Writing for piano

Hi, I have some pieces that I have written with just the melody line. The melody is easy it just pops up in the head, but would like to also include accompagment/bassline/harmony in the music, any good tips on resources/links for how to learn this? Piano music I like is for instance Chopin.

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  • How are you with harmony, choosing the right basic triads, 7ths etc, to support a melody? 

    Have you thought of studying piano pieces of composers who do roughly what you like? Mozart is a good start with his alberti basses. Many scores are available on imslp. Here's Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu


    That in itself might be of little use except the middle section. He had a way of spacing with arpeggiated chords. 

    Hope that helps at least!


  • Thanks, have some basic knowledge about harmonies but still a lot to learn. Yes, to see how it is done by composers I like is probably a good way to get understanding, think this is very fine:https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtIW2r1EalM

    but probably way over my head now. Think I will start with something simple and build from there, I can post some examples then I start to work on it. I have a piece here with just melody line: https://soundcloud.com/jostein-kauserud/bl-fl-l-n-angl

    that I will start to work on

  • One way is to just play different chords as you go along, or at a particular point, and see what sounds good. I think songwriters do this to get the basic chord progression. Sometimes even "mistakes" turn out to be ""inspirational!"
  • Hi Jostien, welcome to the forum.  Dane and Michael have given you excellent suggestions, if you are using notation software as Michael says you can plug in almost any notes underneath your melody and you will either like it or not.  Sibelius lets you stack intervals automatically so thirds, fifths, sixths and octaves usually work pretty well.

    To get more in depth here is an online theory site that should help.


    Table of Contents – Open Music Theory
    ## Introduction[Introduction to this “textbook” (for instructors & scholars).](about.html)## Fundamentals[Basic notat...
  • It helps to have a midi keyboard at least, if not an actual keyboard, so you can try the chords live as you play the melody, hum the melody, etc. When I used to write songs, my guitar served that role. In fact, before I got a piano, I composed classical pieces using only a guitar, pencil and paper. Later supplemented by a set of three recorders (soprano, alto and tenor). I even bought a crappy violin at a pawn shop, to help me with string writing. and I would tune my guitar like a cello sometimes. you use what you have. If you are motivated, you will find ways.
  • Thanks, Ingo and Michael, I have an app called Notion on my iphone that I use, very handy and easy to use. Very fast to try out different ideas and in addition I also sing.

  • Hi

    What to do with the left hand, always a difficult question. I'm assuming you don't play the piano (otherwise you wouldn't be asking the question). If you can play the melody then I assume you know the chords the melody is played against. That's you answer. Notate the melody and chords and have a good look at it. Break the chord up, play the same thing with both hands. As previously suggested, play an Alberti Bass (if it was good enough for Mozart).

    I think that  the piano is the only instrument that you need some fluency in in order to write for it. But once you gain that you shouldn't have any problem, especially if you can come up with good melodies for the right hand. I'm always surprise at how sparse the left hand can be in some great piano works.


  • Thanks, for great answer Colin. Here is a link to the score: https://www.dropbox.com/s/tsyoqtpw75vghwz/Bl%20fl%20l%20n%20angl.pd...


    I am quite satisfied with the melody alone, but would like to try out if the left hand should be put to use also. As you assume I cant play the piano myself. Not sure which key the music is in, thought maybe bD major but it remains a lot of accidentals.

    On my soundcloud page I have a piece called Moz there I used Alberti bass to good use: https://soundcloud.com/jostein-kauserud/moz

    but that piece was more easy flowing and even rythm, but I can try it out here also.


    Bl fl l n angl.pdf
    Shared with Dropbox
  • With some chords:



    A bit boring way to do it perhaps?


    Bl fl l n angl-3.pdf
    Shared with Dropbox
  • Colin, I find this to be a curious statement: "I think that  the piano is the only instrument that you need some fluency in in order to write for it."


    I know Someone who is great singer. She knows nothing about theory or notation or just about anything else about instruments or song writing in general. Yet she writes really good songs, and has a great ear. She writes a song and plays it into Garage Band. then she adds another line that she thinks sounds good. Then one or two more, and a bass line. I couldn't do it that way, but she does it very well. 

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