Have you ever watched an artist demonstrate how they create a painting? If not, you’re missing something wonderful … how to go from nothing to something.
How to create beauty where before there was only blank canvas.
Let’s take a landscape artist as an example and assume the subject has already been chosen - a peaceful woodland scene.
Now, how does the artist go about capturing this idea? Easy! They have a working method already in place! In art, the background is usually composed first. Foreground details are added in later. We can apply this same concept to music as well; specifically New Age piano. You see, we can also lay in the background and set the mood for the entire piece of music. And the best part about this is it’s quite easy to do.
For example, in Lesson 131: “Watercolors” you learn how to use chords to color in the background. We use chords, time, and 2, 4, or 8-bar phrases to accomplish this.
Once we have our harmonic background, we can add in more colors with a right hand improvisation. This is the technique George Winston uses in much of his early work. A left hand pattern lays in the “wash” so to speak, while the right hand creates a lovely melodic foreground. Why this isn’t taught by most piano teachers is a mystery to me. Especially since the use of this technique gives immediate satisfaction.
Entire pieces of music have been and are created using this technique. All we need to know are the chords and when the chord changes occur. This is done by placing the chord symbols on something called a chart. The chart is simply bars of music drawn out that indicate when you change chords. The cool thing about creating harmonic backgrounds is you don’t have to chart out more than 8-bars to create your musical canvas.
Even 2-bars is enough. Why? Because once you have the chord progression down, you simply keep playing it over and over. Eventually, this will get monotonous. But if we wanted to, we can add in a new harmonic background and keep the piece of music fresh!