Your favorite "background music" pieces?

Posted by: Lollipop

Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 01/02/13 10:09 PM

This isn't really a teaching question, but I know you guys best...

I have been asked by an acquaintance to play "background" music at the grand opening of his new .... funeral parlor. He asked me to just play "some classical stuff" (as opposed to pop, not as opposed to baroque.) The problem is, I don't have an extensive rep of the calm, soothing background music I think he has in mind, (not the kind of music I play for fun) and have less than 3 weeks to put together something. I have several nice books of hymn arrangements that I can use as backup, but he specifically requested classical, so I want to make an effort.

I would like to stick to intermediate level pieces so that I can learn them quicker. I'm guessing I will need 30 minutes worth or so. Maybe more. I've been playing through books looking for appropriate things to learn or polish, but thought I'd ask here for suggestions.

Any ideas?
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 01/02/13 10:40 PM

2nd movements of sonatinas by Clementi, Diabelli, and some Kuhlau. Lichner wrote some nice 2nd movements in his sonatinas as well. You can get some sonatina album and play through all the slow movements.

You can also play some Heller studies undertempo. Nobody will ever know the difference.

If these are all too easy, go for the slow movements of Mozart and Haydn. Lots of gems there.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 01/02/13 11:07 PM

Time to pull out your anthologies!
Posted by: Lollipop

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 01/03/13 09:12 AM

Never thought of using the slow movements of sonatinas! Great idea! My son and I had a blast playing Clementi together on two pianos over Christmas with the second piano parts, so those are still sitting out. I'll pull out some other sonatina books and give them a look.

I went through one Chopin book yesterday, and found a few potentials. Maybe Bach Prelude #1 - not slow, but still soothing. Maybe Beethoven Sonatina in G. Plan to look through my old John Thompson (if I can find it), too.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 01/03/13 09:34 AM

There are some great books that have piano arrangements of well-known classical pieces of all kinds. I would probably steer clear of anything that sounds too dark or depressing, however (no Chopin funeral march!). Being in a funeral parlor is depressing enough. I'm sure the owner wants to give off the impression of being comforting. wink Also, avoid pieces that are too flashy/bombastic.

Chopin raindrop prelude would be perfect, Grieg Nocturne, Mozart K 332 2nd movement is gorgeous but much less recognizable. Beethoven 2nd movements tend to be perfect for this as well, but again, stay away form anything too dark.
Posted by: Lollipop

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 01/03/13 10:59 AM

Thanks, I'll check these out. Don't you think Raindrop Prelude might be too suspenseful? I always feel a great sense of foreboding from all those repeated notes.

I'm liking some of the minor key waltzes.
Posted by: Lollipop

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 01/07/13 05:52 PM

I went to the music store today, and came home with a volume of pieces "selected and edited" by Keith Snell called "Quiet Classics". The introduction says he compiled these for himself and for his students, when asked to provide background music for various events. The pieces are arranged to flow from one to another, and he has put them in four sets of 20-25 minutes of music each. I've only played through the first set so far, but it is quite sight-readable and very appropriate.

It has many of of the pieces I was already considering, plus others I hadn't thought of.

Sorry to sound like a commercial. Wanted to share this in case anyone else ever finds themselves in this same situation.
Posted by: Stanny

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 01/07/13 08:12 PM

Thanks, good to know!
Posted by: Ann in Kentucky

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 02/07/13 07:41 PM

Originally Posted By: Lollipop
I went to the music store today, and came home with a volume of pieces "selected and edited" by Keith Snell called "Quiet Classics". The introduction says he compiled these for himself and for his students, when asked to provide background music for various events. The pieces are arranged to flow from one to another, and he has put them in four sets of 20-25 minutes of music each. I've only played through the first set so far, but it is quite sight-readable and very appropriate.

It has many of of the pieces I was already considering, plus others I hadn't thought of.

Sorry to sound like a commercial. Wanted to share this in case anyone else ever finds themselves in this same situation.


Thank you for this suggestion! After reading your post I ordered "Quiet Classics". I've played through the first set and I think this is a wonderful collection!
Posted by: GlassLove

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 02/08/13 07:35 AM

My teacher has the Quiet Classics book too. She uses it for exactly the same purpose. It is a beautiful collection.
Posted by: Barb860

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/24/13 02:57 PM

Just wanted to chime in to say that I like Quiet Classics a lot, too. An adult student of mine is enjoying some pieces from it. Pieces are across the board as far as levels go; 5-10 and perhaps a few beyond. Lovely collection. Thanks, Lollipop, for the tip!
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/24/13 04:02 PM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
2nd movements of sonatinas by Clementi, Diabelli, and some Kuhlau. Lichner wrote some nice 2nd movements in his sonatinas as well. You can get some sonatina album and play through all the slow movements.

You can also play some Heller studies undertempo. Nobody will ever know the difference.

If these are all too easy, go for the slow movements of Mozart and Haydn. Lots of gems there.

Ditto, especially the Mozart sonatas.
Posted by: dumdumdiddle

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/24/13 11:06 PM

Go to www.musicnotes.com and type in Brian Crain. It's more contemporary but they play it on my iTunes radio station called 'Whisperings' and it's nice.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/24/13 11:16 PM

Chopin Preludes Op 28/14, 16, 18, 22, 24, Etudes 10/4, 12, 25/10, 11, 12, and throw in the last movement of Op 35.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/25/13 08:42 AM

Go for very easy pieces and play them flawlessly. Avoid anything show-offy and anything with challenges. You have to change your mindset for a commercial gig like this. It's about pleasing the customer, not about making great art.

Have your setlist prepared with everything in order for as little dead air between pieces as possible - ideally you'll have no dead air, just doing chord progressions as needed to the key of the next piece.

Half an hour early is on time, dress conservatively, and politely decline alcohol.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/25/13 04:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Chopin Preludes Op 28/14, 16, 18, 22, 24, Etudes 10/4, 12, 25/10, 11, 12, and throw in the last movement of Op 35.

Right. While you're at it, throw in all the Transcendental Etudes by Liszt.

Did you even read the thread before you made those recommendations?
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/25/13 04:52 PM

Personally, I hate background music. I'd rather have silence.
Posted by: currawong

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/25/13 08:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Personally, I hate background music. I'd rather have silence.
Oh me too, me too. If the music is good I want to listen to it. If it isn't, I don't want to hear it at all.

That said, I used to have a restaurant job playing what most people seemed to regard as background music. But *I* was listening. smile

And another disturbing trend I noticed recently at a function. It's one thing to have background music playing while there's some ceremonial action being performed, or where people are sitting quietly waiting, but it's quite another to have background music to announcements being read. What???
Posted by: Bluoh

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/25/13 08:29 PM

Barcarolle by Alkan, Nocturne No 2 by John Field, the second movement of Pathetique... and check out 16 Beautiful Contemporary Piano Solos.

Although I'm not a big fan of "background music" in general. ; )
Posted by: Ann in Kentucky

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/26/13 08:46 AM

I played harp for a memorial service held by a friend whose child was stillborn. After the service I moved my harp to the receiving line, and played "background music". Later my friend told me it was so difficult to receive people in silence. She and her husband had a few minutes receiving people without music as I was in process of moving the harp. And she said it made it so much easier once the music started.

Music has a powerful effect on people. I don't dismiss "background music" as insignificant.
Posted by: Ann in Kentucky

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/26/13 09:16 AM

I am reminded of a play in which the a nervous mother wants the 20 year old daughter to help decorate a 3 foot high plastic Christmas tree. The daughter announces "I am not going to waste my artistic talent on that pathetic little tree!"

(Both characters were played by men dressed as women. They speak in a Southern drawl. Daughter in sweat pants with padded hips etc. LOL.)

Anyway, I say go ahead and use your artistic talent in people's daily lives. It matters to people.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/26/13 09:24 AM

I didn't say anything about playing it. I hate listening to it. I can't "not" listen to it. It's distracting.
Posted by: kissyana

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/26/13 03:15 PM

Why not use some William Gillock and Robert Vandall pieces? I haven't played publicly for a while but when I've had last minute gigs, I'll use some nice Gillock and Vandall pieces. I learned some of Robert Vandall's preludes while growing up and liked them so much that I still read through them for pleasure. They really sound nice and you can always improvise on them if you like. As stated before, it's a good idea to play something that sounds nice and that you are very comfortable playing. Nothing flashy or terribly tricky. Some George Winston and Ludovico Einaudi pieces might work nicely, too.
Einaudi example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8lAW1weiMc
Winston example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fN46MheyPU (ok, not his song but an arrangement by him)
Posted by: ShiroKuro

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/26/13 09:12 PM

I got Quiet Classics thanks to this thread! So, thank you!

Also, count me in the group of those who don't like music as background, either I give it all my attention or none. I'm in grad school right now, and I cannot study with music playing! I do not get that at all.
Posted by: Ann in Kentucky

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/27/13 12:52 PM

Originally Posted By: ShiroKuro
I got Quiet Classics thanks to this thread! So, thank you!

Also, count me in the group of those who don't like music as background, either I give it all my attention or none. I'm in grad school right now, and I cannot study with music playing! I do not get that at all.


Hi ShiroKuro,
Seeing your name reminds me to polish River Flows In You. It's also a good background piece.

Some people overdo it with background music-- listening while doing an activity that requires concentration or listening at bedtime to go to sleep. I don't get that either.

But background music is sometimes of more interest than foreground activities. I recall having dental work accompanied by "My my my my Shirona" in the background. It was great to have something to focus on and it struck my funny bone the way the drilling sound accompanied the music.

And all due respect to the Chop Wood, Carry Water approach to mindless tasks. I agree that menial tasks can be made into a meditation. But often when washing dishes or driving a car I'd rather sing along with background music.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/27/13 01:56 PM

Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
. I recall having dental work accompanied by ....

Oh my, the memories you bring back! I cannot block out background music and or not listen actively. During one dental treatment they had my mouth pried open doing some long and complicated procedure. There was a song playing that cycled through the same refrain over and over, and the singer was straining at the top note each time and I'd start to tense whenever that part was coming up. Finally both the song and that part of the procedure was done. I said "That was painful!" They "The procedure?" Me "No, the music!" Then I sat bolt upright and totally howled with laughter I'd been holding in for about 5 minutes. Their puzzled faces made all the more funny.

Quote:
But often when washing dishes or driving a car I'd rather sing along with background music.

That is something that I can relate to. smile
Posted by: Ann in Kentucky

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/27/13 05:37 PM

laugh

Yes, I know what you mean keystring. Background music can also be worse than going through a dental procedure. Depends on the music.

Posted by: Barb860

Re: Your favorite "background music" pieces? - 04/27/13 08:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
laugh

Yes, I know what you mean keystring. Background music can also be worse than going through a dental procedure. Depends on the music.

Haha, yes. I attended an open-house event and there was a pianist playing background music. I was there for at least an hour and the pianist played "Three Coins in the Fountain" the.....whole.....time....