Composing music with a pentatonic scale.

How do you start?

So, how do you start composing music? My advice: start simple. If you have a keyboard you can start with just that (although this will work on any instrument). By the way, you don’t have to even be able to play keyboard – although that will help of course!

Use a pentatonic scale

composingIf you look at your keyboard, you will see black and white notes. We are going to only play black notes.  Playing  only the black notes is a form of what’s called a pentatonic scale. It has only five notes.

This means, you can play as many notes as you like at once using one or two hands because they won’t clash;  you will always have a harmonious or pleasant sound – even if it sounds like Chinese music!

Make up a simple tune

Then, why not try making a simple tune using this same scale? Many folk and hymn tunes are written using just a pentatonic scale – including Amazing Grace.

Bravo! You have played using your first scale or mode. This is called a Pentatonic scale comprising of just 5 notes: on the keyboard these notes are named: (Black notes are called flats and sharps)

Db, Eb, Gb, Ab, Bb

How did you get on? Now, try recording it on your phone and why not post it to me and I’ll give you some feedback!

Happy composing!

Note: a big key to creativity is to write regularly. I improvise (make up) something every day.

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Further reading:

Pentatonic scales

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