Low-impact ambient music composition for beginners

The above piece of music was composed partly through a cognitive technique I developed to remember piano motifs and phrases.

My musical memory is particularly poor, so the method below outlays a simple way of making sounds as heard above. In my example there’s a real piano, but it’s not neccessary. I then multitracked it on Garageband with a voice – but that’s getting complex, so here we go…

The Method

Choose five notes on a Piano over two octaves. If you don’t have a piano use an electric keyboard. If you don’t have a keyboard use programs like garageband to trigger notes from the letters on a laptop.

This will be your own ‘scale’ – the notes may be random or personally meaningful, but once you have chosen your five you must stick to them. Now, try and play them slowly but as carelessly as possible. A slow kind of ambient music should result. You are not allowed to deviate from this number of notes. The results should sound softly random. The only choice you have is to alter the velocity of a given note (how hard you hit each key) and the order you hit each key in is up to you, however, the sustain pedal (or reverb on keys) must be pressed all the way through the improvisation.

As you play, as soon as you think you are developing a ‘tune’ attempt to abandon the idea and become as random as possible. Slow down. Record the results. Evaluate if despite your best efforts, a tune or pattern has still emerged or not.

Part 2

Locate three or four of these ‘chords’ and in order to remember where your fingers were, stick 4 different colours on the keys, green for your first set; orange for second, and so on (no significance to colours). Now you can switch to different parts of the piano without losing your memory.