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Playing recent pop hits on solo piano


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Regarding playing recent pop hits on piano- I've done Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Usher, Taio Cruz, Bruno Mars and Britney Spears lately. The trick to making it work on piano for me is to put the songs all in the same key and then medley together just their 4 bar hook sections (usually the choruses) from each tune and therefore I usually leave out the boring verses, pre-choruses, bridges, filler, etc. I go straight to the hook melody and vamp it a while and then medley on to the next hook from the next song. I don't memorize this stuff I arrange lead sheets with Sibelius of 5 or 6 hooks from each artist on a single sheet. (I do sometimes include more than just the choruses if there is a decent melody in other section, for example: I include the intros from both Dynamite and DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love Again, and Just Dance. Also the verse from Paparazzi, and most of 'Till The End Of The World. For the rest of the tunes in the medleys it's just the choruses. And I never use the bass lines from the original recordings. I avoid following the recorded arrangements, I personalize it in my own contemporary pop piano style.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Find Harry's solo piano arrangements and jazz tutorials at https://www.patreon.com/HarryLikas


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I have two questions - In what context? In other words, what else are you playing in your set?


Second, what does this do for you? If people recognize that you touched on [some hit] but not play the entire song nor more than a few bars, do they still seem to appreciate it, applaud, give you a tip?

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck


"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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