Sheet Music For City Of Stars

The Academy Award-winning song “City of Stars” from the acclaimed musical film “La La Land” has captivated audiences with its haunting melody and poignant lyrics. Its sheet music has become a sought-after treasure for musicians and music enthusiasts alike. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricate details of the sheet music, providing an in-depth analysis of its musical structure, lyrical interpretation, and performance considerations.

Beyond its technical aspects, the sheet music for “City of Stars” offers a window into the creative process behind this cinematic masterpiece. It serves as a valuable tool for understanding the song’s composition and the emotions it evokes. Whether you’re a seasoned pianist or a music enthusiast, this guide will provide you with a deeper appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship that went into creating this unforgettable tune.

Historical Background

The song “City of Stars” was written by Justin Hurwitz and Benj Pasek for the 2016 musical film “La La Land.” The song serves as a poignant ballad that captures the dreams, aspirations, and struggles of aspiring artists in Los Angeles.

Within the film’s narrative, “City of Stars” is a pivotal moment that reflects the characters’ journeys. It is sung by Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) as they navigate their pursuit of their artistic passions while navigating the complexities of their relationship.

Musical Analysis

City of Stars is a musical masterpiece that showcases its composer’s brilliance in crafting a sonically captivating piece. Its intricate structure, memorable melody, and poignant harmony evoke a sense of longing and ethereal beauty.

Key, Tempo, and Instrumentation

The song is composed in the key of C major, a key known for its bright and optimistic sound. The tempo is moderate, around 70 beats per minute, creating a sense of steady motion and allowing the listener to fully absorb the lyrics and melody.

The instrumentation of City of Stars is simple yet effective, consisting of piano, strings, and a light percussion. The piano provides the melodic foundation, while the strings add warmth and depth. The percussion subtly accentuates the rhythm, driving the song forward without overpowering the other instruments.


The melody of City of Stars is instantly recognizable and hauntingly beautiful. It is characterized by its sweeping, arpeggiated phrases that create a sense of movement and longing. The intervals between notes are often wide, adding to the song’s emotional impact.

The chorus features a memorable ascending melody that perfectly captures the yearning and optimism expressed in the lyrics. The vocal line is delivered with a raw and emotional intensity, conveying the protagonist’s heartfelt desire for connection and a brighter future.


The harmony in City of Stars is rich and sophisticated, yet accessible to listeners of all levels. The chord progressions are primarily based on major and minor triads, with occasional use of seventh chords and chromaticism. These harmonic elements create a sense of depth and complexity without overwhelming the listener.

The bridge section features a particularly striking harmonic shift, moving from the key of C major to the key of A-flat major. This unexpected modulation adds a sense of drama and emotional intensity to the song, perfectly complementing the lyrics’ exploration of vulnerability and hope.


The rhythm in City of Stars is subtle and understated, providing a steady foundation for the melody and harmony. The verses are characterized by a simple, 4/4 time signature, with a consistent eighth-note pulse. The chorus introduces a slight variation, with a more syncopated rhythm that adds a sense of movement and urgency.

The bridge section features a more complex rhythmic pattern, with a combination of syncopated and off-beat accents. This rhythmic variation creates a sense of anticipation and builds towards the song’s emotional climax.

Lyrical Interpretation

The lyrics of “City of Stars” paint a vivid picture of the allure and complexities of Los Angeles, a city where dreams are born and ambitions clash.

The song explores the themes of love, dreams, and ambition through the eyes of two characters, Sebastian and Mia, who are both chasing their dreams in the entertainment industry.


The song’s lyrics are filled with romantic imagery, capturing the excitement and uncertainty of falling in love.

  • “City of stars, are you shining just for me?”
    – Sebastian wonders if he is alone in his feelings for Mia.
  • “A million dreams are keeping me awake”
    – Mia is torn between her dreams and her desire to be with Sebastian.
  • “I’m lost in the dark and you’re the light that guides me”
    – Sebastian sees Mia as his beacon of hope in a challenging world.


The song also explores the challenges and rewards of pursuing one’s dreams in the face of adversity.

  • “I’ve been running through the jungle, I’ve been running with the wolves”
    – Sebastian has faced many obstacles on his journey.
  • “I’ve been sleeping on the streets, I’ve been living on my own”
    – Mia has also made sacrifices to follow her dreams.
  • “But I’ve never lost my way, I’ve always kept my faith”
    – Both characters remain determined to achieve their goals.


The song also touches on the darker side of ambition, the sacrifices one must make to achieve success.

  • “I’ve been climbing up the mountain, I’ve been fighting for my place”
    – Sebastian has had to fight hard to get where he is.
  • “I’ve been running through the jungle, I’ve been running with the wolves”
    – Mia has also faced challenges and dangers in her pursuit of success.
  • “But I’ve never lost my way, I’ve always kept my faith”
    – Despite the obstacles, both characters remain committed to their dreams.

Cultural Impact

Since its release, “City of Stars” has become a cultural phenomenon, captivating audiences with its haunting melody and poignant lyrics. The song has received widespread critical acclaim, earning numerous awards and accolades.

Critical Reception and Accolades

  • Won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2017.
  • Received a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 2017.
  • Nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media in 2018.

In addition to its critical success, “City of Stars” has resonated with audiences worldwide, becoming a popular choice for weddings, karaoke nights, and romantic playlists. The song has been covered by numerous artists, including Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga, further solidifying its status as a modern classic.

Sheet Music Analysis

The sheet music for “City of Stars” is written in the key of C major and has a tempo of 76 beats per minute. The song is in 4/4 time signature and has a moderate tempo. The melody is simple and easy to sing, and the chords are mostly basic triads.

The sheet music for “City of Stars” is relatively easy to play. The fingering is straightforward, and the dynamics are clearly marked. The song is suitable for beginners and intermediate players alike.


The sheet music for “City of Stars” uses standard musical notation. The notes are written on a staff, and the rhythm is indicated by the time signature and the note values. The song is written in treble clef, and the notes are written on the lines and spaces of the staff.


The fingering for “City of Stars” is relatively straightforward. The song uses mostly basic fingerings, and there are no difficult stretches or leaps. The fingering is clearly marked in the sheet music, and it is easy to follow.


The dynamics of “City of Stars” are clearly marked in the sheet music. The song begins softly, and gradually gets louder as it progresses. The dynamics are used to create a sense of drama and emotion in the song.

Performance Considerations

Performing “City of Stars” requires a combination of technical proficiency and expressive interpretation. Here are some tips and techniques to help you deliver a captivating performance:

On the piano, the piece features a flowing arpeggiated accompaniment that supports the vocal melody. Practice developing a smooth and even touch to create a dreamy and ethereal atmosphere. Pay attention to the subtle dynamics and use the sustain pedal judiciously to enhance the lush harmonies.

Rhythmic Accuracy

The syncopated rhythms in “City of Stars” can be tricky to master. Break down the rhythm into smaller units and practice each section separately. Use a metronome to ensure precision and gradually increase the tempo as you become more comfortable.

Expressive Dynamics

The piece builds in intensity throughout its progression. Vary the dynamics to convey the emotional journey of the lyrics. Start softly and gradually increase the volume as the chorus approaches. Use rubato (slight variations in tempo) to create a sense of anticipation and release.

Melodic Interpretation

The vocal melody is hauntingly beautiful and requires a nuanced interpretation. Pay attention to the phrasing and articulation to bring out the lyrical nuances. Use vibrato and portamento to add depth and emotion to your performance.

Educational Applications

“City of Stars” offers a rich resource for music educators. Its diverse musical elements and evocative lyrics make it an ideal tool for developing students’ musical skills and appreciation.

Developing Musical Skills

The song’s blend of jazz and classical influences provides a unique opportunity to introduce students to different musical genres. Its complex harmonies and syncopated rhythms challenge students to develop their listening and analytical skills. Additionally, the song’s instrumental solos and improvised sections allow students to explore improvisation and performance techniques.

Fostering Musical Appreciation

The song’s evocative lyrics and emotional depth provide a platform for students to connect with music on a personal level. Its themes of love, longing, and the pursuit of dreams resonate with students of all ages, fostering an appreciation for the expressive power of music.

The song’s memorable melody and lush orchestration also contribute to its appeal, making it an enjoyable and accessible piece for students to study and perform.

Enhancing Cultural Understanding

“City of Stars” reflects the cultural landscape of Los Angeles, with its references to Hollywood and the pursuit of fame. By studying the song, students can gain insights into American popular culture and the role of music in shaping societal values and aspirations.

Variations and Arrangements

“City of Stars” has been reimagined and arranged in various ways, influencing its interpretation and reception.

Instrumental Versions

Instrumental versions of “City of Stars” showcase the song’s melodic beauty and evocative harmonies. The piano solo version highlights the song’s dreamy and melancholic nature, while orchestral arrangements add a grand and cinematic feel.

Cover Versions

Numerous artists have covered “City of Stars,” each bringing their unique interpretations. John Legend’s soulful rendition emphasizes the song’s romanticism, while Ellie Goulding’s ethereal cover adds a haunting and atmospheric quality.

Remix Versions

Electronic dance music (EDM) remixes of “City of Stars” have transformed the song into a dance floor anthem. These versions amplify the song’s upbeat tempo and incorporate modern electronic elements, creating a vibrant and energetic atmosphere.

Medley Arrangements

“City of Stars” has been combined with other songs in medley arrangements. The most notable example is the medley performed by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone at the Oscars, which featured “City of Stars” alongside “Audition (The Fools Who Dream).”

Influence on Interpretation and Reception

The variations and arrangements of “City of Stars” have influenced its interpretation and reception in several ways:

  • They have showcased the song’s versatility and adaptability to different genres and styles.
  • They have introduced the song to new audiences, broadening its reach and appeal.
  • They have provided listeners with alternative ways to experience and appreciate the song’s emotional depth and musical complexity.

Sheet Music Resources

Sheet music for “City of Stars” is widely available online and in print. There are various editions and arrangements to choose from, catering to different skill levels and performance needs.

For online sheet music, reputable websites like Sheet Music Direct, Musicnotes, and Alfred Music Publishing offer a vast selection of editions, including the original piano/vocal version, lead sheets, and arrangements for various instruments.

Print Sheet Music

In print, “City of Stars” sheet music can be found in music stores and online retailers like Amazon. Popular publishers such as Hal Leonard, Alfred Music, and Faber Music provide high-quality editions with clear notation and helpful performance notes.

Related Content

Immerse yourself further into the world of “City of Stars” with exclusive behind-the-scenes content and insights from the creators themselves.

Explore the broader musical landscape of “La La Land” by delving into its captivating soundtrack, which features an array of enchanting songs that complement the film’s themes.

Interviews and Behind-the-Scenes Footage

  • Uncover the creative process behind “City of Stars” through interviews with composers Justin Hurwitz and Benj Pasek.
  • Witness the magic unfold with behind-the-scenes footage from the movie’s recording sessions and production.

Complementary Songs from the “La La Land” Soundtrack

Expand your musical journey with these enchanting songs that resonate with the spirit of “City of Stars”:

  • Another Day of Sun: An upbeat and energetic anthem that captures the vibrant energy of Los Angeles.
  • Planetarium: A dreamy and ethereal instrumental piece that evokes the celestial wonder of the Griffith Observatory.
  • Someone in the Crowd: A heartfelt and introspective ballad that explores the search for love and connection.

Outcome Summary

The sheet music for “City of Stars” is a testament to the enduring power of music to capture the complexities of human experience. Its accessibility and versatility make it an invaluable resource for musicians, educators, and anyone who seeks to explore the depths of this beloved song.

Whether you choose to perform it, study it, or simply admire its beauty, the sheet music for “City of Stars” offers a profound connection to the world of “La La Land” and the timeless themes it explores.

Common Queries

Where can I find sheet music for “City of Stars”?

You can find sheet music for “City of Stars” online through retailers such as Sheet Music Direct, Musicnotes, and Hal Leonard. It is also available in print at music stores.

What key is “City of Stars” written in?

The original version of “City of Stars” is written in the key of G major.

What is the tempo of “City of Stars”?

The tempo of “City of Stars” is approximately 72 beats per minute.

What instruments are featured in the sheet music for “City of Stars”?

The sheet music for “City of Stars” includes piano, vocals, and guitar chords.

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