Let Down, Radiohead (transcribed by Christopher O'Riley)

Mr. O’Riley, said he became fascinated with Radiohead after hearing “O.K. Computer,” the band’s third album, in 1997. Born in Chicago, he grew up listening to pop and rock and played jazz professionally while in high school.  He has always been interested in transcribing, and early in his career he arranged works by Bach, Stravinsky, Piazzolla and Delibes. He began performing his Radiohead arrangements on “From the Top,” the weekly hourlong NPR broadcast showcasing young classical musicians that he has hosted for a decade. As he tells it, the announcer would say, “That was Christopher O’Riley, playing Radiohead’s ‘Karma Police.’ ” Then the station would receive e-mail messages asking, “Who is this Mr. Head, and where can I find more of his beautiful music?

Mr. O’Riley is intrigued by the contrapuntal textures of Radiohead’s soulfully enigmatic songs. Conveying those multihued layers is something he does especially well.  In his arrangements melodies unfold with crashing chords and arpeggiated multiple voices.

At the essence of transcribing is “a certain conceit or piano chauvinism” regarding the instrument’s capacities, Mr. O’Riley said. The piano “can sound like an orchestra or like the human voice or a five-piece rock band.”