Sheet music review: ‘Muse – The Piano Songbook’

I knew this music was going to be a challenge to play. Matt Bellamy, the frontman of Muse, is an insanely skilled pianist, as well as guitarist, singer, songwriter and composer. None of these pieces are easy, but that’s good. I would estimate the difficulty as Piano Grades 4 to 6.

I bought this book at the same time as my Radiohead one, after being recommended it – apparently, other shoppers buy both books together. I think a lot of Muse fans must like Radiohead, and vice versa. It’s published by Faber and is the same format, so there are the same issues I noted before. There are 23 songs, plus some grainy photos of the band looking moody. The blurb says the pieces are ‘accurate transcriptions’ but not that they are band-approved. They’re a mixture of singles and album tracks, up to 2011, chosen either because piano or keyboard were used a lot in the original songs, or because the songs are considered suitable for transcription to piano.

The songs I like to play the most at the moment are ‘Ruled by Secrecy’, ‘Blackout’, ‘Hoodoo’, ‘Exogenesis Symphony Part 1 (Overture)’ and ‘Sing for Absolution’. Some of the others are a little too difficult for me but no doubt I will have a go at them in the future. For example, I thought ‘Space Dementia’ was formidable at first – all those demisemiquavers! – but the more I practice it, the less scary it is. What strikes me about many of these songs is how the compositions are more akin to the movements of classical music than to the pop song format, which shows the influence of composers such as Rachmaninoff and Chopin.

I’d recommend this book if you’re a Muse fan (obviously) and not a beginner at the piano. It’s also worth trying if you want to play a hybrid of pop and classical. The guitar chord boxes are quite small, so if you’re more of a guitarist than pianist, you’re better off purchasing a guitar songbook, although of course the selection of songs will be different.

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