Let’s start with a disclaimer: music is always different and if there was a simple formula to great songs, we all would be famous.
However, there are certain standards to certain genres. One standard you should be very well aware of as you probably have heard it a thousand times on the radio or the internet: the structure of a typical trance song.
A trance song can be broken down into roughly 10 sections that each has a certain function to fulfil.
The main purpose of this section of your song is to allow a DJ to mix your song into the previous song. Therefore it shouldn’t contain too much material that can create dissonances with the previous song.
Try to avoid low basses / sub basses and of course do not play your main melodic theme already in this section. Typical intros start with only the kick drum and introduce more drum instruments such as hihats, filter effects and morphing arpeggios over time to build up the heat of the song.
This section should last between 16 and 32 bars (1 bar = 4 beats).
This section is again there to support the DJ in transitioning from the previous song to your song. The drums stop and you start to reveal some hints on what your melodic theme will be, a bit of the instruments, a bit of the melodic elements to let the crowd know what they can expect.
This section lasts around 16 bars.
After introducing a bit of your melodic theme in the section before, you cut down on it again and let the drum and bass line take the lead. Doesn’t mean that you are not playing any melody at all but drums and bass are clearly leading.
This section can take 16 up to 32 bars.
Now it’s time to come back to your melodic material. Reveal more of it without fully introducing it. You want to build up the heat for the big break that is coming next. Make the crowd dance.
This section is again 16 or 32 bars long.
You’ve heard this section a thousand times before. After a great build-up with drums and basses and musical explosions, filter effects and action, it suddenly gets silent. From somewhere a melody or arpeggio comes onto the stage of your stage, a second voice start to present the main motif, more and more instruments are faded in, the cutoff and resonance values of your lowpass filter are opened wide, snare rolls are fading in, …
This section can take up to 64 bars or even longer, as much as it takes to draw the crowd in and prepare for the big climax.
This is where it all comes together: the main motif, the drums, the bass, everything. This is the big climax of your song and the section your listeners will remember and be humming in their heads the next day, like the chorus in a pop song. Show what you got, this part is what everything before was preparing for.
This section takes usually 16 – 24 bars.
The drop outro
The climax cannot last forever. In this section you start to take back a bit of the action, for example by removing elements or closing your lowpass filters again. But it shouldn’t get boring. Keep the crowd dancing.
This section takes also around 16 – 24 bars.
After all this action it’s time for a small break. The same way the small break at the start of the song allowed the DJ to stop the previous song and clean up the stage, this section allows you to clean the stage from whatever you threw in during the previous two sections. Typical for this section is for example to play the main melody in a very reduced form, for example with a piano only a small delay effect on it.
The section lasts around 16 bars.
This section is more or less the exact opposite of the Melodic intro and Bass intro sections. You start with a full set of elements, the bass line, parts of your melodic material, and gradually fade them out to finally be in a similar state like at the start of the song: drums are playing, some bass line is playing, some rhythmic instruments.
This section takes 16 – 32 bars.
The last step is to mirror the bass intro and finally provide the DJ with a clean stage to mix in the next song. Elements that can create strong dissonances or interference like strong melodic elements or deep basses, should be already removed. Now fade out the rest.