Music by Philip Glass
Strings, Picc/fl.*, Fl.*, Cl., Ob/Eh,* Eh.*, Bcl., Bn., Hn 1, Hn 2, Hn 3, Hn 4, Tpt 1, Tpt , Tpt 3, Tpt 4, Trb 1, Trb 2, Trb 3, B. Trb, tuba, Harp Plus: solo cello, solo mezzo-soprano, choir, tons of percussion including tympani, vibes, marimba, and xylophone; keyboards (piano, celeste, synth); didgeridoo; soprano and tenor saxophones.
*Note: picc doubles on flute, plus flute; oboe doubles on English horn, plus English horn.
With Naqoyqatsi, Godfrey Reggio’s “Qatsi” trilogy is finally completed. As each of the films was imbued with a distinct visual language, the music in like manner follows a development characteristic and distinctive to each film.
The score for Koyaanisqatsi (1982) grew out of the instrumental style typical of the ensemble of keyboards, winds, and voice for whom I had been composing for some years. The movement of the film from the organic images of the American Southwest to the hi-tech accelerated life of modern North American cities was reflected in my version of a modern synthesized music.
With Powaqqatsi (1987), we see the indigenous communities of the Southern Hemisphere impacted by rapid transformation through its encounters with the Northern industrialized world. Accordingly, one hears echoes of India, Africa, and South America in this ‘world music’ score. The use of percussion instruments from around the world further enhance this impression.
In Naqoyqatsi (2002), Reggio turns to a visual language heavily dependent on digital, synthesized images. With this film, the “civilized violence” in the narrative of the film goes beyond anything seen in the two preceding films. In this case, I chose a contrasting language for the music, composing music for a large (acoustic) symphonic ensemble featuring a solo cello throughout. My instinct was to balance the quite startling effect of the synthetically composed images with a sound world of “natural” timbres. Furthermore, the solo cello – played superbly by YoYo Ma – quickly emerges as the “voice” of the music, lending the score an overall human dimension.
The orchestra provides some kind of entrance, like a doorway, into the film. I feared that if the piece were too abstract people wouldn’t connect with it. For that reason, I went with a very acoustic, symphonic piece that could be played by a real human orchestra.
— Philip Glass
Dunvagen Music Publishers