Music like The Conversation soundtrack?
November 5, 2011 4:12 AM   Subscribe

Hey, did you ever see The Conversation? Remember how the soundtrack was mostly one dude on a piano? Can you recommend more music to me like that, where it's really engaging and moody like The Conversation soundtrack, but it's also just one guy?

I'm really searching for instrumental music to listen to while I study, because I find music with vocals to be distracting when I'm trying to work. But I've been listening to The Conversation soundtrack lately and I love it, because it feels driven and progressive.

I mostly listen to indie rock singles when I'm not studying, so I don't know much about jazz/classical/instrumental players, I don't know if there's a whole universe of strictly piano players that I could be listening to, and I'm just missing them.
posted by malapropist to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
[the soundtrack is here]

If you're looking for a composer who often is close to the surface vibe of this stuff, Eric Satie is your man.
Other than that, "dude with piano" is pretty much everything by Keith Jarrett.
posted by Namlit at 4:26 AM on November 5, 2011

seconding both Satie and Keith Jarrett (in particular the latter's lovely CD The Melody at Night, with You). Note that Jarrett does both solo and small group recordings. And see here previously.

The classical repertoire of solo piano is huge. If you want it for background music while studying, probably better to stay away from the people like Beethoven who kind of force themselves on your attention--better to stick with the baroque composers (examples: J S Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Francois Couperin, all of whom wrote lots of solo keyboard music). Lots of good recordings of this. Then there's Mozart and Schubert. I would stop about there, chronologically speaking, and take up the story again in the late 19th century with the late Brahms solo piano pieces. Trying to study with the Hammerklavier Sonata as background seems like a bad idea in a number of ways. Then Satie and lots of 20-th century minimalism.

Specific recommendations for recordings: Bach English Suites, French Suites and Keyboard Partitas, by Murray Perahia, Andras Schiff or Angela Hewitt; Handel suites for keyboard by Keith Jarrett (the very same--this is sanity music for me); Suites for keyboard by Couperin by Angela Hewitt. Mozart keyboard sonatas by Mitsuko Uchida, although for Mozart there are lots of recordings and it's hard to go wrong. Any recording of any composer by Alfred Brendel or Maurizio Pollini. My pick for the late Brahms would be the recording by Stefan Vladar but this might be hard to come by--there are lots of others though.

Best of luck with it. It's a big world.
posted by Logophiliac at 4:54 AM on November 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Hours by Philip Glass arranged for solo piano.

Mia Jang isn't 'one guy' but Water Circles is sublime.

The 1995 Herbert Henck recording of Federico Mompou's masterpiece Musica Callada.

Jeroen van Veen's minimal piano collection.

A bit more jazzy but the Tord Gustavsen Trio made three great piano based albums and the Jacques Loussier Trio's album of Satie is wonderful.
posted by joannemullen at 4:58 AM on November 5, 2011

Gonzales - Solo Piano. Here's Gogol from that album.

Also, George Winston - Autumn. Here's Colors/Dance
posted by FreezBoy at 5:20 AM on November 5, 2011

Best answer: Satie is your guy
posted by smelvis at 5:36 AM on November 5, 2011

How about Michael Nyman's Piano Collection? It has piano-only pieces from several of his soundtracks.
posted by bcwinters at 6:03 AM on November 5, 2011

Got a few individual suggestions from unlikely sources....

The cut Ralph and Monty (Dressing Room Piano) off the soundtrack to the original movie Fame may qualify. (Link is to a guy playing it himself.) This cut from the soundtrack to Diva may also work.

Pat Metheney's Farmer's Trust has more than one musician on the track, but the rest of the band participation is fairly minimal. Similarly "minimal number of instruments" is "Guitar, Flute, and String" by Moby off Play.

Will add more if I think of them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:06 AM on November 5, 2011

Oh - another George Winston album rec: "December." Two good cuts: Thanksgiving and Night (Snow/Midnight/Minstrels)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 AM on November 5, 2011

For large-scale contemplative Spanish melodies, you might also have a look at Albeniz's Iberia (no 1 here). Also most (but not all) of Rachmaninoff's Préludes will likely suit your purpose, as well as the ones by Debussy.

[When it comes to what "works" and what not, your own history with the music, your personal taste, and what you know otherwise about the composers, will inevitably have a strong influence. Couperin on the piano, for example, would irritate the heck out of me, preventing me from doing anything more than wanting more coffee; the same applies to Schiff playing Bach. In short, ymmv a lot, but exploring is fun.]
posted by Namlit at 6:22 AM on November 5, 2011

The Rachel's - Music for Egon Schiele, The Sea and the Bells, Selenography. They're a chamber music group quite similar to Eric Satie, and I love studying to them!
posted by amileighs at 6:23 AM on November 5, 2011

The Pianist?
posted by oceanjesse at 6:57 AM on November 5, 2011

Surprisingly, Neil Young's Dead Man soundtrack fits the bill. Solo improvisations on guitar, played alone while watching the film.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:05 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Philip Glass and Max Richter are the big names (and worth checking out).

But for very contemporary work, check out anything by Dustin O'Halloran (I'm a big fan of his Lumiere album). You might also be interested in Sophie Hutchings, Ludovico Einaudi, Olafur Arnalds, and Anna Rose Carter.
posted by rockstar at 7:12 AM on November 5, 2011

You might like the "Banana Cabbage, Potato Lettuce, Onion Orange" EP by David Grubbs. I do, anyway.
posted by activitystory at 9:19 AM on November 5, 2011

Best answer: Bill Evans
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:23 PM on November 5, 2011

Tim Story and Ludovico Einaudi are two composer names to search for. Piano music, very sparse, some solo, some with very slight accompaniment (woods, mostly)
posted by seawallrunner at 12:49 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was weird.

I was whistling Take Five when I opened askmefi on my phone.

Your post was the first one that came up.

posted by screamingnotlaughing at 6:09 PM on November 6, 2011

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