Friday, April 10, 2009

Composing George Winston Style

If you're a fan of New Age piano, no doubt you've listened to some of George Winston's music. What I find fascinating about his songs is how he creates them.

Most improvisers/composers start with the melody, usually because it's the easiest way to begin.

What George does is start with the background. He creates an aural canvas over which he improvises the melody. This is an excellent way to create with because once you have the chord changes for the first 8-bars or so, you've pretty much finished a section of music.

Now after Winston gets his (A) section, it's another textural background that will usually make its appearance for the (B) section. The beautiful thing about this method is that it really frees up the right-hand!

Once your left hand is playing the background, you are able to create melody easily. It's like a lead guitar player creating a solo while the band lays down the rhythm and chord changes.

In fact, George Winston has referred to his left hand as the rhythm section. Creating the background first is just another way to compose/improvise. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going with the melody first if that is what inspires you. However, it's good to know how others are creating so you can learn from them.

P.S. Very soon I give my next piano lesson. And if you like the music of George Winston and wonder how he could create something like this, in my next lesson, I'll show you how! I'll take you step-by-step through the process and not only teach you how George does it, but how you can do it yourself! And it's all going to be on video.This is going to be one lesson you won't want to miss! More info at

1 comment:

  1. Gearge Winston was the one who got me started. His version of Canon in D was one of the first tunes I ever learned to play by ear.

    I didn't realize that he starts with the left hand. That's what I do, too. I wonder if that came more natural to me because it was his music that taught me. Now I almost always get the chord progression down before doing much of anything with the melody. It really is an effective way to create original music.

    - Chas