Koyaanesqatsi & The IBM Glass Engine


Having just completed my first video with anything like a narrative I started to contemplate my next masterpiece. Some may say that, following the four minute Youtube video “The Other Floor”, my choice of remaking Koyaanisqatsi is overly ambitious but I remain optimistic and am preparing to record my friend’s 6 kids aged between 4 and 7 chanting “Koyaanisqatsi” at the top of their lungs after Christmas dinner while their parents are doing the washing up. Note to self to remember to take audio recorder at Christmas.

In preparation for this I thought I’d better get the main theme of Philip Glass’s masterpiece loaded into my music software. I plugged in the MIDI keyboard, selected church organ and bashed a few keys. The main disadvantage I have when playing church organ in Steinberg Sequel is my inability to play any kind of musical instrument to any degree whatsoever. All my attempts sounded overly jaunty and I realised I needed help.

A quick perusal of the web revealed a demonstration on how to play piano like Philip Glass by the weirdly zealous Torley. Very impressive but it didn’t get me very far.

It did however give me a clue. Torley claimed that all Glass music is based on Chord progressions so I Wiki’d chord progression and discovered that “a chord progression is a series of musical chords, or chord changes that “aims for a definite goal” of establishing (or contradicting) a tonality founded on a key, root or tonic chord.”

Obviously rational investigation was getting me nowhere and I reverted back to searching for a youtube video demonstrating the buttons to push and came across the more melancholic, but equally mystifying Koyaanisqatsi & Prophecies – Organ by oldfm88. Again, very good but too dark to see what’s happening at the keyboard.

Torley had suggested that Philip Glass’s work consisted of no more than difference serious of chord progressions. While I cannot comment on this I did discover some software named IBM Glass Engine purporting to be able to locate any Philip Glass music by moving a series of sliders representing Joy, Sorrow, Intensity, Density and Velocity.

All very interesting but I am no closer to being able to compose and play music like Philip Glass. What I needed was the whole of the music from Koyaanesqatsi programmed into Steinberg Sequel, then saved and made available on The Internet for me to downland. Surely that’s not too much to ask. I didn’t find that but I did find a video showing the buttons to push.

OK, that’s the music sorted out. Now I just need to get some filming done. Perhaps Christmas day will provide some raw material for that too.


One comment

  1. I’m sure it will be a masterpiece !
    Thanks for introducing me to Philip Glass

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