The Piano: Michael Nyman's mesmerising melody

The Piano: Michael Nyman's mesmerising melody
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The influential minimalist composer Michael Nyman created the score for Jane Campion's Oscar-winning film, The Piano (1993).

'The Heart Asks Pleasure' is the best known piece from the soundtrack. It reappropriates the melody from 'Gloomy Winter's Noo Awa'’ (1808), a popular Scottish folk song.

Inflected by minimalist techniques, it can be characterised by a lilting and mesmerising melody that soars over the top of a relentless ostinato. 

This piece, as with others throughout the film, functions as the voice of the lead character, Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter). 

Ada is sold into marriage to a New Zealand frontiersman named Alisdair Stewart (Sam Neill), and has not spoken a word since she was six. She expresses her inner feelings and torments through playing the piano.

In this sense, Nyman’s music becomes a significant character or voice within the film.