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FRASER’S RIDGE

Outlander America will begin a series on the locations in the Outlander book series.   In Voyager, Jamie and Claire Fraser (and others) leave Scotland to begin a new life in what was known at the time as British America in 1767. Our first edition will address the fictional Fraser’s Ridge.

“Fraser’s Ridge” near Boone, NC

Boone

It is well known that Diana Gabaldon, author of the series, is an accomplished researcher. So let’s take a look at the location of Fraser’s Ridge and why she probably chose its fictional location.

According to Diana, Fraser’s Ridge is located on a plot of land covering roughly 10,000 square acres. It is nestled in an area north of the Yadkin River between the towns of Boone and Blowing Rock, North Carolina, near Grandfather Mountain, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. Throughout the story, the Frasers frequented nearby areas as well, including Cross Creek and Campbellton. Those nonfictional towns later merged into the modern city of Fayetteville, NC.

So why choose this area as the setting of the majority of her story? Surprisingly, North Carolina boasts the largest population of citizens with Scottish ancestry than any other state or country in the world, including Scotland. More than 1.5 million Scots have immigrated to America, with the overwhelming majority settling in North Carolina, from the coastal region of Wilmington northward via Cape Fear, and from there to the piedmont and highland regions. Records indicate that the immigration began in 1729 after King George II took over Carolina and split it into North Carolina and South Carolina. The Scots were attracted to the mild climate, fertile soil, and hopes for a better life. The migration continued until the start of the American Revolution, resuming again after the war.

Migration path of Scots into North CarolinaEarly Colonial NC Migration Paths, s-NC History Textbook, s-jbk wb

Outlander Locations in North Carolina

OL locations in North America

Modern Map of Area Known as “Fraser’s Ridge”

OL locations in NC

The piedmont and highland regions of Western North Carolina continue to be heavily influenced by Scottish culture. In fact, many of the Scots in that region continued to speak Gaelic well into the 19th century.

Tips for Visiting “Fraser’s Ridge”

If you long to visit the area to catch a glimpse of Jamie and Claire’s life on Fraser’s Ridge, a trip to Boone, North Carolina can satisfy your desires. In fact, there is a place that caters to Outlander dreamers. The Mast Farm Inn, located in Banner Elk near Boone, promises to give visitors the experience of Fraser’s Ridge. Visitor reviews have been excellent.

 

Summer in Boone, NC

Boone summer

If you visit the area in the winter months, navigating the snow and ice may necessitate tire chains or a four-wheel drive vehicle to reach the ski resorts of Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain. If you plan a summer trip, you may want to consider going in July to participate in the annual Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain. The Highland Games are usually held in the first or second week in July, from Thursday to Sunday. Plan to arrive on Thursday night in order to participate in the kick off of the Games with the official “Calling of the Clans.”

Summer on Grandfather Mountain

Boone Grandfather Mt.Annual Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain – “Calling of the Clans” Candlelight ceremony calling of the clans

A trip to Fraser’s Ridge in Boone and Grandfather Mountain is sure to please the entire family.  A wealth of activities are offered year ’round with dining and lodging accommodations to fit all budgets. Asheville and Cherokee (the reservation of the Eastern Band Cherokee Nation) are less than a two-hour drive away.   However, it would be a shame to miss the Highland Games, especially if you are a Scot or a Scot at heart.  Diana Gabaldon, Herself, has attended the games on several occasions over the years, and, if you are a book fan you know that so have the Frasers!

Sources

 http://www.dalhousielodge.org/Thesis/scotstonc.htm

http://outlander.wikia.com/wiki/Fraser’s_Ridge

Gabaldon, Diana.  The Outlandish Companion.  Delacorte Press, New York. 1999.

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There are so many great scenes in Episode 102, but we have picked some favorites to share.  In this episode we begin to see the attraction and trust develop between Jamie and Claire.  We also are introduced to the fabulous Mrs. Fitz.

OL-S1.2-Leoch-1 OL-S1.2-Leoch-2

When the group arrives at Castle Leoch, Jamie introduces Claire to Mrs. Fitz.  I love our Jamie gives Claire the once over.  Though Claire’s dress is appropriate for her modern times, it arouses suspicion in Jamie’s time.

-D

There really is so much to love about Episode 2 – Castle Leoch.  We discover this world right along with Claire and it is beautiful, and more than a little dangerous.   Picking a favourite scene was difficult and it changes the more I watch it.  Today, I think my favourite scene is when we are introduced to Mrs. Fitz.

 

It is perfect that Mrs. Fitz is the first woman that Claire encounters in this new and strange world.  Mrs. Fitz show herself to be loving, and welcoming, but also entirely capable of handling a herd of warrior highlanders.  She commands their respect and obedience, but it is not out of fear.  They adore her as we will come to.  In this one small scene we learn that Mrs. Fitz is the heart of Castle Leoch.  She is very much like Claire, and Claire recognizes that kindred spirit.  She feels more at ease by Mrs. Fitz’s presence, and we see her regain her confidence and poise.

Probably my next favourite scene would be where Claire tends Jamie’s wounds and reveals his scars.

Jamie is obviously nervous and uncomfortable.  He doesn’t know how Claire will react and you can see his vulnerability.  Claire responds not with pity, but with compassion and empathy.  It is her heart and her healing spirit that come through in this moment.  She is being Nurse Beauchamp and it is the start of her finding her place, with Jamie, and in this world.

 

These are relationships that help shape her, help give her a sense of security, and help her to grow into the woman she is meant to be.

-S

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Temptation!  Being suddenly thrust back two hundred years in time has to be stressful on a girl, but Claire is tempted here.  Who wouldn’t be?  For a few seconds she forgets about the husband she left behind two hundred years in the future.  Being the gentleman and King of Men that he is, Jamie doesn’t take advantage of Claire’s emotional state, but rather comforts her when she breaks away in tears.  As for sexy scenes, this is about as HAWT as it gets with clothes on.

-D

OL-S1.2-Claire-and-Mrs.-Fitz-1OL-S1.2-Claire-Mrs.-Fitz-3 OL-S1.2-Claire-Mrs.-Fitz-8 OL-S1.2-Claire-and-Mrs.-Fitz-6

Mrs. Fitz is a wonderful character, and it was fun watching her and Claire build a mutual respect for each other that eventually evolves into a true friendship.

-D

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Another favorite scene is when Claire visits Jamie in the stables, presumably to check his wounds and take him lunch.  In the book we learn that Claire finds herself making excuses to visit Jamie around the castle grounds.  We know what you’re up to, Claire.  You, too, Jamie.  The mutual attraction is undeniable.

-D

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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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Mince and tatties are a favorite in most Scottish households.  Some prefer the mince without the veggies and some with the veggies, so we have included one of each.  Also, at the bottom, please note the link to click if you would like to see more variations of this beloved Scottish dish.

http://www.food.com/recipe/mince-and-tatties-19205

 

INGREDIENTSNutrition

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion until it is brown.
  2. Add in the mince and cook until well browned.
  3. Drain off the liquid.
  4. Add the carrots and oatmeal, mix well and pour in enough water to just cover.
  5. Crumble in the stock cubes, season and stir.
  6. Cover the pan and simmer the mince for about 20 minutes.
  7. Once the mince is cooked thicken the mince with about 3 teaspoons of gravy powder or cornstarch mixed with a little cold water.
  8. Serve the mince with boiled potatoes.

This is a slightly different version of mince and tatties:  Classic mince and tatties

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13091443.Simply_Special__classic_mince_and_tatties/

by Jacqueline O’Donnell

I know how much people worry about cooking for chefs but you shouldn’t as an old fashioned tea, made with great Scottish ingredients will hit the mark every time.

I prepare what I suppose you would say is fancy food daily so one of my favourite dinners, especially on a Monday is mince and tatties. However, I don’t like anything else with that: no carrots in the pot nor peas through the mince.

The only time I will add vegetables is if I have leftovers as if I bulk these up with carrots and peas then I can top it with mash and make a cottage pie.

I think mince and tatties is probably one of the first things I watched being cooked at home. I make it no different to this day …except I do slip in a wee suggestion of butter in the tatties with salt and pepper!

Scotch beef mince and Scottish grown spuds are essential and they usually make a little extra so there is an option to get seconds or to rustle it into another midweek meal.

Mince and tatties:

500g of good quality Scotch Beef mince (I prefer steak but use lean if you wish)

1 small onion, finely chopped (diced is best)

A half tablespoon of flour

250ml of good beef stock

500g of potatoes (Rooster, Desiree or King Edward), peeled and cut into even sized chunks

25g of butter (optional)

 

1 Put the potato chunks in a large pot, then pour boiling water over them. Add half a teaspoon of salt, put on a lid and simmer gently until they are absolutely tender – they will take 20-25 minutes. The way to tell whether they are ready is to pierce them with a skewer in the thickest part: the potato should not be hard in the centre. If they are slightly underdone you do get lumps.

2 Warm a heavy based pan and tip in diced onion and mince. Use a fork lightly at this stage to break up all of the mince.

3 Add the flour and stir until all the flour is absorbed. This also helps if the mince is fatty.

4 Pour over the hot beef stock and turn down heat to a light simmer for 15-20mins

5 When the potatoes are cooked, drain them. Cover them with a clean tea cloth to absorb some of the steam for about 2/3 min.

6 Mash the potatoes. I prefer to use a potato ricer for mash as it’s perfect and saves the strain of a masher.

7 Add the butter and season with salt and pepper. I prefer white pepper added carefully as opposed to seeing chunks of black pepper through a lovely white mash.

8 Taste the mince at this stage. If it needs some oomph then a dash of Worcester sauce might just lift it a bit. The gravy at this stage should just be thick and no more. We want lots of mince in a nice tasty gravy: too much gravy and a few bits of mince just won’t do. In fact, I remember my Grannie giving the boys a slice of bread to mop up or to have a piece of mince on which, to this day, still horrifies me. Whichever way you like your tatties, boiled or mashed, it has to be really nice tasty mince so make the effort for excellent quality Scotch beef mince. Have a chat to the butcher whilst there and get some good beef stock. He might even give you some beef bones for a good stock but that’s for another day.

9 Serve mash on the bottom and mince over the top in nice big warm bowls so any excess gravy gets soaked into the mash.

For more mince tatties recipes:  http://www.scottishrecipes.co.uk/mince_and_tatties_recipe.php

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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.]

 

source

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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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Outlander: Terry Discusses Keeping Track of All Those Pieces!

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By: Erin Conrad July 17, 2016

On Twitter this morning, Terry Dresbach showed fans a bit of what it takes to wrangle the tens of thousands of costume pieces Outlander has used in the past two seasons. All of the information and photos in this post are from Twitter. With a system that has been used by large costume rental houses, museums, and other facilities that house extensive collections, she put an RFID scan system in place to identify and track the pieces and their details, who has used them, and where they’re stored.

She said that as they start Season 3, about 30,000 pieces have had a bar code attached and been entered into the system, taking about 6 months. Going forward, all pieces will be entered into the system as they’re made (for Season 3, so far, though, only about 10 costumes have been created). The system was set up retroactively, however, because when the show started, the costume department only had a small space and a staff of about 8. Her staff now numbers about 70 people.

Terry says that she believes Outlander is the only show using a bar code system – she says there may be others, but she doesn’t know of any. But the huge number of individual pieces, many of which will likely be reused, made an organization system a necessity. The costume department now takes up about 20,000 square feet, including offices, workroom, storage, ageing and dyeing, fitting, fabric storage, drying (costumes get wet from filming outdoors) and more. Terry says the only comparison she can make is “to running the military. Dressing, feeding, transporting…” She said “it takes a year, and a village. This is not the local theater group.”

Costumes for extras are fit weeks before those people work, so that if shooting is done out of the Cumbernauld studios, everything is already organized before travel. Terry estimates that they have used hundreds of thousands of buttons, and have about 40,000 pieces (shoes, cuffs, jackets, etc), and outfit at least 5,000 extras per season. They make up to 6 copies of lead costumes!

The slideshow below gives you all of the basics, and some fantastic photos inside the costume storage area:

Would you like to have the chance to meet Terry – and Grant O’Rourke – in person?
Join us at Thru The Stones in December!

Follow me on Twitter: @OutlanderTIBS, @ErinConrad2 and @threeifbyspace
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Game of Thrones (23), Outlander (2): behind the 2016 Emmy nomination imbalance

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He said it himself, so it must be true. “Outlander was robbed.” Not my words – but comments made by George R.R. Martin, Game of Throneswriter/creator on the outcomes of the July 14 2016 Emmy nominations. There have been a lot of post-Emmy articles reporting snubbing and outrage appearing online in the last few days. Outlander doesn’t seem to rank, but Game of Thrones advocates are incredulous on account of only receiving six acting nominations – Sansa Stark/Sophie Turner missed out and is now being referred to as “the Leonardo Dicaprio of the Emmys.” Welcome To Our World.

Old news now, but Outlander received just two Emmy nominations for Production Design and Costume Design. However, it missed out completely in the Drama, Acting, Writing and Directing categories. Whilst it was well assumed that the incredible work of Terry Dresbach and John Gary Steele would be recognised, I can’t help thinking that this is the least condescending way to say that while we don’t rate your concept, perspective, vision, narrative, writing, acting, direction and execution, you did a worthy job of interior design and dressmaking.

You do feel for the actors particularly. Caitriona Balfe’s extraordinary “Faith” episode, Tobias Menzies in that complex dual role and Sam Heughan holding the line whilst transforming from trauma victim to powerful leader. Also a vast list of exceptional supporting and guest actors including Duncan Lacroix, Stanley Weber, Simon Cowell and Andrew Gower remained unnoticed.

At least we can throw out the myth that the Television Academy does not recognise genre shows in the Drama category that are accompanied by a fandom. If that was accurate, the Game of Thrones nomination tally would be closer to three, as opposed to twenty-three. So how do we get to the bottom of the bias against Outlander?

Let’s start with this. I recently noted this comment:

Betty

So much for democracy and free speech. Not only was Betty bullied and abused for her recommendation, but she was tracked down and intimidated to the point of withdrawing her vote. If “Betty” was a “Bill” or “Ben” or “Bob”, do you think the vitriol would have been the same? Despite this being a “mock” vote where people could submit personal predictions for the Emmys, the messaging can be replicated a thousand times over and speaks to a broader backlash against women vocalising that is reminiscent of the 1970s and 80s (and back beyond).

To me, there is one very clear distinction between Game of Thrones andOutlander and it is all to do with point-of-view. Kelsey McKinney recently wrote a very reasoned, well researched article on how the representation of women on Game of Thrones comes through the perspective of male writers, backed up by some telling statistics. The female roles are written by men, and so speak and act through an unwavering masculine point-of-view which has full control over the character arcs.

The article also pointed out that women’s contribution to GoT tends to be that of production support as opposed to the creative thinking/directional roles. This has trended differently across seasons, but take note of the ground-breaking commentary that ensued:

William

How Shakespearian.

Outlander is almost the opposite. The base perspective is unequivocally female but is always open to shift and is exclusive of no-one. The writing, directing and production roles seem to be balanced and shared between men and women. Outlander has a very humanistic interpretation of the past and vision for the future that is informed by a real history. And I think, ironically, it is the positivity of Outlander – perpetuated by a significant number of women – that has so many Television Academy members disengaging from it. Is it because other productions are so bleak in their outlook that despair has almost become part of the selection criteria?

Rewind to 1859. George Eliot was an English novelist in the Victorian era. Except George was actually Mary Ann Evans. She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure her works would be taken seriously. Female authors were published under their own names during Eliot’s life, but she wanted to escape the stereotype of women only writing lighthearted romances. Sound familiar? I’ve always thought that with the advent of online commentary that enables anonymity, it would be an interesting social experiment for women to assume male identities online in order to be taken seriously. If Outlandersupporters vocalised via a male pseudonym, would it make a difference? Sadly, yes.

And how do we interpret the recent emergence of male voices speaking up in support of Outlander? We’ve started to hear George R. R. Martin, John Doyle and notable other men publicly comment on the quality and authenticity of the Outlander production. A welcome relief to be honest, because one male voice seems to equate to one thousand female voices and it is exhausting. Thank God there are some people around to provide balance and authority because I for one feel destined to assume stereotype, take a valium and a go for a good lie-down.

The #BlackLivesMatter campaign captured a great photo (courtesy Afro News) from the protest in London last week:

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I feel much the same. Frankly, I would rather be spending my time writing on other projects but I also find it hard to turn my back on the politics of this issue because the poor behaviour is symptomatic of an industry with a terrible gender bias, severe lack of accountability and no appetite to invoke basic protocols and guidelines.

It is not about trophies, or individuals, or production companies – it is about challenging the well documented blinkered thinking of Hollywood and taking on the cowardly online assassin that is the modern day aggressor against women speaking up and registering their thoughts. Don’t tolerate it. Never let anyone mess with your vote, regardless of what it is for.

All this prejudice because Outlander is simply a story told from a female point-of-view.

Shame on you Hollywood.

© Michelle Glasson 2016

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