glittering pop-infused étude
—The New York Times


\ˈbil-i-ˌtüd\ n., 1 a state of mind or feeling experienced when playing Billy Joel's piano licks. 2 a composition built on a technical foundation formed by Billy Joel's piano licks.

bill-y-tude was commissioned by Nicholas Phillips with funds from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Academic Affairs Division.

The premiere recording is available on New Focus Recordings’ American Vernacular: New Music for Piano, Nicholas Phillips, piano. (FCR 144)
[Digital copies are also available through iTunes and amazon MP3.]

Listen below.

Score now available for purchase HERE


Bill-y-tude by Joel Puckett (who was profiled last month on these pages) is a delightful virtuosic piece that makes occasional nods to Billy Joel in ways that even I, who have never been much of a fan of the “Piano Man,” can appreciate.
—Frank J. Oteri NewMusicBox
Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time? That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future?
– Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Program Note

I built my piano [and musical] ground floor upon the stones laid by Billy Joel and Elton John. To this very day, when I hear Falling of the Rain or Laura, I can't help but picture a 16 year old me banging away on an out of tune upright.

The Cold Spring Harbor and Streetlife Serenader albums introduced me to the rockabilly piano fills from the 50s and early 60s. These rockabilly fills are all over those albums and I learned quickly that I could throw one into almost any tune and get some smiles. My version of this type of fill takes center-stage in this etude and when the figure combines with some flying octaves that would make Liszt blush, it quickly moves into late night, totally badass piano thumping country.

Something tells me my 16 year old self would approve.