sing us a song, you're the piano man
July 17, 2006 2:14 PM   Subscribe

Many pianists I know know many of the popular songs -- moonlight sonata, chariots of fire, piano man, the "Peanuts" song, fur elise, etc. Is there a list of the most popular piano pieces out there, both contemporary and classical? Even better if there is a songbook with the sheet music? Even better if it's available online? I'm looking to learn a few dozen songs with my free time in the Fall.
posted by lpctstr; to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Two words: "Fake book".
posted by baylink at 2:29 PM on July 17, 2006

There are several "100 popular classics for Buskers" type books available pretty cheap. When I started on guitar I had several of these books and learned lots of standards that way. They are available for piano/organ.
posted by fire&wings at 2:33 PM on July 17, 2006

Different strokes for different folks, different pieces for different audiences. You'll never find a definitive list.

Some additions to your suggestions, grouped by artist & ordered by approximate ascending difficulty. Some are well within my reach, others are well beyond.

Sonata Pathetique (II)
Rage Over a Lost Penny
Sonata Pathetique (I, III)

Sonata Facile (I, possibly II + III)
Rondo Alla Turca

Fantasie Impromptu
2-3 Preludes
1 or more Etudes, Ballades, or Waltzes

Liebstraum No. 3

If you want to differentiate your repetoire from that of others, you could develop piano-driven versions of popular songs using advanced technique. I've had good luck with ornament-filled versions of 4 Non Blondes' What's Going On?, the Mamas and the Papas' California Dreaming, Lauryn Hill's Doo Wop (That Thing) and Guns & Roses' Sweet Child o' Mine.
posted by The Confessor at 2:44 PM on July 17, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far. Just to clarify - I can't write or make up music and I just want to play music that most pianists can play.
posted by lpctstr; at 2:52 PM on July 17, 2006

Second baylink's recommendation; by the end of your first sentence I was thinking "bet this person needs a Fake Book." Use Amazon to get some examples, but I would stop by a local music store to actually buy one since apparently quality varies incredibly.
posted by rkent at 2:53 PM on July 17, 2006

I was looking through, and they have loads of sheet music (mostly classical) for free, plus 'riff lessons' for quite a few popular songs (coldplay, elton john).

There's lots of stuff at your local music store, if you're willing to go that route. I have a book at home, which I can't remember the name (if you're interested I'll post it tonight for you), that's 100 of the most popular classical pieces - intermediate to advanced difficulty levels. There are other books in the series too...

Good luck!
posted by Bearman at 3:44 PM on July 17, 2006

And, FWIW, anyone who's a Jim Brickman fan has probably figured out by now that, as a composer, what he is is an *exceptional* fakebook player. :-)
posted by baylink at 5:40 PM on July 17, 2006

Go to your local university library or order on through ILL. Look for books with "fake" in the title (as rec. above) and also for wedding books. If you are even decent pianist, you can sight read the fake charts in these books.
posted by jxpx777 at 9:28 AM on July 18, 2006

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