From Amateur to Professional

The structure of a trance track

Welcome back my fellow music-lovers,

You know, I keep un saying I will be more consistent and quicker with my posts and videos. Once again it has been a couple of weeks since my last post so my apologies for that. I’ve been crazy busy redesigning the site as you can see. It’s a lot better right? I think it looks more professional, the homepage is better with forum posts and my twitter tweets on there. I’ve also added a review section where I will choose a featured product and write a review about it. You can add comments directly to the review to share your experiences.

Enough said, let’s get down to business

Last time I gave an action plan of how I wanted to progress going forwards. I wanted to start with some theory so we can get the boring stuff out of the way. I think it’s important because if you’re reading this, there’s a possibility you don’t know about the components of a track and it’s important to get everybody on the same wavelength before we continue. I will be going through some tracks in the video so you can put what you read here into reality.

The structure

You’ve heard many tunes in your life and you will be familiar with the structure even if you don’t think you are. Think about when you nod your head to tunes. Think about when you’re on a dancefloor and you know the right time to throw your hands in the air and the right time to get those magic feet moving. It’s not because you’re copying other people (you probably can’t see them after all those drinks), it’s because you are instinctly aware of what should happen where during the lifecycle of the track.

Now don’t get me wrong, not every track is exactly the same. However, when it comes to dance and trance, there is a common pattern and it goes a little something like this.

  • Stage 1: Intro – This can be a string or pad section to ease you into the tune or it can directly start with a basic drum beat.
  • Stage 2: Enticement – As time goes on, the beat gets more complex, for example it starts with bass kicks, hi-hats get added, a snare or clap gets added and so on. The beat is enticing you to continue listening.
  • Stage 3: The Meat – Now the track is in full swing and the synth lines are getting your mouth watering. You are experiencing the meat of the track.
  • Stage 4: Breakdown – Oh now, what just happened? It’s ok, you’re experiencing the ‘hands in the air’ phase where all the beats stop and you’re left with some sort of pad or vocals. Pure heaven.
  • Stage 5: Build Up – We are about to go back into full swing and the beats seem to be getting faster (which they aren’t the tempo isn’t changing, just an increase in the number of beats per bar, more on that next time).
  • Stage 6: More Meat – I don’t need to explain what’s happening here, your feet are going wild.
  • Stage 7: Comedown – The track will slowly lose sections and become lighter as we approach the end.
  • Stage 8: Finito – The track has ended. Usually the beat just stops and a synth note carries on for a bar or two.

As I mentioned earlier, this can vary and the length of each stage can vary. It is however a very common structure followed. Here’s an exercise for you, listen to some trance tracks you own and break them down into these individual stages.

I will get you started by doing this for a few tracks in the video on the right.

Until next time….

Now we’ve got that out of the way, in the next session we’ll be looking into beats, bars and phrases. Exciting times to come.