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Interstellar Theme Piano Tutorial 🌌

Lisa Witt  /  Song Tutorials / Aug 5

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The theme from Interstellar is a favorite among piano players. It’s beautifully simple…but also delightfully dramatic! The good news is the basic theme is not too difficult. But if you want to make your performance EPIC, the simple theme has tons of opportunity for creative exploration.

Here’s how to play it yourself.

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The Story Behind Interstellar

The music came before the story.

Composer Hans Zimmer and director Christopher Nolan were at a party talking among themselves, when Nolan gave Zimmer a letter and asked him to compose something inspired by it.

It was a story from a movie he had in mind, but Nolan wouldn’t tell Zimmer what the movie was about. The letter didn’t have any clues either.

The letter was about parenthood. “There’s a line in it that once your child is born, you never look at yourself through your own eyes,” Zimmer recalls. “You always look at yourself through your child’s eyes.” Inspired by his own relationship with his son, he created a “fragile, tiny little piece.”

Much of the song is composed for organ, an instrument with a reputation for sounding “creepy.” In an interview with Vanity Fair, Zimmer says he was hesitant at first about using the organ. But he later found it fitting. “By the 17th century, [the organ] was the most complex bit of technology ever built by man,” he says. “And if you think that the most complex piece of technology was actually built to be in the service of the creation of music…that’s not so bad.”


How to Master the Theme from Interstellar

The theme from Interstellar is rather minimalistic and there are many repeating parts. It’s a pretty beginner-friendly piece, but it does build into more complexity.

Dynamics

Dynamics are key when there’s a lot of repetition because you don’t want to sound monotonous. So, spend some time mapping out your crescendos and decrescendos. Let the mood of the music guide you! Push forward, pull back, and even sprinkle in some rubato.

Big Chords

There are several large chords in this song. If you’re a person with small hands, this can be challenging! Make sure you stretch out your hands and warm up with some arpeggios and broken and solid triads.

And here’s a trick to get that big C-D-D chord: use your thumb to play two notes at once!

Play Interstellar YOUR Way

The theme from Interstellar is a very popular cover, and I’ve noticed that no two people play this song the same way.

Meteoric Duet

Here’s a clip of a spontaneous public piano duet of the theme. Why not grab a friend and try this yourself?

Galactic Arrangement

Here’s a dense, rather complex arrangement of the Interstellar theme. See how much you can add to your own arrangement using scales and chords, riffs and fills.

Astronomical Arrangement

Another epic arrangement! Notice that while the scales and arpeggios are super impressive, expression and dynamics are just as important in making a performance sound incredible.

So, I’m interested to hear how YOU play this song! If you’re feeling inspired, record a video of yourself playing and tag us (@pianoteofficial) on Instagram!


Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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