I am trying to identify the genre of music my grandpa used to play on the piano. He is no longer around and no one in my family knows.

After a lot of looking I was able to find one example, 'This Loneliness,' by Carmine Coppola in the Godfather. My grandpa wasn't trained and just kind of ad-libbed his way around but that style was exactly how he played and formed chords and everything. He never had or read sheet music and I'm fairly certain he just made up stuff but that style...I feel like it is an old-Italian-man-from-Brooklyn sound or rhythm but is there an actual genre?

Some people mentioned Duke Ellington's "Melancholia" but its not the same at all to me. Any help would be spectacular. Thanks.

  • If it sounds like Carmine Coppola in the Godfather, it would be sicilian music maybe... Jul 31, 2018 at 9:46
  • Have you tried sicilian folk music in Google? Jul 31, 2018 at 9:47
  • Sounds like a block-chord George Shearing style played on a honky-tonk piano.
    – empty
    Jul 31, 2018 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


I think what you are looking for is a solo piano instrumental nostalgia standards ballad, which isn't necessarily a recognized genre, but it is a findable type of music. Basically, "nostalgia" standards are lightly jazz-influenced classic popular American songs of the 20s through 50s --also known as the "Great American Songbook".

As Time Goes By

There are also some newer songs in this same style:

City of Stars

Original artists in this style range from Nat King Cole to Cole Porter, Fats Waller to Frank Sinatra (and yes, Duke Ellington). Recorded versions of this music would have typically been with a big band; but if you were an amateur pianist of the era --like your grandfather--, this would have been the style you would have naturally gravitated to. A lot of music of this type is more up-tempo and jazzy, but there were a fair number of ballads as well.

Cole Porter (cover) - Piano Instrumental
Nat King Cole - Solo Piano

The specific flavor of your grandfather's playing may have well been particularly influenced by Italian-American composers and performers such as Sinatra, or songwriter Henry Mancini.

Moon River

You might also have luck considering this as a piano version of the lounge music genre. Lounge music was relaxing background music played in bars and "lounges" in the 50s and 60s. It was often solo piano, with or without vocals, and included a lot of nostalgia standards, as well as some other "relaxing" styles (the modern version is called "chillout").

Piano Lounge Music

  • This was the exact kind of answer I was thinking of but didn't have the right words to express. Kudos to you, Chris Sunami.
    – mlibby
    Aug 15, 2018 at 20:15

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