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EMMA KNIGHTS: THE PIANO MEN Top 5 cases of pianist envy


Elder Conservatorium and WAAPA graduate
Emma Knights is set to bring The Piano Men to life this FRINGE WORLD, in an hour of amusing musical yarns at St Mary’s Church, South Perth on Sunday, February 9. She’s set to share some laughs about dress codes for cruise line cocktail pianists, sling off some Rachmaninoff, sing her song about pianist envy and make you wonder why male pianists are always at the forefront when we think of the piano. In preparation for the show, Emma Knights shared her top five cases of “pianist envy,” or in other words, great songs she wished she’d written on the piano.

1. Debussy – Ballade (Slave)

Debussy is one of my favourite composers for piano…one of the impressionists. His melodies and phrases create pictures in your mind. I played quite a lot of his music when I was a university and this was a favourite. This one in particular is stunning to play and the melody over the triplets is beautiful. To be able to create pictures in the minds of a performer and their audience is the genius of Debussy and I wish I could write something as beautiful as he has.

2. Rachel Portman – One Day Theme

Not only did I love the book and movie with this theme, but I love Rachel Portman’s themes. This piece has such lovely stillness to it so it is one I wish I could have written. Rachel’s themes also sound just as rich as piano solos as they do with orchestra.

3. Cécile Chaminade  – Arabesque Op 61

I only just recently found Cecile’s works when I was researching for my show The Piano Women. I wish I had discovered her when I was at university as her works are really charming. This one is quite cheeky and has such different colours flowing through the melodies. I really love it!

4. Billy Joel  – Piano Man

It should be obvious why I wish I wrote this piece. If you can write a song that cements you in the career that you have and that speaks to so many people you do it. If you can also make it a song with a singalong portion that people drinking at pubs can sing then you have taken it a step further! You cannot really think of the piano without thinking of this song and when you think piano man… you think Billy Joel… it is genius! I wonder if he thought it would be as popular as it has been when he wrote it or whether it was simply reflections on his time as a pianist in the pub?

5. Vanessa Carlton – A Thousand Miles

When this track came out EVERYONE wanted to play it. It actually made it onto a “Please do not play these songs” list that we put up at the piano store I worked at! It is a very catchy little riff and the rhythmic use of chords on the piano through the verses means you simply cannot stop the head-bop groove along! I also like it when pop songs are actually a little more challenging to sight read.

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