The piano is a dramatic instrument – there is no doubt about it. What other acoustic instrument has such an enormous range, both in register and dynamic? From some of the deepest and lowest pitches to the lightest of pianissimos, the piano can deliver huge drama at any moment. Not to mention the monumental worlds or texture and harmony unlocked by the ability to play multiple notes at the same time!
Likewise, there is an enormous universe of dramatic piano music to explore: from rock anthems, to classical melodies, to massive film hits and beyond. Take a look at some dramatic piano music from these worlds with Skoove this week and add some serious flair to your piano skills!
Candle in the Wind
“Candle in the Wind” was originally composed by the legendary pianist Elton John with lyrics by Benny Taupin. The original version of the song is in the key of E major and debuted on John’s 1973 album Goodbye Yellowbrick Road. While the song was initially inspired by Marilyn Monroe, the song burst back into the popular consciousness when John re-worked it as a tribute to Princess Diana in 1997.
“Candle in the Wind” is a great example of dramatic piano music. With big, powerful chords, strong themes, and a moving melody, you can check out this masterwork of piano perfection today with Skoove!
Game of Thrones Theme
Cinematic music is a great source of inspiration for dramatic piano songs. And what better place to start than one of the most popular and iconic fantasy series of the last decade? The main theme from Game of Thrones is a great example of dramatic piano music and is a great melody to learn with online piano lessons.
Originally composed by Ramin Djawadi in 2011, the theme begins in a minor key, moves to a major key, and then back to a minor key in order to help capture and express the shifting locations of the series. The original theme was composed on cello, but with Skoove it makes an excellent solo piano performance!
Perhaps one of the most instantly recognizable pieces of music from the last century, John Williams’ theme from the 1975 Steven Spielberg movie Jaws, is a great example of dramatic piano music. While originally performed by a tuba in the higher register, the theme from Jaws makes an excellent solo piano performance. The theme is a simple movement of one basic piano interval: a half-step. How can one move be so deceptively simple and incredibly suspenseful? So much so that the theme has become a meme of sorts for suspenseful or dramatic build-up scenarios. Enjoy learning this wonderful theme from John Williams with Skoove!
Pirates of the Caribbean
Another stellar example of dramatic music pulled from the world of cinema, the theme from the hit movie Pirates of the Caribbean is a perfect example of dramatic piano music. Composed primarily by Klaus Badelt in 2003 with assistance from Hans Zimmer and the crew at Remote Control Productions, the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean is primarily in the key of D minor, with a heavy emphasis on the flat sixth degree of the scale, giving it a more modal and epic feel. You will find this harmony in music in many dramatic piano songs! Check it out this week with Skoove and dive into the wicked world of the pirates.
One of the best examples of dramatic piano music from the classical world, the theme from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake is continuously stunning in its depth and beauty. Originally composed between 1875-76, the work was initially a flop at its debut performance in Moscow in 1877. However, Swan Lake has since become one of the greatest and most loved ballets of all time.
The main theme is primarily in the key of A minor with two main piano chords. It begins with a move around an A minor triad in the right hand, then moves to an F major triad, then back to an A minor triad. This move is the same exact move that we saw in the Pirates of the Caribbean theme. You will commonly find this move in dramatic piano music!
Check out the theme from Swan Lake with Skoove and explore the darker side of dramatic piano songs.
We Are the Champions
How could any exploration of dramatic piano songs not include something from the powerful British rock band Queen? Queen practically wrote the book on dramatic piano music in rock during their career. “We Are the Champions” was originally composed by the band’s lead singer Freddie Mercury and features a beautiful piano accompaniment, likewise composed and performed by Mercury.
“We Are the Champions” is one of the most popular and successful songs of all time and is often heard at sporting events, ceremonies, and other dramatic moments. It is uplifting, thrilling, and exciting music. Learning this song with Skoove is a great way to dig into the champion inside of you!
Dramatic piano music is all around
You can find great examples of dramatic piano songs all around us. Whether you favor the classics like Tchaikovsky, film music hits like Jaws or Pirates of the Caribbean, or heavy rock anthems like “We Are the Champions” or “Candle in the Wind”, Skoove has dramatic piano music for all ability levels to enjoy, also on the virtual piano.
Check out a few of these dramatic piano songs this week and see what characteristics you can find in common between them. Remember the connections we uncovered between the themes from Swan Lake and Pirates of the Caribbean? Certainly you can find some more connections like those! Have fun practicing this week with Skoove and add some drama to your piano music!
Author of this blog post:
Eddie Bond is a multi-instrumentalist performer, composer, and music instructor currently based in Seattle, Washington USA. He has performed extensively in the US, Canada, Argentina, and China, released over 40 albums, and has over a decade experience working with music students of all ages and ability levels.