Trackpacking: Soundtracks Edition

by Keith Savage · 7 comments

The Symbol of Braveheart

Trackpacking is a recurring series highlighting musicians that inspire me to travel.

If there were any questions about whether or not I’m a card-carrying nerd, let this post dispel those doubts. I admit it. I embrace it! I may or may not be a member of the ultra-secret Illuminerdi, but perhaps you could have guessed that by now. Fantasy worlds have always been my favorite places to travel to, so I think it’s time I share some of my favorite travel soundtracks on Trackpacking.

Music is a powerful way to alter the experience of travel. Before every trip, I spend hours choosing musicians and making playlists for my iPhone so that I have the tools to enhance and change moods. Driving through the highlands of Scotland is a visual extravaganza, but turn on The Lord of the Rings soundtrack and the total experience is catapulted to epic heights. Similarly, a little Eluvium in the headphones while looking out over the waters of Mull goes a long way toward reaching some emotional kernel of truth. Above all, music is an anchor to the present moment. Soundtracks, in particular, excel at this. Let’s look at three of my favorites for travel.


James Horner’s Braveheart soundtrack might be one of the best soundtracks ever written. Its relation to Scottish history certainly doesn’t hurt. These songs have been in my consciousness since 1995, and every time I hear “The Battle of Stirling” or “Wallace Courts Murron” I can’t help but think of returning to Scotland. Horner’s compositions take their cue from traditional Scottish folk songs and instruments and elevate them to levels of the epic matched only by Scotland’s natural beauty. The encapsulation of the country’s soul in the music of Braveheart is breathtaking. Don’t fight the urge to listen to this soundtrack while you’re in Scotland – it truly adds another dimension to the experience. Besides, it’s not like you’re going to blog about it.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

I’m going to admit something publicly that most people would bury in their subconscious, hoping the memory and shame would simply disappear with time. I saw The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in the theater…11 (eleven) times. I understand this is far beyond obsessive behavior, but I mention it because the thing that drew me back over and over, besides the movie’s amazing story, directing, and cinematography, was Howard Shore’s incomprehensibly spectacular soundtrack. And not just the music, but the way it married to the scenes of the movie. Guess what? These songs marry to travel experiences just as well. I had this soundtrack going while I hiked the hills around Dunkeld in Perthshire, and there were moments where I lost perspective (in a good way). The Cairngorms are to the north, right? Or is that the Misty Mountains.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Jeremy Soule, the composer of the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim soundtrack, should win a grammy. This game soundtrack would be right at home among cinematic entrants. Not only does Skyrim present some of the best medieval/viking age period music I’ve ever heard, it presents four albums’ worth of songs. The scale of Soule’s endeavor is incredible, and he’s been doing it for years as the composer of other games including those in the Elder Scrolls series. Don’t be put off by the fact that this music was composed for a video game; it is stunning in its own right and will make for an excellent kick to your travels. You can buy the soundtrack directly from Mr. Soule here.

Pack These Tracks

I recommend that you pack these soundtracks in their entirety, but here are a few tracks to give you a taste.

Create a Soundtrack Moment

  • Duck the city and go for a hike in the hills.
  • Find some space with a view beneath a big sky.
  • The Alps, the Grand Canyon, Iguazú Falls – impress yourself with natural grandeur.

Photo by MarkyBon via Flickr/Creative Commons

JoAnnaNo Gravatar February 29, 2012 at 4:58 PM

We have such similar taste in music. You basically just wrote about my favorite music for flight travel.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 29, 2012 at 6:01 PM

It’s always nice to find someone who shares the same taste in music. Share some of your favorites with me – I’m always looking for new music.

Australia travelerNo Gravatar February 27, 2012 at 8:03 AM

The whole Lord of the Rings soundtrack is amazing! No wonder Howard Shore won an Academy Award for it, that man is a musical genius!
About Braveheart soundtrack only that I still get the goosebumps whenever I hear just one note of that music!
I really like your taste in music BTW! 🙂

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 27, 2012 at 8:11 AM

Yes, the entire trilogy of Lord of the Rings soundtracks are incredible and cohesive. Glad to hear you like my suggestions – be sure to check out the rest of my Trackpacking articles then.

KenNo Gravatar February 22, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Really love Battle and Courtship tracks from Braveheart. I’m tempted to buy the movie DVD and watch it monthly. Have you heard Hymn of the Sea from Titanic? Some nice pipes.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 22, 2012 at 10:02 PM

Um, probably. I’m not a big Titanic fan, though.

KenNo Gravatar February 23, 2012 at 12:16 PM

i’ve never seems the Titanic but it looked like it would be a bit sappy. Hymn is an instrumental and has that dark celtic sound.

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