Sunday, May 09, 2010

"The Gael" from Last of the Mohicans

I feel in love with the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack my senior year of college. There is a beautiful celtic reel played on a fiddle in one scene, and the reel reappears later during a chase scene.

A few years later, I was in the Scottish Highlands making the obligatory pilgrimage to Loch Ness and making my way through the very touristy Official Loch Ness Monster Exhibit in Drumnadrochit. The museum sucks you in with the promise that it's about the monster... But it's really a serious look at the ecology of the largest body of fresh water in the UK, with occasional references back to the "mystery." The science lesson is accompanied by a soundtrack too, by Scottish musician Dougie Maclean. I turned a corner and found myself staring at a highlander mannequin -- and the reel from Last of the Mohicans played on an electric fiddle!

I'm still trying to figure out how the music originally intended to evoke the history of Loch Ness, titled "The Gael," ended up in Last of the Mohicans, a movie about the French and Indian War in America's original frontier.

Not long after my visit to Drumnadrochit, I was on the Isle of Skye. This was also a pilgrimage of sorts. I intended to visit the mythic site of the school at which the Irish hero Cuchulain learned his fighting skills. I found a pub that night, and was treated to a young fiddler playing
"The Gael."

I'm not the only one to fall in love with this piece of music. It has been rearranged for many other instruments, including the bagpipes and guitar. It's a popular piece for celtic revival bands and renn fair musicians.

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