Category: Outlander

Outlander: Wentworth Prison & To Ransom a Man’s Soul

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One of the most exciting aspects of scoring Outlander is that each episode has its own tone, arc, and character, all fitting within the larger narrative structure. Despite rolling with the dramatic punches on some very dark subject matter throughout the season, I was still shocked by the graphic tone of the final two episodes when I first saw them. These two hours of television are among the darkest I have ever scored (and at this point, that’s really saying something!). Nevertheless, these are not stories of needless sadism and horror. The series earned this darkness, and the material was treated with restraint and respect at every turn. If you ever found yourself shielding your eyes in horror in these last two episodes, your response was aiding your experience of the story. I deeply respected the showrunners’ approach to the material, and wanted to match it with a measured and dramatic musical score, one that would heighten the drama and horror in equal measure. (more…)

Outlander: Lallybroch, The Watch & The Search

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Within Outlander’s first season, “Lallybroch,” “The Watch,” and “The Search” form a trilogy. The stories are tonally similar, returning us to the highland life we glimpsed in the first few episodes. Dramatically, these episodes allow us a brief relief after the overwhelming darkness in “The Devil’s Mark,” and before the final two episodes to come. I savored this opportunity to lighten my musical approach for a few weeks.

Scottish folk music has always been an integral component of my score. However, from “The Wedding” until now, the stories were entirely about Claire or Jamie and their relationships to other characters. There were very few opportunities to use music to comment on the world around them. That changed substantially for this trio of episodes. (more…)

Outlander: By the Pricking of My Thumbs & The Devil’s Mark

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“By the Pricking of My Thumbs” and “The Devil’s Mark” truly feel like a unified two-part story. The first episode is generally lighter in tone, but it’s events set up the relentless emotional rollercoaster of the second.

THE DULCIMER OF SANDRINGHAM

“By the Pricking of My Thumbs” introduces the Duke of Sandringham, a charmingly effete, backstabbing politician who will do anything to maintain his status in society. He’s funny, but ruthless. I did not write him a theme, because there really was no need. His role is primarily as a solution to Jamie’s problem. The actor, Simon Callow, brilliantly provided the character with memorable mannerisms, so I felt no need to clutter his scenes with melody. (more…)

Outlander: The Reckoning

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After a long hiatus, Outlander returns this week to wrap up the final eight episodes of its first season. “The Reckoning” is a mammoth episode, featuring the series’ most driving action, tense political conflicts and emotional revelations to date. It also includes the controversial spanking scene that has ignited debate amongst fans and critics alike. This episode presented my most daunting musical challenges since the first episode, and allowed me to introduce new musical colors that will stay with us for the rest of the season and beyond.

 A NEW POINT OF VIEW

Showrunner Ronald D. Moore made a bold decision to shift the narrative from Claire’s perspective to Jamie’s perspective for this episode. This is made clear instantly when we hear Jamie’s voice-over narration in the opening shots. This perspective shift is crucial, because Jamie makes several important decisions in this episode, and the audience needs to understand his motivations. Claire isn’t even present for several of these scenes, so it would have been impossible to tell the story from her point of view. (more…)

Outlander: The Garrison Commander, The Wedding, Both Sides Now

 

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The last three episodes of Outlander for 2014 have aired, and despite ending with a huge cliffhanger, they provided me opportunities to bring musical closure to the first half of the season. Each of these three episodes brought unique challenges.

SPOILERS AHEAD: “The Garrison Commander” ranks among the most interesting and challenging episodes of television I have had the honor of scoring. The vast majority of the episode takes place in a single room: a conversation between two characters.  There are no cut-aways to a “B story.” This daringly restrained storytelling is exceedingly rare for television. (more…)

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