15 Aug 2018

The history of musical chopsticks and its many variations

From Upbeat, 2:00 pm on 15 August 2018
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Photo: Provided

Most likely known as the only piece you may know on the piano, “The Celebrated Chop Waltz” was written in 1877 by sixteen year-old British composer Euphemia Allen. But there are some rather adventurous variations. Here at Upbeat we introduce you to some.

But first the original. Euphemia arranged the piece for solos and duets.

Instructions on the original piece said “play both hands turned sideways, little fingers lowest, so that the movement of the hands imitates the chopping from which this waltz gets its name”.

She was trying to make the hands as if they were cleavers cutting a chop.

Eventually people no longer did this in their kitchen so it was renamed “chopsticks”

From the bare minimum to the extreme, here are some renditions of Chopsticks.


Beginner Chopstick Tutorial

If you have never learned this tune, it’s time to get on board. This is a video to teach you how to play the melody of chopsticks with your right hand.


Regular Chopsticks

A normal version of the piece has a simple left hand accompaniment outlining just two chords. The right hand plays the melody and adds some embellishments to spice it up.


Chopsticks while holding Chopsticks

Taking it to the next level is playing Chopsticks, while holding chopsticks in your right hand.


Chopsticks with Chopsticks

This piece starts with Chopsticks being played with chopsticks, then it gets taken up a notch and becomes a medley of many different pieces. 


Duet Chopsticks

4 versions of Chopsticks played by two people on the same piano.


16 hand Chopsticks

Four people and sixteen hands can only create the ultimate version of Chopsticks.


Tom Hanks playing chopsticks

How could we leave this off the list!