How to write Emotional MusicHello Composers, Mike here! =)

Do you want to learn how to compose emotional music? Great, because I have made a list of practical tips which I consider to be some of the most important aspects of emotional music.

Now, of course “emotional music” come in many different styles, moods and character. From sad, to tragic, to hopeful, and even inspiring. But even so, I have some great guidelines for you, as well as practical examples. Alright, here we go! =)

Emotional Music – Example 1

A soft and emotional track with a lyrical tone and long chords, focusing on a full string arrangement as well as solo flute to show the grandness and beauty of our dear planet earth.

There’s also a pedal note (drone) of the root of the scale in mixed in very low, just to add that “constant” of the world spinning around its own axis at the same pace..forever and ever. 🙂

Emotional Music – Example 2

This piece was composed by David Michael Tardy, with his creative vision being: “The composition is about peace and beauty that can be found in the storms that mother earth unleashes”.

It features great lush chords on strings, that calmly sweeps over you like a gentle wind. Then a soft, deep piano brings a delicate vibe that really adds to the emotional character.

Emotional Music – Example 3

This piece was composed by James Lebreton, with his creative vision being: “The idea behind this track was to bring together beauty of nature and some kind of darkness. Back in the days nature was still a dangerous place for man and in the same time landscapes were preserved and wild ! There is no place like home, but you’ll probably have to live some adventures to make your homecoming”.

I get a vibe of the cold breeze of the arctic wind, and a bit of the “chaotic wild”. I believe it captures the “raw” aspect of nature, with the contrast of very soft strings and more shrilling “ice-like” tones.

How to write Emotional Music

I want to give you my personal practical tips for writing action music, regardless of style. These are, what I consider, fundamental guidelines.

  1. Long Notes
    Emotional music focus a lot on longer notes, both in the chords and the melodies. You can of course use rhythms and driving parts, but those are generally more of a background element, with the focus being those big, lush, soaring long notes.
  2. Expression over Time
    Adding movement and changes over the time your long notes sustain, is one of the greatest way of adding emotion to your music. Most obvious is to dynamics and intensity over time. Which you do with modulation and expression automation on your instruments.
  3. Vibrato for Expression
    I don’t think there is any expressive playing technique that adds more core emotion than adding vibrato. A vibrato can also be controlled in depth (how much pitch variation), and speed (how fast you perform the vibrato).
  4. Strings rule for Emotion
    If we don’t count the human voice, which indeed is the most expressive instrument in the world. The number one instrument family for emotion and expression…is bowed strings. From the low ranges of double basses and cellos, to violas and violins. The reason is that strings can perform an incredible amount of articulation techniques, in a wide dynamic range, covering the whole frequency spectrum with a full string section.
  5. Smooth Transitions
    For emotional music, you should also focus on smooth transitions. Both in the arrangement, but also the very transitions between notes. This means using various speeds of legatos for note transitions, and also thinking about the voice leading to make your harmonies flow effortlessly throughout your music.

ACTION: Write your own Emotional Music

Now it is time for you to take action! Meaning to compose and produce a new “Emotional Music” track, to add to your composer portfolio.

Use these reference tracks for motivation and inspiration if you like, and take my guidelines for writing emotional music with you. But remember, guidelines are not rules. You always have ultimate creative freedom as a composer when creating your music.

Have fun writing Emotional 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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