I'm writing a piece and I have begun exploring modality to be able to use it in my music. Actually I've used it before in a very basic way and I like how it sounds but I always end up using all "white keys" on the piano. I 'm trying to spicy it up a bit .. how to introduce accidentals in a smooth way ? I don't want to copy Debussy because he has such a particular sound you end up sounding well.. just like Debussy ! So I thought about Ravel, a bit more subtle maybe.. he hasn't composed much music for piano so it's harder to analyze.. but I will eventually. Does anybody have any tips to get started ? What to look for ? Thank you very much !!!
Without going through too much details on music theory, my recommendation is to rethink what sounds smooth or what sounds good.
You can use tons of accidentals or black keys and still maintain very strong (or make even stronger) tonality, and use no or very few accidentals and completely loose tonality and still make it sounds very smooth.
Tonality means having a strong sense of tonal direction or tendency, like gravity - it pulls everything to one direction. You can fly, you can rocket your self into upper atmosphere, but gravity will always pull you to a direction. You can change the direction, but there will be direction still. That is how tonality works. Modality also has strong sense of direction it is just a different kind.
If you see the music from Romantic or Late Romantic composers, they use tons and tons of accidentals but they still have strong sense of direction.
In order to be able to write good chromatic music, you probably want to rethink this sense of "direction". Debussy is a good example. He defined totally different sense of direction - it is almost directionless, but that does not mean the music sounds out of whack. It is like turning off gravity - things will be very different, but it could still be very joyful.
Try not to think too much about using more accidental, focus more on the sound that you want to create. You need to have real or inner needs for those special notes first. You should first hear it in your head before you write it. To do that, you would need to build the new sense of direction or sense of what sounds good or bad.