Composing your own piano music is a great skill to have. A lot of beginning piano students may not feel that they have enough knowledge and skills to write their own piece of music, but most of that is just "stage fright", and it is much easier than you think.
Here are some key points in writing your own music to help you see how easy and fun it can be!
First, let's look at the 2 main parts of music that you need to know about to start composing your first piece.
Step 1: Songs Have Melodies and Harmony
A Melody is easy to understand. It's what you hum to yourself usually with one of your favorite songs on the radio. It's the moving line and if there is a singer, you'll hear the lyrics most often, in the Melody line. Melodies are always read from left to right; just like reading a book. Melodies can go from note to note, or they can skip notes.
Harmonies are the rest of the music that you hear supporting the Melody line. Harmonies are made up of more than one note; always. It can be 2 notes even, and still be considered harmony. Harmonies are read up and down; not from the left to the right as in Melody. Harmonies are indicated by Chords and a series of chords together is called a Chord Progression.
In order to know what notes to put into a piece, we need to know what Key it is going to be in. Let's look at what the Key Signature is and what information it gives you.
Step 2: Key Signature
They Key Signature will tell you what notes are going to be natural, sharp, or flat.
Every scale in music has it's own Key Signature.
- For example, the Key of C has no sharps and no flats.
- The Key of G Major has one sharp in it, and that sharp is F#. That tells you that every F in your piece will be F# instead of F natural.
Your sharps and Flats will always be noted on the left side of your music. You can easily tell what note is sharp or flat in the Key Signature if you simply replace a note on each line or space that the symbols are placed.
Don't forget to include your Time Signature as well!
Step 3: Time Signature
The Time Signature tells you how many beats to count in each measure and what kind of note gets the beat.
You'll always include your Time Signature on the left side of each line of music, next to your Key Signature.
Each measure in your piece will need to have the set number of beats that you've established in your Time Signature.
For example, if you have a 4/4 Time Signature, each measure will need 4 beats in it, and the quarter note will get the main beast.
*You can also think of it this way: the top note tells you "how many, and the bottom note tells you, "of what".
Ready to start writing?
Step 4: Putting It on Paper
- every piece is made up of Melody and Harmonies
- Melodies go from left to right
- Harmonies go down and up
- Pick a Key that you want your piece to be in. It's best to pick a key that you are very familiar with, and that doesn't have a lot of sharps or flats in it. Think about D Major, which has just 2 sharps: F# & C#.
- Establish your Time Signature and make sure each measure has the right number of beats in it.
- Now, write out the scale for your chosen key. That gives you a good base to start from.
- Next, write out chords in the same key and develop some easy chord progressions.
- Keep your Melody line in your right hand and the Harmonies in your left hand.
- Keep things simple by starting each measure with the next Chord change.
- Make your first few pieces smaller in size. Even 4-8 measures is a great start.
Need some additional help?
Step 5: Come Practice With Me!
Now that you have the basics in your head and hopefully have even tried writing your own piece of music, this video will address any questions you may have and give you a chance to write music with me.
The extra visuals and explanations are a great way to support your growing knowledge and will jump-start you into the next level of music composition!