In this article, I will write about different methods of Psytrance Arrangement or even more preciously said, I will write about the two most used methods for building a psytrance track. These two methods are for progressive psytrance and full-on, while dark-psy and forest would require another video.
1st stage :
My main method or my default method is a process in which the first stage is to build a drum template or use any pre-made drum template as a starting point. This process will usually last for a while as it will require a few sessions to build, adjust or customise that template to get different sound results from track to track and avoid having the same sounding tracks all the time. Also, I usually play around for a few days to find a proper groove for a track, which will require changing the bassline notes and playing around with different bassline settings in order to get a proper groove or to better say, to get a groove that will drive me. This is a really important part of the process as the groove is something that will last for at least 70% of a track, and a track with a greater groove is already a good track. As you already know, the hardest part of this process is "how to make psytrance kick and bass". I wish I could explain how to do this properly in a few lines, but as you already know, this part requires a lot of knowledge and experience to be done properly. As you might be aware, I have a full course/class regarding this topic where you can learn everything you need to know about building the psytrance kick & bass process.
In order to customise the groove to be as closest as possible to perfection, the skill of switching from the producer to the listener is the important part, as being a producer requires listening to details and small changes, while in the listener mode we should pay attention to the track as a whole! This is one of the hardest skills to develop, to switch from the producer to the listener and forgetting about the details for while, but there are methods that help in this process. My method is usually listening on my Bluetooth speakers while I go for a walk, cook in the kitchen or have any other activities. Not being in the studio is helping me a lot, while it is pretty hard for me to go into "listener mode" while listening in the studio. Being in the studio and listening will be challenging for me not to immediately change something in a track, and not listening to the track as a whole, and stopping it all the time, will push me away from being able to get the really track flow.
After making the groove sections, the drums altogether with the bassline and maybe a few risers and hits, the next step in this method is extending the drum section to around 60 seconds, or to around 32 bars. In the first 8 bars I would let only the kick and the bass, in the second 8 bars would most likely play kick and bass with a closed hi-hat, in the third 8 bars I would play all drums together with all hi-hats without Open Hihat, and in the last 8 bars, I would play all the drums. That way I would get a short flow or small arrangement development in a track. After extending the drums, I would concentrate on giving some light to a track by printing out some atmospheres and single-shot sounds. This step is maybe the most fun of them all, and it can last for a while as I already know that after this step everything becomes more serious, and it requires more concentration. The first two steps are in two dimensions, as we are playing in a loop mode, and the time of a track will be reset after it comes to the end of a loop and that way making it infinite. While after this step, when we pass to the building of the intro, we have created the start point of a track, which will push it out of the loop and we will create the track flow.
"This is for me the hardest decision to make! Or in most cases, I avoid switching to the next stage as adding the extra dimension to the track, everything will become harder and more serious. In the second step, jamming around and printing as many sounds as possible is just an enjoyable process and it does not require any responsibility as we are in the loop and every decision can be changed easily. While after in the next step we will start to make some final decisions that require much more responsibility"
In this stage, I already have a lot of the sound designs and single shots sounds which are creating the atmosphere, and now there is a crucial moment when the track is moving forward and in this stage, i find it really important to have the intro. An intro is a great way to build a track flow, and track flow is maybe the most important happening while developing a track, as the track flow is the way of communication in which a track is giving direction or information to the producer as to how the track should be developed. Track flow is a part of inspiration or the part of music production when the track starts to tell a story, and the best way to turn on this momentum is by building the intro. After this everything is getting easier, as there will be some instructions directly from the track itself. I would say that this stage is when the track is getting its intelligence and life.
Now with a 60 seconds loop or 32 bars loop altogether with the intro, with a decent number of the single shot sounds and atmospheres, it is time to create some sequences. The difference between sequences and 2nd step elements is that the single shots or atmospheres are the segments that are being fired, they are fired once at a time and they have a beginning and an end. In contrast, the sequences are the elements that are being looped, the elements that are being repeated in a time period. This can be anything, from Stubbs, aps, plucks, bass shots, percussions, bleeps, clicks or any other type of sounds, but as they are being looped they go to a specific category. These sequences are storytellers. They will be the first after the groove and atmospheres to happen and create some story. Groove is a background, the elements that are moving us and make us dance, single shots are there to create the atmosphere, while;e sequences are the first elements that will create a story. They are storytellers!
As with the previous 4 steps, we should have around half of the track done. We arrived at the point of the main break of the track, and at this moment there should be some decision on how the track will stop. This is an important part from the arrangement point of view, as this part is the moment when we create the energy contrasts in a track, and if you follow my tutorials then you should already be aware if the importance of the contrasts. This is the moment when we will bring the track to the lower energy level, and this is the moment when we will have more creative freedom. In the parts where the kick and bass are running, we can play with the sound designers and atmospheres and storytellers, but that would be all. While in the breaks we can be freer about our writing. We can add more elements, and more chord progressions and there will be much more space for other sounds and materials.
Choosing the main happening of a track, or the part after the break is in most cases the perdition in a track when we are going "to point". In most cases, this is the moment when the main happening of the track is going to happen, and this is most likely the highest energy point of a track. This is the part where we are going to use our main theme of the track and push it to the maximum level. This part will be the point part and after this step, we can say that we have our first version of a track done.
This would be the general 6 stages for the first method. Now the second method would have all 6 stages just in a different order. After the first step and building a drum template, the second step would be to extend the whole drum section in the full-length track. This can be done by copying some of the previous track arrangements or replication arrangements from a track that you like. This extension will not necessarily be the final one, but it would be a good way for getting the shape of the whole track arrangement, as that way in the next step, we could start a track from the intro, and the second stage would already create a track flow. This method is really good for saving your time in making more atmospheres than needed, and it is a perfect method for creating "groove-oriented" tracks. The tracks are dryer and the groove is the main lead in a track. After extending the track and making the intro, the next stage would be filling up the track. Playing the track from the beginning and then adding just enough sounds as you feel it needs. When you feel that something needs to happen on a specific spot, make a stoop and add the sound you had in mind. This method shows a much faster way to finish the track. I usually need to form a month up to an unlimited amount of time to finish a track by default flow, while after switching to this method, I finished up the track much much faster as I have got rid of spending too much time jamming around.