iTunes Cover image for 'Clouds' by Zach Sobiech, download the free official sheet music below and make a donation to the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma FundZach Sobiech 1995-2013

When Zach Sobiech was just fourteen years old he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. His response was to embrace every day with hope and joy. He surrounded himself with family and friends and he wrote songs for the people he loved. Since his diagnosis Zach and his bandmates have released two albums, realizing the dream of raising awareness and much-needed funds for osteosarcoma research.

Zach’s hit song “Clouds” climbed to #1 on iTunes today!

I learned about Zach and his amazing journey through Adam Gislason who was doing pro bono legal work for Zach as his intellectual property attorney. Adam told me that the enormous popularity of “Clouds” had brought with it many requests for sheet music and asked me to do the project. It was a no-brainer, of course, and it’s now available – at no cost – through the download link below.

You can read more about Zach’s story on his page at the Children’s Cancer Research Fund site. And be sure not to miss Zach’s video documentary My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech and the wonderful “Clouds” Celebrity Tribute Music Video.

Before you download the music, please take a moment to contribute what you can to the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund and do your part in carrying Zach’s dream forward!

The music is in lead-sheet format: lyrics, melody and chords in Zach’s original key of D Major. If you watch the “Clouds” music video you’ll notice that Zach has a capo on the second fret to take advantage of the more resonant key of C Major on the guitar.

Click the image above to download your copy of “Clouds.”

Handful of Keys

Handful of Keys piano Roll
The graphic above  might be mistaken for a knitting pattern for a Norwegian sweater. I see pines in the distance and a bear-like creature near the center. That could be a forest fire blazing on the right. What’s really blazing, of course, is “Fat’s” Waller’s prodigious technique and playful imagination made visible in this “piano roll” view of Handful of Keys. The image was generated when I imported the MIDI file from the duet version of the tune I created in Finale into Logic Pro (Apple’s audio and MIDI recording software). Click on the image to view it enlarged in a new window.

This four-hand version began as a transcription project. Many years ago I performed in a national tour and a sit-down run of  Ain’t Misbehavin’ – the broadway musical based on “Fat’s” Waller tunes. It was far and away the most fun show I’ve ever played. But, I seldom had to play the full-out stride style that Waller brought to such dizzying heights. That’s because the band’s primarily role was to accompany the quartet of singers that are the real centerpiece of the show. When I recently transcribed Handful of Keys it was with the intent to learn to play it just like “Fats.” But, as hard as I tried, it became clear that I just don’t have the left hand chops to make it happen and the idea of “division of labor” was born.

The duet arrangement, for the most part, is true to Waller’s 1929 Victor recording. Some harmonies are fleshed out and there are octave doublings and added flourishes here and there but it isn’t at all a departure. It’s an arrangement that allows those of us who may not be quite agile or athletic enough to pull it off as a solo to have a great time with a great tune – and with a friend!

The key to playing this style with two players is in the stability of the “left hand.” The stride has to be locked in so that the “right hand” can land its syncopations cleanly between the solid fours. Take turns playing the Primo and Secondo parts!

The Handful of Keys digital sheet music is available in the DSMS Store.