Full arrangement lesson to all tutorials

I’m very greatfull to the guys @ sound academy I think they are doing great job with the site and the tutorials they upload but what I’m really missing is the part in which they show us how exactly to build (arrange) what we have just learned to a full 6-7-8 min track, what do you guys think?

Big Thanks to SA


I would certainly become a regular subscriber if there were consistent and fresh tutorials that dealt with an emphasis on how to build anticipation and intensity within a track.

My problem is not necessarily with sound design, though I am certain I will benefit from your tutorials in that area. I am finishing entire tracks using Ableton 8 but they all seem to be plateaus that lack energy rather than the energy-building peaks and valleys that you find in professionally released tracks. I feel that this is mainly due to an incomplete understanding of arranging and the misapplication or no application at all of effects and techniques that can infuse my tracks with the energy and anticipation they need.

Some tutorial ideas to think about making could be:

  1. Going into and out of a breakdown.

  2. Methods and techniques for introducing new sounds into tracks.

  3. How to use multiple sounds in concert (i.e. use of sweeps, drum and percussion patterning, FX, etc.) to create anticipation.

  4. Some basic guidelines and examples for when to drop sounds out and bring them back in.

  5. Examples and techniques of applied effects (i.e. delays, glitching, chopping, etc.) to spoken word and vocal samples and how to make them sound professional.

  6. Constructing a track around a bassline or lead with the instructor explaining their rationale as they go (this may fall under music theory but I thought worth mentioning).

  7. The use of swing and groove control and subsequent examples (i.e. how much do you apply or don’t apply).

  8. Examples of Ableton 8 effects in contemporary house music (electro, prog, and tribal).

  9. Mastering in Ableton 8 as well as use of the Audio Effect Rack (i.e. use and misuse of effects in the mastering process).

  10. Unrelated to building anticipation and energy in a track altogether, but once you complete some tracks, how do you go about sending them out to record labels and what does a new producer need to know about the process in its entirety?

    I am obviously new to Sonic Academy (and producing) and have not seen any of the video tutorials yet so if any of these topics have been addressed then my apologies and I look forward to viewing them.

    If they have not been dealt with yet then I will certainly hope you and your growing following will find them useful and look forward to seeing some tutorials that will provide solutions to these current obstacles I am facing in my productions.

    Kind regards and thanks for all of your hard work!


although dance music is heavily based on repetition, it retains interest building and releasing the groove. This is achieved by adding and removing sonic elements throughout and by gratuitous use of filters. To fully understand how a groove is built and released we need to look at sections of the whole track, counting what has gone before, how the next event is prepared, what comes after it and how it ends. For example, when you hear the typical dance snare crescendo building, you automatically know that the main part of the groove will follow. The longer this is REASONABLY postponed the bigger the impact is expected to be. The best way to learn about this is to listen to and dissect dance tracks and then create a song map charting where the builds and drops occur, essentially charting the emotion that it creates.

There are Various methods of song mapping and each is as valid as the next. but a large number of psychologists believe that we are naturally disposed to think in pictorial form. It can often prove beneficial to draw the general of arrangement onto paper. How this is depicted is entirely up to the individual and can consist of simple line to more complex drawing even involving colours to depict each instrument and even the parts of the original recording. Because club mixes can be quite long, often averaging around 6-8 min, these types of maps can be a blessing. Paul Van Dyk and BT, for instance, are well know for creating song maps before beginning to build any type of track. A song map not only helps you to envisage the final product but it also helps you plot out the track in terms of crucial builds and drops. The basic principle behind using this strategy is that we can visually see where the track will bring the listener up on a ‘high’ 1 min and then drop them down again the next.

It’s evident from song maps that dance music differs from the usual musical structure of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, and outro. Instead it derives from its own set of rules based around mathematical repetition taken to extremes, usually broken into sections of 4 bars. This formal structure may seem overtly technical for what is otherwise a creative art, but try writing a 16 bar loop and introducing an instrument at bar 5, 13, or 15 and it will no doubt sound erroneous.

We can also determine that the typical arrangement consists of an intro, first body, drop, second body, second drop, reprise, main body and finally the outro. Each of these changes relates to the emotional states that, ideally, you need to generate for the listeners.

rick snoman DMM

although my arranging skills are not to a pro level, i believe that the best way to go on with this production issue, is to listen and analyze some of your favorite tracks.

At least this is working for me, since i have noticed a significant improvement of my skills.

i usually start by measuring the bpms and listen for example how often they add new elements…analyze their technics of how they fade in/out their leads/pads/etc, how the use filter before a breakdown…

Another technic that i use, is to build a track with its basic elements for about two minutes…and then when i start getting use to it i experiment and try to add elements,

then again i play it from the beginning and try add more details and generally speaking make the scenario of the track…

totally agree, some of the ideas you guys mentioned already implied in the previous tutorials some of them haven’t, each tutorial has a different concept or style of music but they are all based around electronic music, so in my opinion we should expect to see all the different techniques, tips and tricks from the drawing board stage till the very last detail of the finished track, then we can use this information to build our own tracks.:slight_smile:

If we where to do full arrangements for each tutorial it could potentialy double the time it takes to produce each one.

we had thought about doing a comprehensive arranging tutorial that would cover a lot of techniques for build ups break downs and general arranging tips that could apply to any track.

For my own stuff i just pick a track i like… lay it up the top of my arrange page and copy the basic structure… then i just go through making sure each part has a sense of momentum and excitement as much as it builds… fire in a massive build up and bingo!

Not for ALL tutorials, i think a couple of tutorials that focuses on page arrange, design, builds and breakdowns would be very valuable.

Normally I just listen to a track I like and follow their arrange structure, it usually helps.

I’m for this. I think it would help with coming in and out of breakdowns/buildups and whatnot. Sometimes I feel like things just fall apart right after a big build on some tracks, mine and some I hear out.


Yeah i think the best way to cover this would be a dedicated tutorial on arrangement generally with reference to buildups,breakdowns and the basic overall structure of a generic club track which people can then reference for all the other videos without a dedicated arrangement section

I agree with chris831, this thing will open our eyes and ears even more to finish our ideas…

I just hope that it will be available soon :smiley:

Maybe, to save time, sonicacademy can make it into on ongoing series, similiar to the “sound like” series.

This could afford you guys the opportunity to address each of the aspects in smaller chunks. I believe this could both help you guys in that each individual tutorial likely wouldn’t be as long as one giant “Full Arrangement” tut, and could benefit us in that you could spend more time breaking down the specific subjects in more detail.