Billy Joel – New York State of Mind

When thinking Pop-Piano, it’s hard not to note the awesome influencer, pioneer really, of this style: Billy Joel - and maybe particularly, his iconic song: New York State of Mind.
Now Billy has quite a few really nice, iconic Pop-Piano tunes under his singer-songwriter belt, but the out of this world piano intro to this particular tune really sums up his excellence, capturing the very essence both of what is possible and where the roots lay of our beloved Piano style.

This is one definitely not very suited for all of you beginner pianists. With heavy emphasis on styles like Blues and Jazz, there’s so many techniques passing the review in this tutorial that I’d really only recommend (though strongly!) it to those that have finished, thoroughly grasped and are 100% comfortable with everything there is to be learned in Hack the Piano. There’s even a few things that aren’t even learnt there, but only in Advanced Piano Hacks.

Blues licks, jazzy voicings, extension chords and a heavy set of piano skills make up a whopping -almost- full minute solo-piano intro. Because of its length, extensive set of chords, licks and skills used it took me just over 20 minutes to teach, but hey: you’ll be playing the exact part from the record!

A nice fortuity is that the verse (or is that the chorus? “Some folks like to get away.. ” up until “..I’m in a New York state of mind”) is made up of the exact same chords! In fact, the intro is just a reharmonization and solo-pianified version of that part that is vocalized in the rest of the song. Awesome demonstration again of what you can accomplish when you know your chords, patterns, scales and some licks to create a piano-only part (WITHOUT exactly copying the vocal line! See how way cooler it is like this?).

So basically, those who indeed know their chords & patterns should be able to reproduce the verse (or chorus? still not sure) too, by adapting the set of chords to play a more accompanying part with them.

I really hope you’ll like this one! A treasure of a lesson in my humble opinion.

Chords pics in correct order are below the video.

Cheers, Coen.

New York State of Mind

NYSOM 1 Dm and Bb

NYSOM 2 Run Dm tot C

NYSOM 3 Stride 1 C till C7 with last C also added

NYSOM 4 Stride 2 F till Bbsus

NYSOM 5 Walk down C to E

NYSOM 6 D9 over Fmaj7

NYSOM 7 Amadd9 tot end C

Like this? Please share!

About Coen

Founder of Piano Couture and creator of the Hack the Piano method. Coen is a musician, reader, writer, web-designer, eater and traveler. Find him at

11 thoughts on “Billy Joel – New York State of Mind”

    • Hi Lindsay,
      That's great! How's it working out for you?
      I'm from Amsterdam.
      Thanks so much for your comment and good luck with this challenging tune 🙂
      Cheers, Coen


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