Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival poem and song: dan yuan ren chang jiu

There are many kinds of sheet music for the popular Chinese song Dan Yuan Ren Chang Jiu sung at Mid-Autumn Festival.

When I asked my mom to select songs made popular by the late Teresa Teng besides my favorite Ni Ze Me Shuo, she mentioned Dan Yuan Ren Chang Jiu. On the night of the super blood moon and lunar eclipse, I learned of its significance. The lyrics come from a famous poem by Su Shi, also known as Su Dong Po. The song is associated with the Mid Autumn Festival, which is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. For 2015, it’s Sunday September 27th.

Continue reading “Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival poem and song: dan yuan ren chang jiu”

Palladio by Karl Jenkins arranged for piano

Anne Ku arranged a piano solo version of Karl Jenkin’s Palladio – made popular by Escala.

Have you ever become so obsessed with a tune that the only remedy is to play it on your instrument? When I watched the following clip, I knew I had heard the music before — in London, but not for guitars. Continue reading “Palladio by Karl Jenkins arranged for piano”

Music for the earth piano concert

A concert of music works with titles to do with the earth so as to raise awareness and respect the earth and all that’s around us —

In tandem with arranging music for the Earth Day Jam, a free one-hour piano workshop to get people to experience making music together, I decided to end the week with a tribute to the earth. As in previous two concerts this year, my most advanced students opened the concert for me, this time with more confidence and conviction than ever before.

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Cloud Atlas for Easy Piano

The piano theme from Cloud Atlas is haunting and beautiful. While there are many versions arranged by piano fans, I have yet to find one for easy piano. Here is an attempt. Work in progress.

The melody of the movie Cloud Atlas (2012) is so haunting that it’s possible to loop it in a forever trance. It’s much slower than I had thought when I first sightread it. Not having seen the movie, I’m only guessing that the motif is the common thread throughout. Here’s a 30 minute version that can be used as background music or for meditation.

Continue reading “Cloud Atlas 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”

Concert of roses and other flowers

In preparation for an upcoming afternoon tea concert of roses and flowers, I started looking for music with rose in the title.

On the bookshelf of the music classroom were loose sheet music and a Reader’s Digest Family Songbook Album. Here I found the following oldies:

  • My Wild Irish Rose
  • Days of Wine and Roses
  • I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
  • Yellow Rose of Texas
  • La Vie En Rose
  • Red Roses for a Blue Lady

But will these “rose” songs fill an hour of performance?

What about pop songs? Immediately I thought of the following favorites:

  • The Rose (Bette Midler)
  • Kissed by a Rose (Seal)
  • Cracklin’ Rosie (Neal Diamond)
  • Bed of Roses (Bon Jovi)

How about other kinds of flowers? Here again, I wracked my brain.

  • Tiptoe Through the Tulips
  • Tulips in Amsterdam
  • Jasmine Flower
  • Mei Hua (plum flower)

Searching on the Internet, I found a webpage of parlor songs about rose, which is a symbol of love.

There’s even a webpage of songs with different kinds of flowers in the title! And another of pop songs!

Extending this further, I could play familiar piano solos such as

  • Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker Suite (Tchaikovsky)
  • Jardins Sous la Puie (Debussy)
  • Flower Duet from Lakme (Delibes)
  • Flower Song from Carmen (Bizet)

I am sure there are more works inspired by roses and other flowers. Fortunately, others have done the research for me already — see Classic FM’s 25 selections.

Next steps:

  1. Find the sheet music.
  2. Sightread and decide how much time I have and want to devote to further study.
  3. If sheet music not adequate, consider improvising or finding a better arrangement.
  4. Shortlist.
  5. Research.
  6. Arrange them in order.
  7. Try out the order – does it make sense? Does it tell a story? Does it vary in tempo and mood?
  8. Put together the program.
  9. Practice!

Note: June is national rose month. Maui’s official flower is heavenly rose, or “lokelani” in Hawaiian. Roselani is the Americanization of “lokelani”

Friday 14 June 2013
3 to 4 pm
Roselani Place
Papa Avenue, Kahului
Maui, Hawaii

Solo piano sheet music: arrangements and improvisations

Anne Ku hunts for interesting piano solo music to play at Christmas and discovers Christmas carols arranged by Sally DeFord and Jim Brickman as well as Hawaiian melodies by Daniel Ho.

I would like to end 2011 with a welcome to 2012 by touching upon piano solo music that is interesting to play.

A few years ago I arranged “Ding Dong Merrily On High” for piano, guitar, and violin. While it was an assignment at conservatory, I nevertheless enjoyed the experience and hoped to see such Christmas arrangements elsewhere. I never got the chance to fully research this.

This Christmas, I needed music. So I began my search.

Borsendorfer, Utrecht Conservatory, Netherlands Photo credit: Olaf Hornes
Borsendorfer, Utrecht Conservatory, Netherlands Photo credit: Olaf Hornes 2007

In preparation for the 2 hour caroling session on the new (old) grand piano at Roselani Place, I looked for Christmas carol arrangements that were atypical of the traditional SATB but interesting and pleasant to play. A good improviser only needs the melody and the chords to produce something fitting of the occasion. Christmas carol from church hymnals are one source for improvisers but not for those who like to read and play something different.

I googled and found Sally DeFord who has made her arrangements freely downloadable from her website at She specifically wrote “making copies for non-commercial use is permitted.”

From the university library, I found an album of piano solo arrangements by Jim Brickman. He wrote “The Gift,” which a soprano from the Maui College choir sang to my accompaniment at Roselani Place. I played it again on Christmas Day as a postlude. The congregation at the Christian Science Church where I substituted as pianist for 3 services gave wonderful feedback about my selection. It was Christmas with a new age feel. Certainly, I enjoyed playing carols with a twist.

Daniel Ho, George Kahumoku, Tia Carrere, 15 Dec 2011 Maui
Daniel Ho, George Kahumoku, Tia Carrere, 15 Dec 2011 Maui

On 15th December 2011 at the McCoy Theatre at the Maui Arts & Cultural Centre, I watched the multi-talented Daniel Ho play guitar, ukelele, piano, and sing. He improvised while accompanying Tia Carrere and George Kahumoku, Jr. Or had he memorised his own arrangements? I couldn’t wait to meet him in person during the intermission. I asked if his improvisations were written down arrangements or actual improvisations he performed. The answer came in the form of an e-mail with a zipped folder of his published works for piano solo, piano with other instruments, ukelele, and slack key guitar.

Now that the Christmas festivities are over, I look forward to studying the arrangements and compositions of Daniel Ho. His book “E Kahe Malie: Hawaiian Piano Instrumentals” contains piano versions of 11 songs spanning 42 pages. His “Colorful Sounds” book presents his own harmonic method he uses in his compositions, arrangements, and performances. It will be the beginning of my quest for arrangements of traditional melodies (in this case, Hawaiian) in different styles.