Every style of piano playing has its share of tricks and techniques. New Age piano is no different. The New Age piano style has 3 main techniques that are used over and over. These are the ostinato technique, the crossover technique or arpeggio, and the broken chord technique.
The Ostinato technique – A Repeating Pattern
You’ve probably heard this technique numerous times and may or may not have knows what it was. Ostinato simply means repeating pattern or obstinate pattern and that’s exactly what it is. For example, in New Age pianist George Winston’s piece “Rain,” we have a left-hand pattern that uses over an octave of the keyboard to create a beautiful aural background over which a melody is improvised.
This technique is a very quick and easy way to create New Age piano pieces. The ostinato is played over and over while the right hand is able to “mix it up” and create change with the melody line. Of course, you can change the ostinato pattern as well as Winston does. With just a few small note changes, freshness is maintained and the piece moves listener attention forward. The author’s one lesson piece “Rainforest” does the same thing. Two chords are used in the left hand while the right improvises a melody.
The Crossover Technique – Arpeggios Up and Down
This technique is used everywhere in New Age piano and elsewhere. Usually spanning an octave or more, the pianist uses the left hand (mostly) to create a cascading pattern of notes that can ascend or descend or both depending on how it’s played. Another good example of this technique is used in George Winston’s piece “Thanksgiving.” Here he uses a few chords in the left hand broken up into arpeggios and creates a nice harmonic “loop” with them. Then the right hand improvises a melody and the piece is created. Very easy and quite nice as well.
The author’s lesson piece “Morning Mist” uses a few chords along with the crossover technique as well. First you learn how to play the left-hand crossover, then you slowly add in a melody of your own. Creative? Yes! And easy as well!
The Broken Chord Technique – Both Hands In Play
Here we have a technique that sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. Both hands are used to create music with. The hands are placed on a chord and that chord is broken up.
For instance, the lesson “Reflections in Water” uses broken chord technique along with open position chords to create a very nice “New Age” sound! Beginners who listen to this piece won’t have a clue as to how it’s accomplished but once you learn how to play the open position chord, insight will follow and you’ll begin to see just how easy creating in the New Age style can be!