I actually didnt have a strong musical preference in film music until I started listening to his music, and then eventually his station on Pandora, which led me to like other types of instrumental music and then other genres of music like rock. I credit Zimmer for my love of film socres, he is amazing.

His music for Interstellar is breath taking. The Gladiator Soundtrack does that for me, as well.

That whole sequence on the water planet is just stunning.

Through most of this piece there is a single note played at a regular interval, indicating time on earth. The right hand starts at this timing then slowly speeds up, indicating the time dilation sensed on the ship as it has left earth. Then it goes batshit before it comes back to sync with the original timing.

While I agree that learning to read music is a life skill that is transferable, if you get too bogged down in learning music without actually playing an instrument, then you'll quickly burn out on the entire thing.

There's something to be said for learning an instrument by repetition while at the same time learning the music that complements it. It gives you that drive to continue, while also helps you slowly pick up music.

Most film music is heavily inspired by late 19th century composers. Dvorak, Rachmaninov, even Brahms. This particular music reminds me a lot of Chopin's raindrop prelude in d flat. The way Zimmer uses that constant E throughout the piece is very reminiscent of Chopin's constant A-flat. After the 'A' section (or exposition, whatever you want to call it) Chopin repurposes the A flat into G sharp and modulates to G sharp minor, a huge distance from d flat major in key relationships. It's pretty amazing.


I have several thousand pieces of sheet music, and who knows how many pages. I have it three-hole punched and organized in individual hard-backed binders by composer, then for composers that I have less music for e. g. Couperin, I have it organized by Period / Style. This is all cataloged in a searchable spreadsheet, organized in order as they appear on my bookcase, and I have a printed out copy of it.

It actually never occurred to me that this isn't entirely common but almost ALL of my sheet music is loose because it's copies from books, or printed from the computer, or just randomly found from somewhere. I own quite a few books as well but I don't typically purchase books for heavy use, more just to bolster my music library. Anyway, I use binders. I have something like 18 of them right now, although that's partially because I use smaller ones because they're less likely to break. Everything that goes into them is in page protectors so I have lots of those as well.

They're not randomly tossed into the binders. For some composers, I have so much stuff by them that I use one binder for everything from that composer.

I also have four binders for everything I've composed. I keep everything from the choirs I sing with separate from everything else, so those are in their own binders.

The rest of the binders are alphabetized by composer. In addition to my binders and all my books, I do also have a file cabinet of music which I keep organized by composer as well. It's filled with everything that I don't really touch. Either it's old stuff that I've kinda let go of, or stuff that I printed out/got but never got around to because I didn't care enough. So that's kinda my "storage". I ALSO have all of my pdfs on my computer very nicely organized by composer in folders. It's all in one place, labeled the same way, easy to search and print. So that's an extensive collection as well. As far as LABELING all of these things, my binders have labels on the cover so I know what the binder contains and like I said, they're alphabetized on the inside. My file cabinet has every composer labeled with, well. a label.

Easy to see. And my computer has everything labeled by composer as well.


There's no single answer, but this will always have to be in the discussion.

If you're into jazz at all, I'd check out some versions of "I Fall In Love Too Easily" (here is one by Keith Jarrett) and "My Foolish Heart" (Bill Evans' specifically).

In the classical world, I personally love Chopin's Nocturne in E minor, his Nocturne in C-sharp minor, and his Prelude in E minor. Debussy's Arabesque No. 1 is also one of my favorites. I'd also add Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words, specifically this one.

I realize that this is way more than one song.

Moonlight Sonata for me. Heard it for the first time when I was in elementary school and spent years trying to find out the name/composer.

But they're all beautiful so why not.

My aunt who is a retired opera singer always tells me about how my grandmother used to play it as her encore during her concert tours in Europe. I always get the same question when the subject of my piano playing comes up: "Do you know La Campanella already?". Apparently I am nothing until I can play that flawlessly.


I plan to switch to a variation on this, based upon what I found in a big box of stuff from an old piano teacher -- photocopy sheet music onto one side of 8.5 x 11 cardstock, so you can lay them in a row with all pages of the song visible at once with no page turning.

Use archival quality book tape to tape the individual pages together, making "hinges".

Then you can fold the whole thing up accordian-style, and archive the sheet music originals someplace safe, like a filing cabinet.

This covers two concerns of mine, wearing out old sheet music (I have some that is over 100 years old), and having to stop and turn pages. As for where I store it, I outgrew the piano bench storage long ago. I use an old steamer trunk as a coffee table, and store the extra music in there.

  1. Spread loose sheets out on table in front of you
  2. Use adhesive tape to tape the sheets together
  3. Fold them up like a book
  4. Put three pieces of tape around the 'cover'

From here you can file them alphabetically or just leave them around - much easier to look for packages than for single sheets lying around everywhere!


Believe it or not, an easy one I like to bust out when I am around a piano (and it's late and we are all drunk) that for a beautiful and slow melody would be "Suicide is Painless". Theme song from M.A.S.H! Easy chords, recognizable melody that offers plenty of opportunities for variations and extensions.

Maybe don't sing the lyrics for them.

If you're willing to supplement melodic vocals with some arranging, Vienna Teng is great (Say Uncle and Between are two of my favorites).

The Dead Island theme is piano driven, with strings on top of it. With some creativity, you could make it work.

I've fiddled with a solo version. Same deal with the more popular themes from:

  • The LOST soundtrack
  • Life and Death
  • No Place Like Home

Others have suggested I try Einaudi. Primavera is worth looking into. It isn't the slowest, but it's simple, and lends itself well to expressiveness.

Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte remains the prettiest piano piece ever fucking written. I know you said no classical, but there it is.

Also, a lot of Morricone would fit well here. Look at La Califfa and Gabriel's Oboe in particular.


I have a crapload of music in my house (method books and rep for nearly all wind instrument in addition to all of my piano stuff) so this is a very real problem for me.

I use binders with tabs for the majority of my stuff. I'll sort more recent stuff by genre. I've got lots of miscellaneous and several 3" binders full of game music.

It's easy to sort others by composers and time periods. If you sort it chronologically based on the composer's birth year you can get a nice little history reminder in addition to being able to find what you want.

I also keep a lot of stuff I need rarely in filing cabinets and and I have tons of books sorted by instrument on tons of bookshelves around the house.

I like what my grandmother does. Her piano bench opens up, which is where she keeps all her sheet music for all her instruments so it gets cluttered.

She takes the piece and sorts them into different groups like Christmas or favorites or Bach, whatever she knows she has a lot of. The rest that doesn't fit into a category goes into thin binders so the fir comfortably on my stand. The binders are also good when its a kid playing, the plastic protects the music from damage.

  • I used to make copies of each page, then keep them loose in manila folders with the initialed names of the composers. This was nice, because I could lay out all four or five sheets of a rag in front of me and not have to turn pages in the middle. But it was easy to get the sheets mixed up, hard to sort through the folders to find pieces, and the individual sheets where sometimes too flimsy for the music desk.
  • I recently bought a bunch of three ring binders, dividers, and sheet protectors--both single page and panoramic (two 8.5"x11") sheets. With that, I could pretty much keep everything organized and minimize pageturns. It was much better for organization, but I find that 1) when I open the pages, the sheet protectors I got were a bit too glossy and it can be hard to see the music 2) the music spreads out even more, so if I'm looking at the far right page, I don't have enough of my left hand in peripheral vision to hit jumps well.
  • The binders are nice and I'll continue to use them, but I've also been looking for a solution to let me take music on trips. I've borrowed a friend's iPad and put a music reader (forScore) on it as well as lots of music in PDF format. Now the reader is right in front of me, keeping the keyboard and hands in better peripheral view, but the printed page is rather smaller and I'm forced to turn EVERY page (with a tap on the screen). So, to fix that, I could get a Bluetooth pedal system, but before I do that, I want to make sure that other aspects of the reader are working out for me.

I would also highly recommend getting an iPad, especially for things you're getting as PDFs from IMSLP.

If you're like me, there's probably a lot of stuff you download, look over and then don't touch for a good while. Heck, an iPad might save you money in ink and paper in the long run. I still print some stuff, but most of it I just keep cataloged in Dropbox so I can have access to it fairly quickly on my iPad.