Structure and arrangement
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Old 24-02-2018, 03:13 AM   #1
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Structure and arrangement

I have started trying to make eletronic music seriously for a few months and I have only 2 very unpolished tracks that I can actually call a proper pieces of music.
Because most of the time I just start with an idea like a chord progression a loop or anything that I find cool but i can rarely turn those into a complete piece of music.
I will either just put alot of stuff on top of my original idea that after a few tracks on top starts sounding like a giant sonic mess that goes nowhere.
Before I started doing eletronic music I played guitar and sang and was able to write songs fairly well but when i try to make songs with my computer the arrangement just stays the same all the time and I cant change no matter how hard I try.
Any advice to get better at structuring and arranging music?

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Iyashi Sound (24-02-2018)
Old 24-02-2018, 04:09 AM   #2
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Re: Structure and arrangement

Look into musical forms or architectures. Those are the overall design ideas in a piece, like which things repeat and how they do it. Even the modern 'verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus' of popular music is fair game. Looking into those forms might give you ideas about how to approach the structure of your tracks. After that, it's mostly about compositional techniques to write different but somehow complementary parts to fit into that architecture. That's a huge dark deep hole of theory to fall down.

If that's too vague, literally write one part, write a different part, butt them up next to each other. Then see what you might change to make one transition into the other, or leave it if it sounds cool. Then repeat the first part for awhile - voila, A-B-A, aka Ternary Form.

Or you can just throw all that shit out the window and make ambient music.

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Old 24-02-2018, 09:08 AM   #3
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Re: Structure and arrangement

+1 on artificer’s comment.

I’ll add my 2 cents: don’t worry about structure and arrangement so much, it will start blocking creativity.

The reason being in the correlation between impro and interest/hook. If you impro with your guitar, you’ll play the tune as long as it is interesting. The more interesting the melody, the more you play it. I the case of electronic music, you lose the first love into the sample because you will hear it for 64478 times. So they all get the sameinteresting rate , hence they will all play the same lenght and the arrangement will be similar.

After all, how many variatons could there possibly be anyway to arrange a track
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Old 24-02-2018, 02:13 PM   #4
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Re: Structure and arrangement

My problem is things dont evolve my initial idea doesnt turn into a full track.
When i make music on guitar I will just play around until I find something interesting like a rythm and a chord progression and after playing around for a while i will sing to it and I will just add different chords if the melody seems to be going somewhere else or if its getting repetitive I never thought about structure and many of the stuff I did doesnt have the verse chorus formula.
But with eletronic Music I just get stuck with my initial idea and cant have it evolve my chord progressions on the keyboard are very strange and usually I cant even sing to them but when i can the song just ends being being a bass riff a synth and a beat looped and me singing over it for 3 minutes.

So i would really like to know whats your aproach to making a track?
Cause mine clearly isnt working.

Last edited by Lech9; 24-02-2018 at 02:22 PM..
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Old 24-02-2018, 02:58 PM   #5
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Re: Structure and arrangement

This might be too obvious, but since you already know how to write a song on your guitar, - couldn't you just do that and then transfer it to the computer afterwards?

You don't need to invent a new method for songwriting if you already have one that works!

Personally I usually write chords on an old upright piano (using pencil and paper for notation), - so I don't get distracted by the computer during the writing process. Transferring from an instrument to the computer can of course take some getting used, but it's often worth the extra effort.
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Old 24-02-2018, 03:37 PM   #6
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Re: Structure and arrangement

Here's a few tracks that I like the structure and composition of
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https://youtu.be/h7H73jpgX3U
Now, these songs are pretty different feel-wise, but they are both compelling tracks to me because they follow a "plot" like in a written novel. There is an intro, a setting, exposition, mounting action and excitement, and multiple turning points and peaks in the excitement. These tracks are very complex stories that visit many places but still retain their identity by having consistent sonic elements throughout, just like how a story has the same characters throughout (usually). I write my songs like stories I guess is what I'm trying to say, I guess try that?
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This one is much less complicated but still nice. Elements come in and out, taking you on a nice little journey through a comparably relaxed atmosphere.
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This song is verse chorus verse chorus break etc. Straight forward and hectic.
With these examples, you can see how the songs morph into their next parts using what is already there, just modified, sometimes barely, sometimes drastically. There are also songs that are basically two or more different songs crammed into one, and that is done to create the desired effect in the story.
When you feel stuck during composition, remember that you're telling a story of some sort, and maybe this will help you make new parts that reinvigorate the tale.

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Old 24-02-2018, 07:07 PM   #7
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Re: Structure and arrangement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lech9 View Post
But with eletronic Music I just get stuck with my initial idea and cant have it evolve my chord progressions on the keyboard are very strange and usually I cant even sing to them but when i can the song just ends being being a bass riff a synth and a beat looped and me singing over it for 3 minutes.
I guess my advice would be to stop thinking in terms of loops, if that's where you're getting stuck. Trying making sections that change over time, that aren't just 'four on the floor' easily looped measures. Work in smaller sections or larger sections than you're used to. Change up how you start - ie write some synth melodies and then fit drums to it. If all you work in is looped blocks, that's going to be what comes out. Change it up and see what happens.

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So i would really like to know whats your aproach to making a track?
Lately, mine literally starts with a lot of algebra. I'm not going to saddle anyone with trying to figure out the how and why of that. I'll just say that everyone has their own approach and process to music, it can take a long time to figure out what works for you, and the best thing you can do is just keep working at it and trying new things.

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Old 24-02-2018, 07:12 PM   #8
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Re: Structure and arrangement

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Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
Or you can just throw all that shit out the window and make noise
FTFY

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Old 24-02-2018, 07:26 PM   #9
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Re: Structure and arrangement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vault O)))
FTFY
Well yeah, that's what I do. I was just trying to be diplomatic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pkreegi View Post
After all, how many variatons could there possibly be anyway to arrange a track
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Old 26-02-2018, 10:17 PM   #10
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Re: Structure and arrangement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lech9 View Post
Before I started doing eletronic music I played guitar and sang and was able to write songs fairly well but when i try to make songs with my computer the arrangement just stays the same all the time and I cant change no matter how hard I try.
Just an idea: can you play keys? Personally, I can barely deal with playing 2 hand melodies, but still wouldn't never ever go back to creating shit in piano roll by mouse.

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Old 27-02-2018, 12:50 AM   #11
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Re: Structure and arrangement

Not quite so I might not remember the figures correctly, but it is calculated that if we were to make a 5 minute song with a 256kbps bitrate (standard CD quality), there is some 63 000 000 000 (it was defenitely more than 6 zeros) different variations Ofcourse that would consist of every song, every poem, every chat with your mother and the future discussions about things we can't imagine.... But it ain't limitless There's as many methods for arrangement as there are about making tracks (songs)
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Old 27-02-2018, 01:56 AM   #12
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Re: Structure and arrangement

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Originally Posted by pkreegi View Post
Not quite so I might not remember the figures correctly, but it is calculated that if we were to make a 5 minute song with a 256kbps bitrate (standard CD quality), there is some 63 000 000 000 (it was defenitely more than 6 zeros) different variations Ofcourse that would consist of every song, every poem, every chat with your mother and the future discussions about things we can't imagine.... But it ain't limitless There's as many methods for arrangement as there are about making tracks (songs)
If you're talking about arranging the individual samples, it would be:

(44,100 * 60 * 5)! = 13,230,000! ~ 5.04 x 10^88472524 ways of arranging those samples, assuming a standard 44kHz sample rate. Though once you apply Nyquist-Shannon, you end up with practically less than that after you interpolate via integration.

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Old 27-02-2018, 10:47 AM   #13
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Re: Structure and arrangement

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Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
If you're talking about arranging the individual samples, it would be:

(44,100 * 60 * 5)! = 13,230,000! ~ 5.04 x 10^88472524 ways of arranging those samples, assuming a standard 44kHz sample rate. Though once you apply Nyquist-Shannon, you end up with practically less than that after you interpolate via integration.
Damn it I'll think this more through, next time
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Old 19-04-2018, 05:31 AM   #14
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Re: Structure and arrangement

I'll add this about adding too many things and everything becoming a mess. Stop or mute those tracks. Reboot and find your base. Like drums or a kick solo. Add a bassline or a melody. Or a section of stuff you already like.

I assume you're working with Live so if you're in session view, it is very helpful in getting ideas down and building up your instruments. But you'll want to get it to arrangement. If you're not already, it's much easier to do local edits to stuff. Even start plugging in little things you once liked and making them the actual variation.

Don't be affraid to fail. Also, sometimes it fun to save as the track as "reboot" and delete all midi and keep the instruments. You already have the instruments you like together. Now, try writing with the instrument tracks you brought in already.

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Old 19-04-2018, 06:02 AM   #15
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Re: Structure and arrangement

If you are looking to make straight dance tracks you can't go wrong with ABCBA (and variations there of). Leave plenty of sparse bits at the beginning and end to be DJ friendly.

Last edited by relic; 19-04-2018 at 06:10 AM..

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Old 19-04-2018, 08:48 AM   #16
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Re: Structure and arrangement

To be honest, I think that structure and arrangement are the hardest parts of making a track, more so than sound design.

BUT as some pointed out, you are already used to writing tracks on a guitar, so growing your knowledge of your chosen DAW, will actually help you to transfer those song writing skills to electronic music.

If you were used to an "intro-verse-bridge-chorus" structure, then you can pretty much do the same...

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