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Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
#1303524 11/11/09 06:41 PM
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Hello! In december my school is hosting the official afterparty for the Nobel banquet. Ive been asked to play the piano as entertainment in one of the rooms when the Nobel Prize winners arrive. Ive never played as à background for ppl talking, so i would be grateful for any advice you guys can give me.

My material includes 2 chopin nocturnes, 5 pieces from Kinderscenen, schubert g flat impromptu and chopin g minor ballade. Is the ballade too noisy for this occasion? Is there any specific order you can suggest? And I'm planning to bring a pageturner with me for the nocturnes which I've have not memorized fully to a secure level. Does that look unprofessional or is it ok?

Thanks for all kind of answers.

Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
adapa #1303575 11/11/09 07:27 PM
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Yes, I think the ballade would be a bit much. I would intersperse between the classical selections with some more contemporary sounding or jazzy arrangements and sound pleasant enough and aren't too heavy. Maybe some fun jazzy Christmas song arrangements would be fun (Philip Keveren has a book out for that). Joseph Martin has some great arrangements:
http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/Joseph-Martin-American-Tapestry/2941566 , also, you can play some familiar tunes from movies or orchestral transcriptions that people would recognize. Usually for things like this, you want the pieces to be ones that people will say , "Oh! I know this one!" Otherwise, it will end up being simply background noise, unfortunately.


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Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
Morodiene #1303624 11/11/09 08:26 PM
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I've always found it hard playing Classical repertoire in a less than quiet setting. Perhaps some very light Classics, but in an environment where people are conversing (even if it's not loud conversation) I tend to go for Jazz standards like "Misty," "All the things you are" etc. Just my two cent's worth.

Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
adapa #1303642 11/11/09 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by adapa
Hello! In december my school is hosting the official afterparty for the Nobel banquet. Ive been asked to play the piano as entertainment in one of the rooms when the Nobel Prize winners arrive. Ive never played as à background for ppl talking, so i would be grateful for any advice you guys can give me.

My material includes 2 chopin nocturnes, 5 pieces from Kinderscenen, schubert g flat impromptu and chopin g minor ballade. Is the ballade too noisy for this occasion? Is there any specific order you can suggest? And I'm planning to bring a pageturner with me for the nocturnes which I've have not memorized fully to a secure level. Does that look unprofessional or is it ok?

Thanks for all kind of answers.


If at all possible, I would ditch the sheet music (and the page turner) and just improvise the whole time...


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Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
Sparkler #1303658 11/11/09 09:31 PM
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I'm inclined to agree with Sparkler. No one will be listening in anything but the most casual, superficial way to what is being played and only to very small bits of music at a time. Many may hardly even be aware of what you are playing. Therefore, if you have the skills to do so, drop the classical repertoire and go for real "background" music (pop standards, show tunes and the like). That is more what is usually played at such events. Since your school is hosting this event, it would seem advisable to talk to some of the instructors or officials at your school to get suggestions on the "type" of music you might be expected to play.

What sort of party is the "after party for the Nobel banquet"? By the time the celebrants have had cocktails and then a banquet, what comes next?

Regards,


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Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
BruceD #1303718 11/11/09 11:25 PM
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I agree with Morodiene that the Ballade would be a bit much. I've once played the piano for a friend's art exhibit (a very informal one) and just iterated among a few Chopin Nocturnes and Preludes. Depending on the atmosphere, you might want to add some Bach, which I did for Christmas eve at a church, as a time-fill before the service started.

I'm sure Jazz, pop or improvisation will be more fun than standard classical repertoire. It's just that I don't have that kind of genes in me. wink

Don't worry too much about the job. You can probably do without a pageturner too. No one's going to pay a special attention to you, so just try to have fun playing some beautiful music! smile

Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
ianholic #1304112 11/12/09 03:00 PM
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Thank you for all your answers! Yeah, ill probably ditch the ballade. The party will be kind of formal, with guest arriving straight from the banquet at 11 pm. According to the staff responsible for entertainment it is supposed to be "a bit classy", so i guess classical repertoire will be appropriate. But im definitely thinking of adding some contemporary stuff(thanks for the suggestion). My first choice would be some swedish folk tunes jazzed up.
Any other suggestions for pieces that are relatively calm and learnable in a month?

Im a pretty poor improviser though, so i guess that's ruled out.

Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
adapa #1304124 11/12/09 03:18 PM
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In that kind of setting, new-agey music is usually acceptable, and fairly easy to learn, if you can stand it. For classical, the Satie Gymnopedies and Gnossiennes would work and are easy. Something like "Clare de Lune is always popular.

Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
frida11 #1304254 11/12/09 06:53 PM
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You need music that you are 110 per cent comfortable with, and that will not bother anybody by being too noisy or too interesting. It doesn't even matter what it is, as long as those two criteria are met. Big important music like Beethoven sonatas or Chopin ballades is out because it's both noisy and interesting. Choose only what's easy, pretty, and boring. I know that sounds terrible to say, but it's true.


(I'm a piano teacher.)
Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
david_a #1304850 11/13/09 02:26 PM
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I once played at a Nobel Prize event - it was an interesting experience.

I would advise playing Chopin waltzes... quietly. smile

Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
whippen boy #1305320 11/14/09 08:59 AM
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I agree: Chopin waltzes quietly played would be appropriate. Don't overlook the obvious ones: Pachelbel's Canon, Jesu man's desiring, Humoresque, etc. (Of course, if this is a more sophisticated audience, these might be too war horsy).

Hop


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Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
Hop #1305370 11/14/09 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Hop
I agree: Chopin waltzes quietly played would be appropriate. Don't overlook the obvious ones: Pachelbel's Canon, Jesu man's desiring, Humoresque, etc. (Of course, if this is a more sophisticated audience, these might be too war horsy).

Hop


Even if the audience is made up of musically sophisticated individuals, most will not be listening intently - or listening at all - so the popularity of a work should not matter.

Regards,


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Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
whippen boy #1305374 11/14/09 11:54 AM
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Slow movements of Beethoven sonatas do wonders. Chopin nocturnes,Debussy arabesques or Brahms intermezzi and whatever random jazz/pop songs you can find.

And, it doesn't necessarily mean it has to be boring.........



"The eyes can mislead, the smile can lie, but the shoes always tell the truth."
Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
Pogorelich. #1305527 11/14/09 06:14 PM
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I just borrowed a sheet music collection of easy and listenable pieces from a friend, and im going for some light stuff as movie soundtracks and such to contrast with the chopin nocturnes and classical pieces. At first i kind of panicked due to the fact that my repertoire is so small after my break from playing the piano, but now it seems that i might pull this off :P Thanks alot you all.

Btw, do you think playing für elise would be cheesy or something?

Last edited by adapa; 11/14/09 06:15 PM.
Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
adapa #1306086 11/15/09 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by adapa


Btw, do you think playing für elise would be cheesy or something?



One would think, but to my surprise, Fur Elise was the number one request at the last few cocktail events I played! Followed by Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (first movement only, of course) and Clair de lune!

I also suggest Chopin Preludes, nos. 4, 6, and 15 (the Raindrop Prelude).

Best of luck!

~mstrongpianist


Re: Playing background music for alot of ppl, need advice
mstrongpianist #1306136 11/15/09 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mstrongpianist
Originally Posted by adapa


Btw, do you think playing für elise would be cheesy or something?



One would think, but to my surprise, Fur Elise was the number one request at the last few cocktail events I played! Followed by Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (first movement only, of course) and Clair de lune!


I remember shortly after learning fur elise, sitting at a piano and a friend comes by and asks "can you play... uhm. I can't remember what it's called...", E D# E D# E, "YES that's it!"

That was when she became convinced I'm a genius, hah! (or more like an idiot savant)


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