How To Play Pompeii On Piano

Introduction to Piano and Pompeii

When learning a new instrument, the piano is often viewed as a great place to start. Not only is it a beautiful and powerful instrument that you can create amazing sounds with, but it is also relatively easy to learn the basic concepts. One of the most popular songs to learn on the piano is the 2013 alternative rock hit by British band, Bastille, called “Pompeii”. Played by millions around the world, it has become an iconic piece that never fails to get people’s toes tapping.

The melody of this song is relatively simple and when broken down, can be broken into easily identifiable sections. While this might seems quite intimidating at first, fret not, as this article will guide you through the basics of how to play “Pompeii” on the piano.

Getting Prepared

Before getting started, it’s important that your equipment is ready and in order. First, check that your instrument itself is in proper tuning (if you don’t own a piano but prefer to play on a keyboard, most entry-level models will come with a built-in tuner). It’s also crucial to have your metronome ready, the tool of choice to keep time and rhythm while playing any piece.

The importance of using good technique and posture cannot be understated. Spend a few minutes to make sure your hands and wrists are in proper position, so that you can play accurately, efficiently and comfortably.

Playing the Melody

Our journey starts with the highly recognizable melody, which is composed of two main sections. The first section is played on the high-range ivory keys of the piano (C4 to G4) and the second on the low-range (B3 to E4).

It’s essential to practice each section separately – start at a comfortable and slow tempo, then gradually increase the speed once you’ve mastered it. As the tempo increases, you’ll find it useful to practice rolling your hand across the keys (grab the whole chord in one hand and then let each finger release in sequence) as a method to accurately play the parts.

Adding the Harmonies

The next step is to bring the harmony of the piece to life. The key to it is to pay attention to the root notes (or bottom notes) of the chords and understand which are the supporting notes. It’s a great idea to practice playing the same melody in different sections of the keyboard (stretching the limits of your range!).

To create a fuller and more robust sound, explore the different options the piano provides: try playing in staccato vs. legato and incorporate techniques such as arpeggios. With a bit of practice, you’ll find that you soon have ‘Pompeii’ sounding better than ever!

Introducing the Bass Line

Next, it’s time to add the punch and dynamics of the bass line. This part may take some time and effort to get right, as it’s essentially composed of an 8-note arpeggio that follows the chord progression of the song.

Here, using the metronome is essential – even a few milliseconds of the chord out of place can affect the overall sound (and one of the great features of the piano can be about playing a steady, consistent beat). Additionally, adding some subtle accents to the bass line can help it remain memorable, even when played simply.

Learning The Rhythms

Rhythm is the key element when playing any piece on the piano, and it’s essential that you get it right. Firstly, aim to stay in the same rhythm throughout the entire song. Bastille’s ‘Pompeii’ has a moderately fast tempo, which should be very manageable for people with a certain level of proficiency on the instrument.

But what really makes this song stand out is the intricate rhythms used in the melodies, which keep it captivating and dynamic. Make sure to practice each section and experimentation is encouraged – as long as it stays within the melodic framework of the song.

Playing Accompaniment and Accents

Finally, it’s time to add those crucial notes that complete the song: the accompaniment parts and accents. While playing the accompaniment chords, try to keep them smooth and subtle – being careful not to overpower the main melody of the song (which should remain the focus).

Accents can be incorporated as a subtle form of punctuation throughout the piece. This can range from single notes to more intricate rhythmic gestures. Aim to use moderately fast tempos to ensure that the accents start to feel more natural.

Putting It All Together

Once you’ve mastered the above steps, you can start to put it all together and start playing ‘Pompeii’ from beginning to end. The best way to practice is by setting a certain length of time and then play the song continuously.

You’ll find that when all the different elements of the piece are brought together, they all intertwine to create a truly unique and captivating composition. You will no doubt be proud of your accomplishment and the piece will be able to bring joy to you and your audience.

Incorporating Dynamics

One of the most important aspects of music is dynamics, the ebb and flow of volume and emotion that gives music its character. When playing ‘Pompeii’ on piano, this is best expressed by crescendos, sforzandos and other similar ornamentation techniques.

This is one of the best parts of playing any composition, since it’s about injecting your own personality into the song. Experimentation is encouraged, so feel free to express yourself – but always make sure to stay true to the basic melodic and harmonic framework of the song!

Practicing Strategies

If you’re having difficulty with some of the sections, it’s always a good idea to slow down the tempo and simplify the part. You can also chop the melody into smaller sections and focus on perfecting only one part at a time. As you build confidence, gradually increase the speed and complexity of the section.

It’s also important to remember to take breaks! Listen to the song, practice different sections at different speeds, and most importantly, listen to how the song should sound so that you’re confident of the peak and troughs of emotion. This will help you cultivate sound practice habits and develop an intuitive understanding of the song.

Performing the Piece

Now that you’ve practiced everything, it’s time to show off your skills! As a prestigious instrument, the piano always offers an impressive performance. Whether you’re playing for a small audience or an auditorium full of people, the performance of a good piano-driven song always leaves an impression.

Experiment with the different elements of the song, especially when it comes to the dynamics. Tap into your emotional (and physical) energy to create moments that will captivate your audience and send them on a journey of discovery along with you.


If you’ve read this article and you’re still feeling overwhelmed at the thought of learning how to play “Pompeii” on piano, don’t worry, it’s a natural feeling! Just remember to take things slowly and to keep practicing regularly; success will come naturally with knowledge, dedication and most importantly, a passion for music.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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