relies heavily on the "Main Title" in two cases. First, "Fort Battle" includes the Mohican Theme which also appears in "Massacre/Canoes". This theme is discussed in the section on Themes and Motifs.

Additionally, "Fort Battle" is one of only two pieces in which we hear the B section from the "Main Title" (the other being "Top of the World"). And while the A section from the "Main Title" has been smoothed out for these battle scenes, in "Fort Battle" the "Main Title" B section is beefed up by the addition of extra notes in the trumpets, giving it a more militaristic character. This variation on the B section occurs at 0:21-0:38, 1:38-1:56, and 2:55-3:13. This is only part of an interesting structure which consist of four elements: the A section which is played twice, the B section which is the variation on the "Main Title" B section, and two "transitional" sections (C and D) that are a bit like filler, or the calm between the big events. The movie version consists of most but not all of the piece recorded on the CD. "Fort Battle" appears to be in either 3/4 or 6/8 time. The structure of the complete piece appears to be as follows (based on listening to the piece and without being able to see the music):

Three beat introduction (one-half measure)
A section, of two measures in 6/8 time
A section repeat with slight variation
B section, (based on the "Main Title" B section) of four measures in 6/8 time

A section, of two measures in 6/8 time
A section repeat with slight variation
C section, (mostly of strings) of four measures in 6/8 time

A section, of four measures in 3/4
A section repeat with slight variation
B section, (based on the "Main Title" B section) of four measures in 6/8 time
D section (transitional) of six measures in 6/8 time

Mohican Theme (repeating A sections of the Mohican Theme; at 2:27-2:44 during the escape to the fort by canoe)
A section, of two measures in 6/8 time
A section repeat with slight variation
B section, (based on the "Main Title" B section) of four measures in 6/8 time

C section, four measures in 6/8 time
C section repeat
D section (fading to end)



On to Montcalm's Tent
Back to "The Glade Part II"
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