The string introduction to Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” is addictive.
If “La Vida Breve” means “The Short Life” then “Viva la Vida” means “Live the Life.” Not so fast, according to Lenny, there’s more to this.
The original version is in the key of A flat major — i.e. four flats, which may pose problematic to the beginner pianist. Thankfully, like other popular songs, there are numerous sheet music arrangements proliferating the Internet. But four flats, eighth rests and ties are all intimidating for the adult beginner. Here is where you can transpose it half a step down to G major, which has just one sharp. There are other ways to simplify.
I tell my students that music is formulaic. All they have to do is analyze the score, looking for repeating patterns. Once they find the pattern, they will be able to reduce the complexity and their anxiety about learning the piece.
In other words, start by decomposing the music.
Just like other pops songs I’ve arranged previously, Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” has a predictable repeating four bars. Every four bars it repeats itself.
The Piano Guys juxtaposed “Viva La Vida” at precisely 3 minutes 44 seconds into their video of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” below.
Facebook introduced me to The Piano Guys (ThePianoGuys) a year ago. I then introduced their works to my music literature and piano students. So keen was I to play their arrangements that I ordered a sheet music album of their works. Strangely, it wasn’t as “fun” to read and play their arrangements as it’s to watch them perform. They’ve really created their unique cross over, in terms of background scenery, mix of modern and classical songs and rhythm, and engaging performances. [Click on the sample image below for the 4-page PDF sheet music.]
Here’s the official video of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” – remember to hit the “transpose button” on your digital piano to go up a half-step if you want to play along.