James Bond Theme for ukulele

Sir Roger Moore, who played 007 in seven James Bond movies, has died. The instant I heard the unfortunate news I also heard the James Bond Theme in my head. Continue reading “James Bond Theme for ukulele”

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Theme from the Titanic for Easy Piano and Flute

James Horner’s sudden death rocked the film music industry. Fans of the Titanic theme have arranged it easy versions for piano solo and other instruments, too.

Alex (piano) and Jason (flute). N. Virginia, June 1999.

The sudden news of the fatal plane crash of James Horner is rippling through the music and film industries. James R. Horner was a prolific composer of music for film.

As I discover piano transcriptions (also known as piano covers) of his music online, I am reminded that I, too, was once an obsessive fan.

I listened to the love theme from the Titanic over and over again until I configured an arrangement for flute and piano for my friends’ young sons in Northern Virginia in June 1999. Continue reading “Theme from the Titanic for Easy Piano and Flute”

Time from Inception for easy piano

Hans Zimmer’s “Time” from the movie “Inception” is an interesting example of minimalism.

Time from Inception arranged by Anne Ku for easy piano and ensemble
Time from Inception arranged by Anne Ku for easy piano and ensemble

I’ve not yet seen the movie Inception but its music is already haunting me. Youtube has several versions of it — played live, extracted from the movie itself, and looped for as long as 10 hours!

Continue reading “Time from Inception for easy piano”

Piano Music from Movies

Researching for a concert of music from movies requiring setting some constraints.

In anticipation of the 86th Academy Awards this Sunday 2nd March, I’m giving a concert of music specifically written for solo piano for film.

Continue reading “Piano Music from Movies”

Music for Halloween

When we think of Halloween, we think of music of horror movies. Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King come to mind. But there are others suitable for beginning piano students.

After posting the re-writing of the first section of the Mountain King piano piece for beginners on my blog, I became curious about other suitable tunes for this spooky occasion.

Halloween conjures up night time, darkness, horror movies, scary things, costumes, and kids that go trick or treating.

In the classical music world, we think of Saint-Saens’ “Danse Macabre” (Dance of Death). This would make a very engaging lecture recital, with audio and visuals.

The Twilight Saga is about vampires and a love story. In Breaking Dawn, there are two songs that are hardly music for Halloween. After testing the arrangement I made in C major for nearly a year, I will soon upload “A Thousand Years” on my own website, two versions: very beginner’s level and a next level one; together with a piano duo version.  Note: since the first time I checked, there is now a proliferation of youtube tutorials on how to play this sticky love song.

Bella’s Lullaby is also a lovely tune from Breaking Dawn, but I have not yet looked into rewriting it for my beginning piano students, simply because there has not been a request.

Harry Potter is about wizards, hence appropriate for Halloween. Hedwig’s Theme is easily adaptable for beginners.

One of my friends from high school reminded me not to forget Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells,” a minimalistic work that became very popular while we lived on Okinawa. The work was created BEFORE the movie “The Exorcist” which made it famous. After the movie, we’d associate Tubular Bells with the movie and not the instrument. How interesting!

Academy Awards Concert

To prepare for the Academy Awards Concert I’m giving on Maui, I thought about the different kinds of music used in movies.

Over the years, I’ve collected quite a portfolio of music to suit all occasions. Music from movies, in particular, fits well as background and foreground music. I’ve used several in my most recent concert on Valentine’s Day, for love songs proliferate radio, TV, and cinema.

To precede tomorrow’s Academy Awards ceremony, I decided to put together a concert of movie themes.

At first, I selected works I have and love. These include classical pieces that existed well before their being chosen for the movies. Chopin’s famous posthumous nocturne in C-sharp minor was used in “The Pianist” and Rachmaninoff’s piano solo from the “18th Variation on a Theme of Paganini” was played many times in the movie “Somewhere in Time.” More recently, Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” was strategically placed in “Twilight.” There are countless classical works that preceded the movies and whose composers, long dead, never saw the light of day to receive royalties or recognition. Yet somehow these movies revive those classical works, bringing them new context and new audiences.

That was my initial idea — to introduce instrumental music that inherit new meaning as a result of their selection and placement in movies. After hearing Bach’s harpsichord concerto in “Hannah and Her Sisters” one may associate that piece only with that movie, for instance.

To counter pre-existent music chosen for film, I intended to also play music written specifically for movies which take on a life of their own. For instance, Whitney Houston made Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” more famous than the original version and the movie it was used in — “The Body Guard.” It stands separately as a song in its own right. Other songs written for film have gone to hit the charts as singles the world over.

Then there is the specific genre of so-called “film music.” You’d recognise it when you hear it. Some of my fellow composition classmates at the KMT (Kunst Media Technologie in Hilversum, Netherlands) wrote such music and aspired to continue doing so after they graduated. I was impressed how they, after only a few years of study, managed to score orchestral music that echoed a familiarity not distant from James Horner and John Williams. For many composers, film music is the breeding ground for new compositions.

When I sat down to put together my one hour programme for tomorrow afternoon’s concert, I discovered that I had enough music to cover just the Oscar winners of best original score and song. There was no need to include the nominees that did not win or works that did not get nominated or works of movies that did not get nominated at all.

I wanted to play Dan Coates’ wonderful piano solo arrangement of “Miss Celie’s Blues” from the movie “The Color Purple.” But that 1985 nomination lost to “Say You, Say Me” from “White Knights.” In the end, I decided that I really should propose another concert — Music from Movies for Mother’s Day — to include all those works I had prepared but discarded for tomorrow’s Oscars.

The programme for the Academy Awards Concert at Roselani Place in Maui goes as follows:

  • 70th Academy Awards Winner of Best Original Score – 1997 – “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic
  • 65th Winner – 1992 – “A Whole New World” from Aladdin
  • 54th Winner – 1981 – “Arthur’s Theme: Best That You Can Do” from Arthur
  • 49th Winner – 1976 – “Evergreen” from A Star is Born
  • 46th Winner – 1973 – “The Way We Were” from The Way We Were
  • 43rd Winner – 1970 – “Love Story” from Love Story
  • 42nd Winner – 1969 – “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • 38th Winner – 1965 – “Lara’s Theme” from Doctor Zhivago
  • 38th Winner – 1965 – (Scoring of Music – adaptation or treatment) The Sound of Music
  • 29th Winner – 1956 – “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)” from The Man Who Knew Too Much
  • 12th Winner – 1939 – “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz

I have several arrangements of “Over the Rainbow” – from Dan Coates’ arpeggiated piano solo to a jazzy soul version, one by Keith Jarrett, and ultimately, the ukelele version by Iz which stayed at number 1 in Germany for 12 non-consecutive weeks in 2010. It’s a nice way to end an afternoon in central Maui.