ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Write a Piece for Piano

Updated on May 11, 2015
JohnMello profile image

JohnMello is a writer, composer, musician and the author of books for children and adults.

Play something completely new - by writing it yourself!
Play something completely new - by writing it yourself! | Source

If you play the piano and would like to write your own music, then here's one method that will help you get closer to your goal.

It's easier to make up a piece of piano music if you try to base your piece on a small fragment of a melody or idea. Grandiose themes and statements will come later when you've had lots of experience, but to start things off you might want to keep it simple.

You'll notice that this piece relies on a very straightforward little tune, which is expanded and developed using a number of composing basics, including:

  • Repetition
  • Sequences
  • Echoes
  • Variation

If you can create interest in your music while sticking to just one main idea, the result you end up with should be highly satisfactory. You can see, hear and print the score for this particular piece by browsing to its page on Score Exchange following this link.

Start with a simple idea
Start with a simple idea | Source

Basic Composition Techniques

Repetition
Sequence
Variation
Repeat a melody or rhythm
Repeat a melody or fragment of a melody at a higher or lower pitch
Vary the ending of a melody
Repeat part of a melody or rhythm
 
Vary the middle of a melody
Echo a melody or rhythm between the two hands
 
Vary the rhythm or length of a melody

Getting your Piano Piece Going

So where do you start? Well, first of all, you need an idea. This can be a tune that's going through your head, or a bit of a tune you've heard somewhere. Whatever you start with will be the basis for everything that follows.

My piece is from a set of tunes for children I'm hoping to develop as a suite. This was the first piece I wrote and I decided to keep it as simple as I possibly could. The challenge then becomes how to make it interesting to play and to listen to while still maintaining its air of gentle innocence.

I started off with a 4-bar tune which I came up with after about half an hour at the keyboard. You'll notice a couple of things when you examine the first four bars:

  • The melody revolves around the note G (see graphic below)
  • The left hand is kept basic and as minimal as possible
  • The left hand provides the harmony, filling in the missing notes from the chords and complementing the right hand melody

Naturally it takes time to get this first section just the way you want it. The section ends on the dominant (a D chord) because that makes it sound incomplete (see graphic below). That way it makes perfect sense to repeat the first section again, but with a different ending (on the tonic or G) to wrap it up nicely.

The opening melodic idea with a tune centered around the note G
The opening melodic idea with a tune centered around the note G | Source
End of first 4-bar section, finishing on the dominant D
End of first 4-bar section, finishing on the dominant D | Source

Building your Piano Piece

If you take a look at the next bit of the song, bars 5 to 8, you'll see that it's basically a repeat of the first four bars, but with a new ending. This time the section finishes on a G, with a more conclusive rhythm that comes to a definite stop.

End of second 4-bar section, finishing on the tonic G to give it a conclusive final sound
End of second 4-bar section, finishing on the tonic G to give it a conclusive final sound | Source

But what happens after that is also interesting.

Rather than rush ahead with new material I decided to repeat what is essentially the second and third notes of the original right hand melody. I built in variety by getting the left hand to echo the right, and then by moving the melodic fragment around the keyboard, first higher in the right hand, then lower in the left, as in the picture below:

Repetition and echo of main melody's first couple of notes
Repetition and echo of main melody's first couple of notes | Source

The Piece Changes Key

Next, a quick change takes us to the relative minor of G major, which is E minor. This section begins with a sequence of the opening melody six notes higher. But rather than just repeat the opening section note for note, I let everything fall a tone at a time. This is the kind of variation that's vital to keep listeners paying attention.

The middle section concludes with both hands playing the sixteenth note pattern before landing on the note E to signal the end of that section.

Variation by continuing the movement in a downward direction
Variation by continuing the movement in a downward direction | Source
Ending of the middle section in E minor
Ending of the middle section in E minor | Source

Back to Melody One

The middle section ends with that echoing two-note phrase, just as the first section did. This time it's in the key of E minor, though, after which it modulates (changes key) back to G through D for the final part of the piece:

Another echoing phrase, this time in E minor
Another echoing phrase, this time in E minor | Source

And that brings us to the final section of the piece, which is a straight repeat of the first. The only difference is the ending, which repeats the final sixteenth note phrase an octave higher each time, signalling something different for the ears and also a potential end to the entire piece.

Summary

So there you have it. Why not try writing your own piece for the piano? Here's a summary of the steps you need to take:

  1. Start with a simple idea
  2. Use that idea in as many ways as possible
  3. Use repetition, sequences and variation to help your idea take shape
  4. Try to imagine where your melody wants to go, and then experiment with possibilities
  5. Don't worry about making mistakes, because sometimes mistakes can turn out to be little gems
  6. Try to balance the music between the two hands so one doesn't overpower the other
  7. Once you've got something created, write it down or record it. Leave it for a day or two and come back to it with fresh ears.

The final step in the process is to play your creation over and over, play it for other people, and give yourself a nice hearty pat on the back for a job well done. And don't forget to take the quiz below to find out just how much you've learned.

An Example of a Sequence

Example of a sequence as used in the piece
Example of a sequence as used in the piece | Source

What Do You Know?

view quiz statistics

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JohnMello profile imageAUTHOR

      JohnMello 

      5 years ago from England

      Thanks Cathy Fidelibus. Please feel free to direct him to my Beginners Piano Lessons on HubPages too :)

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

      Ms. Immortal 

      5 years ago from NJ

      thanks, I will pass this on to my son who an accomplished guitarist who is interested in learning piano.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)