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Tune structure

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Spit
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« on: June 03, 2011, 16:34:48 »

This may turn out to be an unanswerable question, but here goes... does anyone have any tips / a guide on effective tune structure? I spent the first year or so of my production 'career' just getting to grips with the tools of the trade, and I think my mixdowns are at the point where if I were to write a decent tune, someone more experienced could hear the potential in it and help bring it up to scratch. As a result though I think my ideas for tune structure/progression are lagging behind; coming along with each effort mind, but I'm still prone to getting bored/frustrated with what started as a great loop before I've managed to turn it into a proper bit of music.

I've been listening to and dissecting similar tunes and that has helped; I also know that there is no set formula to all this and it would be pretty dull if there was; but does anyone out there feel my pain? 140bpm music is quite formulaic at the end of the day, so any tips you can give me to speed up the learning process would be much appreciated.
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Block Party
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2011, 17:02:23 »

Dance music is often boring and formulaic, but that's what is good for DJs and the dance floor. Some movements work better than others and and things like drum rolls can be considered either energy building or cheesy.

Doing what you are already doing is the best way though, try to hear what it is that makes you enjoy the track, especially on the dance floor if that is your market. I find making dance floor tracks boring, but I still do it from time to time because I still enjoy the end product.

Building a dense loop then copying it and creating a track that builds up is simple and effective and used in all genres, sometimes though starting with an intense track and having it break down as it progresses works as well.

Take some time to try and cover a track you like, this can be a good way at really focussing on how many levels of music there are and what little tweaks lift the track.
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Spit
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2011, 19:44:37 »

Cheers for the reply, and sorry for the slow one on my part.

I think that I can get sufficient layers together for a tune now, and I just need to spend more time working out how to bring parts in and out in a 'coherent' way. You're right- more listening (I need to make a folder of good candidates to cover) and more practicing.  Two Thumbs
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bloke
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2011, 20:04:42 »

someone on dsf posted a structure of 16/32 intro, actually i can't remember, you could look on there, then i think 32 or 64 bar part 1, 16ish drop, 48-49 (with one bar pause at the start before the bass drops if you like that) part 2, then 16 bar outro, has served me well

theory goes just to use drums for intro & outro, though i'd make sure they're interesting for people listening unmixed... thats about 5 minutes at 140bpm
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Gyu
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« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2011, 06:08:11 »

I'm pretty formulaic when it comes to this, work in 16 bar chunks, either 16 or 32 intro, 48 bars of tune, 16 bar breakdown, 48 bars of tune and 16 bars outro.
I work in Ableton in session view until I've got a 16 bar loop I think is good, this becomes the first drop.
What I sometimes do is just copy this 16 bar loop for 5 mins and then take things out to form the tune.
Often I'll make the first drop just the beats and the bass, and then slowly add things like synths/percussion/busier hat patterns.
After getting a basic arrangement down I'll add icing such as reverse cymbals/filter sweeps and drum/bass/whatever fills.
You probably know all this anyway but I hope it helps a bit.
 Two Thumbs
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Spit
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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2011, 09:35:37 »

I'm pretty formulaic when it comes to this, work in 16 bar chunks, either 16 or 32 intro, 48 bars of tune, 16 bar breakdown, 48 bars of tune and 16 bars outro.
I work in Ableton in session view until I've got a 16 bar loop I think is good, this becomes the first drop.
What I sometimes do is just copy this 16 bar loop for 5 mins and then take things out to form the tune.
Often I'll make the first drop just the beats and the bass, and then slowly add things like synths/percussion/busier hat patterns.
After getting a basic arrangement down I'll add icing such as reverse cymbals/filter sweeps and drum/bass/whatever fills.
You probably know all this anyway but I hope it helps a bit.
 Two Thumbs

That does help, cheers Guy (and Bloke) - interesting that the main body of your tunes are 48 bars, mine are usually either +16 or +32 on top of that, so maybe I'm simply trying to drag things out too long. I think I need to actually sit down with a pen and paper and map out a few suitable tunes, so there's no second-guessing involved.
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bloke
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2011, 10:27:28 »

i think it makes sense to make things as short & sweet as poss to be honest... the slow build and tease thing just annoys me... have sat with a couple of producers playing their tunes and they're all "no no not yet, i'm just teasing"... & i'm just meh, doesn't add any excitement for me or make the tunes any better Wink

& i've found playing longer live segments then editing those down into 16 bar chunks can be better than setting out to write 16 bars of whatever, though i always try and keep the playing to a minimal amount so as not to have too much audio to wade through & edit
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Gyu
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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2011, 12:44:03 »

I'm pretty formulaic when it comes to this, work in 16 bar chunks, either 16 or 32 intro, 48 bars of tune, 16 bar breakdown, 48 bars of tune and 16 bars outro.
I work in Ableton in session view until I've got a 16 bar loop I think is good, this becomes the first drop.
What I sometimes do is just copy this 16 bar loop for 5 mins and then take things out to form the tune.
Often I'll make the first drop just the beats and the bass, and then slowly add things like synths/percussion/busier hat patterns.
After getting a basic arrangement down I'll add icing such as reverse cymbals/filter sweeps and drum/bass/whatever fills.
You probably know all this anyway but I hope it helps a bit.
 Two Thumbs

That does help, cheers Guy (and Bloke) - interesting that the main body of your tunes are 48 bars, mine are usually either +16 or +32 on top of that, so maybe I'm simply trying to drag things out too long. I think I need to actually sit down with a pen and paper and map out a few suitable tunes, so there's no second-guessing involved.
Yeah, I used to do 64 bars but cut it down by 16.
Also wanted to mention automation, sometimes you're trying to find more sounds for the track when all you need to do it make the existing sounds change a bit.
 Two Thumbs
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Spit
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2011, 12:47:27 »

I'm pretty formulaic when it comes to this, work in 16 bar chunks, either 16 or 32 intro, 48 bars of tune, 16 bar breakdown, 48 bars of tune and 16 bars outro.
I work in Ableton in session view until I've got a 16 bar loop I think is good, this becomes the first drop.
What I sometimes do is just copy this 16 bar loop for 5 mins and then take things out to form the tune.
Often I'll make the first drop just the beats and the bass, and then slowly add things like synths/percussion/busier hat patterns.
After getting a basic arrangement down I'll add icing such as reverse cymbals/filter sweeps and drum/bass/whatever fills.
You probably know all this anyway but I hope it helps a bit.
 Two Thumbs

That does help, cheers Guy (and Bloke) - interesting that the main body of your tunes are 48 bars, mine are usually either +16 or +32 on top of that, so maybe I'm simply trying to drag things out too long. I think I need to actually sit down with a pen and paper and map out a few suitable tunes, so there's no second-guessing involved.
Yeah, I used to do 64 bars but cut it down by 16.
Also wanted to mention automation, sometimes you're trying to find more sounds for the track when all you need to do it make the existing sounds change a bit.
 Two Thumbs

Ha- I'm trying to train myself to use less automation at the moment! I found myself noodling away for hours to very little effect. I'm aiming to use more actual 'musicality', i.e. changing notes, new chords/pads/strings etc; I don't have any background in music theory or playing instruments so find this quite hard work, but that also suggests that the greatest gains are to be made in that area. I do find however that having DJed for years I have an ear for how a track can ebb and flow- mine may not be where I want them yet but I can at least hear at which point they're going wrong, which I think is half the battle.
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Block Party
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« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2011, 13:39:05 »

http://ravenspiral.com/ravenspiralguide.pdf This may be a useful read.
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Gyu
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« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2011, 14:04:41 »

I'm pretty formulaic when it comes to this, work in 16 bar chunks, either 16 or 32 intro, 48 bars of tune, 16 bar breakdown, 48 bars of tune and 16 bars outro.
I work in Ableton in session view until I've got a 16 bar loop I think is good, this becomes the first drop.
What I sometimes do is just copy this 16 bar loop for 5 mins and then take things out to form the tune.
Often I'll make the first drop just the beats and the bass, and then slowly add things like synths/percussion/busier hat patterns.
After getting a basic arrangement down I'll add icing such as reverse cymbals/filter sweeps and drum/bass/whatever fills.
You probably know all this anyway but I hope it helps a bit.
 Two Thumbs

That does help, cheers Guy (and Bloke) - interesting that the main body of your tunes are 48 bars, mine are usually either +16 or +32 on top of that, so maybe I'm simply trying to drag things out too long. I think I need to actually sit down with a pen and paper and map out a few suitable tunes, so there's no second-guessing involved.
Yeah, I used to do 64 bars but cut it down by 16.
Also wanted to mention automation, sometimes you're trying to find more sounds for the track when all you need to do it make the existing sounds change a bit.
 Two Thumbs

Ha- I'm trying to train myself to use less automation at the moment! I found myself noodling away for hours to very little effect. I'm aiming to use more actual 'musicality', i.e. changing notes, new chords/pads/strings etc; I don't have any background in music theory or playing instruments so find this quite hard work, but that also suggests that the greatest gains are to be made in that area. I do find however that having DJed for years I have an ear for how a track can ebb and flow- mine may not be where I want them yet but I can at least hear at which point they're going wrong, which I think is half the battle.
Fair play, yeah man, it's all about practice really
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« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2011, 15:38:09 »

about the teasing and stringing things out point - I think it totally depends what the feel of the track is trying to achieve.  If its a bish bash bosh LETS HAVE IT type thing then yeah, get it all in and out quickly.  If its a deeper building affair then things are very different.  Carl Craig springs to mind - the way he builds tension is like no other if you ask me! Always so simply but devastating on the dancefloor.

I generally try to make my tracks a bit shorter in length these days because I think CDJs and the like make it much easier to quickly mix and loop bits etc so you want the meat of the tune to be there quicker (ie shorter intro).

Having produced for over 15 years I can still honestly say I have no idea what im doing when it comes to the arrangement.  But thats the beauty - experiment !! You will probably disagree with your choices a few years down the line anyway  Smiley

There a strange feeling i associate with producing in that you never feel satisfied - its like a struggle in some ways - but thats what keeps you coming back for more



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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2011, 19:42:37 »

http://tarekith.com/assets/arranging.html

this was a great help for me b2b with studying tracks you like
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Spit
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« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2011, 21:16:37 »

Thanks for all the replies folks- I'm sorry for radio silence on my part, but I started a new job last week, so my brain is pretty much full with that at the mo. I may get an hour or two to myself this weekend, so will try and get back on the knobs  Cheesy
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« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2011, 19:12:25 »

Maybe this simple answer is somehow embedded in the previous answers + i'm not familiar with dance/house producing at all, but I think you can make your dance music more interesting by doing alot of layering on your synths/basslines/percussions/fx. This would imo make all the sounds stand out in the track (does your track sound boring?). And ofc use alot of automation!!!!! Isnt dance music all about buildups/downs? Try to do a crash / kickroll / etc after every 8/16 counts? Just some crazy ideas, hope it helps.
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