Hello Composers, Mike here! =)
Do you want to learn how to compose elegant music? Music that has a character of: Beauty, Luxury, Minimalism and Class, suitable for scenes of elegance in a movie, TV series, or video game.
Now, of course “elegant music” come in many different styles, moods and character. However, I will share with you 5 great guidelines that I believe covers all styles.
But first, let’s listen to some great examples of “Elegant Music”. Alright, here we go! =)
Mikael Baggström – Graceful Motion
This is my own composition, with the following description of my vision and mission when composing it:
To give the piece a minimalist and graceful character I went for a slow tempo, and wrote it in 3/4 which really adds to the elegant groove.
I chose to feature harp and solo strings mainly throughout this piece, because I felt those would portrait the elegance well. I also included some light comping on piano, short strings etc. for some added flare. Then I added women choirs, because I feel their vocal range can add that divine and beautiful vibe.
David Olofson – The Golden Hall
When you want elegance, you can never go wrong with a Waltz. And David made this piece with an amazing interplay between the flow sections, and the accented sections. Almost like call and response, but in the entire flow instead of 2 instruments. Superb! =)
Here is his own track description: I always wanted to have a go at Light Music, and classical waltz, so I figured this challenge would be a nice opportunity to have a go at something leaning towards the latter. I visualized a golden ballroom with people dancing, and… that’s about it. The composition is mostly structure and logic, rather than story. 🙂
The arrangement is pretty simple, but there is a fair bit of strings/woodwinds/brass layering going on, to build some nice timbres. The Solo Strings serve as first chairs for the Chamber Strings for the most part, but they occasionally doing their own stuff as well. Woodwinds are all solo instruments, and so is the brass, apart from a few a2.
Software: Cubase Pro 10, Kontakt 5, TC VSS3, Ozone 8.
Libraries: Spitfire Chamber Strings, Spitfire Solo Strings, Spitfire Symphonic Woodwinds, Spitfire Percussion, Spitfire Symphonic Brass.
David Michael Tardy – Memories of You
David composed this very minimal and beautiful piece that really shines of elegance.
Here is David’s description: My intention for this piece, is for the listener to feel a sense of beauty, romanticism and the elegance of one’s first true love and the beautiful memories that are attached to that there after. The elegance of a beautiful everlasting memory. I guess I picture a scene of someone who is elderly and going through a photo album or keepsake box and being transported back in time to all of the wonderful and loving memories he/she had with his/her love.
Julia Lesnichy – Waltz Of Roses
Julia composed this soft and beautiful Waltz, which focuses on the woodwinds. I love the harmonic progressions, and the melodies, especially the swirling movement that ends the main melodic phrase. It reminds me of a balerina performing a wonderfully graceful movement on stage.
Julia’s own description: Here is my new classical waltz with a solo flute and other woodwinds, brass and strings.. i was pretty much influenced by Tchaikovsky waltzes (he is my fav composer) and other Russian modern composers. Russians love waltzes a lot, it is a part of our culture.
Gabriel Lander – Balerina
This piece by Gabriel goes straight to your heart. Such amazing use of minimalism, and intimate emotional vibe. It actually takes both courage and strength to hold back as a composer, in order to get this sparse arrangement that truly lets you focus on the exposed emotional movement of the piano.
Gabriel’s own description: This one I have created after I have watched a documentary about Russian balerina students whose dream were all one just to get into school of their dreams that focuses on ballet but very high standard and meant to take only the best of those girls that been aged between 5-8.
They all worked way too hard to get near the jury of the school for me their performance was all the same ,perfect, but the jury was cruel and rejected most as they had to, but ruined lifetime dreams with very cold manners.
Piano and Cello nothing more than that. I think it would serve well in a documentary similar to the one I have watched regardless its simplicity.
Mike Whi – Memories of our future on high
This composition by Mike Whi starts very elegant and minimalistic with only piano and a nice ebb and flood movement in the groove. Then it becomes more intricate with the added mallets and strings. It blends a bit of jazzy vibes, with more romantic classical vibes, and an overall modern experimental improvisation style.
How to write Elegant Music
I want to give you my personal practical tips for writing elegant music, regardless of style. These are, what I consider, fundamental guidelines.
- Slow and Graceful
Elegance is like a king and queen walking slowly and gracefully. Elegant music therefore is almost always slow in tempo, and graceful in the motion of harmonies and melodies. Legato transitions, smooth voice leading, longer soaring notes in melodies…all work very well for elegance in music.
- Shimmer and Flare
Light sounds, and high shimmering sounds, are very useful to add that touch of elegance. As do adding light minor details, spices and flare. Plucky sounds like harps and pizzicato strings for example, and high shimmer like harp glissandos, chimes, scale runs on strings and woodwinds, and so on. It can also be mallets, glockenspiel and celesta that double the melodies in the high registers to add even more air and shimmer.
As you may have noticed in luxury products and high end design, minimalism is very common. It’s like when you watch a great photo in black and white, it instantly has more class. It is the same with music. Minimal arrangements, and smaller sections, are often a safe bet if you want to add a sense of elegance in your music. Solo piano + cello or string quartet for example.
- Solo Instruments
Solo instruments have the most clear expression in vibrato, transitions etc which make them wonderful for emotion in music. A solo violin or cello can be very effective for the leading melody in a composition focused on elegance. Solo piano, perhaps a harp.
- Movement over Rhythm
Elegance is more about graceful movement than sudden changes. So you should focus more on groove, flow and motion…compared to rhythms. Percussion often plays a background role, while longer notes with expressive and dynamic movement is the norm. Harmonic rhythms can for example be arpeggios, light comping on piano and so on. Adding movement in the voice leading to include suspended chords by using passing notes is another safe bet for elegance.
Now Take Action! =)
Now it is time for you to take action! Meaning to compose and produce a new “Elegant Music” track, to add to your composer portfolio.
Use these reference tracks, and guidelines for motivation and inspiration. But remember, guidelines are not rules. You always have ultimate creative freedom as a composer when creating your music.
Have fun writing Elegant Music, my friends! =)
My name is Mikael “Mike” Baggström, and I am a composer, sound designer, artist, video creator, coffee lover, and true nerd…
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