The Music in YES

The YES original motion picture soundtrack is available on Deutsche Grammophon's Edge Music label.

To purchase the soundtrack visit the store at

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From ORLANDO to THE TANGO LESSON and onward, director Sally Potter is much admired for the soundtracks she produces for her films. With the score for YES she weaves diverse music - including blues, classical and latin tracks from legendary composers and performers - into a compelling listening experience. As with her previous work, there is also original music composed by Potter in collaboration with the celebrated guitarist Fred Frith.


"'Yes' is gorgeous and stylish for sure, and Potter in collaboration with guitarist Fred Frith composed for it an aptly seductive, sinuous score."
Kevin Thomas, "LA Times"

"With its affair between an American woman and a Lebanese exile in London, film-maker Sally Potter's latest feature "YES" offers rich pickings for international sampling. The film's spoken entirely in verse and there's a similar rhythm to the scoring, whether it's Philip Glass's limpid "Paru River", Guillermo Portabales's Cuban guajira or the vigorous duduk of Yeghish Manoukian. Add in the Kronos Quartet, Tom Waits, Satie, Fred Firth, Chopin and BB King and it all makes for a stimulating journey that anchors the internationalist concerns of this fascinating timely film."
Gareth Evans, “Time Out”, London

The YES soundtrack album features the following tracks:

PARU RIVER - Philip Glass

TEN LONG YEARS - BB King and Eric Clapton

FAWN - Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan

12/12 - The Kronos Quartet

IGUAZU - Gustavo Santaollala

As well as music from Chopin, Brahms, Rachmaninoff and others.

Sally Potter writes about the soundtrack:

When writing a film script I often find myself playing a piece of music again and again. Something in the piece guides me to where I am trying to go; or echoes a quality in the subject matter or its emerging form. In the case of YES the piece was Paru River composed by Philip Glass and played by the Brazilian group Uakti. As this screenplay is written in verse it may have been the insistence of the rhythms in Paru River that resonated so strongly, or perhaps the reason lies in its name; for the language of the film is intended to flow, also, like a cinematic stream of consciousness.

I wasn't sure how much music the finished film would sustain, in addition to the "music" of the spoken word. It took some work in the cutting room to find the necessary balance. But in the end the pieces chosen (or rather, found, by trial and error: an intuitive process) seemed themselves to enter into a dialogue with the image: sometimes going with the energy of the scene, sometimes against it. However, the apparently eclectic final choice of pieces of music in the score, ranging from Chopin to Satie reinterpreted by Claude Chalhoub, to Café Tacuba with the Kronos Quartet (and with Paru River returned to several times) has its own hidden logic. Some of the pieces reflect the different worlds the characters inhabit (from English classical interiors to the streets of Beirut and Havana) or their secret dreams (Sam Neill playing "air guitar" to B.B. King and Clapton); there is a mixture of Western and Eastern modalities which echo the key themes of the film (Gonzalo Grau's dynamic arrangement of El Carretero must be the first time a duduk (a traditional Armenian instrument with a 1,500 year history, similar to a cylindrical wooden oboe) has featured in a salsa); and there is in all of them a feeling of flow, and a kind of yearning.

Osvaldo Golijov generously went through my choices with me one snowy Christmas in Boston, and suggested the addition of the beautiful music of Gustavo Santaolalla. Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan kindly gave permission for me to re-arrange their exquisite piece Fawn for the final scene in the film. For the newly-recorded pieces (Pink Shoes, Run, Sweet) I collaborated (for the fourth time on a film score) with the inimitable Fred Frith.

To all the musicians and composers who appear in this soundtrack, and who therefore find themselves to be musical travelling companions with each other, I offer my thanks for their supreme musicianship, their generosity, and their help.

Sally Potter

January 2005