Three Piano Transcriptions I’m Rather Proud Of
When it comes to transcribing music for piano, I’ll admit I have an advantage. I’ve been playing the piano for twenty-six years now and have a feel for what the instrument is capable of. I’ll often hear a chord in a piano piece and can almost instinctively know how it was voiced based on the way I would voice it. This said, every once in a while, I’m commissioned to transcribe a particularly virtuosic piano piece that pushes the instrument and its performer right to their limits. In these cases, the transcription process is a little slower and more arduous as I have to rely less on my intuition of the instrument and instead listen to every note carefully and pick out the pitches one by one.
Here are three examples of piano transcriptions I did that I’m very proud of, both because I think the source material is excellent and because I think I did a particularly quality job of capturing these performances on paper. Enjoy!
A Mighty Fortress is Our God
This performance was actually an improvisation which makes it that much more impressive. I was only commissioned to transcribe the first half of this piece which is more dissonant and unpredictable than the traditional harmonization. I suggest you listen to the whole thing, though, as the stride piano in the second half is quite fun.
When the Saints Go Marching In
This version is by the late great legend out of New Orleans, Dr. John himself. Perhaps one of the most underrated pianists in his time in terms of technical proficiency, Dr. John took all the blends of New Orleans styles, from Dixieland to jazz to blues to boogie to ragtime, and combined them in a style entirely his own. If churches were filled with music more this speed, I suspect they might be packed.
Liberace was a master showman, and much like a modern-day Franz Liszt, he relied on fast runs and grandiose performances to impress his audiences. His version of “Dixie,” seen here, is no exception to this rule.