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Top 10 Easy Piano Pieces That Sound Great

carpe_noctem and JFrater

Hopefully no one is coming to this looking for something they can sit down and play brilliantly in one sitting. There is no such thing as a great-sounding piano piece that can be learnt in seconds, but these are some of the simpler ones, that, if mastered, could convince everyone you’re a true pianist. Bear in mind though, the key to this, like anything, is practice. If you want something to sound good, you have to be prepared to work on it, but these are the top ten pieces, in my opinion, that sound amazing, and can be performed with not too much difficulty on your behalf. If you disagree with any of these, by all means, give your opinion in the comments.

10

Etude Op. 10 – 12
“Revolutionary Etude” – Chopin

This is far and away the most difficult piece on this list, and I’m sure there’ll be lots of criticism about the level of this piece, but when you really break it down, it’s based on quite simple arpeggios and very repetitive hand movements. The right hand theme is also relatively simple, presenting only a small challenge to someone with a particularly small hand. Chopin’s music wasn’t about creating technical difficulties for the pianist (that’s more Liszt’s field of work, some reasoned that Liszt was the world’s first three-handed pianist), but about creating flourishes and runs that are based upon the basics of piano playing. The hardest part of this piece by far is the speed factor, but even played slowly, this is sure to blow everyone away, if you have the discipline to learn it as a slow piece, and avoid the temptation of running away with it.

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9

Bagatelle in A Minor, Op. 59 – “Fur Elise”
Beethoven

While not one of my favorite pieces, this constantly crops up time and time again amongst lists of the all-time classics of piano. One thing everyone seems to always overlook though, it’s dead easy! If played at a moderate speed, there are no excessively challenging passages in the entire piece. There are some slightly tricky runs in the last half, but nothing that can’t be done without a little bit of practice. This is a must-have on any dinner party list, and given how well-known it is, people will immediately recognize this piece.

8

Concord Sonata – “The Alcotts”
Charles Ives

This is one I taught myself to play – and I am not a great pianist. Some of the stretches are wide – so wide hands are helpful, but it is actually a very simple piece. It manages to sound more complex than it is through unusual harmonies but it is well worth the go. You might notice that the theme Ives uses here is the same as Beethoven’s 5th symphony – Ives is well known for his use of pastiche in his writing. The end is particularly cool.

7

In a Landscape
John Cage

If you are familiar at all with John Cage, you will be very surprised by this piece. Cage is well known for his 4’33 in which the musician does not make a sound (the music is the ambient noise). He is also known for extremely jarring and dissonant music. This item, however, is quite the opposite – it is a beautiful slow melodic piece that you can’t help but love. It also uses the sustain pedal throughout (without lifting your foot) so you can concentrate on the fingerwork not the footwork.

6

Gymnopédie No.1
Erik Satie

This piece has been used countless times in advertising and it is no wonder – it is a beautiful piece of music by one of France’s most talented composers. This set of three pieces (number 1 is the one we have here) are considered to be precursors to the modern ambient music movement. Satie himself referred to much of his music as “furniture music” – implying that it should be background music.

5

Clair de Lune
Debussy

A relatively slow piece, and yet another very popular piece, this song will forever remain remarkable to your audience if you can pull it off. Debussy’s slightly irregular harmonies combine in this piece to a gentle consonance, that creates a gentle, flowing image. The only tricky thing in this is to avoid heaviness, and maintain fluidity throughout. This will without a doubt be one of your most impressive pieces if executed correctly.

4

The Heart Asks For Pleasure First
Michael Nyman

One of the masterworks from the film “The Piano” Michael Nyman’s piece draws together arpeggios and a simple melody to create a haunting, echoing theme that lasts for long after the piece is finished. While not a mainstream piece, this small gem is an astounding portrayal of emotion through music. The simple melody, interspersed with the accompaniment, is simply beautiful. I’ve chosen a rather different video than usual, because this shows the emotional side of the piece much more succinctly than a performance video.

3

Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman
“Variations on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” – Mozart

Everyone will know the opening of this piece, it’s one of the most famous pieces of all time (it’s the alphabet song for god sake’s!) but few people know the entire thing. Mozart adapted the theme of a well known French folk song into 12 different variations, each of which focus on a different aspect of the piano. When played in it’s entirety, it is a stunning piece. It’s especially good for confusing people who don’t know what you’re playing, because when you start off, they expect something a whole lot different to where you end up. I promise you, this piece is not too difficult, but it will sound amazing if treated right. And for added benefit, here’s a video of a 7 year old playing it.

2

Comptine D’un Autre été, L’Après-midi
Yann Tiersen

One of the most beautiful pieces of film music in years, from the French film Amelie, Yann Tiersen weaves simple melodies and accompaniments to create a gradually building, yet wholly simplistic melody. This piece is technically very simple, but it takes a certain emotional maturity to play it as more than just notes. This may well prove to be one of the more challenging on the list, simply because there is a tendency to play it too fast, or too heavily, which will utterly destroy the piece. If perfected, this will be one of the most emotional pieces in your repertoire, I know many people who have actually been driven to tears by this piece. This animation is a perfect summary of the piece.

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1

Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor
“Moonlight Sonata” – Beethoven

There is no doubt (in my mind at least) that this belongs on the top spot. This is a remarkably simple piece that is potentially among the most recognized pieces of all time, and remains one of the favorite piano pieces ever written. Nothing needs to be said, just listen. [JFrater: if you like this, expand your knowledge of the piece by listening to the awesome second movement here. And for completion, here is the virtuosic talent of Glenn Gould playing the incredible third movement.]

Contributor: carpe_noctem (1 – 5, 9 – 10), JFrater (6 – 8 )

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