Today rock music is a vast field which features many different styles and groups. But early rock music started out as a variation of blues and country music with elements of folk music, jazz and other styles. One of the most characteristic elements is, of course, the electric guitar, as well as the drums. Add a bass guitar and you have a classic rock setup. Keys play a prominent part in rock as well – be it the piano, a Hammond Organ or synthesizers.
There are two approaches to playing rock music on the piano or keyboard. The first one is playing the parts that the keyboard player would play in a band. This gives you a lot of creative freedom, and the possibility to explore what famous keyboard players have come up with to create their music. However, you might be limited to playing just a part during the chorus, or some underlying part, which isn’t the characteristic part of the song.
The other way is to play whole songs as piano pieces. In this case, you play an arrangement, which draws upon the wide tonality and possibilities of the piano to emulate parts of the rock band, such as the bass player, the guitars and the vocal lines. This can sometimes be challenging, but it gives you the great satisfaction of playing your favorite songs for yourself and for others – just you and the piano.
Both approaches have their pros and cons, but of course they have one thing in common: chords! There is hardly a rock song that doesn’t rely heavily on chords, because that’s what rock guitarists and rock keyboards do!
In the next post we will look at some rock examples for the piano.