Is The Beatles Revolution 9 playable on piano?
That’s the question I asked myself when it was time to make the 9th installment of my Complete Beatles Piano video series on YouTube.
The challenge? Unlike the more commonly-known Beatles song Revolution, The White Album’s Revolution 9 is an abstract sound collage, put together by John Lennon and Yoko One with some help for George Harrison. The piece was influenced by avant garde composers such as Stockhausen and Ono herself, and consists of tape loos spliced together with a man’s voice intoning “Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine…” at various points in the production.
If you haven’t yet heard it before, sit back, close your eyes, and go along for the ride:
The Beatles: Revolution 9
And here’s John Lennon speaking about the track:
John Lennon talks about Revolution 9
When it was time for me to make my 9th Beatles video, I thought it would be fun to use the number “9” as inspiration to play Revolution 9 as a piano improv. Luckily for us pianists, the track actually features a lot of piano music, along with some orchestral snippets and other sounds, along with a lot of randomness. Just enough material to play around with on the 88 keys!
Here’s what I came up with, and I hope it inspires you to take some musical chances yourself. After all, you never know where a piece like this will lead you!