How to Compose Piano MusicHello Composers, Mike here. Do you want to Compose Emotional Piano Music? =)

Music focused mainly on a piano performance, with only minimal backing instruments that support it, and an end result full of emotion.

Let me give you some tips and guidelines, but first let’s listen to a couple of live examples of music compositions in this style! =)

Mikael Baggström – A Thousand Dreams From Home

For my creative vision for this track I imagined a person playing the piano with such depth, emotion and dedication that he finds himself dragged into the music. To a distant land full of wonders, where he drifts on and on beyond time and space itself. Finding himself falling through new dimensions for every single note…beyond a thousand dreams from home.

The track is based around a piano performance, and backed up mainly by a full string arrangement. I also added a touch of woodwinds, some harp, and bass. Then some rhythmic parts, and soft and noble horns and choirs of the final part.

Ricardo De Santiago – Sad piano

Ricardo’s description: A love and nostalgic composition, thinking on good moments of the past summer, romantic but with a sad touch. A song that says… all I have now, are memories.

I use: Reason 10 intro, and three layers of piano, SpitfireLabs, and two NXT from reason.

Gabriel Lander – Dance of Dark Queen

Gabriel’s description: I couldn’t come up with anything for a while, so I started tp mess around and improvise . I liked the taste of this bit and decided to make it whole but again no time for that. Season is here so it stays with errors for now. Also finished ds3 with platinum trophy so I am making videos of my characters that led me to the finest achievement after 2 years of gameplay.

This is named dance of the death queen so I have tried to make video out of lethal spins and weapon strikes. I will make different music for all my characters as they are all different built and use that on my portfolio, and hey I am not really good with piano pieces, but I believe it fits the topic.

Additionally, when I started this piece I had a ship in mind that floats on waves getting hammered and sinks in the end where crew drowns and finds peace. That was the original picture anyway.

David Michael Tardy – Nature is my Church

David’s description: The intention of my composition is as the title states. Nature heals & comforts so many things and I find myself happiest when I am surrounded by it.

The libraries I used to create this piece: Fracture Sounds-Midnight Grand Piano, Spitfire-Chamber Strings, Cinematic Studio Strings, Cinematic Solo Strings & Albion One, Audio Bro-Genesis Children’s Choir, 8DIO-Adagio Cello Enseble, Claire Flute & Oboe, Virharmonic-Bohemian Violin.

Eric Tynan – Faded Pictures

Eric’s description: A young boy has been grieving over the death of his grandfather with whom he had a very special bond. After the funeral he explores his grandfather’s attic where he finds a dusty old photo album.

Upon opening it he discovers page after page of photos from a bygone era. Featured prominently in the pictures is a boy of roughly his own age who bears an uncanny resemblance to him. He realizes that this is his grandfather when he was a child like himself. He feels a strange nostalgia, as if distant memories been rekindled.

David Olofson – Stairs

David’s description: Walking through the mist, over open fields, and into the woods, where you find a flight of stairs that lead nowhere. Slightly startled by the eerie scene, and wondering what the purpose of these stairs might have been, you notice a lake further ahead, and realize this must be the ruins of a once beautiful home with the most amazing view.

Emotional Piano Music Guidelines

1. Focus on the Piano

I know personally how hard it can be to keep the focus on one single instrument, as it is so easy to add and add until the primary instrument is buried behind a cloud of sounds.

You want to make sure you really avoid that. Place the piano performance as the priority and focus throughout the entire music composition. Think of it as the lead vocalist, everything else will just be there for support and backing. The piano has the main spotlight.

2. Performance with Soul

Since the piano will be so naked in the full mix, you really need to add that expressive and soulful vibe by recording the performance with lots of dynamic variation as well as timing variation in the groove.

Avoid quantization or at least use very minimal quantizing values, and shape your dynamic curve and accents of your music story in the piano performance.

3. Sustain Pedal Magic

Learning to use the sustain pedal well is essential for a good piano performance. Basically it all comes down to pumping the pedal, pushing it down when you want to add that shimmering resonance, and releasing every now and then to avoid the build-up of mud in the sound. It takes practice, but you will need to pump that sustain pedal creatively and with intention! =)

4. Backing Support

For a really emotional piano music composition you can also include light, soft backing instruments such as strings, pads or ambient soundscapes to elevate the mood and vibe you are going for.

Just make sure to avoid that these sounds steal too much focus from the piano.

5. Avoid Copy/Paste

The more focus a single instrument has, the more you need to focus on variation in the performance. Which is why you should avoid copy/paste as much as possible, because you want the human aspect of the performance. Variation not only in the notes themselves, but how you play them.

Now take Action!

I always recommend you to take action, to learn from doing, experimenting, and creating. So go ahead and compose a new track in the style of “Emotional Piano Music Music”. =)


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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