Philip Glass: Morning Passages

Context

Composed as part of the award-winning soundtrack for the 2002 film The Hours, Philip Glass’ Morning Passages is a hypnotic work for solo piano. Glass’ soundtrack won a BAFTA for ‘Best Film Music, alongside receiving nominations for an Academy Award for ‘Best Original Score’, a Golden Globe for ‘Best Original Score’ and a Grammy Award for ‘Best Score for a Motion Picture’. 

For the film, Michael Riesman and Nico Muhly arranged Glass’ music for solo piano. In 2003 the score for The Hours was published as a 64-page book. Morning Passages is the second work on the soundtrack, and is one of the most popular on the album. 

 

The Music

With a fluctuating chordal quaver accompaniment, the flowing quaver movement in the right hand exploits repetition. Every two bars the harmony shifts slightly, which keeps your interest high as you’re unsure where Glass will move to next. As the hands interlock with one another, the melody soars above. The pace is steady throughout and the evenness of the how the hands move creates a really pleasing outcome. 

Glass fluctuates between 4/4 and 3/4 time, creating subtle shifts in rhythm, but without ever breaking the fluidity of the music. As time goes on the music stays even, but the harmony begins shifting at a quicker pace. Morning Passages highlights Glass’ reliance on the ethos of minimalism. The repeated patterns are really effective and give off a sense of continuity and also nostalgic listener for the audience. 

 

Final Thoughts

Philip Glass’ award-winning soundtrack for The Hours is enigmatic, classy and very effective throughout. Morning Passages is delicate in touch, but big in impact. The continual flow of quavers creates a beautiful sea of music, perfect to wake up to every morning. 

 

Happy Reading!

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