There are different ways to approach playing pop songs versus classical music. The theories behind the two styles are quite different, and that can make a big difference in how you play the music. This article will focus on playing pop songs on the piano using chords.
To do this effectively, you’ll need to have a good understanding of chord theory. But don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you so that you can start playing your favorite pop songs in no time. Ready to get started? Let’s go!
The piano can shine in virtually any genre, and it’s been a staple of pop music for decades. In this article, we’ll dive into the piano’s history in pop music, explore pop’s essential ingredients, review key skills you need to play pop songs on the piano, and listen to some iconic pop piano hits.
Chances are you’ve listened to pop music. And if pop is your genre of choice, you may want to learn how to play pop songs on the piano.
Almost all pop albums are composed of the same basic ingredients. Often a singer can combine a couple of chord progressions into a single song. So, if we have basic knowledge, it would be easy for us to quickly master simple arrangements of pop music.
This article is dedicated to understanding diatonic chords and the Nashville number system for piano. Diatonic chords are one or more chords occurring naturally at a scale.
Take C Major. If we create a triad form above the first C and then scooch the same shape over each note on the scale, this chord is the diatonic chord in C Major. The chord can be numbered. This is the Nashville number system. These numbers may be represented as Roman numbers.
Whenever arranged, the piano is a musical instrument in the hands of the listener. Summer Swee-Singh will coach Pianote members on arrangements in September 2022. Join Pianotes membership now!
The 1-5-4-4 pop progression is most commonly seen in pop. It is used for dozens of songs, including “Let It Be” by the Beatles and “Someone You Love” by Lewis Capaldi, among others.
Chords are characterized by some notes played together. The word harmony can be referred to as chords. Chords can come either from a piece of music or from singers in a group.
Chord progressions are sequences of chords sounding good together. These are narratives and help push a song to a higher level.
If you’re playing pop music on the piano, or even jazz music or a rock song, you’ll need to know how to play both major and minor chords.
Major chords are usually played on the first, third, and fifth notes of a scale, while minor chords are played on the second, fourth, and sixth notes. To form a major chord, you’ll start by playing the root note (the first note of the scale) with your left hand.
Then, with your right hand, you’ll play the third note of the scale. Finally, you’ll play the fifth note of the scale with your left hand. To form a minor chord, you’ll start by playing the second note of the scale with your right hand. Then, with your left hand, you’ll play the fourth note of the scale. Finally, you’ll play the sixth note of the scale with your right hand.
With a little practice, you’ll be able to play any pop song using only major and minor chords!
Piano chords with three notes are usually called triad chords.
Pop songs usually have four basic sections: verse, chorus, bridge, and hook.
The verse and chorus are the main parts of the song and are repeated several times throughout. The verse is where most of the story is told; it sets up the situation or problem that will be resolved in the chorus.
The chorus is where the main point of the song is made; it usually contains the title of the song and the artist’s name.
The bridge is a section that provides contrast by changing up the melody or lyrics; it usually comes after the second chorus and leads into the final chorus.
The hook is a phrase or lyric that is catchy and memorable; it’s often repeated several times throughout the song (think: “I want it that way” by *NSYNC or “Hit me, baby, one more time” by Britney Spears).
Let’s get a little context. The definition of pop music seems somewhat obscure. And even if pop is linked with commercial culture, consumerism and putting looks above technical skill, we are convinced that nobody should shame them for enjoying this.
Not everyone can create the top 50 hits they deserve. And that one song that stays stuck in your head has surprisingly good lyrics. Pop music doesn’t exist in genres as it is only one type of popular music.
In addition, depending upon trends, various genre types can appear in the top 40: pop music and more. Europe’s classical music (i.e., Mozart or Beethoven) is rarely included in today’s Top 40.
Now that we know what goes into a pop song, let’s talk about how to play one on the piano! First things first: you need to be able to read sheet music (or at least fake it until you make it—there are lots of resources out there to help you get started). You can download free sheet music for many pop songs online.
Second: identify chords by ear or from a lead sheet so you can play along with other instruments or singers.
Third: practice playing with a rhythmic feel so your playing sounds tight and polished.
Fourth: memorize melodies and chord progressions so you can play without looking at your hands all the time (this will also come in handy if you ever want to add your own embellishments).
Finally: develop good listening skills so you can really hear what’s going on in a recording and recreate it on your instrument.
Pop music is often thought of as catchy, lightweight, and easy to listen to. But what makes a song qualify as “pop?” The answer is both simple and complicated. Pop music is short for “popular music,” which is defined as any style of popular music that originated in the commercial music industry.
In other words, if it was created to make money and people like it, it’s probably a pop song.
Pianos have been a staple instrument in popular music since the very beginning of the genre. In fact, one of the first ever documented instances of commercial pop music was a song called “The answer my friend is blowing in the wind” piano melody by Percy Wenrich in 1896. The popularity of the song led Wenrich to create an entire sheet music business, which published other hit songs like “Whistle While You Work” and “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
The keyboard is extremely versatile and it makes numerous iconic pop music appearances. The keyboard has an integral role in many songs. Some people view them as decoration. Similarly, Queen’s piano is grandiose in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
When a pianist is removed, the song has a major shift. Meanwhile, in Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” the piano is crucial and pushes the songs, but it only uses simple repetitive chords. In addition, most pop songs may be turned into beautiful pieces on solo piano.
When it comes to playing the piano, there are a lot of different directions you can go in. You could learn classical pieces from Bach or Mozart, or you could explore more modern styles like jazz or rock. However, if you’re looking for some easy pop songs to learn on piano, we’ve got you covered.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, these tunes are sure to get your toes tapping. From classic hits like “Let it Be” by the Beatles to more recent chart-toppers like “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran, there’s something for everyone on this list. So what are you waiting for? Grab your sheet music and get started!
Famous easy piano pop songs to play
Here are just a few examples of famous easy pop songs that feature piano prominently: “Hey Jude” by The Beatles, “Your Song” by Elton John, “Someone Like You” by Adele, “All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston and “Falling” by Alicia Keys.
Please note that this is merely an overview of western pop music (English). The music in pop music should nevertheless be understood as context-specific. What French people call “pop” will differ greatly from what Thai people call “pop.” However, pop music today is very common and culturally related, and even French and Thai people can easily recognize pop songs.
So there you have it—everything you need to get started playing pop songs on the piano! Whether you want to try your hand at recreating some popular songs or write your own chart-topping tunes, remember that practice makes perfect (or at least pretty good).
So don’t get discouraged if your first attempts don’t sound exactly like Adele’s — all piano players have to start somewhere.
Just keep at it and enjoy making beautiful music and playing your favorite songs on the piano.
Linda Ritter is a passionate pianist and a songwriter for more than 7 years. With a Masters in Music, she has explored the world of music and has collaborated with several musicians and brands like Roland, Tune Core, and plenty of blogs.