Accompanying Blog Post For Video: “How to play ‘FIREWORK’ by Katy Perry on the piano”
This tune is a classic pop song with an awesome dynamic build. It’s got a great energy and tempo, and the melody has a slow build ascension that will leave you feeling uplifted! (And not just because the lyrics are so positive and inspiring). I love playing this specific arrangement for a few reasons:
1. The Left Hand Rhythmic Pattern
This is a common approach to playing a left hand chord with some driving rhythm: “1 and 2, 3 and 4″… It’s almost a full 8th note pattern where we are playing on every strong beat and every up beat, but we do not play on the and of 2 or the and of 4. The resulting effect is that beat 2 and beat 4 feel much stronger because we land on them more definitively. One and TWO. Three and FOUR.
And there’s another thing that makes 2 and 4 feel stronger, and that is the highest note of each chord outline falls on those strong beats. So we’ve covered what is happening rhythmically, but let’s talk a little about what is happening harmonically: We start with the root in the low octave on beats 1 and 3. The following weak beats, or “upbeats” have the 5th of the chord. And what’s next (beats 2 and 4) are the root again but an octave higher. So we have what I call a “1-5-1” pattern, where we outline the root, fifth, and root again of a given chord.
Beats 2 and 4 are typically where the snare drum or hand claps fall in 4/4, especially in pop, rock, and dance music, so this is a great lesson on grooving with a driving rhythm in the left hand.
2. Syncopations in the Right Hand on top of the Left Hand Pattern
To make matters more complicated (and therefore more challenging and hopefully therefore more rewarding!), while the left hand is playing its steady driving rhythms, the right hand floats higher above with a somewhat syncopated melody. We have a few instances where the melody ties over the bar line, while the left hand plays a strong beat 1 (see measure 2 and 4 of the selection).
We also have a few instances where the right hand melody is grouped in rhythmic groupings of 3 8th notes, instead of 2 or 4 like the left hand’s part. What I mean by that is if we look at measure 6, we see a dotted quarter note (which we know gets three 8th notes), then we see an 8th note tied to a quarter note (which is the same as a dotted quarter note: another grouping of three 8th notes). This is not necessarily difficult to play on its own, but when we put it on top of a left hand part that is rhythmically rooted in groupings of 2’s and 4’s, it starts to get a lot more tricky. So this is a fantastic lesson on rhythm, subdivision, and syncopations!
So dive in! Make sure to watch the video while you’re at your piano or keyboard so you can play along with me as I guide you through the lesson. And don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any other YouTube videos lessons… I’m now doing 2 new videos a week, EVERY WEEK!
If you love using your favorite songs to learn the piano, check out FIREWORK by Katy Perry at the Playground Sessions YouTube channel. If you like what you see you can download the app to learn the rest with our interactive sheet music.
For more blog posts by Playground Teacher Phil Anderson, click here.
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