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Outlander’s opening music and credits get a makeover in episode 9 – A N I T H
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Outlander’s opening music and credits get a makeover in episode 9

Outlander’s opening music and credits get a makeover in episode 9


This story contains spoilers for Outlander Season 3, episode 9, titled “The Doldrums.”

Bear McCreary’s sweeping score has always been an integral part of Outlander, effortlessly transporting us across decades and countries with just a few elegant notes, weaving together compositions that can instantly evoke the dramatic chaos of battle or the tender intimacy of a kiss even if we were watching with our eyes closed.

But McCreary’s work isn’t limited to the episodes themselves; while most TV shows stick with one main title theme throughout a series’ run, McCreary and showrunner Ron Moore have been devoted to evolving the sound of the show throughout the seasons, beginning with the opening credits. 

“It’s the biggest change we’ve ever done on the main title,” McCreary tells Mashable. “Starting with episode 9 to the end, the score of the show changes radically.”

While the main titles will always be anchored by Raya Yarbrough’s haunting rendition of “The Skye Boat Song,” observant fans will have noticed that the musical influences in the opening credits have shifted over the years. Season 1 was unabashedly Scottish, utilizing Celtic instrumentation like the robust sounds of bagpipes and drums, while Season 2 had a decidedly more Baroque influence as Jamie and Claire traveled to France, using a string instrument called the viola de gamba for a distinctly Parisian sound. 

But Season 3 has featured the biggest musical departure yet. The credits for episode 301 debuted without the Highland bagpipes that feel so quintessentially Scottish, and although we didn’t know it when the season began, this subtle change hinted at the momentous journey Claire and Jamie would soon embark upon: “we’re going onto the high seas; we’re going to Jamaica — we are leaving Scotland behind,” McCreary says. Now, with episode 309, the percussion becomes much more pronounced to channel a breezy, Caribbean vibe as Claire and Jamie set sail in pursuit of Young Ian.

“I have pitched this on so many shows. Nobody ever wants to do it. When Ron even remotely suggested it, I was all in,” he says of the drastic main title change. “I used Afro-Cuban percussion as a way to take us to Jamaica, to take us to these islands. It’s very raw and loose and it feels like this crazy drum circle just suddenly took over the orchestra. It’s really fun.”

But no matter where Claire or Jamie venture to, McCreary promises, “the bagpipes and the Scottish and Celtic musical influence is very much rooted in Jamie and Claire. That will always be their sound. They could go to Mars, and I’ll still use the penny whistle or the uilleann bagpipes or the fiddle. It’s like a blanket for us, we get to wrap up in it.”

Outlander airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz. For more insight into McCreary’s work, check out his blog.

Watch: ‘Outlander’ sets sail for Jamaica 

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Anith Gopal
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