I really love the idea of people taking a simple melody, perhaps a well known one, and making their own piano interpretation of it, implementing some parts of the original and adding their own bit, many times in free-form. I would like to be able to search for these, but I can't seem to think of a single word to use.

(Sorry if this was posted out of place, but I think "English" would be closer than "Music" in this case)

Rough examples:

BBNG - Bastard/Lemonade

Max Payne 3's menu theme has two movements that play around with the original idea

Is "piano reinterpretation" really the simplest term to use?

  • 1
    You might consider using "Piano Rendition" rather than "Piano Reinterpretation". Is still two words but is more concise and elegant. It is relatively common in this sort of musical context too. The idea is that you are translating the source music into something that works on the piano. – Tonepoet Jul 11 '15 at 17:28
  • @Tonepoet Thank you for that suggestion! Would "piano rendition" always imply that it's an exact replication of the original melody? – v01ce Jul 11 '15 at 17:34
  • You might call it a reworking of the original. To my mind that can imply more significant changes than (re)interpretation, which might simply mean your particular "rendition" with micro-variations in timing, relative volume, etc. compared to others. – FumbleFingers Jul 11 '15 at 17:46
  • I think that rendition is the term that he was looking for. – Charon Jul 11 '15 at 17:59
  • A "transcription" in music involves writing, or transcribing, a piece for an instrument or group of instruments that was originally written for another or other instruments. From a review of a cd of Bach transcriptions for guitar: "Bach was a master transcriber himself, often taking his own compositions and rearranging them for various combinations of instruments, in addition to the works of other composers, which he often reset—from solo organ works to keyboard concerti." arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=523147 – jsoteeln Jul 11 '15 at 18:07

Speaking as someone who has had a musical training, I think you may mean

piano arrangement


3A musical composition arranged for performance with instruments or voices differing from those originally specified: ‘Mozart’s symphonies in arrangements for cello and piano’ http://oxforddictionaries.com


New York-based AlfieProducer plays a piano arrangement of 42 popular songs like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” and “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons in this impressive video. http://laughingsquid.com/a-piano-arrangement-of-42-pop-songs-like-blurred-lines-get-lucky-and-more/

This term is used for most cases. The main exception occurs when most of the piece is extemporized in which case it might be called an improvisation on a theme, e.g. Improvisation On A Theme (Pachelbel's Canon In D Major) performed by David Lanz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqGrB4MxdsY

In the classical world you will also hear the term variations on a theme. Usually a well-known melody is played followed by many different versions of it - often virtuosic in nature, e.g. Brahms, Variations on a theme by Haydn for two pianos, op. 56b https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeYEcZQvBkU

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