Voices Over the Water features music from the Highlands, Hebrides, and Lowlands, as well as Canada and U.S.

The richness of the Gaelic musical tradition is illustrated by a variety of songs we have been able to include in this film. We also explore a diversity of American music, some of which shows a Scottish and/or Highland influence.

Scottish Music

From Scotland, we are delighted to include songs by Runrig and Skipinnish, as well as several bands under the Greentrax label, such as Shooglenifty, Fiddler’s Bid, Peatbog Faeries, Wendy Stewart and Mac Umba. Ian Green also introduced us to the music of Diamh which has added a fantastic burst of energy, enhancing scenes every time we hear them. The Highland Divas sang for us during an on-camera interview and you can hear their stunning rendition of The Skye Boat Song in the program along with their commentary on Scottish and Gaelic music. Alasdair Fraser’s beautiful recording of Bannockburn gives an added dimension to the telling of the Highland Clearances – the fiddle and bagpipes are truly majestic. We were most fortunate to meet the Highlands performer, Carrie Forbes, who demonstrates the Gaelic tradition of puirt a bheul (mouth music), in addition to providing us with some lovely renditions of traditional Gaelic songs.

American Music

Gaelic songs and rhythms include those sung by the much-lauded Grammy-winning performer, Rhiannon Giddens. Rhiannon’s heritage is part Gaelic and part African American which adds a tremendous relevance to our discussion of interaction between Highlanders and African enslaved people in North Carolina, as we hear her Gaelic song, S Iomadh Rud Tha Dhith Orm.

Na Foggaraich shared with us several Gaelic songs that speak specifically to the American experience of Gaelic people.

Rhiannon Giddens by Ebru Yildiz

Photo credit: Ebru Yildiz

Calum Pasqua is a first generation immigrant with a more recent story to tell of his mother’s encouragement of Scottish fiddle-playing to help her stay connected to her homeland.

We dig into the question of whether American Country music is influenced by Scottish folk music, and we hear the Kentucky band, Hammertowne’s instrumental, Lights and Sirens, to take us there.

The filmmakers were introduced to wonderful Gaelic songs by Catherine-Anne MacPhee by our associate producer, June Skinner Sawyers. Her gentle, sweet voice lift every moment we hear it.

Catherine-Anne MacPhee

Matt Tooni’s recording of The Scottish Trader, and other Cherokee-influenced music references the multi-cultural roots of many in the Scottish diaspora of the U.S. Michael Longrider, provided flute and drums as a backdrop to a captured discussion of Native American and Scottish shared heritage, particularly those in the Northeast U.S. where Michael is also from.

Brandon and Derek Fiechter’s composition of The Lone Wanderer informs a section on the shared experience of cattle droving in the Highlands of Scotland and in the American West.

Auld Lang Syne

We also wanted to explore the cult of Robert Burns. Someone described Auld Lang Syne as the world’s national anthem, and it certainly seems as if everyone is familiar with it, as it is sung around the globe on New Year’s Eve to ring in the changes as everyone comes together arm in arm for that celebratory moment. We are very pleased to include Kate and James Taylor’s beautiful version as well as a very moving instrumental version by a trio of young musicians, Kevin Matthieson, Bryan Matthieson and Alison Billias. Kate says it best – “Burns really nailed it with those lyrics, about wanted to connect and remember.”

Charles Denler

Original Score

Tying together this selection of songs, with their various motifs and tempos, is the stunning work of Charles David Denler, composer the original music for Voices Over the Water.

He has won several Emmys for past productions, and scored Guy Perrotta’s Emmy-winning documentary, Mystic Voices: The Story of the Pequot War.

Charles David Denler


With over two hundred film and television scores and thousands of concerts to his credit, Charles David Denler’s Emmy Award-winning fusion of Classical and Modern Composition can be heard all over the world. Charles has received critical acclaim and Emmy Awards for Bentley Creek, Beyond the Medal of Honor, and Wild Mustang Suite. He was awarded Jury Choice Gold Medals for his score to the Richard Gere film, Teenage Witness, and I Am at the Park City Film Music Festival. In 2011 Charles received the Ribaut Award for Excellence In Music For Film at the Beaufort International Film Festival and in 2015 a Gold Medal at the Houston WorldFest for his symphony, Portraits of Colorado. His album, Moment At Dawn, won a gold medal at the 2016 Global Music Awards and his orchestral suite, One Drop Became An Ocean, became a 2017 chart-topping worldwide radio hit staying in the Top 10 for twelve consecutive weeks. His album, Wild Mustang Suite, received the Gold Medal at the 2018 Global Music Awards for Best Neoclassical Album. In 2022 Charles won his fourth EMMY and a One World Music Radio Award for his orchestral suite, Portraits In Season.

Charles’ music has been featured with artists such as Creed, Cyndi Lauper, and Paul Simon. Films and programs featuring Charles’ music include Disney, National Geographic, The History Channel, PBS, main themes for the STARZ! Kids’ Television Network, music for Animal Planet, Discovery, Honda, Coca Cola, Oprah, American Chopper, Dirty Jobs, Dateline, NBC, NASA, the Colorado Rockies, the New York Yankees, and many feature films.

Concert works include Portraits of Colorado, An American Symphony No. 1, a commission by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and Portraits In Season, Suite for Piano & Orchestra, premiered with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. Charles has also conducted and played piano with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Charles has lectured at film festivals and at universities all across the United States, teaching composition, music theory, and music production.