21 Easy Keyboard Songs For Beginners

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“Axel F” by Harold Faltermeyer

Song year: 1984

You may not recognize the name, but there’s a very good chance you’ll recognize the tune. Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F” served as the theme song for the 1984 film Beverly Hills Cop. If you’re looking for riffs that epitomize the 80s, this is one of them.

Another reason you’ll recognize this tune is that the riff is so catchy there ended up being a Crazy Frog version in 2005 as well.

You can find both simple and complicated versions of this song, but at its core, it’s a relatively straightforward riff that will teach you the ins and outs of playing with octaves. For that reason, it’s highly recommended!

“Frankenstein” by The Edgar Winter Group

Song year: 1972

Edgar Winter was one of the first to experiment with synthesizers / keytars in blues and rock contexts, and “Frankenstein” opens with an unforgettable “Smoke on the Water” style riff all beginners should take a stab at.

It becomes clear, relatively quickly, though, that Edgar Winter (he even plays the synth like the guitar in certain parts of “Frankenstein”) is no ordinary composer, and the song is littered with riff after riff, solo after solo of inspired genius.

So, if you’re thinking about learning the whole thing, user beware – it’s not all easy. As I’ve said many times before, you can learn anything one note at a time, but there is a lot to this tune. Start with the main riff and go from there.

“Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65

Song year: 1998

Now, I’m not sure whether to call this Europop or Euro-junk. For me, it’s kind of the latter, but hey, it’s a novelty song. I’m not sure if it was ever meant to be a whole lot more than that, and I’m certainly not judging anyone who likes this minor-key dance number.

In all honestly, the keyboard riff to “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” is well worth learning no matter what level of playing you ultimately aspire to. It will teach you plenty of important concepts, including the power of simple riffs to captivate audiences.

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division

Song year: 1980

Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is an excellent representation of what made the early 80s an exciting time to be in music. The somber vocals and subject matter contrast with the upbeat instrumentation, featuring some simple but very effective synth riffs.

If you’re looking for a simple song you can pick up fast, you’ve found one!

“Runaway” by Bon Jovi

Song year: 1984

Bon Jovi certainly knows what they’re doing when it comes to instrumentation. Layering simple parts on top of simple parts creates beauty and complexity. Whether this is something they knew intuitively or had help uncovering, “Runaway” is another slice of unforgettable 80s melodrama.

What I find interesting is that this is Bon Jovi before they sounded like Bon Jovi as we know them today, probably owing more to the new wave of British heavy metal than anything else. We’ve all got to start somewhere, though, right?

One thing’s for sure, though – the song would not be what it is without the staccato-style synth riff, which can be handled with a single hand. Give it a try!

“Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Song year: 1983

Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax,” which has remained a staple in the Hollywood lexicon, mostly consists of layers of simple synthesizer parts. Taken on their own, most are very simple to play. It’s a very catchy song, and you should recognize it!

“Relax” is a great song for learning riffs, chords, and other flourishes that work together to make one of the most memorable songs of all time.

“West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys

Song year: 1986

The backing track to Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls” is largely made up of sustained chords, most lasting two bars each, creating a very atmospheric feel to the song.

That should give you plenty of time to switch between them. Switching between different chords is probably one of the more time-consuming aspects of progressing beyond the beginner level as a keyboard player.

Either way, though, this is another great tune to check out, especially if you’re interested in working on your chording.

“Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League

Song year: 1981

The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” is yet another song that features an essential 80s synth riff every beginner should take on to better their playing. And, as you might expect, it’s very simple to play too.

The song also stands as an excellent example of how to layer different synth sounds to create texture and color. Oh yeah, and the chorus is a total banger too.

“Tainted Love” by Soft Cell

Song year: 1981

Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” gives a whole new meaning to single-note riffs, with some synth parts only playing one note over and over throughout different parts of the song. Think you might be able to manage that?

Although completely unrelated, in retrospect, doesn’t Marianas Trench singer Josh Ramsay bear some resemblance to Soft Cell singer Marc Almond? Do you see it?

“Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue

Song year: 1985

Most Motley Crue songs were and are based around very simple concepts, and their essential power ballad, “Home Sweet Home,” is no exception. But therein lies its genius.

The great thing about this song is that it will teach you different ways of playing “inside a chord” with arpeggiation and double stops. Learn this trick and you will be adding flare and variety to your playing in no time at all!

If you want to learn the whole thing, you will need to learn some quick fills. Just so you know. Although the tutorial shows how to play both hands together, I suggest starting with just the right-hand part. That goes for most songs, though, to be honest.

Best Keyboard Songs For Beginners, Final Thoughts

Start simply. Trying to learn all the chords or playing both hands can be quite intimidating. The best place to start as a beginner keyboardist is with single notes on the right hand. This offers a bit of instant gratification, and it strengthens your ability to play melodies and riffs too.

Once you’re ready to progress, begin practicing both hands separately before putting them together. By the time you’ve learned the right-hand parts for all these songs, you’ll be ready to work on the left-hand parts. That should make it easier for you to put both parts together later.

Have fun!

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