Arranging a trance track is often difficult and complex. Do you want to finish songs faster? Then quickly discover how to structure trance music.
Making electronic music is more difficult than it seems. You get a basic idea pretty quickly, but converting it into a song is a whole different story.
Wouldn’t it be great if you made a complete package in less than an hour?
In this article you’ll discover everything about trance music structure. Use the tips and turn a simple loop into a complete track. Faster and better.
Structuring trance music: start with building blocks
Do you know what’s most important in a trance arrangement?
No, it is not your synths and drum sounds.
It’s the musical idea.
Therefore, start at the beginning and create the building blocks first. In trance this is relatively simple.
Then build your “house” with the building blocks. With the foundation in place, you can fill in details more easily.
“The musical idea is the most important in a great trance track.”
Trance structure building block 1: chord progression
Trance is all about melodies and many classic songs are more or less arranged like this:
» 32 bars intro
» 32 or 64 bars kick and bass in the same pitch
» Arpeggios and strings to boost the song
» Transition to new part, with a transposed bassline
» Arps and pads follow the bass
» Build up to the break
» Intro of the main melody in a drumless break
» Build up again with the main melody, often incorporated into an arpeggio
» Drop and full song, for 32 bars
» 8 or 16 bars mini break
» 32 bars outro
A simple chord progression for piano.
What is a chord progression?
A chord progression is a description for a sequence of chords.
A trance track based upon 1 chord is boring. That’s why you want to vary, especially after the break. It keeps your listeners keep interested.
You can easily program chord progressions in FL Studio with the Stamp Tool. Discover how in this video.
You, can also play them in with a keyboard, use your mouse or a handy plug-in like Scaler.
👉 To do. Make a loop of 8 or 16 bars with a nice chord progression.
Trance structure building block 2: driving bass line
Did you come up with a nice chord progression? Then program a driving bass line and kick sample underneath it, right away.
The chord progression, bassline and kick don’t have to be perfect yet. But this way you’ll immediately hear whether the track has the right vibe.
👉 To do. Program a kick and bass line underneath you chord loop.
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Trance structure building block 3: catchy arpeggio
There are arpeggio patterns in almost every trance track. Program one yourself and tweak it, so it fits with your chord progression.
With the midi arpeggio plug-in Nora you can easily create arpeggios. It works like this.
Most DAWs also have a basic arpeggio plug-in.
👉 To do. Program an arpeggio sequence under your chord loop.
Trance Building block 4: irresistible lead melody
The last indispensable building block is a lead melody. Don’t make it too difficult. The best is a melody that you simply take along and that stays in your head.
👉 To do. Hum a melody in your phone and program it into your DAW. Or record with a midi keyboard.
💡 Tip. Check also How To Choose A DAW In 2021? These Are The Best Options
Now structure your trance track with the building blocks
You, now have the crucial parts for a trance track. A lot more will be added during production, but for a simple arrangement it is now sufficient.
Dobassline, you want to make an arrangement quickly? Then peek at popular tracks and recreate them with the building blocks. For example like this.
System F – Out of the blue (Radio Edit)
This trance classic is quite simple.
»16 bars of beat and bass line at the same pitch (section A)
»16 bars with extra melody line (section B)
»16 bars kick and ‘walking’ bass line
» 16 measures same with extra melody (section C)
» 16 bar break, with intro main arpeggio (section D)
» 32 bars beat, walking bass line and main arpeggio (E)
» 16 bars section A
» 16 bars section C.
» 16 bars section D.
» 32 measures section E
» 32 bars outro.
Due to its variation, this song remains catchy from start to finish. And whenever it might become predictable, something happens. It’s a classic for a reason.
Giuseppe Ottaviani & Lucid Blue – I Believe
The music structure of this trance track is very logical and simple. You can use it right away for your own track.
» 32 bars intro
» 16 bars beat, bass line at same pitch and vocal (section A)
» 16 bars idem, with extra percussion, transposed bassline and pad sounds (section B)
» 16 bars the same, but vocal is exchanged for arpeggio
» 16 bar break, with vocal and strings
» 16 bars intro lead and build up
» 16 bars of section B, with lead sound
» 16 bars the same, with additional main vocal
» 16 bars with fade-out lead sound and kick
» 16 bars of section A and with vocal chops
» 32 bars outro
Allen Watts & Steve Dekay – The Phuture (Extended Mix)
The third superb trance track is Allen Watts & Steve Dekay’s The Phuture. The arrangement goes like this.
» 32 bars driving bassline with short kick (kick with decay)
» 16 bars kick, percussion and bassline at the same pitch
» Immediately a short – 16 bar – break with transposed bassline and arpeggio
» 16 bar kick, bass and arpeggio, of which the last 8 melodies are filtered.
» 8 bars mini-break: main melody with plucks, bombastic strings and super saw leads
» 8 bar intro main arpeggio, which plays along the main melody
» 16 bars build-up to drop
» 16 bars drop and all parts playing together.
» Another 16 bars with extra strings
» 8 bars of melody without bass and kick, as a transition to the break down
» 32 bars phasing out the track.
Arranging trance music? Keep it simple
With the right building blocks, arranging trance music is easier than it seems.
Go, for simplicity, because it works best on the dance floor. And work with blocks of 8, 16 and 32 bars.
With a catchy chord progression, good lead melody, driving bass line and matching arpeggios you have all the ingredients for a simple first arrangement.
When, the base is in place, you can fill in the details. Such as strings, spherical effects and additional percussion.
So always start with sketching the contours. This way you can quickly create great trance tracks in the shortest possible time.