Arrangement & Structure - Track Analysis Sheet -House / Techno etc

Lots of people are asking for advice on Arrangement.

The most common response is - Listen to other Tunes.

This is probably mainly for Noobs… and its a long post - But hopefully it’ll help some of ya!  :slight_smile: :cool:

So, I thought I’d share these Sheets that I made in Excel.

I’ve left links here where you can DL them in .jpg format. They print off onto an A4 sized sheet.

I’ve been using it to jot down arrangements of tracks & to make notes of the key elements. Bit like Homework I suppose.

I decided to do it like this as I was always scribbling on different bits of paper or randomly in notepads… So I thought it would be good to standardise the type of info that I was looking for by using a consistent format.

I’ll tell you everything that I do with them so you know where I’m coming from.

You can DL them here @ -

Theres 2 in all…

1. Track Analysis Sheet.

Top of this sheet has:

Artist Name / Track / Style / BPM / Key / Kick Root / Bassline / Year

First I bring in a Track that I like as Audio onto the Arrange page.
I use Logic & there is a BPM Plug that tells me what to adjust the Master speed to. I’m sure you can get a free one on the net or do it by ear. I have this on the Master Out Channel.

I’ll cut the start off so that I can make a loop of 16 or 32 bars (Sections that are hopefully not too busy, where the kick & bass are most prominent).

Then I’ll start chopping up the Track… Putting the kick / snare / bass etc… onto their separate tracks.

I have a also have Tuner Plug on the Master and as I solo each element, I can see what the Note is. Sometimes it can be difficult as with Kicks & Bass, as the pitch falls down sharply from the initial “Click” of the drum or due to the length of the Bass Note. I’ll stop & start it a number of times to see the 1st note register on the Tuner.

If I want to make sure that I have it… I keep Plug-in Synth on one Channel running something simple & smooth like a Sine wave and I’ll hit a few keys as it plays.

At this point, I’m beginning to look in a Frequency Analyser while soloing each element again. The Kick is probably going to be in the lowest register of the spectrum, while the bass might be hitting just above.

This is where a Note Frequency chart comes into play & you can begin to understand how each Note has a frequency & a comfortable place in the scheme of things. Analysing a few tracks like this has helped me appreciate the relationship between everything. Things sound tight when they are in tune.

Note Frequency Chart : http://…ency-chart.gif

I’ll make a note of the Pitch of the Kick & the main Notes in the Bassline & decide on the Key of the Track.

After I have these main bits… I start to listen to the full track so I can start writing down how it develops.

The Grid is divided up into 16 Bar Boxes. Each Box is 1/2’d which allows you to write in any changes brought in over 8 Bars. Theres hopefully enough space to allow you to be economical & to the point. Keep it clear. If you are writing in shorthand code make sure you understand it yourself.

I’ve included the numbers from 1 - 16 so that you wont lose count. It happens! Especially when you are going back & forth

Theres a “Notes” part - Just for anything that jumps out, an interesting bit or observation. Maybe an idea to try later on.

Finally we have a “Structure” section. Its got a few Q’s listed on the top line to prompt the type of information you should be getting. I’d normally write down a bit about the type of instruments used… Musical Notes & at what Bars that the major changes / breakdowns occur. This will all have been covered in the Main Grid section… but its cool to write it all down in a short summary so the arrangement can be understood at a glance.

2. Track Analysis Arrange.

This is a Grid - Split into 8 bar sections. The idea here is that it is similar to the arrange page of your DAW. If you wish you can actually draw in the structure of the main elements so that you can visualise how the track is made.

I know you can do this in your DAW - And that it might be overkill… But I think its useful.

The beauty of it is that you can do it anywhere while listening to your Ipod. I find it easier to take a break from the Computer to be honest. That’s what I like about it. Its a bit more real when its in front of you worked out on a sheet of paper. The only bit of time I really get these days is between classes in College… So this has been cool for me.

If your DAW doesn’t have Tuner / BPM or a Spectrum Analyser, KVR have a good selection of Free programs that you can use. I had a quick look earlier & there are a good few to choose from. Look in the Effects section for “Analyser / Monitor” & “Tuner”.




well done man !

 i  use scrap paper to do my maps and then im often left with about a billion bits of scrap paper lol… nice one :slight_smile:

Cheers Egg - Hope you get some use out it Mate! :smiley:

nice work

Ta Jon!


What ever works for you really, I find that kinda thing too ‘mathematical’ for me, as i’m a very visual person rather than calculating, so when it comes to spreadsheets and things like that, it screws with my head.

I think also being too structured can really mess with creativity.

But like i said, each to their own, i’m not knocking it at all, in fact i think it’s great you’ve shared your way of arranging. I’m just sharing my view :slight_smile:

Cool R - I hear ya. Totally know what you’re saying :slight_smile:

I’m actually a bit like that too… but was just fed up of having messy scraps of paper around the place. Writing on Envelopes & stuff.

I suppose its something similar to what Engineers would be using for Recording / Mixing etc… I’d a bit too much time on my hands in College there before Xmas & decided to throw something together that was a bit more organised.

Its proved good for me as I’ve learned loads about EQ’ing & Music Theory in the process. I’ve actually found that I retained it a lot more by writing it down etc…

Really enjoyed this thread - think this is one of the best ways to go about analysing tracks.

I personally am a lot more methodical and analytical and would find working with spreadsheets to analyse stuff very useful.

You could build up a database (or profile) of the artists and songs you like, so when you want to create a particular style or genre of song, you immediately have a sense of what needs to be included.

I know this doesn’t sound very creative or original but hopefully the reverse engineering aspect will lead you to develop your own creativity through the analysis of others…hope that makes sense :slight_smile:

Good job, think I might start my own mini database now. If I come up with anything good I’ll share!

Thats Mate!

Glad you might find some use for it. I think its a handy excercise too :smiley:

I’ve definitely figured out a lot more stuff lately than I did before.

It pays to get organised.

Now… If I could just get a spreadsheet for the rest of my life! LOL :hehe:



nice sheet !

what i usually do when analyzing tracks,

i try to find the main points like intro, drop in, breakdown etc. and mark them

with different markers. than later cut those parts in different part and color them differently in my DAW.

If i m producing my track , i have 2 approaches:

  1. i have some different points - like breakdown, drop in… and build my track on that

    or sometimes
  2. i just push the record button und play in the elements with my korg nano - kontrol - and later adjust it manually.

    but thanks for sharing your sheets!


sheet link isnt working

any chance on an upload?

Ty for sharing this ICN, this is gonna help me tons :smiley:

All you need to do is take a track you like drop it into your daw and copy its arrangement.

ICN if I send you some tracks can you analysis them for me?!?

That was a special free introductory offer to get you hooked - everything now is COD :smiley:

[quote]ICN (05/09/2011)[hr]That was a special free introductory offer to get you hooked- everything now is COD :D[/quote]

i knew you were up to something ICN. heeheh

thanks for the share - good technique !

I had a similar idea but simpler - I would take a track, then write on paper the times at which the different transitions occur. something as:

0:30 - hihats enter

0:42 - bass drop

0:50 - pads, percussions enter

0:40 - hihats stop

Yeah, good idea… but you kinda need to do it in regards to bars… cos time means nothing if you are working in different BPM.

Do a few as an excercise & you’ll get familiar with common structure.

Throw a few markers in your autoload so you know where yr aiming for.

Then all you have to do is finish the fkn track! LOL :wink:

[quote]ICN (11/09/2011)[hr]

Then all you have to do is finish the fkn track! LOL ;)[/quote]

I am not saying a word ICN :w00t: