Violin sound in The last of the Mohicans OST

Edited: January 11, 2019, 7:10 AM · Hi, I'm sure most of you know the OST of "The last of the Mohicans", which includes a very famous violin tune, "The Kiss". I've recently listened to it and realized that the violin sound is not that obvious. It sounds way more malleable and flexible than a violin, as if it was played by a violin with and Hindu twist in the design (lots of wide glissando mordents). I don't know, it sound really weird to me, to the point I was thinking while listening that may be it was not performed with a classical regular violin.

So the question is... Is that sound accomplished with a regular violin?
Is it then the way you play it (very different from a classical way) what creates that sound?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er4zaUDOCOY


Replies (15)

January 11, 2019, 8:46 AM · This is played fiddle-style, but there is no formal difference between a fiddle and violin. However note that there are wildly different sounding violins out there. Moreover, and not in the least, this is a recording, of a solo fiddle on top of an orchestra accompaniment, and the fiddle solo sound has certainly been edited and "colored" so to speak. So actually there is no way of knowing how this has actually sounded to someone who stood next to the soloist when he was playing this in the studio. Anyway more generally I understand your question and I have often myself wondered about fiddlers how it comes that their violins sound so much more...how should I describe it? You write "mallable, flexible", I would say "wooden, nasal, ..." I am not sure how to say it. Then again also in classical violin recordings, notably string quartets, you often hear totally different violin sounds.
January 11, 2019, 8:49 AM · It's just a regular violin, but played with Scottish fiddle technique, which sort of imitates a bagpipe. It's fun to play, but those triplets are really hard to master. Here's a video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfwReZUXgAI

January 11, 2019, 11:34 AM · Yes, yes, exactly. I said malleable and flexible because it's like comparing a classical guitar "violin" with a sitar "fiddle", in my opinion. It sound a little like that, as if the violin were twisting the notes and itself may be, hahahaha, in the process.

So, is that fiddle technique simply 3 or 4 chained mordents?
Why does it sound so glissando then?

January 11, 2019, 11:42 AM · I'd say those are Irish "rolls". Five notes that sound like three:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRqwdzQ6ITc

January 11, 2019, 12:02 PM · This sounds like a roll as Julie O'Connor mentioned. Though it seems a bit over used here in comparison to the ways I've heard it played. It's generally used like seasoning and not the whole dish.
Edited: January 11, 2019, 4:51 PM · Right. It's a straight-forward Irish-style jig played smoothly but with too many rolls and slurs, & not enough grit, so it doesn't sound very authentic to my ears. Quite hollywood, though, and over-produced. As Jean observed, there has been some editing and colouring of the sound, no doubt to homogenize it. However, it sounds to me like a "regular" violin, whatever that might be, with with some kind of electric pickup. Anybody know who was playing here?
Edited: January 11, 2019, 5:21 PM · Some places are Irish rolls (left hand) and there are some Scottish triplets (right hand) tossed in too. It’s a bit weird to mix those.
Edited: January 11, 2019, 7:18 PM · Julie, I hadn't noticed those right-hand triplets, but I would call them "cuts", being from the Cape Breton tradition (which is rooted in Scottish traditional music). I agree, it's a bit weird.
January 12, 2019, 1:43 PM · The original tune is called "The Gael", and is played by Scottish composer and fiddler Dougie MacLean. This version pre-dates the movie:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ2MGloZV4U

January 14, 2019, 1:25 PM · Thanks K.B. definitely Gael, by Dougie Maclean. It is also somewhat similar to "Virgin Queen", from the Playford Dancing Master, 1702, (# 502 in the Faber edition). Irish-style rolls are on the first finger are done 1-3-1-0-1 in the middle of the note, not 1-2-1-0-1 at the end of the note. As for the timbre, that's what you get when a skilled player uses ordinary equipment, no vibrato, and a simple attitude while playing, not trying to impress anyone.
Edited: January 14, 2019, 9:16 PM · Julie said... "Some places are Irish rolls (left hand) and there are some Scottish triplets (right hand) tossed in too. It’s a bit weird to mix those."

Irish fiddlers often mix rolls of various types with so-called "bowed triplets" (I say so-called because rhythmically they are two 32nds and a 16th). The right hand ornament is not exclusively a Scottish thing at all. Though rolls are generally more of an Irish thing, 'tis true. Here, the constant rolling is weirdly heavy, and I think it's overdone, but MacLean is a Scottish fiddler. You were asking the other day about favorite fiddle players, and Martin Hayes was suggested as an Irish inspiration. He excels in all Irish ornamentation, but in particular his right-hand bowed ornaments are executed with an especially light and breathy touch.

January 15, 2019, 11:13 AM · A lot of what you hear on movie sound tracks may be something like Bolder Sounds Fiddle instead of a real fiddle. In fact that track sounds a lot to me like the first track in the SoundCloud example"Kiss".

https://www.boldersounds.com/index.php?main_page=product_music_info&cPath=3_18&products_id=136

The examples are sub par compared to real fiddle players in my opinion,attacks sound weak and not quite there on some. Still fairly convincing to anyone who doesn't know it isn't real.I have this library.I haven't used it in a recording. It is educational in that one can hear how these are played. I might use it at some point if I can't get a recording I like. It really isn't easier than playing the real thing when you consider that you need to play the tune and hit the ornament key at just the right time unless you add that later.
Remember the old commercial, is it real or is it Memorex? I think the thought applies here.

Edited: January 15, 2019, 11:44 AM · The film is from 1992, I don't think computer generated OST were a thing in that time, were they?

When did composers of OST start to use computers instead of real musicians? Like middle 2000?
I'm not sure.

I don't mean that computer generated sounds weren't used at that time, I'm focusing on orchestra work, emulating a whole orchestra via computer.

January 15, 2019, 11:47 AM · That's interesting. It sounds like samples though--it really does--especially at the end of the notes. I may complain about MacLean's clumsy rolls, but the OP does actually sound like a fiddle. Boldersounds would never in a million years replace my live violin in my recordings--I could grab a ribbon mic and play it on a fiddle before I had figured out how to do the part on my keyboard, but I see what you mean.
Edited: January 15, 2019, 1:04 PM · @Paul N. I can't say if that was a real fiddle or not. Good point. Maybe it wasn't. They did have orchestra emulations back then but violin/fiddle samples weren't as far along.

@paul smith, I agree, I would only add that the developer in this case doesn't entirely understand his product when it comes to the way a violinist looks at it. He should have sharpened those bow attacks and endings up in the software more. He could have done that but didn't because he isn't a fiddler.He admitted in the video he likes a softer sound with less bow noise. This runs counter to how most fiddlers want to sound.

When in composition mode many of these composers don't have the time to stop in the middle of a large mix, pull a guitar(or violin) off the wall, mic it up and record it. It's faster and easier for them to simply pull a library.In midi everything can be manipulated. If they make a small mistake in audio it might add a lot more time to their work. Since they are often paid based on time constraints this is what they tend to do, or so I've been told.

I'm pretty sure you could run rings around the sample library with no problem. I always prefer the real thing if possible.It's mainly great for ideas on the fly because I won't need to constantly pick up a violin while I'm mixing three or four other parts to it.I haven't actually used it yet. Not sure how much I will.I played with it some. It wasn't as much fun as playing a real violin.


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