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Cast and Crew

‘Outlander’ a great fit for TV writer Anne Kenney

 

sam-heughan-anne-kenney-out-thumb-640x427-28882 Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie Fraser on “Outlander,” with writer Anne Kenney on location in Scotland. Courtesy of Anne Kenney.

“Outlander” writer Anne Kenney’s cozy home office on the Westside is a world away from the fan-intense Writers Bloc event (Inside the eye of the Outlander storm) where we first met last month. As part of the press tour for the show’s second season, Kenney joined her fellow writers and lead actors Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies, and Sam Heughan for a panel to discuss the challenges of adapting for television Diana Gabaldon’s much loved and complex series of books about a World War II combat nurse who accidentally time travels back to 18th century Scotland. It was a rare on-stage appearance for the writers. The shows actors are usually the stars of such occasions, but on this night they seemed happy to let the writers have the spotlight. Members of the always passionate Outlander fandom filled the audience at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, many possibly realizing, for the first time, just how vital a role the writers play in bringing their favorite piece of literature to the small screen.

I visited Kenney a couple of weeks later to find out what life has been like for her since starting on the Starz show in 2013. “I’ve never done anything like this,” the veteran writer/producer said of working on a project with such a huge built-in fan base. “I went from having four Twitter followers — my family — to almost 10,000 and it’s all about “Outlander.” I usually don’t tweet about anything else.” Kenney still finds it strange when fans come up to her at events and want to have their picture taken or have her sign things. “But actually,” she says, “that’s been kind of fun and mostly people have been positive.”

Known for her work on “L.A. Law”, “The Big Easy”, “Greek, and “Switched at Birth,” Kenney had read (and loved) Gabaldon’s books and jumped at the chance to write for a show that combines so many genres. There is historical fiction, adventure, fantasy, romance, and refreshingly, a strong female lead character in Claire Randall (played by Balfe.) “This show is great for women. It’s from a woman’s point of view,” says Kenney. She earned high praise from critics and fans last season for writing episode 7, “The Wedding,” in which Claire is forced to marry the young, virginal Highlander Jamie Fraser (the show’s other lead character played by Heughan) in order to protect her from the British army. Much was written (see How Many Women Does It Take to Make the Perfect Sex Scene?) about the episode’s groundbreaking female-centric depiction of intimacy between lovers who start off the night as awkward near-strangers.

Originally from Oregon and Ohio, Kenney always knew she wanted to be a writer. After earning a journalism degree from Ohio University, she worked on small newspapers until classes in playwriting and television writing led to a move to Los Angeles in 1987. She met her husband, writer/producer Fred Golan, the same year. A voracious reader, particularly of historical fiction, Kenney enjoys the process of adaptation but acknowledges that Outlander can be problematic. While the first season was fairly straightforward, with Claire mostly trying to find her way back home to the 20th century, the second season, now well under way, was far more complicated to adapt. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t yet watched, but as Kenney says, “there was so much exposition, so much more explaining to do.” Things won’t get easier for the writers if the show continues on to season three. Gabaldon’s books are famous for their geographical reach and huge jumps in time.

The Outlander writers are based in Los Angeles (the writers’ room is in the Valley and Kenney crafts her scripts at home) but all are producers as well, which means periodic stints in Scotland to supervise production of episodes. The show is shot at a studio in Cumbernauld, just outside of Glasgow. The cast and crew also spend a huge amount of time on location. As a supervising producer “you’re there at the beginning and during prep when we’re deciding what the locations will be and what scenes stay or go for production reasons,” says Kenney. “We work with the actors and directors and there’s a give and take. Sometimes there’s something I’ve heard in my head and one of the actors will come up and say ‘this sounds really weird to me’. There’s a negotiation that goes on.”

For example, she points out that it’s “very interesting” working with Menzies, who plays a dual role: Claire’s twentieth century husband Frank and his 18th century ancestor, the villainous Black Jack Randall. “I think the assumption is that actors want more to say, rather than less,” she says. “I’ve found that’s generally not the case…especially with Tobias. He often feels he can tell the story more effectively with fewer words, and frequently he’s right.”

outlander-diana-gabaldon-an-thumb-360x270-28879

 

Kenney was in Scotland for two months last fall, overseeing one of her own episodes for season two as well as one written by Gabaldon. It was the Outlander author’s first attempt at adapting her work into a script. Kenney says working with Gabaldon was “really fun…we had a good time. My experience was she really put her student hat on. She was there to see how it goes and she was such a trooper. It rains a lot and we were out in the cold and wet. She was fun and funny and didn’t complain once. Like all of us, she got notes and certain things would get re-written and she was very cool about all of it.”

Outlander production has been a boon to the economy in the areas where the show shoots, as Kenney saw one day on location with Gabaldon. “Diana and I were in a coffee shop in a place called Culross. We had our headsets around our necks…our names were on the back. After picking out some stuff, the guy followed us out, went up to Diana and said, ‘oh my god, are you Diana Gabaldon? You’ve brought us so much business..everything’s on the house for you.’ After that the joke was that we all should write her name on our headsets to get free food.”

In addition to dealing with inclement weather, Kenney has found some differences in the way Scottish sets are run. The typical working day is 10 hours (unless the crew agrees to go over) unlike the usual 12-14 hour day in the U.S. There is also a “right to walk” rule that allows the public to legally access any location where the crew is shooting. But so far “people have been very respectful and the actors have been extremely gracious with fans who show up and want to talk and have pictures taken,” Kenney says. She admits that one of her (and fellow writer Toni Graphia’s) biggest problems is understanding some of the Scottish accents. The desk clerk at their hotel was one of the toughest to decipher. “He could have said ‘there’s a serial killer on the third floor’ and we’d be like, great!”

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Caitriona Balfe’s best moments in Outlander as she marks three years playing Claire Fraser

www.dailyrecord.co.uk

AS Caitriona Balfe marks three years in the role that has catapulted her to stardom here we mark her five best moments in Outlander

 

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Fraser

THIS week marks the third anniversary of Caitriona Balfe joining the cast of Outlander to star as time-traveling combat nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall.

From the first episode, it was clear Balfe was the perfect choice to play the hard-headed, soft-hearted character, Claire.

To celebrate, here’s a look back at some of Balfe’s most memorable moments from the last three years.

The time she fixed Jamie’s dislocated shoulder

This scene cut straight to the heart of Claire’s character. She had been tossed through time, attacked by Black Jack Randall, hauled to a strange cabin by a violent (albeit loveable) ruffian, and still had the presence of mind to properly set Jamie’s shoulder. Because at the heart of it, Claire is a healer first.

The wedding

It was a beautiful episode in its entirety. The dress, of course, was stunning, and the private moments between Claire and Jamie were by turns tender and humorous. But perhaps the most poignant scene was the moment she stood staring at her two wedding bands, a bittersweet reminder of all she had lost and all she had gained.

Any time Claire sassed Dougal

Whether she was knocking him over the head with a handy object or giving him a sound tongue lashing, she stood her ground and refused to back down.

Faith

In this episode, fans had the opportunity to witness Claire without her hard veneer as she crumbled at the heartbreaking loss of her baby girl. Vulnerable and without such hard edges, she seemed a much more relatable person.

When Claire says goodbye to Jamie

Her agony at their parting – for what she believes is the final time – is clear, as is the fact that she knows she has no choice but to go back through the stones to an uncertain future. A heartrending moment indeed, and Balfe brought it to life on screen in a way that left her fans’ hearts hurting, as well.

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MARIL DAVIS

Maril Davis Collage

Maril Davis is a Development Executive and Co-Executive Producer with Ronald D. Moore for Tall Ship Productions in Pasadena, California. Maril is probably one of the “Outlander” fan favorites among the production staff. Her positive attitude and willingness to communicate with fans on Twitter have garnered her respect in the fandom.

Maril was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Portland, Oregon, and attended Scripps College in Claremont, California. She admits to being a huge Ducks fan and sports enthusiast. She began playing soccer when she was five years old, and it continued to be her favorite sport in middle school, high school, and college. At one point after college she had hopes of a career in women’s profession soccer. Two days before trying out for a Boston team, she injured her knee. The injury resulted in a career ending surgery. However, when her schedule allows, Maril continues to play tennis, and has played with Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies, whom she claims is very good at that sport.

Although she was temporarily sidetracked by her interest in soccer, Maril claims she always knew she wanted to work in television. Her first job in the industry was in 1996 as a production assistant on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” Soon after joining the set of Star Trek she began her association with Ron Moore and was eventually promoted to co-producer.

It was during her tenure with Ron Moore on “Battlestar Galactica” that she met Matthew B. Roberts, who introduced her to the Outlander book series. Matt Roberts was writing for the “Law and Order” series at the time, and his office was across the hall from Maril and Ron. She met Matt when she signed up for a “Law and Order” softball team. He had read the books and recommended them to her. She read them through and was hooked. Subsequently, she and Ron’s wife, “Outlander” costumer designer Terry Dresbach, also a book fan, encouraged Ron to develop the series for TV. It took some time, but the rest, as they say, is history.

Maril claims that Mary Howard of the “Star Trek” production team was her mentor and that she would like to see more women in writing, directing, and producing roles in television and film. Tall Ships is currently looking for more female directors for “Outlander.” Maril and Ron worked with current writing producers Anne Kenney and Toni Graphia on projects prior to “Outlander,” and they will continue to work on the show in Season 3 in addition to two more female writers.

Maril is not part of the writing team, though working with writers, actors, and other producers is one of her favorite parts of her job. She is on the “Outlander” set almost daily during filming. Also listed among her duties are overseeing the writers’ office, liaison between studio and network, casting, marketing, publicity, anything Ron doesn’t want to do, and a general “herding of cattle.” (1)

All we can say is keep “herding,” Maril. You’re doing a great job.

These are a few of her favorite things (2): Barry Manilow; Kevin Costner (“Bull Durham”); sushi; sports; “House of Cards,” “Friday Night Lights,” and “Mad Men;” “Gigi” (movie);

 

Sources

  1. http://outlanderblog.blogspot.com/2015/12/get-to-know-them-15-personal-questions.html
  2. http://threeifbyspace.net/2016/05/outlander-exclusive-intrview-maril-davis

http://memory-alpha-wikia.com/wiki/Maril_Davis

http://www.imbd.com/name/nm0205091/

http://outlandercast.com/2015/12/outlander-cast-chats-woutlander.html

http://truthaboutglobalbrnds.com/maril-davis-profile/

 

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Outlander‘s Tobias Menzies on Black Jack’s Brother and the Things You Do for Love

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The 2016 Emmy race has begun, and Vulture will take a close look at the contenders until voting closes on June 27.

In the last year alone, Tobias Menzies has played five very different characters, two of which are on the same show. On Outlander, he stars as Frank Randall in 1945, who suffers the loss of his wife, Claire, when she accidentally travels back in time to the 18th century, and Black Jack Randall, Frank’s assumed ancestor in the past, who torments Claire and her new husband Jamie whenever they cross paths. Although one is ostensibly good and mild-mannered, and the other veers toward villainy and sadism, Menzies manages to find their common ground and make them incredibly distinct, without the usual crutches of say, an accent, a limp, or anything too obvious. During a recent visit to New York, Menzies chatted with Vulture about a pivotal trip to the bathroom, confronting two different Jamies, and why he decided not to cry during a death scene.

I heard a story about how you first decided to become an actor, and it involved a trip to the bathroom?
[Laughs.] Yeah, really early on, when I was young, we went and saw a production of The Wind in the Willows in a theater. At the intermission, I went to the toilet, and in the urinal next to me was the actor playing Badger. I didn’t quite know why he was in the urinal meant for the audience, and not backstage, I’m not quite sure about that, but there was something thrilling about seeing someone I had looked up to on the stage, and then seeing him beside me having a piss. There was something really about that which stayed with me. It seemed a little bit of magic in a way, this sort of mythical figure breaking through and just being there. And that was the first time I engaged with the idea of wanting to be an actor, and also being a person.
It seems fitting for the kinds of characters you’re attracted to, in which you take these people and really humanize them, warts and all.
That’s what’s interesting about humans, that we’re always a massive contradiction. There’s a lot more to everyone, isn’t there? What I’m interested in doing is making the character more three-dimensional, big or small, because that’s what’s both great and infuriating about people. Everyone has a family. Everyone comes from somewhere. So it’s harder to demonize someone when you see them with their family, as you do with Black Jack in this most recent episode. You have to engage with Jack the sibling, which is always complicated. That’s one of the benefits of doing a television drama over a long period of time — you get to explore these little contradictions. And one of the benefits of doing the TV show from the books is we can fill in the gaps, and color in more of the characters around Claire, and that’s particularly true of Frank.

We might not have thought we’d get to see a tender side of Jack, just as we might not have thought we’d get to see a more violent side of Frank. But perhaps these men have a few things in common. Do you approach them differently?
Not massively. There are a few physicality things that are different with Jack. Frank is closer to my own physicality. It’s mainly instinctive, really. I suppose it’s gotten more instinctive the more I’ve done it, and I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now. But I never regarded Black Jack as someone who didn’t have tender feelings somewhere. My main thought was that I was keen for him to not be so confident. In the first season, we saw someone with an absolute self-belief, that arrogance, that belief that he’s indestructible. But since then, in different ways, and in much lesser ways, he’s still affected by what happened at Wentworth Prison at the end of season one. We only had a couple of chances to convey that, starting with Jamie and Claire in Versailles, and then with his brother. But these scenes speak to somebody who is a little more lost, a little bit away from his comfort zone, away from his natural territory and strength. And that felt like an interesting development, rather than have him be unaffected at all.

You talked to author Diana Gabaldon for guidance on how to portray that, correct?
Yes. Her main point was that Alex is probably the most important relationship in Jack’s life. It’s not what you usually see or would imagine that he has in his life. It’s someone whose good opinion he values, and that only helps to enrich the person we think we know. So with Alex’s imminent death, and then his demise, it challenges everything for Jack, and brings all of that up to the surface.

And just as we’ve started to see this tender side of Jack, his violence emerges again with Alex’s death. His reaction is odd, to say the least…
It’s perhaps the biggest change from the books, for him. And originally in the script, it was written that Jack wept. He was just full of emotion. But we’ve all seen the scene where a brother cries at the bedside of his loved one, and that didn’t seem quite keeping with the character of Jack. And we could see that he was emotional about his brother passing. So we decided to skip the crying, and have him physically attack the body of his brother. It had to be something odder, something weirder, something more violent. It’s a weird expression of his love: If you abandon me, I will destroy you. And it felt surprising. It’s the last thing you’d expect, but it’s also keeping with the character.

Frank, Black Jack, and even Edmure Tully, who you play on Game of Thrones, are all very different characters, and you give each of them a complete sense of self. But it seemed like all three were placed in these positions that they didn’t want to be in, where they had to make a difficult choice, and they ultimately chose the person they loved over themselves. Frank takes back Claire and agrees to raise another man’s child. Black Jack gives up military intel and marries Mary for his brother’s sake. And Edmure gives up Riverrun to protect his infant son, even though he’s never met him.
All three of them, yeah, it’s a theme — the things you do for love. We talked quite a bit about Black Jack’s betrayal of the British army, of his battalion, that he gives their secrets to Claire. I was worried that it seemed too easy of a choice to make. Whatever you might think of Black Jack’s morality, I think he is a loyal soldier, a loyal subject. He wrestles with that, even though we don’t see it. He’s in disguise, because these two armies are very close to each other around Inverness. And he feels vulnerable around Claire because of his concern for his brother. I don’t think he enjoys having to ask her to aid his brother, but it’s his only choice. We both need each other, and distrust each other. And Alex is so important in his life, he’s willing to make that bargain. There was a lot to play with there.

With Edmure in Thrones, you could almost argue that it’s an expression of self-love. Self-protection. Self-preservation. He feels much more cowardly in that decision, and obviously he doesn’t want to lose his family, his people, his castle, but that character is less about the expression of love than Frank is. Jack, love is very weird for him. But they are all different facets of, What are you made of, in extreme situations? When the shit hits the fan, which way do you go? And why? They certainly all have that in common, that larger theme of love and betrayal, cowardice and heroism.

You really feel Edmure is a coward? He seemed prepared to deny Jaime Lannister, until his son became part of the equation. My interpretation was that he betrayed his uncle to save his son. And he’s also endured a lot over the years, being a prisoner.
You’re right. Thinking back on playing that first half of that scene with Jaime Lannister, he actually has arrived at a place of despair and has resolved himself to die, denying Jaime. He’s forced to engage with what that entails, all the ramifications, what would follow from that apparently heroic act of saying, “No.” It would result in great suffering. Edmure now, the man we met in these last few episodes, is not the man we met before, the almost comic, buffoonish character of season three. He has changed. And I guess you can’t be a hero unless you feel fear. So maybe he’s heroically being a coward! There certainly is a moral dimension to the scene with Jaime, the investigation of Jaime’s position, to see Edmure wrestling with that larger question. Game of Thrones seems increasingly a meditation on deeply flawed people. I don’t think there are many inherently good people. Everyone’s been compromised. Everyone’s in a position they don’t want to be in.

How did you manage to fit in not just Game of Thrones, but also The Night Manager and Catastrophe? You’re juggling so many characters at the moment…
It’s a good problem to have! Catastrophe, I went to do that, almost as an in-joke. Sharon Horgan is an old friend of mine. We’ve known each other and worked together for many years. So whenever she calls me up and asks me to do something, I generally do it. She’s a brilliant woman, and it’s a particularly brilliant show. The Night Manager, I fit in between season one and two of Outlander, and then I did Thrones in the middle of shooting Outlander, in September or October? And I also fit in the new Underworld film in Prague, where I play a vampire.

One day, you’re a sadist British redcoat, the next a prisoner of war, the next a vampire…
I had a few different personalities going around my head! Weirdly, I didn’t find that hard. I don’t know what that says about my psyche. [Laughs.]

 

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http://www.bearmccreary.com/#blog/blog/outlander-return-to-scotland/

July 19th, 2016

In the second half of Season Two, Outlander took a major geographical and tonal leap, returning Jamie and Claire to Scotland at the dawn of the Jacobite rising. These episodes focused on their efforts to prevent inevitable deaths at Culloden. My score needed to shift back to the haunting Scottish sounds of season one, with an added emphasis on military percussion and pipes.

This change is evident immediately with the new Main Title Theme in Episode 208, “The Fox’s Lair.” The track begins with Raya Yarbrough’s haunting vocal once more, but I removed the viola da gamba and chamber orchestra that implied Paris. Instead, the bodhrán frame drum returns. At first, it feels like we are simply reusing the season one theme, but the track quickly evolves from there. Iconic Scottish snare drums sneak in behind her voice, providing a distinctly militaristic feeling. For the final chorus, I replaced the moving bassline with a steady drone in the low strings and bagpipes. This gives the final chorus a distinctly Scottish feeling, evoking the pedal-tone drones of military bagpipe bands. The instrumentation is predominantly the same, but the emotional impact of this harmonic change is intense. This main title sequence prepares us for war.

I felt the Jacobite uprising story arc should be represented with a theme drawn from folk music of the era. Jacobite history is rich with famous folk songs. Indeed, the main title’s “The Skye Boat Song” is one of the most well-known. However, the vast majority of these songs were written after the Scots’ tragic defeat, and lyrically depict themes of melancholy and longing. None of these songs would have been appropriate for these episodes, because the story takes place during a brief historical time of rousing optimism. To properly underscore these episodes, I needed a song that was written during the Jacobite uprising as opposed to after it, a song that makes no comment about loss, only promises of victory.

I turned to famed Scottish composer and music historian John Purser, who was gracious with his time and assembled a collection a historically-accurate songs for me. I was immediately drawn to the soaring melody in “Moch Sa Mhadainn,” a song composed by Alasdair mac Mghaighstir Alasdair. A celebrated poet of the Jacobite era, Alasdair composed this song upon hearing the news that Prince Charles Edward Stuart had landed at Glenfinnan. That was perfect! When Jamie opens the letter in “The Fox’s Lair” and learns he has been roped into the revolution, this song was actually being composed somewhere in Scotland at that very moment.

“Moch Sa Mhadainn” Lyrics (in Gaelic):Hùg hó ill a ill ó
Hùg hó o ró nàill i
Hùg hó ill a ill ó
Seinn oho ró nàill i.Moch sa mhadainn is mi dùsgadh,
Is mòr mo shunnd is mo cheòl-gáire;
On a chuala mi am Prionnsa,
Thighinn do dhùthaich Chloinn Ràghnaill.Gràinne-mullach gach rìgh thu,
Slàn gum pill thusa Theàrlaich;
Is ann tha an fhìor-fhuil gun truailleadh,
Anns a’ ghruaidh is mòr nàire.Mar ri barrachd na h-uaisle,
Dh’ èireadh suas le deagh nàdar;
Is nan tigeadh tu rithist,
Bhiodh gach tighearna nan àite.Is nan càraicht an crùn ort
Bu mhùirneach do chàirdean;
Bhiodh Loch Iall mar bu chòir dha,
Cur an òrdugh nan Gàidheal.“Moch Sa Mhadainn” Lyrics (In English):Hug ho ill a ill o
Hug ho o ro naill i
Hug ho ill a ill o
Seinn oho ro naill i.Early in the morning as I awaken
Great is my joy and hearty laughter
Since I’ve heard of the Prince’s coming
To the land of ClanranaldYou are the choicest of rulers
May you return unhurt, Charles.
In that most modest cheek
Runs blood that is pure and undefiled.Along with overflowing nobility
That ever rises up along with good nature
And if you came again
Each laird would be at his post.And if the crown were placed upon you
Joyful would your friends be
And Lochiel, as he ought,
Would be drawing up the Gaels for battle. 

I knew the song would require a vocalist. I tracked down an inspiring Gaelic singer named Griogair Labhruidh. I was struck by the power in his voice, which was both contemporary and traditional. I knew he would be perfect for Outlander, and featured him prominently in the episode “Je Suis Prest.” Fittingly, Griogair recorded his vocals in a recording studio less than twenty-five miles from Glenfinnan, where the Bonnie Prince first raised his standard on the shores of Loch Shiel.

This relatively rare song did not survive in mainstream memory as effectively as others from its era, perhaps because it originated in that brief window of history when Scots really believed this uprising could succeed. For that reason, I felt using it here made Outlander even more authentic. “Moch Sa Mhadainn” was very likely sung during the uprising by mounted or marching Highlanders, with larger groups joining in at the choruses. I wanted to capture that feeling by featuring male vocals in the soundtrack.

Listen to this song on Griogair’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GhettoCroft/

“In the aftermath of Culloden and the centuries following many of our traditions were deliberately wiped out during what was effectively a cultural colonization,” Griogair told me recently. “Schools were built in which only English was taught in which children were often beaten for speaking their native Gaelic language. Songs like this therefore only survived in the most remote regions of Gaelic Scotland or were otherwise appropriated by the bourgeoisie of the Anglicised Highlands and denatured by their passage through a musical system which was completely alien to the free flowing, ornamented and non Western rhythms of the natural Gaelic music of Scotland.”

“Moch Sa Mhadainn” had the melodic qualities I was looking for: strong intervallic leaps and a simple, repetitive structure to make it memorable. I did, however, make several musical changes to shape the song to fit the needs of the series, perhaps bending a few rules along the way. I worked closely with Griogair and John to ensure that essential Scottish musical traditions were preserved while simultaneously accomplishing my musical narrative goals.

“It is always difficult negotiating the gap between tradition and innovation but it is something I am becoming increasingly used to,” Griogair recalled. “I performed the song at a much slower tempo than it would normally be performed traditionally but I think it worked to great effect with the rich string voicings and the percussive elements of the piece. I was also very pleased to work with my friend John Purser who helped direct my performance of the song to suit the arrangement.’

‘My own regional version of the song differs quite dramatically from the one I performed [for Outlander]. This is quite a common occurrence as there is no such thing as standardization in Gaelic traditional music. Our music is much like modal jazz in that sense and involves a lot of improvisation. All the decorations and irregular rhythms I used in the performance were all improvised round the theme melody.”

I was thrilled to work with Griogair and to bring his unique voice to my score. I was especially grateful for his enthusiasm for the material. “Much like the characters of Outlander, we are living in very interesting times here in Scotland,” he told me. “And much of the music I perform is about being a contemporary twenty-first century Scottish Highlander as well as carrying the spirit of my ancestors who fought alongside Charles Edward Stewart in a struggle for freedom which continues to this day.”

The second season of Outlander concludes with an epic 90-minute long episode, “Dragonfly in Amber.” The episode leaps forward in time to the 1960’s, where Claire has an adult daughter, Brianna, and together they return to Scotland and meet Roger MacKenzie, now a grown man. Narratively, the story picks up from the season’s dramatic opening episode, bookending the season. My score, too, calls back to the premiere episode with an increased orchestral presence, and richer, more contemporary romantic writing.

“Dragonfly in Amber” was a logistical challenge for me because of its structure. The narrative leaps back and forth between two centuries, with different tones in each storyline. In the 1740’s, the tension gradually mounts as Jamie and Claire make their final preparations before the battle. This required a backdrop of Scottish instrumentation and a relentlessly accelerating percussive spine that peaked in the soaring emotional farewell at the stones. The music from every scene in the 1740′s can actually be stitched together to form a cohesive single piece of music, something fans will get to hear when the soundtrack album is released this fall.

In the 1960’s, Claire reminisces about the past while Brianna pieces together the clues of her ancestry. This storyline required a more subdued approach, leaning more towards orchestra than folk instruments. I struggled with writing a new theme for Brianna and Roger for this episode, and ultimately found there wasn’t room in the narrative for an entirely new musical idea. In this story, Brianna chases Jamie’s ghost. She discovers her own identity in this episode. It felt premature to define her musically when she hadn’t yet defined herself. Instead, I used snippets of the Jamie and Claire theme as she gets closer to the truth, an effective way of underlining this idea. Now that she knows who she is, I am confident I will find opportunity to compose an original theme for her next season.

The season ends with a glorious shot of the camera pushing back in on the stones, as the sun rises in the background. Here, I quoted the Stones Theme once more. I introduced this melody in the first episode, and have used it since to represent our characters taking important steps on an epic journey. There seemed no better way to wrap up one of the most ambitious seasons of television I have ever scored.

I am thrilled that my label Sparks & Shadows has partnered once again with Madison Gate Records to release my original score for Season Two! The soundtrack will be available on October 28th, and pre-orders are already available on Amazon. The tracks include my favorite cues from throughout the entire season:

1. Outlander – The Skye Boat Song (French Version)
2. Leave the Past Behind
3. Wrath of the Comte
4. Versailles
5. Into Paris
6. Honey Pot
7. The Apothecary
8. Baroque Chess Match
9. The Duel
10. Faith
11. Outlander – The Skye Boat Song (Jacobite Version)
12. Je Suis Prest
13. 125 Yards
14. Vengeance at Your Feet
15. The Uprising Begins
16. Prestonpans
17. Moch Sa Mhadainn
18. White Roses of Scotland
19. Tales of Brianna
20. Running Out of Time
21. Destiny on Culloden Moor
22. A Fraser Officer Survived

The second season of Outlander has been a tremendous musical adventure for me. One of my favorite experiences as a composer is working on a project that allows me to learn a new musical language. My crash course in French baroque music, performance, and history, was one of the most exciting creative times in my career. I followed that with a dive into unexplored areas of Jacobite musical history. I concluded this season a better composer than when I began, and for that I am grateful. With the series now boldly picked up for two more seasons, I know my musical adventure is only just beginning.

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