How to Compose a Piano Solo that Sounds Great
When creating a piano solo there are a few things to consider. In order to
go about creating a good melody, you need to think about the mood you are trying to create.
The melody is going to be the most important aspect of any piece of music and the centerpiece of the entire
composition. It would also determine what the harmony and chord changes will be based on.
When creating a piano solo, keep in mind the mood you are creating. If this is a purely technical piece, then
little or no emotions are going to be perceived. However, piano solos often tell a story all by themselves and we
will attempt to explain that in this online piano lesson.
For example, a piano sonata from Beethoven and Mozart is able to create a wide range of emotional ups and downs
through their expressive use of melody and harmony. When gathering inspiration for your compositions, listen to
what you are hearing. There is no such thing as over analysis when it comes to listening to inspirational
The melody is the focus of any piano solo and perhaps the most difficult aspect of composing. Regardless of the
genre, your melody is going to set the tone for the rest of the writing process.
What are you trying to convey with your melody? Emotion and moods are important when writing any piece of music,
especially for solo piano compositions. Taking a critical eye at classical composers such as Debussy and
Rachmaninoff, you can learn that these masters had very distinct styles of writing music.
Debussy wrote subdued and quiet pieces of music that evoked emotion through calm phrasing and subtle melodies.
Rachmaninoff was a master at using melody and changes in volume to an emotional journey for the listener.
Crafting a melody takes a lot of trial and error. When creating the melody,
you’ll have to play it repeatedly. By doing this, you can cultivate a better understanding of what you want to
write by hearing what you don’t like.
Upon hearing a single mistake or an entire section that seems out of place, you can correct your mistake and
produce a melody that is exactly what you want. In essence, you are hearing what’s wrong so that you can make it
Once your melody is written, the next step is crafting the harmony and
chord progression. Depending on what genre of music you are writing, harmony can be as simple as the I IV V
progression, or can be as complex as changing the key every few measures.
The harmony is used to create mood and emotion and the use of tension and release will dictate what emotion or
mood you are setting. When creating a melody that inspires anger or sadness, more tension will be used rather than
Furthermore, when creating a melody that is meant to inspire happiness or playfulness, there could be very
little, if any, tension. The ratio of tension to release will dictate what mood, emotion or story you are trying to
Piano solos are sometimes difficult to write; especially without creative input or inspiration. It can be hard
to pull a melody from thin air. When composing, listen to your favorite artists and composers, they can guide you
in the right direction.
Diversify your musical palette, if you find that a particular artist or musician is not your favorite, you then
know what not to write. Everything is a learning experience; don’t limit yourself in finding inspiration. It can
come from unexpected sources.