Philip Glass – Koyaanisqatsi

Published on 11 April 2019 by

      Steven McDonald: ‘Parodied more than once, derided, blessed, hailed as a wonder, and decried as a travesty, this (abbreviated) soundtrack is capable of generating fascination and annoyance, often simultaneously. The truth is that this isn’t merely minimalism — it’s expressive minimalism, with some impressive nuances. Given the space to breathe, the music here is breathtaking, and becomes even more so when properly linked, in its full form, with the film’s visuals. The later Powaqqatsi did not live up to the first film in either a visual or musical respect.’

      Wikipedia: The film’s soundtrack by Glass was released in 1983, after the release of the film. Even though the amount of music in the film was almost as long as the film itself, the soundtrack release was only 46 minutes long and featured only selections from the film’s pieces. In 1998, Glass rerecorded the album through Nonesuch Records with a length of 73 minutes, 21 seconds. The rerecording of the album featured two additional tracks from the film, as well as extended versions of previous tracks from the original album. The album was released as a Philip Glass album titled Koyaanisqatsi, rather than a soundtrack to the film. The music has become so popular that the Philip Glass Ensemble has toured the world, playing the music for Koyaanisqatsi live in front of the movie screen.
The opening for “The Grid” begins with slow sustained notes on brass instruments. The music builds in speed and dynamics throughout the piece’s 21 minutes. When the piece is at its fastest, it is characterized by a synthesizer playing the piece’s bass line ostinato. Glass’s music for the film is a highly recognizable example of the minimalist school of composition, which is characterized by heavily repeated figures, simple structures, and a tonal (although not in the traditional common practice sense of the word) harmonic language. Glass was one of the first composers to employ minimalism in film scoring, paving the way for many future composers of that style.


Philip Glass – Koyaanisqatsi Tracklist

  1.  Koyaanisqatsi – 0:00  
  2. Organic – 3:25 
  3. Cloudscape – 11:12 
  4. Resource – 15:44 
  5. Vessels – 22:23 
  6. Pruit Igoe – 30:27 
  7. The Grid – 38:18 
  8. Prophecies – 59:44

Philip Glass - Koyaanisqatsi

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