If you are looking for ideas on how to start composing music, I applaud you for taking steps to express your own musical ideas! Those first few adventures into creating your own music can be so much fun and very rewarding!

I have found that improvisation is a rich way to discover your own inner musical self and is the source of many ideas for your musical compositions.

Below I have outlined a number of ideas to get you started, based on my own work as a composer, and also through mentoring my composition students over the years. I hope you will also find them useful in composing your own music!

Some inspiration can help you start your composition

A starting point for a sound work can be anything. (For me this is the most important part, as it sets the context/feel for your decisions).

Here are some things that have inspired me and might help you get started composing music:

  • A picture
  • Somewhere you have been
  • Something you have experienced
  • Other people’s musical ideas
  • Numbers/words
  • Colours
  • A poem or story
  • A graphic score
  • Just listen to what sounds are happening around you
  • Going through ‘formal’ exercises can also provide you with material to work with – e.g. developing a motif (or musical idea) in many different ways.

Don’t be judgmental – Enjoy the process

Composing is a process.

As you develop your ideas, just allow them to grow and change without judgement. If something isn’t working, it’s OK – just keep trying different ideas.

Remember the “mistakes” can actually open the door to new and very interesting ways to grow your composition!

It’s likely that your first compositions will have room for improvement, but if you just enjoy the process instead of judging your own efforts, you are more likely to keep the freedom and sense of excitement that will allow you to develop the ideas further and grow as a composer!

Need a hand with your composition? Contact me for Online Music Composition Lessons

Limit your material

Often it’s hard to start because there are too many choices! Try setting some rules.

Imagine an artist’s palette of sounds, and then paint these sounds on a timeline. This process compels you to explore the other parameters of sound (dynamics, register, timbre, etc.).

Here are some suggestions of ways you can limit your material when you are starting your composition:

  • Choose just 3 sounds – imagine them high/low or somewhere in between
  • Take a chord and generate new material from it
  • Make up your own mode or scale and use these notes as the basis for your melody

The creative process is messy and vulnerable … and that’s OK!

At first it might sound like its chaotic and lacking direction. Gradually a piece develops its own life.

Listen and imagine what your piece is saying to you …


The main thing when you start composing music is to enjoy the process, allow yourself to make “mistakes”, and let the music take you on a journey. By doing this, you allow the music to unfold without judgement, and you might be in for some wonderful adventures as you compose your own music in many different styles.

You can find some more tips for composing music here

If you are looking for more ideas, or would like feedback on your compositions, I provide music composition lessons – online and in Sydney NSW. You can learn more about my composition lessons here.