Full Disclosure: I don’t care for Elton John. But I wanted to share this bit of underrated composing that’s speculated to be what he’d want at his funeral. The piece has two parts: Funeral For A Friend and Love Lies Bleeding. The first part (~ 5 minutes) is an instrumental and really shows his musical composition ability. The second half is just his usual singing. Listen to the first half – it sounds more like something you’d expect coming from Boston (Foreplay / Long Time) or ELO (Fire on High).
Another Elton John piano piece I enjoy is Someone Saved My Life Tonight. I don’t give a crap about the vocals but the piano is very innovative, especially the Cm – A7 – C – C#dim – G progressions, and the second bridge (“So save your strength and run the field you play alone”), which goes Em7 – C – C#dim, and changes time signature before going back to the chorus. C#dim is one of those fairly easy piano chords and also fairly easy on the Stick as well but a real pain in the ass on the guitar – it’s a 3rd position non-barre sharp which means it starts on the 4th fret and it only uses the middle four strings – the low and high E strings are damped. Going from C to C#dim took me a lot of practice to get smoothly on the guitar neck, but it’s a fairly simple 3 fret slide up and simple chord shape change on the Stick.
And Rick Wakeman may have lost the title of fastest keyboardest in the world but he’s still just freaking amazing:
His stage setup for this video consists of an upright piano, a Minimoog, a more modern analog synthesizer, and an analog loop sampler.
I’ve always been a big fan of J.S. Bach and one of the organ pieces I enjoy hearing for demonstration of instrument capability is his Toccata and Fugue in D Minor:
In that video, each organ stop is a different color. My two favorite stops in this piece are the green (which is definitely a pedal stop, sounds like a 16′ Ophicleide, or a mixture containing a long reed rank) and the dull orange, which is probably a Great Octave. (Someone who knows organ stops, please correct me in the comments.) Either way, it’s just flipping awesome!
I’ll leave you with an orchestral piece that was also in Disney’s Fantasia, Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain: