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Are there any sources or listings of pop music piano scores by "grade level" like there are for classical pieces? Not 'cheat book' type pieces, but songs that are very piano-centric, like Elton John, Billy Joel, Norah Jones, Coldplay, etc? I think I'm an advanced beginner and would like to take on pieces that are challenging, but not impossible to learn. TIA.

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I've never seen one compilation of Grade level for pop.. however, each of the vendors assigns what they consider the grade level, and then an explanation of what is involved.

For instance, sheetmusicplus has a compilation of Elton John they grade as a 7 (late intermediate) http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/search?Ntt=elton+john
and the explanation of the grade level is found here:
http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/help/level-guidelines

You might use the 'preview function on websites such as musicnotes.com, where you can hear and see the first page.

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Thanks. Very helpful. I wish sheetmusicplus put their SMP grades on more (all) of their offerings.

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Originally Posted by sage789
Thanks. Very helpful. I wish sheetmusicplus put their SMP grades on more (all) of their offerings.


Wouldn't that be lovely if everything contained a grade level? Sigh!
i rely heavily on the 'look inside' or 'preview function', not just for grade level but to see if it is an arrangement I actually like.

Maybe others will have more ideas for you...

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Originally Posted by sage789
Are there any sources or listings of pop music piano scores by "grade level" like there are for classical pieces? Not 'cheat book' type pieces, but songs that are very piano-centric, like Elton John, Billy Joel, Norah Jones, Coldplay, etc? I think I'm an advanced beginner and would like to take on pieces that are challenging, but not impossible to learn. TIA.


I've not seen anything like this, but one of the challenging things about pop music is that the rhythmic reading is typically pretty complex compared to a lot of easier classical music. They also look about the same on the page, since lots of pop stays in a vocal range, and, as a result, they can end up feeling harder than they 'should' be.


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Anime music is very complicated and hard look at this one http://sheet.host/sheet/cOgVYK vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEQf5lcnj_o

some say its grade 10000 in the comments lol...
but yh it would be nice to have grades in all songs to be fair. It's nice to know what grade you are playing and sometimes that will give you confident boost in a way smile


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Yeah, that's quite a challenging piece Cutestpuppie and definitely not beginner's stuff.
Sounds good though and something to work for.
Popular music has more rhythmically complex ideas that are not usually found in classical music. For better or worse.
But a good classical foundation makes this stuff available later on.

Last edited by RaggedKeyPresser; 01/04/17 11:25 AM.

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Good to note most pop stuff the piano is but a part of the ensemble. Yes, they sell arrangements of pop songs for solo piano, but it's not the same thing. But as I said, if you have ensemble experience, you are ahead of them that do not.


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This is great. Thanks Qazsedcft

Originally Posted by Qazsedcft

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Hi

I've seen nothing that really does what you're asking for. With artists like Elton John and Billy Joel you get an arrangement of their material (the songs), which mostly never includes an accurate transcription of the Piano part(s). And I wonder if that's what you meant as you used the words scores.

There was a fabulous website called Eltons Cafe which included very accurate transcriptions of Elton's playing. It went down for many years but some dedicated people have resurrected it in the last year or so. Its well worth a look.

You can get books of these artists sheet music on-line as per dogpersons post, but whilst they are graded they mostly do not include what the original artist played on the Piano.

A lot depends on what you really want. If you want to learn to play the Piano like for example, Elton John, then the vast majority of published song books, are, to be frank, pretty useless. Eltons Cafe is the place to go for that. I know of no other website like this one.

However if you just want arrangements of the artists songs and are not too fussed about replicating their Piano style then start with sheetmusicplus and check out whats available there.

Cheers

Simon





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Originally Posted by Simon_b

A lot depends on what you really want. If you want to learn to play the Piano like for example, Elton John, then the vast majority of published song books, are, to be frank, pretty useless.

I've said in the past that I don't see the point of anyone learning any pop music from published sheet music note for note, dynamics, expression marks etc. Because you're not going to be playing what the original performers actually played, and it seems odd to me that anyone would slavishly learn and play what an arranger has done to make a piano arrangement. Far better to use that arrangement as a starting point, and change what you want to get as close as you like to the 'original' performance (if you regard the performer's first recording as 'original'), or alternatively, simplify as much as you like to suit your ability.

The first time I ever played pop music from a published score was soon after the funeral of Princess Diana, when someone asked me to play the Elton John song, and handed me the published "original" sheet music. The score was obviously the approved version, but as soon as I started playing through it, I knew that wasn't what Elton played, either in Westminster Abbey:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8gO0Z818j4

.....or in the single that was released soon afterwards, so I made some changes (including adding more notes and altering a few chords) to get it closer to what I remembered from the performance during the service that I watched on TV.

Similarly with another well-known 'piano-heavy' song, Bridge Over Troubled Water, when I found the 'original' sheet music while playing the piano in the bar on a ship. It was not that the arrangement in it was over-simplified - just that some harmonies weren't even the same as in the song on the album.


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Originally Posted by bennevis

I've said in the past that I don't see the point of anyone learning any pop music from published sheet music note for note, dynamics, expression marks etc. Because you're not going to be playing what the original performers actually played, and it seems odd to me that anyone would slavishly learn and play what an arranger has done to make a piano arrangement. Far better to use that arrangement as a starting point, and change what you want to get as close as you like to the 'original' performance (if you regard the performer's first recording as 'original'), or alternatively, simplify as much as you like to suit your ability.

The skills to learn and play music from a score are different from the skills to learn and play or adapt music from a recording. Someone who is less strong at the latter (adaptation) might nevertheless be satisfied with the results from the former (strict sheet music).


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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88

The skills to learn and play music from a score are different from the skills to learn and play or adapt music from a recording. Someone who is less strong at the latter (adaptation) might nevertheless be satisfied with the results from the former (strict sheet music).

I don't think you need a lot of skills to simplify a published pop arrangement to suit your own ability - that's why I mentioned about using the sheet music as a starting point to make your own simplifications.

For a start, discard all the notes that are not part of the melody (which will be in the RH), or the bass (the lowest notes that provide the harmonic basis of the music). You could well be playing a decent rendition of the song with just these two 'lines' of music. If you are able to add more notes, include the thirds of the chords (not the fifths), and you'll have full-sounding harmonies.

Many of the chords in Bach chorales have just the tonic notes and the thirds, but they sound 'complete'. Obviously in pop, there're often sevenths in the chords, so they should be next to include, if you're able.


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I was thinking of the "change what you want to get as close as you like to the 'original' performance (if you regard the performer's first recording as 'original')" part of your post, rather than the "alternatively, simplify as much as you like to suit your ability."


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I think the ideal solution for anyone looking for easy arrangements of pop songs is just to buy a volume of the songs in decent piano arrangements (even if they're of a difficulty they can't manage), and make their own simplifications along the lines I suggested. Write out your own simplified arrangements on manuscript paper.

By doing that you learn for yourself what works and what doesn't - you improve your aural skills by trying out things on the piano and listening to the results carefully. The more you do, the easier it gets.

And as your piano skills improve, you can reinstate some of the notes that you left out in your previous simplifications. You don't need to go looking for more advanced arrangements and spending more money.

Eventually, you might even develop sufficient aural skills to play by ear and/or write out your own arrangements simply by listening to the songs, without the aid of someone else's arrangement as a reference.


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I'm just going to add that I noticed pop-wise that Beatles songs have been a good starting point for me compared to Elton, Billy and Ben Folds I think because even though Paul and John both played piano it was not the main instrument to either of them so the piano parts they wrote aren't quite as challenging as those written by someone that studied classical before going pop.


I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.
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I am a real beginner. Only 5 months. But I felt like sometimes the laziness of waiting for my skills to improve (I don't have enough time to exercise properly) clashes with my desire of playing for my own pleasure of creating that beautiful sound that comes out of a piano.

That is why every now and then I am sharing very simple songs that I learn in videos on Youtube. Things like Arcade Fire, Mad Season, Soundgarden.

If you want to check them they are in a playlist called MEST POP FUBAIA (Mega Easy Songs To Play On Piano For Ultra Beginners As I Am):

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5anKkOO1Y0tuHK-cCiM6G2FNhguah8PQ

Hope you like it!

Cheers.
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Very helpful list, thank you!


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