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I decided to use this piece for my appraisal for a number of reasons.
This piece was released in 2004 by a band called Keane; it was the
first single by this band, and the single that made them famous. This
song is typical for Keane. It has block chords to create a pulsing
beat. This seems to be a trademark for Keane’s music.
The pianist uses mainly block chords, to create the feeling that the
song is pulsing, and I decided I could do this easily with my left
hand, so my right hand could be free to play the melody line. This was
difficult at first, as the block chords are very spaced out, and
repetitive. I had not played anything like this with my left hand
I also felt I could put feeling into this, improvising; adding
crescendo’s and diminuendo’s to create feeling in the piece. In the
chorus of the recorded version, mood is created with the addition of
the bass guitar and drums, I tried to compensate by making certain
parts of the piece Forte, to show that the piece had turned angrier.
There is a fairly difficult section in this piece, after the chorus,
it is a quick chord sequence. The actual chords are quite close, and
don’t take a lot of effort stretching, although the different chords
are only semitones apart, so it is very fiddly trying to get all the
notes correct. This sounds impressive on the recorded version, and
allows the listener to prepare for the next verse
If I were to re-record this piece, I would try to find a way of
incorporating the bass line with block chords of the left hand, to
give a fuller sound. All in all I am happy with my performance.
The 3 pieces I chose to analyse were – Can’t Stop Now, Imagine, and
Somewhere Only We Know. Cant Stop Now and Somewhere Only We Know were
released on the album ‘Hopes And Fears’ in 2004 by Keane, although
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songs, although the band set-up is different to the usual guitar-heavy
rock band. The band consists of a drummer, singer, bass player and
pianist. Imagine was written by John Lennon, and would be played by a
similar setup to Keane.
Cant Stop Now starts with a short, heavy drum introduction, which is
followed by the main piano riff. This is made up of a mixture of
broken chords and passing notes, all pedalled, to create a medium
tempo, and cheerful mood. The first verse follows straight after. The
piano bass line is very simple, all 8ve notes, and repeated chords
throughout. This is fairly similar to Somewhere Only We Know, and
follows the style that Keane employ.
In Contrast to this, Imagine is a soft slow piece and is led by piano.
This means all the different moods that are shown in the piece, are
created by piano. The beginning is a basic C major chord that is
spread so that the E and G are separate from the C. This interlinks
with the Fmajor chord, which works in the same fashion.
This ostinato continues until the first chorus, where the pedalled
notes increase in velocity, and the drumbeat kicks in. in the second
verse, it is a repeat of the first verse, with soft, slow pedalled
notes to create the sombre mood. The second verse repeats itself, the
same as the first. The bass of the chorus is all 8ve notes, descending
The chorus of both Can’t Stop Now and Somewhere Only We Know keep the
same structures, although they both become more complex: in Somewhere
Only We Know, the block chords become far wider, using the whole
octave, to give a sense of depth to the song. The chorus of Cant Stop
now is complex, as the chords are very fiddly as they are quick and
close together, and are difficult to play.
In the endtro of Cant Stop Now, the piano line becomes very complex,
darting up and down the piano. This is accomplished by taking the
notes of the key signature, and playing them at a very fast pace in
different octaves moving up and down the piano. This is unusual for
Keane, as the music usually slows right down for a calm ending, much
like Somewhere Only We Know, where a final spread chord is used to
signal the end. This is similar to Imagine, which ends in the same
way. This is a slower ending helps create the mood for the song.
Around halfway through Cant Stop Now, the section that begins “the
motion keeps my heart running” suits the style of piano as the chords
and notes are spaced and timed evenly (unlike the rest of the song,)
so as to create the style that it is moving. The key of this song is
Fmajor, although it varies with the addition of Eb.
Similarly, in Imagine, after the second chorus, the piano becomes more
complex, with the start of “you may say im a dreamer,” this, along
with the introduction of strings, creates a feeling of sadness. This
section modulates from C major to Gmajor. After this, the verse and
chorus repeat, although the pedalled notes are heavier, giving the
impression that the sombre mood has lifted, like a “new dawn.”
Somewhere Only We Know also has a bridge section after the second
chorus. The piano continues with its beating piano chords, although
they become more spaced out, using a whole octave, to create depth.
On the day, I feel my performance went well. I made sure I allowed
myself plenty of time to practice, to warm up, and try to iron out any
I felt I played the song well, with a good use of dynamics, and I feel
that although I may have slipped on a few notes, overall I feel it was
a success. The 1 section I feel could have been improved was inbetween
the first chorus and the second verse. This section is very difficult
to play, as there is a quick change of chords, all of which being very
close together. I may have slipped on a few of these notes, although I
think played this ok.
Pieces Studied: Imagine, Can’t Stop Now, Somewhere Only We Know
Style: Modern Piano
My brief is to compose a piece of music in the style of modern piano.
The difference between traditional, classical piano, and modern piano,
is that whereas classical piano is written to be played exactly how it
is written, with no room for improvisation, modern piano has a lot of
“grey area” where it is meant for the player to play how he/she wants
to play it. Other artists that use this style of piano include
Embrace, Muse, Oasis and Coldplay.
In ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, mostly block chords are used. I feel this
will create the wrong type of mood for the idea I have in mind,
although I may experiment, just to make sure.
I like the way ‘Cant stop Now’ is able to create a sense that the
piece is speeding up, without changing the tempo. This is accomplished
by using more chords in a bar, or shorter notes, so as to fit more in.
I will try to incorporate this idea into my composition. Also this
piece uses spread chords, which I may also find useful. Also, the
section “the motion keeps my heart running,” which is a very pulsing,
evenly spaced section, is in complete contrast with the rest of the
piece. I would like to develop this idea for my composition.
In ‘Imagine,’ pedalled notes are used to create feeling, I feel this
would be vital in my piece, as it is hard to create mood without the
sustain pedal. Also the descending 8ve notes are used in this piece, I
find this interesting, and will try to experiment with this to be used
in my composition.
All three pieces have repeating ostinatos, with a different section at
the end. This seems to be a main feature in modern piano, and will be
the structure I will use in my composition.