Saturday, August 9, 2014

The OUTLANDER Theme Song

I can't imagine a composer more suited to creating the score for the Outlander TV series than Bear McCreary. Growing up, he attended the Scottish Highland Games held every summer in his home town of Bellingham, Washington. He was particularly captivated by the music. He describes the experience on his blog:
"First hearing the rolling and relentless Bb drone of the bagpipe bands get louder as we parked the car and headed towards the grounds gave me the euphoria that most little kids probably feel going to Disneyland."
Before he even graduated from high school, he was researching songs from the time of the 1745 Jacobite Rising in Scotland, about which he says,
"I was awestruck by the ability of these songs to communicate hidden meaning, tales of tragedy and triumph, with deceptively simple melodic lines and evocative harmonic progressions." 
Years later, when producer Ron Moore needed a composer to do the score for the Outlander TV series, McCreary was the perfect fit.

His decision to adapt the Scottish folk tune, The Skye Boat Song, to make it the theme song for the series is brilliant. Originally written to tell the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie's escape to the Isle of Skye after his defeat at Culloden, the song connects with the historical events familiar to readers of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books.

For the theme song, Bear has taken this well known melody, slowed the tempo, and changed the lyrics to make it a song about Claire Randall, "the lass that is gone." It is haunting and beautiful and unmistakably Scottish.

So that you can hear and compare the two versions of the song, scroll down and have a listen.

This is the original Skye Boat Song, complete with lyrics, performed by The Corries.

The original lyrics were rewritten by Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish noveliest, poet, and travel writer(thank you to reader, Jane Warren, for this information), and adapted further by Bear McCreary to fit the Outlander story. Watch the opening credits for Outlander, to hear this version of the lyrics. (And look for the little blue flowers at the base of the stones in the closing frames.)
Sing me a song of a lass that is gone,
Say, could that lass be I?
Merry of soul she sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye. 
Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.

Repeat chorus 
Give me again all that was there,
Give me the sun that shone,
Give me the eyes, give me the soul
Give me the lass that's gone. 
Repeat chorus
Here's the full length song, performed at Spreckels Theater in San Diego, before the world premiere of the first episode of Outlander. Raya Yarbrough is the singer, Bear McCreary is playing the accordion and Paul Cartwright, the violin.


Can't get enough of all things Outlander? Be sure to visit my blog The Outlander Plant Guide

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Gaelic Blessing

This fun little song was part of my community choir's 30th Anniversary concert. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed singing it!

A Gaelic Blessing

by Daniel Gawthrop

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Outlander Gardeners - Start Your Seeds!

Fans of Diana Gabaldon's popular series of Outlander books are eagerly awaiting the start of the Starz TV series based on the saga, which will premiere in summer, 2014.

In the meantime, what's a fan to do? Why not plant a garden this spring, featuring some of the plants mentioned in the Outlander books?

Here are some suggestions, with links to the seeds offered by Botanical Interests.

Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis sp.) This is the little plant that started it all. Claire first spotted this plant when she and Frank visited the standing stones. She returned later to collect the flowers, got a little too close to the cleft between the stones, and the rest is historical fiction.

Foxglove (Digitalis sp.) This colorful biennial has long been used as a heart medicine. Enjoy the flowers but do not eat any part of this plant.

Garlic chives (Allium sp.) Garlic has been used as an antibiotic for centuries. The time to plant regular garlic is mid-summer, but you can get the benefit of the medicinal properties of this plant family by using garlic chives. Chives are perennials - they reappear early every spring.

Watercress (Nasturtium officianale) Claire and Jamie's adventures often have them living off the land, foraging for plants like watercress. Watercress grows wild in the Highlands of Scotland. If you happen to live elsewhere, you can plant these seeds, cultivate your own patch and enjoy these peppery greens in salads.

For more about plants featured in the Outlander books, visit my blog, Outlander Plant Guide.