Michael Nyman: The Heart Asks Pleasure First

Context

Michael Nyman’s solo piano piece The Heart Asks Pleasure First was composed as part of the 1993 film The Piano. On the album soundtrack Nyman plays all the piano parts himself, with this album being his twentieth album release. The soundtrack was performed by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nyman. 

The soundtrack was nominated for both a Golden Globe for Best Original Score and the BAFTA Award for Best Score. The music on the soundtrack is gentle and nostalgic, and doesn’t impose on the film. The score has remained popular since its conception, with The Heart Asks Pleasure First remaining one of the most famous tracks.

 

The Music

The Heart Asks for Pleasure First is based around simple repetitions of phrases. The piece is in 6/8 and is based around semiquaver patterns. The phrases are emphasised by a simple dotted quaver rhythm in the top line, which adds a glint of melody into the piece. The music fluctuates between 6/8 and 9/8 which subtlely changes the grouping of the notes, making it the music sway through the music. 

 

Final Thoughts

The style homes back to minimalism and the idea that less is more. The repetitiveness of the piece can be used as an aid to relaxation. The work is peaceful and the simplicity of it makes it all the more effective in its message.

 

Happy Reading!

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