Michael Nyman's mesmerising melody in The Piano

Michael Nyman's mesmerising melody in The Piano
Access fees

The influential minimalist composer Michael Nyman created the score for Jane Campion's Oscar-winning film, The Piano. 'The Heart Asks Pleasure' is the best known piece from the soundtrack. The piece reappropriates  the melody from 'Gloomy Winter's Noo Awa’, a popular Scottish folk song. Inflected by minimalist techniques, it can be characterised by a lifting and mesmerising melody that soars over the top of a relentless ostinato. 

This piece, as with others throughout the film, functions as the unique voice of the lead character, Ada McGrath (Holy Hunter).  Ada is sold into marriage to a New Zealand frontiersman named Alisdair Stewart (Sam Neil), 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.

Production company:
Saddleback Productions
Director and writer:
Jane Campion
Michael Nyman