There were those who said it would never work – that a rock band was no place for the gentle soothing tones of the piano. But pianists can rock out too, and its tool as a composition instrument should not be underestimated. With that in mind, here is our recommended bunch of piano-driven rock songs that will have you tapping your fingers on the table as opposed to playing the air guitar.
Fightstar's excellent song Floods,
which appeared on their album One Day Son This Will All Be Yours is our first example. Featuring excellent use of pentatonic scales, the piano provides a fantastic backdrop to some incredible guitar riffs. It also plays a key part in slowing down the song for the quiet subdued bridge, before the guitars bring the tempo back up for the final climactic chorus.
Muse usually have the last say where piano-driven rock is concerned, and the piano section of their song Butterflies and Hurricanes illustrates why. Coming in about halfway through the song, Matt Bellamy plays a tense syncopated section before moving smoothly up into a trill, and then playing a sweeping set of arpeggios interspaced with further musical decorations. It's awe-inspiring to listen to, and when performed live, the audience watches in rapt silence.
Evanescence are also known for their catchy leading piano melodies. One of the most complex of these has emerged in Your Star, which features notes played at octaves at opposite sides of the piano, and then a much faster section of quavers played solo at first, and then joined by the guitars. The overall effect is incredibly powerful, and it'll have you rushing to learn piano.
Lastly, who could forget the distinctive unforgettable piano-led Life on Mars by David Bowie? The piano part alone is an incredible piece of music in its own right, and supported by strings and Bowie's incredible vocals, it's a wonderful song indeed. Interestingly, the second verse is played with exactly the same notes, but at a different rhythm, making it sound different but similar to the first. This adds to the surreal feel to the lyrics and feel.