Trance Song Structure And How Does Uplifting Trance Song Progress

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Trance Song Structure

In this tutorial I’m trying to explain what kind is typical uplifting trance song structure and how does it progress. I’m using one of my own songs as an example. I have to say that the song is quite old and trance sounds a bit different these days, but the basic idea is pretty much the same.


In the video, I slice up the song in to 16 bar sections and I try to explain the progression section by section.

Let’s begin. (Remeber to check out my guide on how to make electronic music as well).

The Trance Song Structure

I mentioned bar. Some may wonder what is a bar.  1 bar = 4 beats. If you listen to a dance music, you can hear the basskick beating. Four of those beats forms a bar. Take your favourite dance song and listen to it carefully. If you start counting the beats from the beginning of the song, you notice that usually after 32 beats (thats 8 bars) something happens: new sounds comes in, other fades out, etc. That’s how the song progresses. Every certain amount of time something happens. That’s how you keep up the listeners interest.

So when you start to compose your very first trance song, try to progress in 8 bar sections. (In my example I’m using 16 bars because I wan’t to build up things slowly).  Add a new sound after every 8 bars or fade out current ones. Something like this:

[bars 1-8: kick drum]-

[bars 9-16: kick drum + claps]-

[bars 17-32: kick drum + claps + hihat]-

[bars 33-40: kick drum + claps + hihat + bass]-

[bars 41-48: kick drum + claps + hihat + bass + pads]-

[bars 49-56: kick drum + claps + hihat + bass + pads starts to fade out]-

[bars 57-64: BREAKDOWN and everything stops. Introduce your idea (usually some nice melody) and build a tension towards the “release” / “climax” / “drop”]-

[bars 65-72: Your idea in it’s full power and the tension is built to maximum… the tension is very close to it’s “release” / “climax” / “drop”!]-

[bars 73-80: “release” / “climax” / “drop”- highlight of your song where everything plays together: your idea, drums, basslines.. everything! make it “explode”!]-

[bars 81-88: “release” / “climax” / “drop” continues!]-

[bars 89-96: maybe start to fade out sounds a bit.]-

[bars 97-105-etc-etc :Outro. fade out sounds, fade out and fade out even more]-

Below is a very rough visual description of a trance song structure. The picture is a waveform from one of my own songs “The Wall” which I’ll be using as tutorial example in the video at the bottom of this article. Click the picture to see it bigger:

Trance Song Structure

Here’s the video:

You will get the hang of the structure when you start to compose your own song. Hopefully this tutorial gave you an rough idea how the trance song structure usually goes.

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70 Comments

  1. Hey man you have some great in depth tutorials. I use FL studio but I’m still able to follow along with the non FL programs. But thank you very much for spending time to go IN DEPTH!! It’s so hard to find in depth tutorials that aren’t littered with junk and all that non-sense haha. I’ve only been making music for about a month now, I really want to get into some hard trance but for now I am trying to just make slow trance to get the hang of it, basic structure and all.
    Anyways thanks again and looks like I have some more tutorials to check out!
    Take it easy my friend!

    • Thanks, Jon, I appreciate that a lot 🙂 I’ll try my best to keep the tutorials as straight-to-the-point as possible.

      Keep an eye on this site for more guides 🙂

      • jean-pierre on

        Hi Petri, great tutorial…you’re really talented….i’m just an amateur producer and i’ve just started using FL…Hope to be the same level as you one day….and be able to create one nice trance track…thanks for all your videos…i’m actually working on a prog trance track…may be i could send you the demo and have your feedback…

        • Hey Jean-Pierre, and thanks for you feedback!

          But to be honest, I still have a lot to learn in music production, though that’s what makes this hobby extremely interesting!

          Also, feel free to send me your demo 8)

  2. Haha I will!!! I’ve already added it to my favorites 🙂

    This may or may not help you out…But since I’m a begginer, the tutorials I really find helpful, (and I would assume this for all begginers, or even more experienced people) are song structure, basic build up with instruments, when to use minor/major scales, chords, and transitioning from lets say the verse to the melody, with out making it sound plain, but also making it sound right, I like snare fills, they are easy and sound good with some genres, but I over-use them :/ lol.

    Sorry about rambling on there, I know you cover some of the above, but I just thought you might want to know what a begginer searches for when they are looking for tutorials!
    Thanks again and Ill be checkin up for more 🙂

  3. ABDUL MOSIN on

    hey man i should admit that you have done exceptionally well.i have been searching for these kind of in depth tutorial that an amateur can understand.keep’em comin’ dude…love yo work..

    best regards from india

      • ABDUL MOSIN on

        definitely i will..cuz i’m learning new stuffs everyday regarding electronic music…this one helps me the most on structures and all the basics…anyways thank you once again

  4. Thanks for the tutorial not much on the web in terms of writing structure of trance or electronic… like to see more please.

  5. dj dance4life on

    Who are you ?? AVB must be your student right ??? Awesome tutorial…………And i will be NEXT !!

  6. last_name_left on

    Excellent stuff. Love the tune. Thanks for taking the trouble to post it.

    Party large! WooWoo!! hehe

  7. Arturo Cerezo N on

    Dude! This is the must fkn useful thing all around the internet! I was searching for something comprensible on every word! not only for write/speak a lot, for something easy, short and useful… now I know what page to recommend to all my friends that are FL Users .. BTW: I’m not a FL User, I’m and Ableton User, and this helps me a lot!
    Thanks for DOING THIS LITTLE PIECE OF HEAVEN!! 🙂

  8. Obsoulete on

    It’s great to see you put such effort into your tutorials. Ive been searching non stop over the internet for clarity and depth in tutorials. I, a newbie, really appreciate what your doing and look forward to every tutorial i read and analyze. By far this site is the most informative and useful website i have ever come across…ever.
    So keep it up, I’ll admit it… I’m addicted….addicted to howtomakeelectronicmusic.com

  9. I’m blown away by your professionalism.
    structure is the key!!!
    i have so many ideas, but I’m newbie.
    thank you
    regards Tonny

    Ps. maybe I’m asking to much, but why no video tutorials with your voice ?

    • Thank u Tonny! The reason I’m not using my voice in the videos is that my english accent kind of sucks so I find it easier to use just text 🙂

  10. Hey! If I will follow your tutorial and end my track on the 105th bar at 140 bpm, then I’ll get 3 minutes uplifting trance track 🙂
    So, your scheme does not work. You have to multiply bar durations minimum by 2.
    By the way, great tutorial, thanks!

  11. Arghadeep on

    Oh…one more thing I want to ask…..While producing trance…where I should begin creating the theme of the song?….from Basslines or from Leads or from Pads(chord progressions) ?

    • Thanks for watching it !

      To your question: every producer has his own approach, but I usually start from the bassline and build everything on top of it.

      Cheers!

  12. Thanks so much for your tutorials… lots of youtube tutorials helped as well but there is something to be said about reading it and then doing it… now I have a better understanding as to WHY the modifications are made! You guys rule man!! Gracias again!!

  13. Arghadeep on

    I usually starts building my trance track from chord progressions…..now a chord (triad) consists of root note, third and the fifth…….then If I want to create my bassline track….which note of the chord I should pick?

  14. Mike Rodarte on

    excellent tut! i have been over thinking my structure alot lately and this helped lots! thank you=]

  15. hi thanks for the info but i was wondering if you can upload an flp just to see the automation and the bass .. etc how it’s combined together

  16. Kiran M Sajeev on

    Awesome in-depth tuts man…Am a beginner..Also,i wanna be specialise in TRANCE music production .And mind having tus on Scale(Major,Minor) and music theory and stuffs like that in your own words??Also,it would be a lot of help if you could show us remixing on the fly,creating melody,pads,bassline and such things..

    Thank you once again for such in-depth help for beginners like me..Keep up the good work..

    Kiran

    • Hey Kiran, thanks for your feedback!

      Unfortenately I’m not that good on the actual music theory. I’ve always played by ears when making music so I’m afraid I’m not able to create a tutorial on this one, sorry.

      Also, remixing tutorial is a big project and my time is kinda limited so cant promise you this one either, sorry.

      Cheers!

      • Kiran M Sajeev on

        Ah..I just put foreward ma suggestion..Thats all…..And no probs…but when you get time,do try because thats gonna be very helpful…

      • Manuel Schmidt on

        Yeah well its like Im kinda good in music theory, just did it mz whole life in school, with parents etc. and it aint helping zou at all. Well of course its nice to know how different hords are set up and it helps when doin a melodz that ya know how set up the notes fitting in the chords of the scale, BUT: Is many DAWs, you aint even have the ability to edit your score right, you just got this piano-roll-block editor.
        This piano roll editor is even nicer to edit simplemelodies for house or arpeggiated melodies, so for simple EDM producing, I think real knowledge of music theory and chords isnt that neccesarry at all.
        The way more important thing is the what you gonna do with the melody you just created, in house for example, no music knowledge is needed for doing a nice melody. If you really wanna make ur sound awesome, just have to go right in terms of filters and EQs and deleys and all that inda stuff. But this aint has anything to wicth music theory, so i think when producing EDM, music theory is not that nessesarry at all.
        greets

  17. Lisa Holmes on

    wow that step by step structure was fantastic thank you for this. My mind is classically trained so have been struggling with my trance tracks. This has been a massive help, thanks again 😀

    • DJ Flynn on

      Hi Lisa,
      I am also classically trained and often think trance structure is a little like Extended Sonata Form in a loose sort of way (obviously don’t want to get into arguments with the purists!). The Exposition is the intro where you start with the drums and a bassline for 16 bars. Then add a variation on the bassline with full power bass kick for another 16 bars. We would then add an arpeggiated melody for more variation with possibly a hi-hat rhythm. After 16 bars we add sweeping pads to create another loose sort of variation. You could also add some sort of synth lead after the next 16 bars. The Development is like the Breakdown, you take the drum patterns out and possibly the bass to leave pads and effects for 16 bars then add a simple melody for another 16 bars with maybe just the pad or hi-hat as an accompaniment. Add a reverse cymbal, drum roll pattern into the Recapitulation / Hook. Take the 32 bars where everything is playing and use this to create the big effect. Every 16 bars after this remove the melody, then pads, etc in what ever way sounds good. End on a single bass drum kick with a cymbal.
      Very loose analogy as I said but hope this helps.

  18. Any suggestions how to get the filtered delay effect with the lead?
    Is the arpegiated lead arped in the piano roll or is is automated in the synth?
    I use mostly DUNE and Synth1 in fl studio.
    Which Soft Synth is the best in your opinion for this type of music in case I have some extra money in the future?
    Cheers from Thailand

    • Hey Devaram,

      For this particular song (The Wall) I used a effect plugin called Antares Filter. You can create the same effect using the FL Studio’s native plugins: Fruity Delay 2, Fruity Filter and automation. I am creating a tutorial (chill-out/ambient -style) which actually covers the samekind of effetct so stay tuned on my website!

      About the synth recommendations: stick with the Dune. It’s great synth for anythiing dance/trance (I have it as well)!

  19. Thank you so much for posting this! Awesome tutorial. I’ve been making music for about 10 years. I do psychedelic hip-hop as well ambient/soundscapes.

    Lately, I’ve been working on trance type songs. I like to do things in a non-formula way. In other words, I keep the general structure there, but I make it my own style. If you were to use movies as an example – my music is like Pulp Fiction in that the structure is there for how movies go but it is done in a unique non-linear fashion.

    But here’s the thing for me, I’m self-taught on pretty much all I do with music. I, like many others, learn EQing as I go along. But with trance music, everything needs to be loud and the bass and kick need to punch hard then you have a bunch of other things going on that need to be heard….it’s just I have such a hard time getting everything to suit well. I read your one blog on how to mix trance music where you talked about starting with drums, snares, bass and so on, which helped!

    I use Pro Tools as well as Reason for my VSTs and it’s just I have no idea how to get it pumping without distorting everything. I have my master track at -5db…and I went to normalize the track after exporting into a separate session as one track…at this point I’m pretty lost as normalizing it and trying to compress isn’t working out right. If there’s any advice you can give I’d truly appreciate it.

    Taylor.

  20. DJ Flynn on

    Great tutorial, been doing trance for over 10 years and it is nice to know I have been doing it correct for most of the time. I produced this track after following your tutorial, see what you think.
    It has been selected by a music submission company hopefully for inclusion in T.V. / commercials etc.
    http://soundcloud.com/dave-fretwell/trance-you-like-it

  21. Andre Aurora on

    Really great tutorial and all website content. I’m starting now, and you’re helping me a lot. Congratulations.

  22. Awesome! hahah nice i was looking for a tut like this, hey man could you maybe make another tutorial like this on Dirty Dutch music or dance if possible it would be really helpfull. thanks mate

  23. First, thanks a bunch for sharing the knowledge. It’s just what I was looking for. Second, I wonder what is your thought on the role of chord progressions or the like, in progressive trance. It almost seems like the particular chords or melody are a minor part of it. However, I learned music as a guitar player and I start with chord progression and melodies that, to my ear, create tension and release much like you talk about with progressive trance. But now it seems like all that music theory stuff goes out the window, as there is no place for worrying about I-IV-V-I progressions or whatever. Any thoughts?

  24. Hi Petri,

    I have been producing trance music since 4 years. But one issue I always face is on the lower frequencies.
    What is the structure of lower frequencies? It a bassline necessary with the bass? If it is, how can I equalize them both, so that the kick has more room and harder thumping?

    Thank you!

  25. francesco on

    as always you are the best ! )))
    thanks a lot for this tut!
    (and of course for all the others.. )) )

  26. Manuel Schmidt on

    Hi,
    I Was always interested in producing and I tried one time using a cracked version of do studio just with my USB keyboard (miditech start 3 or somethin like that) without any interface etc.
    Well after a year I wanna come “back” into producing (well it wasn’t even possible without an interface) and I was bought Steinbergs ur22 studio bundle for Christmas, including a mic, the ur22 interface which is definitely enough for my use and cubase elements 7 (and wwavelab le).
    I tried a bit around and some nice chilled 120bpm trance chords are ready.

    Now: after gettin used the all the production stuff and things, how should I continue? I know, cubase elements won’t last for long and soon imma need to upgrade my daw.
    What duo you recommend to me? I got some nice headphones (dt990pro) and some older monitors my dad used some years ago, but they’re all right.
    Should I immediately move on and get my self flstudio? Or is there anything I need to check out before, collecting some experience or buying any gear (got myself synthmaster academic and the fl studio signature bundle edu version can be bought for 170€ in Germany which is quite nice, btw. I’m 15 years old).

    Thanks for reading the long the and a hopefully nice answer.
    Really appreciate your tutorials and follow the blog for a while now.
    Sincerely,
    Manuel

  27. Hey man i have been banging my head in making trance track but at the end in frustration i delete all my progress because its not upto the mark but after reading your tutorial my mind is clear . Now i know what i have to do thanks to you.
    i have a question that is it necessary to learn piano.
    one more how to make my own bass and other tunes.
    i am 16 and its been 3 months i am finding a guy like you though finnaly got one who can really help me out…. If possible can u give me ur mobile number

  28. Great guide, but the article text doesn’t seem to match the video’s description fully. Maybe the article is the radio edit version? Glad you explained the part in the beginning…I’ve been starting with JUST a kick drum, and it sounds completely boring. Also, I’ve noticed in practicing that sometimes a quieter clap/snare can sound better and less tiring than a loud one. Listening to more examples and your guide helps.

  29. insane_reality on

    hey, could you please tell me which daw i should use if i am interested in producing dark / forest psychedelic trance and even hi-tech.. something around 148 bpm & above. your expertise will help me a lot. thank you.

  30. Ben Franklin on

    No offense people, but these kind of articles are the beginnings of genre-destruction and dooms a genre’s future tracks to have zero creative differences. I mean, these kind of instructive “tutorials” leave less room for creative exploration than a baking recipe. Do you know how the best artists in any genre got to be what they are? They listened to music that they loved, learned how to play the instruments (or manipulate the synths in our case) and they evolved their own music based on the things they loved about those inspirations. Good music never comes from following a recipe. It ends up being soulless and empty. That’s why there are so many people that abhor generic pop music. That is recipe/formula music. Let’s not destroy trance by launching a new generation of producers that follow cookie-cutter recipes. Go out there, get a DAW, get a midi-controller and start messing around with it. Look up tutorials on how each tool in your DAW works. Learn about the art of mixing. Learn about your craft, not about how someone else employs it.

    Any “tutorial” that provides step-by-step, beat-by-beat instructions is not teaching you how to be an artist, it’s teaching you how to make unoriginal songs that aren’t even covers of original songs. Hell, that’d be so much better for your learning. Go try to recreate some of your favorite trance tunes NOT by getting step-by-step instructions, but by learning how your synth (or your DAW’s synth) works and how to mix and manipulate the effects etc. The creative drive is what separates great music and musicians from generic slog that get lost in the (now saturated) music industry. Anyone with an internet connection can access pro-level software. There are infinite combinations to be discovered so leave behind these knob-by-knob tutorials and get exploring. I want to hear something dynamic and original ffs!

  31. Can you use loops to make trance music? And do they have to be really long? And is garage band for Apple a good app to do this on if you don’t have equipment?

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