Meticulous new transcriptions of
GEORGE GERSHWIN 1898-1937
BUY from SHEET MUSIC DIRECT
FROM NOW ON
arranged note by note from Gershwin’s own performance recorded piano roll in 1919.
arranged note by note from Gershwin’s own performance recorded piano roll in 1920. https://www.sheetmusicdirect.com/se/ID_No/1230921/Product.aspx
LULLABY for String Quartet
arranged for piano solo by Steve Law. For the first time all the chord voicings restored as heard in Gershwin’s original score.
SUMMERTIME from Porgy and Bess
arranged for piano solo from the original score.
Tee-Oodle-Un-Bam-Bo arranged note by note from Gershwin’s own performance recorded piano roll in 1919.
TIP TOES OVERTURE
arranged for solo piano from Gershwin’s original score
THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME
piano solo arrangement transcribed by Steve Law from the 1936 film Shall We Dance sung by Fred Astaire.
Over the years I have made meticulous note for note transcriptions of all of Gershwin’s piano improvisations (on his own songs) from early electrical recordings, film clips and radio broadcasts from the 1920s and 1930s.
I am presently editing these for a volume of the Gershwin Critical Edition so that the long overdue publication of these amazing creations can finally be made available. It has been my life-long mission to make the most accurate versions possible – which has not been an easy task.
Gershwin improvised endless variations on his own songs at parties and public events. It was said that he never played the same tune the same way twice! Gershwin played in a stride based piano style inspired by jazz pianists like James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. It was dense, orchestral and virtuosic. It was relentless in rhythm drive and filled with tricks and effects reminiscent of piano rolls and the novelty piano style pioneered by Zez Confrey.
Gershwin did not use this style in his concert works or compositions and only published brief simplifications of some of his favourite ‘party improvisations’ in The Gershwin Song Book. These are the arrangements you have heard most concert pianists play for many years. But Gershwin’s recordings, especially from the 1920s, are more substantial and show a denser more virtuosic style. These are the true representations of Gershwin’s remarkable and heavenly piano playing.
My obsession with this goes back to 1993 when I discovered some of Gershwin’s improvisations published by Artis Wodehouse and was inspired by Jack Gibbons’ outstanding recreations and arrangements of concert works and film scores – recorded in 4 volumes on the ASV label The Authentic Gershwin. I later found with newly remastered digital releases of this material that I was able to hear what Gershwin was playing far more clearly. Over the years I perfected my versions, listening to different versions and studying film footage of Gershwin’s playing. You cannot take any note for granted!
To transcribe accurately you have to literally hear every note from bass to top and eliminate possible overtones. You cannot guess at it, you need to actually hear it and tune your brain into the right frequencies. It is not easy – different versions have more clarity in some areas and less in others.
Gershwin’s piano rolls
Artis Wodehouse and George Litterest published some of the piano rolls for piano solo and duet in the early 1990s. These were transcribed by playing the rolls though a Yamaha disc playing piano and turning the Midi tracks into sheet music.
Until all the piano rolls are published in piano solo versions I have made my own solo versions by ear. I did not find any versions of other rolls made by enthusiasts (on YouTube etc.) to be accurate but I found some Midi files made from optical scans of piano rolls. I checked some which I believe to be accurate.
They were difficult to transcribe. Some notes didn’t come out evenly and there were slight differences from one audio recording to another.
Some of my Gershwin transcriptions for solo piano
Sweet and Low-Down
That Certain Feeling
S’Wonderful / Funny Face
Looking for a Boy
When Do We dance?
My One and Only
Clap Yo Hands
Someone to Watch Over Me
Hang On to Me
I’d Rather Charleston
The Half of It Dearie Blues
The Man I Love
My Cousin in Milwaukee
I Got Rhythm (3 versions)
Strike Up the Band
Andante from Rhapsody in Blue
Mademoiselle In New Rochelle
An American In Paris
Strike Up the Band Overture
They Can’t Take That Away From Me
Bess You Is My Woman Now
Somebody from Somewhere
Blue Monday Blues
Porgy and Bess Suite arr. violin and piano by Heifetz, piano part corrected to original vocal score
I have made solo piano transcriptions of all Gershwin’s pianos rolls of his own music. I have either either transcribed (T) or arranged (A) them. I’ve also checked through (CH) scores I’ve found on the internet which derive from piano roll scans preserved as midi files.
When You Want ‘Em You Can’t Get ‘Em (1916) (T Steve Law)
Rialto Ripples (1916) (T Law)
From Now On (1919) (T Law)
Nobody But You (source unknown) (1919) (CH Law)
Tee-Oodle-Un-Bam-Bo (1919) (T Law)
I Was So Young You Were So Beautiful (1919) (T Steve Law)
Novelette in Fourths (1919) (T Steve Law)
Come to the Moon (source unknown) (1920) (CH Law)
Swanee (1920) (A Law)
Limehouse Nights (1920) (T Steve Law)
On My Mind the Whole Night Long (1920) (T Law)
Idle Dreams (1920) (T Law)
Scandal Walk (1920) (T Steve Law)
Drifting Along with the Tide (1921) (A Law)
Kickin’ the Clouds Away (1925) (A Law)
So Am I (1925) (CH Law)
Sweet and Low-Down (1926) (A Law)
That Certain Feeling (1926) (A Law)
(In regard to my YouTube video – I have since made corrections to chord voicings in Strike Up the Band and I Got Rhythm after seeing a new camera angle of Gershwin playing. At the end of Some to Watch Over Me I purposely play the last playing of the tune in 3rds like in other version. In Gershwin’s piano improvisation he does not include that line.)