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best piano soundtracks

Best movie soundtracks: 6 iconic songs from your favorite movies

Sometimes the best part of watching a film is not the dialogue, or beautiful cinematography, it is the soundtrack. Often, this means famous piano soundtracks and iconic compositions. 

Though many movies use full orchestras or even electronic scores, often the score can be played entirely on the piano. Movie soundtracks on piano are sometimes just as fulfilling and beautiful as an entire symphony, with a sense of emotion and minimalism.

Many symphonies include piano solos anyway, so a piano will be suitable to play the music of a great film and the catchy sections that everyone knows. 

A lot of the time, movie themes share a lot of music in common with other compositions, as you can see in the piano sheet music, the same groups of chords and melodies and simple rhythms appear in a movie soundtrack, may also crop up in the most sophisticated piano music. While there are some potential variations in style and structure, a piano player will use the same skills playing a solo piano piece with a pop styling, as they would playing a movie soundtrack by John Williams.

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What makes the ultimate film soundtrack?

Most people agree that a good score is crucial to move you emotionally or transport you into a different world, a place that seems to exist completely outside of the universe we live in. The best film music can make or break a film, and set the mood for the whole movie. 

Many of these movie soundtracks’ piano can be played solo, and the best theme songs to play on piano can actually be just as fulfilling to play by yourself as playing with a full orchestra in the studio. 

Film music needs to invoke emotion and feeling, like all the best movie themes do. If you look at the main theme of a film like Star Wars, as much as some people may not like Sci-Fi, you cannot argue that John Williams created the piano sheet music for one of the most brilliant movie soundtracks of history so far. The number of melodies he used are memorable, both simple and full of character, meaning that any pianist can create the same feeling of life and hope and wonderful excitement just by playing a few simple notes on the page. 

Many films have soundtracks that are great for beginners to learn, and whether the score is a full ballad or just a beautiful melody, through Skoove’s piano learning app you will have access through an app or your browser to plenty of iconic movie soundtracks. Let’s look at the best piano movie soundtracks, and learn how to play piano by utilizing some of the best piano movie theme songs. 

6 famous movie soundtracks to play on the piano

Playing a famous movie soundtrack on the piano doesn’t require you to have the films in front of you, or to even have the full score written down in front of you. Many film scores actually have such a strong melody that as soon as you start playing the music from the film, the piano sheet music and the main theme are all you need. Think of movie soundtracks like Jurassic Park and all of the memorable melodies from Star Wars or American Beauty.

Good soundtracks have such a strong main theme that once you begin playing it on piano, people will recognize it. This is true whether it is a score by John Williams, La Valse D’Amelie, or a film soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, Joe Hisaishi or Alan Silvestri. When playing the best piano soundtracks you will be transported into the world of the movie. 

In this list, we’ve selected the piano soundtracks from movies that will pull you in, and for a budding pianist, these movie soundtracks on piano will teach you more about playing your instrument and moving your audience.

Comptine d’un autre été – Amélie soundtrack

  • Movie: Amélie
  • Composer: Yann Tiersen

Tips for playing the song

      • The Amelie movie soundtrack piano has a very short attack, and a soft touch. If your piano has a soft pedal, you may wish to use it for the Amelie movie piano song. 
      • The song is in the key of E minor
      • The fingering changes during the song, be careful about using and playing the 16th notes
      • Watch out for the middle section which has challenging arpeggios, which are a defining feature of this music
      • Yann Tiersen is famous for writing long melodies and calm, simplistic bass lines, you may wish to learn the simple bass line (left hand) first

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A Tale As Old As Time – Beauty and the Beast soundtrack

  • Title: Beauty and the Beast (A Tale As Old As Time)
  • Composer: Alan Menken
  • Performer: Angela Lansbury (1991), Ariana Grande, John Legend (2017)

Tips for playing the song

        • This song has a life of its own which is outside of the film original release and soundtrack, it has been performed and remade in 2021, both versions are great
        • The music for the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack is trying to paint a picture of despair and is an emotive example of great movie soundtracks on piano
        • Your left hand can play either the bass notes or the chords while the right plays the melody
        • The chords are relatively simple
        • The Beauty and the Beast piano soundtrack revisits the original theme many times throughout the film, with slight variations make sure to familiarize yourself with the theme as performed in all the different forms, the original version is one of the best Disney songs on piano. 

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Mad World – Donnie Darko soundtrack

  • Title: Mad World
  • Composer: Tears for Fears
  • Performer: Gary Jules

Tips for playing the song

      • Be careful, this song does not have a music theme in the same way that the other themes do, because it was not written as a theme song, it was a powerful pop song
      • Mad World was written by a band called Tears for Fears, it was famously covered by Gary Jules
      • The sheet music is written in the key of C and the song is in 4/4 timing
      • The left-hand sections are very repetitive, learn these first and combine with the melodies on the right hand
      • This is one of the best piano pop songs, as it has had success in the charts as well

Game of Thrones official soundtrack

  • Title: Game Of Thrones Theme
  • Composer: Ramin Djawadi

Tips for playing the song

      • Be careful with the key signature of this song, as it is written in the key of Eb Major, or C minor
      • The first melody that is the big orchestral cello part can be thought of as changing between playing an C minor chord (C, Eb, G) and a C major chord (C E G) with some additional notes
      • The time signature for this sheet music is 6/8, which may be a step up for beginners
      • The left hand plays almost entirely perfect fifths for the opening
      • The Game of Thrones soundtrack on piano includes some notes that would appear in the orchestral version, so make sure you play it carefully

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Jaws soundtrack

  • Title: Theme From Jaws
  • Composer: John Williams 

Tips for playing the song

          • John Williams’ iconic low note ostinato which echoes the shark closing in on its prey is a cinema classic
          • John Williams composed many famous themes in his life, and this is certainly one of the most famous piano soundtracks from movies
          • This song is a great option for beginners to play as their first movie soundtracks on piano
          • The song speeds up as it goes, and while it remains in tempo, you don’t need to worry too much about the timing to get the effect of the shark getting closer

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I Will Always Love You – Titanic soundtrack

  • Title: I Will Always Love You
  • Composer: Dolly Parton
  • Performer: Whitney Houston

Tips for playing the song

      • Even though it was popularized by Whitney Houston, this song was written by Dolly Parton, the same night that she wrote her famous song “Jolene”
      • This song has a famous key change in the middle of it 
      • This is a decent option for beginners, as it is in 4/4 and it is nice and slow
      • Though it sounds like a love song, Dolly wrote this song about splitting up with her then tour manager
      • No famous piano soundtrack songs are quite as famous as this song, that was a hit for many years following the release of The Bodyguard
      • You can play the chords in the left hand, or follow along with the bass clef instead

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Conclusion

Though not all soundtracks can be quite as great as these, there are hundreds or even thousands of notable soundtracks. Movie fans will have loads jump to mind, including those by Italian Composer Ennio Morricone, or a favorite of many beginning pianists, the La La Land soundtrack for piano.

There are of course lots of different pieces of music to explore from movies, not just from the Western world, one of the most famous would be “River Flows Through You” by South Korean pianist “Yiruma”. The world of movies and the worlds that are created by composers and symphonies are at your fingertips as long as you have a foundational knowledge and a reliable place to get your sheet music, and play the music that you want to hear in the world. 

With Skoove, you’re able to play any of the different themes you hear and then translate what you see on the page into the world, and bring yourself back into the world of the film.

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Author of this blog post:

 

Alvin Shipp is a Multi-Instrumentalist Composer, Performer, Producer, and Educator from Portland, Oregon currently based in Berlin, Germany. He’s worked extensively in the USA and Germany, has released Over 15 Albums. He has been teaching upper-level students for over 15 years, and currently lives as a Freelance Composer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer and Teacher.