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SeamlessR shows us how to structure dance music tracks. We will discuss song structure and how...

Arrangement Tutorials

Dance Music Structure (Production Basics 2)

SeamlessR shows us how to structure dance music tracks.

We will discuss song structure and how dance music songs are structured with a real life example. This is a guideline to give you an idea of where to go and where to start so you can have your own spin on dance music structure.

This idea of dance music song structure is specifically for dance music song structure. Regular songs (i.e. pop songs, rock songs) are based on vocals and have their own structural dynamics that are similar to dance music song structure but slightly different. For example, vocal based songs call it the chorus and not the drop.

Dance music structure is broken up into 16-bar segments is the “norm” and not necessarily 16-bars of 4/4. When you look at most songs the pattern is similar. Sometimes there are deviations and deviations are cool and you can do that, but this is the basic example of dance music structure.

First is the intro. Intros are a lawless, Wild West structure because you can do whatever you want. The first thing that tends to matter when it comes to sizing things is the build-up to your drop. This can be done in a lot of ways; for example, 8-bars of continuation from whatever you’re doing in the intro. The intro establishes the melodic progression of the song. The musical elements of the track are introduced to give you an idea of what the structure will be like. One component is a break; sometimes you can have a break rise combo, where there are 8-bars of break and then 8-bars of rise until you have a 16-bar part A of a drop and part B of a drop. Another way of doing this is 16-bars of break and then a 16-bar rise. Changes can deviate as long as it sounds good to you. When you talk about what sounds good to others, this is the usual expectation. It is so prevalent because it is what sounds right.

Currently, I use 8-bar builds and 8-bar rises. Then we have the drop, which is a total of 32-bars. I look at the first 16-bars as the bass bonanza, like tonic. The root note stays in place and the bass is big and loud with not a lot else there. On the B-part of the drop (the other half), it switches gears and goes straight into the melodic part. The progression and the arrangement meld into the intro with full levels of sound (all drums, all bass), everything happens at once and the bass drop continues but with a different style, arrangement, or rhythm. They are on the same track because two different songs on the same track do not appeal to many people. After the intro, there is another break and rise.

Most dance music structure creations consists of copying the phase, developing variations of the phase, and eventually you will have parts related to itself but is varied to keep the listeners’ interest. The second drop is where rules go to die and how you can show your sound style. The second drop can be used to return to the melodic section of the song and this can be done in a variety of ways. The easiest way is to copy and perform variations of the copied phases, as described above. Also, you can make a new big break and introduce something new to continue into the melody; this is considered the part B of the melody, which uses Part A’s drop, and typically repeats with an 8-bar rise and separates the break. This can be considered a bridge and serves to get from the first half to the second half.

The outro of dance music structure is mostly fading elements of the song. Typically, there are two 8-bar breaks repeated. The “DJ intro” and the “DJ outro” are terms that describe the slowly fading elements that are exaggerated than regular songs and this makes a DJ’s life easier.

This style provides for 64-bars of song structure, which is approximately five and a half minutes and the average length of dance music structure.

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