Ritual Dance (from the film Altered States, 1981)
For orchestra

see also: Three Hallucinations (from the film Altered States)


Listen to a sound clip

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Scored for 3 flutes (doubling piccolo), 3 oboes, 3 clarinets (doubling Eb clarinet and bass clarinet), 3 bassoons, (doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, 2 timpanists, percussion (5 players), harp, 2 pianos, electronic organ, and strings (minimum 12 first violins, 10 second violins, 8 violas, 8 cellos, 6 basses)

Duration  3 minutes



Can be heard as a movement of Three Hallucinations, recorded by the Buffalo Philharmonic; JoAnn Faletta, conductor Naxos 8.559331 (2008)
Also recorded by the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, Eri Klas, conductor Ondine ODE 1058-2 (2005)
In the original soundtrack recording, studio orchestra, Christopher Keene, conductor RCA Victor (BMG) 3983-2-RG (1981)
And in its original context in Altered States (the motion picture) Warner Home Video DVD 11076 (1998)


Program note

Ritual Dance (based upon music written for Ken Russell's film "Altered States") begins with a shower of winds and percussion, simulating the fireworks that begin this hallucination. This momentum leads to a savage dance (in the film, the Hinchi Indians’ mushroom rite). The full-orchestral forces are augmented here by two sets of four timpani each and also by an expanded percussion section. The work ends in a burst of cumulative energy.

                     — John Corigliano

© 2021 John Corigliano | Designed by Wlad Marhulets | Artwork photos by Richard Howe