Practically every piano player (regardless of their age) would like to play movie theme pieces at some point .Film is perhaps the most popular artistic branch nowadays and it is not surprising that some of the big current musical talents are involved in the movie industry. It is only natural that a great movie sound track will inspire pianists at all levels to play the music themselves.
However, the title of the movie is not enough. The web is filled with armature (illegal and copyright violating) arrangements and their quality varies tremendously. Unfortunately, purchasing an arrangement either online or as a shiny glossy book with the movie stars displayed on the front cover is no guarantee for quality. I sometimes get the impression that publishers seem to hope that the excitement alone of playing music from the beloved film will do the job, but many of these publications are problematic. Some are uncomfortable to play and some just don't really sound like the music you remember from the movie. Furthermore, you often have the promise "Easy Piano" on the cover and the notes are printed in a large size, but they are actually for players on intermediate level. This is frustrating for both the beginner players who find the music too hard, and for the intermediate players who don't like having the notes in the size suitable for beginners.
New movies can become viral in a short time. No one can fully predict which movies will have the soundtracks everyone will want to play. Once the buzz has hit in music publishers have to race against time but are often only ready with the arrangements a long time later. Composing the movie's music is one of the last steps of making a movie. By the time the film studio gets the recordings to the publisher, the arrangements and transcriptions are done, and the studio has approved the arrangements the movie is a little less exciting, although the related computer games can keep up the music popularity for a while.
One of my favorite graded series for movie themes is "Famous and Fun- Pop" by Carol Matz. Organized in 5 levels of difficulty, each book has a mixture of " oldies" and some of the newer film themes, along with pop songs. These are very good arrangements with clear difficulty level differentiations. Some of the older movies stayed relevant over a long period of time due to sequels (Star Wars, Harry Potter ) and some have become relevant again with the new version out, like Beauty and the Beast. So although the series has been around for a while, there is a lot of up to date material in there.
The exciting news is that Carol Matz has agreed to give Pianoways an interview! In the next post you can read all about some of her experiences and thoughts as an arranger and composer.
Here is another idea: If you really like the music of a movie you can always try and figure out how to play the tune by ear (perhaps with the help of your teacher) and try adding some chords to it. This is an engaging and aural skill developing process that can be rewarding, fun and legal.
Pianoways Facebook page
- Interview with Carol Matz, Composer and Arranger
- Why "free playing" at the piano is good