Music education always & always looking forward.

Beethoven & Beats: Classical Samples in Alicia Keys's "Piano & I"

A Moonlight Sonata album preview.

Alicia Keys is and has been all over the place since she arrived on the scene over fifteen years ago.  That being said, she's got a lot of teachable material in her ouvre.  Encourage your kids to take a listen with an analytical ear!

"Piano & I" - Alicia Keys

Intro: Released in 2001, Alicia Keys’s debut album Songs in A Minor, on which “Piano & I” appears, helped her earn five Grammys in 2002, including Best New Artist. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and remained there for three non-consecutive weeks. “Piano & I” is the first track on the album, and is short enough to serve as a brief introduction to the album, also introducing her as a classically-trained pianist. 

Analysis: After Keys's initial brief spoken intro, the song a lauches into a sample of "Moonlight Sonata", likely played by Keys herself. Some notes are sung, matching the chord progression of "Moonlight Sonata", and after Keys says, "flip it," a drum machine loop is matched with the sample. 

Considerations for Teaching: Although the song serves as a good example of classical sample, possibly connecting Keys's childhood study of the piano to her career, there is brief profanity in the song. It is possible to play a short sample of the song featuring no profanity, but it would require some planning and preparation.

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