Perhaps because of its presence in the film soundtracks of the present day, the piano has come to be recognized as an instrument capable of expressing emotions with powerful intensity. There’s often something about its richness and versatility that draws the listener into the stories it tells in a way that other instruments aren’t capable of.
In this article, we present an assortment of sad piano songs that demonstrate the tragic, dark nature of this instrument’s repertoire. Handkerchiefs are highly recommended.
Three Gymnopédies by Érik Satie
The Trois Gymnopédies are three pieces for solo piano by French composer Erik Satie, written in 1888. The word gymnopedies comes froman ancient Spartan festival in which young men competed and danced in open-faced contests, and the name is (probably) an amusing reference to Satie’s gently romantic, dreamy, but not too demanding piano exercises. (Satie is said to have described himself as a gymnopedist).
The Trois Gymnopédies are Satie’s best-known piano works. His vision of the piano’s strengths was minimalist and abstract. The atmosphere of these three pieces is serene and majestic, and seems to float from moment to moment. Each piece examines the same subject from a distinct point of view. Claude Debussy, an older friend and contemporary colleague, later composed Gymnopédies no. 1 and no. 3.
Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune
Clair de Lune, the third movement of the Suite Bergamasque, is a four-movement piano piece by French composer Claude Debussy, first composed in 1890, then revised and published in 1905. The delicate Clair de Lune is a stunning juxtaposition to the suite’s fourth and second movements. It is one of Debussy’s earliest compositions, and the best-known segment of his output.
The title of the piece is a reference to a popular period song that was the standard accompaniment to Pierrot malaise d’amour scenes in French pantomimes. The context of the reference to the song is Bergamo, Italy, a city often considered the birthplace of Harlequin, the emblematic figure of the commedia de arte. The piece demonstrates Debussy’s connection with the circus spirit prevalent in early twentieth-century compositions.
Prelude in B Minor Op 28 number 6 by Frédéric Chopin
One of the simplest pieces composed by Chopin This prelude has a sinister spirit from the very first chord. It is the 6th prelude from Chopin’s Op. 28, along with No. 4, which was played on the organ at his father’s funeral…
Chopin’s ability to create orchestral hues from the piano is often difficult to achieve, and it’s little gems like this dark, melancholy piece that really show what an extraordinary instrument the piano can be.
Imagine by John Lennon
John Lennon composed this song in the early hours of 1971. His wife Yoko Ono sat beside him while he wrote the melody, the chords and most of the lyrics. He was on the verge of completing the whole song in one brief writing session.
The inspiration for the song came from poems in the book Grapefruit, published by his wife. Lennon later explained that the song “should be considered a Lennon/Ono piece”. The majority of it – the lyrics and even the concept – were derived from Yoko, but at the time I was a bit more egotistical and masculine, so I kind of left out her contribution, but the song was born out of Grapefruit.”
Mad World by Gary Jules
Sometimes it’s a matter of luck that genius emerges, but only when it’s in the hands of the right people. If interpreting another artist’s work isn’t always a success, sometimes a few gems slip through and imprint themselves on our brains.
Just when Gary Jules covered the new-wave bop of Tears for Fears for the 2001 cult film Donnie Darko , Donnie Darko, Mad World finally caught the attention of those who would make it a classic. This dark, piano-driven ballad concludes the last three minutes of the film with an intense scene that depicts anguish as well as a sense of alienation and discontent.
Nuvole Bianche by Ludovico Einaudi
One of contemporary composer Ludovico Einaudi’s most famous compositions, Nuvole Biancheis a stunning (and tragic) song for solo piano that has won over listeners the world over.
Nuvole Bianchewas first published on Einaudi’s album Una Mattina. Since 2004, the piece has been used in the TV series This is England ’86, as well as in the film Insidious (2010) and many other films, including Intouchables.
The elegance of Nuvole Bianche lies in its simplicity. The minimalist accompaniment flows and flows, creating a sense of calm and emotion beneath the simple yet lyrical melody. The harmonies alternate subtly between minor and major, making it a song of joy and sadness.
River Flows In You by Yiruma
Since its debut in the Twilight saga, River Flows in You has become the moonlight of the 21st century . If you’re a budding pianist or simply enjoy the sound of a beautiful, simple melody, then you’ve probably heard of this song.
It was written in A major and is the best-selling song by the South Korean-British composer. The song is structured more like a pop song than a classical composition, River Flows in Youis extremely popular with both classical and pop music fans.
Let her Go by Passenger
The second track is taken from thealbum All The Little Lights. It was Passenger’s first international hit, topping the charts in a large number of countries.
Unlike other typical break-up songs, which tell the story of deception and betrayal, as well as the understanding that the people involved love the other, this song emphasizes the theme of love. It emphasizes the value of light until there is no light left, and we know the same thing happens when it comes to love. This is the kind of music that hits you where it hurts, and we recommend that you take your time and relax.
Theme from Schindler’s list by John Williams
When he first saw the film, composer John Williams told the director:
You need a better composer than me for this movie.
Spielberg replied: “I know. But they’re dead!
John Williams chose a simple, solemn theme to accompany Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust epic. There are many unique interpretations and arrangements of this composition, but here’s one that’s extremely compelling. We dare you not to be moved by it.
Sadness and Sorrow by Naruto
Sadness and Sor row is the eighth track on the Naruto Original Soundtrack album, and was written by Toshio Masuda. As fans of the Japanese anime know, the popular ballad from the Naruto TV series is full of emotion and poignant beauty.
My immortal by Evanescence
Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody wrote the lyrics and piano parts for the song, which he composed with singer Amy Lee. It’s one of the band’s earliest songs; they recorded it on their first EP in 1998, but decided to release it at the very last minute.
Moody said the song was about “a spirit that stays with you long after it’s dead and nags you constantly until you want to leave because it won’t let you go“. In Fallen’s book the song was dedicated to his father, Bill Holcomb.