Easy Piano: 10 Easy Movie Themes

There are lots of articles out there claiming to contain “easy” piano pieces; some of them are good, others not so much, and many try to grab you with big famous piece names like "Claire de lune" or "Für Elise," even though neither of these pieces are anywhere close to easy...   

Here at Liberty Park Music we decided to put together an article series showing off satisfying, well-constructed repertoire and arrangements that actually fall into the “easy” category for different difficulty levels. Some of these pieces may not be familiar to you, but they’ve been hand-picked for being fun to play, educational, and yes, for being relatively easy. 

But wait, there’s more! each piece is presented with a high-quality video performance by Liberty Park Music piano instructor West Troiano, and comes with a downloadable, custom-edited version of the score!

For this article we’ll be checking out 10 easy arrangements of movie themes!

Despite containing some of the most recognizable and popular melodies and themes in the world, movie music can be tricky to transition into piano music. Some pieces translate well, while others require a more careful adaptation. Often, arrangements of movie music end up being either quite clunky or quite difficult, which can be a disappointment if you're really excited to play some of your favorite film fanfares.

Fortunately, Liberty Park Music piano instructor West Troiano has some experience adapting different kinds of music to the piano; we think these arrangements are a good blend of sensible and satisfying.

In this article we'll cover musical favorites from ten popular movies:

  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Howl's Moving Castle
  • Jurassic Park
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • James Bond: Skyfall
  • Harry Potter
  • Star Wars
  • The Pink Panther
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • The Godfather

These arrangements are presented in approximate order of difficulty, starting with late beginner and progressing through intermediate.

Not an intermediate player but still want to play the themes from the intermediate arrangements? Each arrangement is designed so that the melody can be pulled from the music to stand on its own. That way, you can still learn those iconic themes, even if you can't play the arrangement as a whole.

Let’s check them out!

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Theme

Tan Dun's beautiful orchestral score for Ang Lee's hit 2000 Chinese martial arts epic, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon brims with fluid motion and rich colors. Thematic material often reveals itself fleetingly before drifting off into the musical distance, but one theme in particular stands out, gently highlighted by Yo-Yo Ma's effortless cello mastery. Don't be afraid to take this one nice and slow, and to let the pedal help you achieve a wide resonance and space!

Why it's Easy:

  • A relatively simple, repeating melody 
  • Uses a very basic left hand accompaniment
  • Gentle and slow, with few dynamic changes

2. Howl's Moving Castle Theme 

Studio Ghibli animated films are renowned for the quality of their music, which is largely composed by the highly adaptable Joe Hisaishi. Many different genres and historical styles can be heard in Hisaishi's orchestration, but his melodies often stand out for their blend of memorability and subtlety. Perhaps most recognizable of them all is the wistful melodic waltz from the 2004 animated fantasy adventure, Howl's Moving Castle, known as "The Merry-Go-Round of Life," which serves as the film's main theme.

Why it's Easy:

  • A regular, chord-based melody that uses only quarter notes and half notes 
  • Uses a consistent, waltz-style accompaniment of simple chords
  • Can be taken at slower speeds and still sound great
  • Repeats!

3. Jurassic Park Theme

Steven Spielberg's 1993 film about reincarnated dinosaurs wreaking havoc on an island park solidified many new expectations regarding what a summer blockbuster should be. But supporting the onscreen chaos and offscreen notoriety is one of the most iconic scores in cinematic history, composed by one of the greatest film composers of all time - John Williams. Name five movie themes you can think of off the top of your head, and chances are most of them will be William's themes. The Juilliard trained composer is regarded a paragon of cinematic music craft, and his ability to forge memorable melodies together with astonishingly detailed orchestral development has resulted in many of the world's most recognizable film themes.

This arrangement presents the gentler of the two main themes from Jurassic Park (the other being the classic horn fanfare heard when the unassuming protagonists approach the island). Williams is known for his ability to convincingly incorporate dissonances into his themes, and we've tried to recreate some of that in the accompaniment for this arrangement.

Why it's Easy:

  • A gentle, repeating melody with clear position changes 
  • A simplified accompaniment of harmonic and broken chords
  • Slow and sweet
  • Transposed into the key of C major

4. "The Shire" Theme from Lord of the Rings

The cinematic phenomenon that was Peter Jackson's first, early 2000's Lord of the Rings trilogy would not have been the same without Howard Shore's instantly memorable themes threaded throughout. Ranging from idyllic, Celtic music-inspired melodies, to martial anthems of percussion and horns, the music from Lord of the Rings seemingly gifts everyone with a clear musical identity. The wistful, peaceful theme of the Hobbits and the Shire is a standout favorite (as is the more resolute theme of The Fellowship, which is tacked onto the end of this arrangement).

Why it's Easy:

  • A beautiful, simple melody
  • A very simple accompaniment in quarter notes and half notes
  • Few dynamics changes (quiet and peaceful throughout!)

5. Skyfall Theme from James Bond: Skyfall

2012's iteration of the James Bond franchise, subtitled "Skyfall," presented something of an origin story for the classic spy character (played for the third time by Daniel Craig). As in most bond films, the opening credits are accompanied by a dramatic, sleek musical number, this time composed by singer Adele and producer Paul Epworth. While not exactly a "theme," in the classic sense, the song has become a well-regarded addition to the Bond musical identity, expertly capturing the blend of somber gravitas and polished production that has come to characterize the Bond films after the year 2000. If you haven't heard the original song, be sure to check it out - it's well worth a listen!

Why it's Easy:

  • A simplified melody that has clear motions and simple rhythms
  • A basic, repeating accompaniment of almost entirely quarter notes 
  • Presented in the original, common key of C minor 

6. Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter

2001 was quite a year for the fantasy movie genre, featuring the birth of two of the most famous fantasy franchises in film history: The Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. Both garnered immediate fame and success, and both helped to usher the genre of fantasy films into the 21st century. Additionally, both featured instantly-classic scores composed by two of the biggest names in Hollywood - Howard Shore for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and John Williams for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

While Howard Shore's score for The Lord of the Rings would go on to beat William's Harry Potter score for the Academy Award, William's unrivaled talent for composing timeless themes arguably had the last laugh - the sinuous, mysterious Harry Potter main theme (officially known as "Hedwig's Theme) has become a veritable cultural icon, instantly conjuring the Potter franchise's global popularity and infectious character.

Ironically, this theme is actually a bit tricky... In true Williams form, what seems to be a rather simple melody is in fact loaded with detailed little twists and turns, as it sneakily navigates a rich internal harmonic motion. This arrangement has been designed to help you focus on getting all of that musical content, while still providing a simple, satisfying play through.

Why it's Easy:

  • Presents a simple accompaniment so you can focus on that iconic melody
  • A simple AABA form
  • Uses the original, primarily white-note key of E minor

7. Star Wars Main Theme

Imagine that, another John Williams theme...if you've been counting, that brings our total to three so far. In fact, this entire article could probably have been written using recognizable John Williams themes; however, we feel that diversity is important (even in popularity), so we promise this one is the last.

And what a theme it is - one of the most well-known of all time: the Star Wars theme. Exploding for the first time into the scrolling introduction of the 1977 classic, Star Wars, few themes carry the weight of movie franchise success quite like the Star Wars main theme. Like many John Williams themes, this one masterfully balances recognizability with elaborate construction, leaping about with triplets and modern harmony changes.

We're definitely into intermediate arrangement territory with this one, but for an intermediate player, this version should prove fairly simple. Those of you still interested in playing the theme melody without tackling the full arrangement should easily be able to pick it out from the right hand part.

Why it's Easy:

  • A clear statement of the classic melody
  • A simple, balanced arrangement
  • A simplified, stylized  accompaniment of chords and scales
  • Transposed to the key of G major 

8. Pink Panther Theme

Henry Mancini's theme for the 1963 investigator comedy, The Pink Panther, has retained a surprising amount of popularity among burgeoning piano learners. Despite a high degree of chromatic movement (movement using notes outside the main scale), the theme is memorable, and filled with musical character. The classic, slippery saxophone of the original recording was performed by saxophonist Plas Johnson, who Mancini had in mind specifically when writing the melody. 

Watch out for the broken-up triplet rhythms in this one. Try to connect the sound of the recording to your understanding of how rhythms work.  

Why it's Easy:

  • A clearly stated and repetitive melody. 
  • A stripped down and simple accompaniment
  • Only two lines - no chords!
  • Clear chromaticism - up and down the white and black notes. 

9. Pirates of the Caribbean Theme

In the wake of the success of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter franchises came another fantastical film franchise arrival in 2003, with the casting off of the first Pirates of the Caribbean film. Starring Johnny Depp as the unintentionally charismatic pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, the films deliver a popular blend of fantasy pirate visuals, sea-bound action, and rousing music. Klaus Badelt's main theme from the first film became and instant, swashbuckling favorite, but beware intrepid travelers; this bouncing, triplet-laden theme is not for the faint of heart! (though, of course, we've tried to make it easier for you...)

Why it's Easy:

  • Minimal accompaniment to let you focus on the melody
  • Clear position changes, with detailed fingering
  • A simple, repetitive form
  • Presented in the all-white-note original key of A minor

10. The Love Theme from The Godfather

Considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made, 1972's The Godfather, directed and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola, also contains some of cinema's most recognizable music. Prolific Italian composer Nino Rota actually borrowed his own theme from a previous film score for the Love Theme (a choice that cost him his Academy Award nomination that year), but few would argue that The Godfather wouldn't be the same without the Romantic, Italian-folk infused music accompanying the epic crime drama. 

Why it's Easy:

  • A clear, highly melodic theme 
  • A simplified accompaniment that graduates in complexity with the form
  • Clear position changes with detailed fingering
  • Presented in the common, original key of C minor

Visit Liberty Park Music!

Like what you saw in this article? We have lots more of it at libertyparkmusic.com, including full courses for piano, music theory, guitar, and drums. Come check us out, and take the next step on your musical journey.

Keep an eye out for more Easy Piano articles to come, and happy practicing!

About the Author: West Troiano

West has over 10 years of teaching experience in settings that vary from private studios to college classrooms. In addition to teaching through traditional forms of piano pedagogy, West frequently produces music and teaching materials that cater to the needs of his students. Check out West's course on Piano Etudes for both beginners and intermediate pianists.

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