The theme from ‘The Simpsons’, but it’s an epic piano fantasy

5 September 2018, 18:50

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Danny Elfman’s ridiculously catchy theme to The Simpsons… but it’s an epic piano fantasy played on a Steinway grand.

Jon Kimura Parker, Canadian pianist and Artistic Director of the Honens International Piano Competition, is responsible for this incredible reading of The Simpsons theme for piano.

The arrangement, which begins with an octave tremolo in the bass, manages to encapsulate pretty much every aspect of the original orchestral score (which includes an alto saxophone, a tuba and a snare drum, no less).

It’s no secret that people have been obsessed with The Simpsons theme for years – and it’s all down to some clever music theory.

Danny Elfman created that quirky, disjointed sound by writing the main tune in Lydian mode. Here’s what it looks like:

The Simpsons scale
The Simpsons scale. Picture: IMSLP

Just by sharpening one note (the F) and flattening another (the B), Elfman gives a completely different flavour to what would have been a simple C major scale.

We’ll be humming this all day now...

Jon Kimura Parker’s performance was part of a Lunch and Learn event for the Honens International Piano Competition. The finals will take place at the Jack Singer concert hall in Calgary on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 September 2018.