How to Compose Music - Exploration MusicHello Composers, Mike here! =)

Do you want to learn how to compose exploration music? Music that has a character of being: Grand, Noble, Elegant, Beautiful, and being on a Journey.

Great, because I have made a list of practical tips which I consider to be some of the most important aspects of exploration music.

Now, of course “exploration music” come in many different styles, moods and character. From space exploration of the great unknown universe. To exploring some ancient ruins hidden in a jungle.

However, I still I have some great guidelines for you that I believe covers all these styles of exploration music. And I will even give you some practical examples. Alright, here we go! =)

Exploration Music – Example 1

This is my own composition which I describe as: Exploration Music Composition – Music that reflects the grand, noble and powerful aspects of exploring new uncharted domains.

I focused on a big and lush string arrangement, with woodwinds adding flare and brass providing some extra low end power.

I also chose to not include any percussion or rhythmic drive, in order to truly reflect the noble and grand forward momentum on the journey of exploration.

Exploration Music – Example 2

This composition by David Olofson starts in kind of a military style vibe, with a rhythmic 4/4 pulse, brass and snare. It continues with an interesting introduction of an arpeggio strings and glockenspiel, and I definitely feel the exploration vibe.

The focus on arpeggios, woodwind etc. certainly adds the adventure aspect of it which of course goes hand in hand with exploring.

It also has several big dynamic shifts in the sections of the track, with soft parts and then stabby, big brass letting us know something big is going on. Even some mysterious vibes with an almost eastern influence.

Exploration Music – Example 3

David Michael Tardy composed this piece which has a very deep, lush sound. Long, soaring melodies and harmonies bring you slowly through the unknown universe, exploring new worlds. In the middle of the track it really opens up, like you discovered something big. And the energy picks up from the introduction of ostinatos and percussion.

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He describes is as: The title is “Explorer” and the intention behind my composition is to give the listener the experience of traveling in space, through wormholes and at light speed and seeing beautiful new planets and new galaxies for the first time, that go beyond our dreams and imagination.

How to write Exploration Music

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

  1. Grand & Majestic Vibe
    Exploration is all about the search of the great unknown. As a rule of thumb this means going with a “larger than life”, grand and majestic vibe. It helps using long, soaring melodies and chords.
  2. The Sound of Courage
    Going into uncharted domains, exploring the mysteries of space, dark caves, using lost maps etc. all requires great courage. How do you get that sense of courage? Well, a bold and powerful bass line will go a long way. Long, low notes on brass works great for this, not to sharp and brassy, but more mellow and deep.
  3. Big Soundstage
    A sense of big space is almost required, meaning a deep soundstage using a large reverb and also placing the instruments to cover lots of space in the X/Y/Z domain (Left, Right, Depth).
  4. Minimal Rhythm
    Exploration music and all music that require a grand, majestic vibe will inherently focus more on long, powerful and soaring notes and sounds. Some flare can be added of course, like scale runs, and some slight drive from ostinatos, arpeggios, or perhaps a synth pulse…but more in the background. As for percussion, you will most likely use it in a minimal way, to give more focus on that grand and lush vibe.
  5. High Dynamic Range
    Exploration is often like a story with ups and downs, and big dynamics. Use this to your advantage by keeping a high dynamic range in the music, and riding the dynamics with curves like waves of motion. It can also be effective to build the dynamics from very soft to much louder in the end of the track for a sense of big achievement on your glorious journey of exploration.

More Live Examples

I also have some more live examples of exploration music, written and produced by members of “Professional Composers”. Please have a listen to them as well to get inspired to write your own music in this style:

Sébastien Brunner: “I wanted to do a 3 parts thing. Starting mysterious then a bit weird and introducing brass and choirs in the last part. I tried to tell a story with the video. About leaving Earth for the starts.”

Brendon Hayes: “This is heavily influenced by older sci fi movies, but some modern space exploration franchises as well. I attempted to create a piece that captures exploring the otherworldly grandeur of the great beyond but instills the feeling of fear and peril at the sight of such beauty.”

Adrian Earnshaw: This track commenced with the guitar riffs and was built up from there. The idea behind the track was to channel that Vangelis legato/glide sound but adding a little dirt so as not to make it so clean. To alter the perception of tempo the first half of the track uses one chord every two bars, whereas the second half changes up so that it is one chord each bar. This gives a sensation of travelling at that the track has sped up when in actual fact the tempo hasn’t really changed.

Now Take Action! =)

Now it is time for you to take action! Meaning to compose and produce a new “Exploration 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 Exploration 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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