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Trance Tutorial in Reason 5

Published: 2016-09-04

Trance music is probably one of the easiest form of House music to explain, since trance is kind of being based on a set of rules one can follow to call it a trance song. Since the beginning of trance, most trance music pieces were pretty much straight forward in a way, and most likely most trance songs look 'alike'. This is probably also one of the reasons why the genre trance has kind of died out since 2006, where the high peak of trance was from 2001 till 2003. After the year 2006 an off spin was created called "Progressive Trance". Where trance was more based on a set off rules, the genre progressive trance was meant to unbound those rules, yet take some stuff from the music genre trance while still creating its own form.

In this Reason tutorial I will explain most of the features inside the music genre Trance and in the next tutorial I will hopefully go from trance to progressive trance. While I have already setup a minor tutorial on how to create Progressive Trance in Reason 3. I personally think I will not finish that tutorial anymore (since it has been outdated and personally I don't work with reason 3 anymore). Instead, after I have written this complete tutorial about how to create Trance in Propellerhead Reason 5, I think I will resume a new tutorial on how to create progressive trance as well after this one is done.

Anyway, this was just a minor introduction about this tutorial... Lets quit the yapping, and lets get started!

What is Trance Music?

Trance music is defined by 8 beat or 16 beat phrases and predictable in some way. The Beats per minute is set around 140BPM till 148 BPM (with some minor exclusions, some songs even had a 130Bpm). In most cases a Trance song can be recognized by the amount of 'saw waves' (mostly detuned) that are being used and the amount of arpeggiated techniques that are being used. Another thing that is really important about trance music is the break downs and the buildups in side of a complete sequence, and another thing that trance uses a lot is atmosphere.

So, basically when we look up all the different elements inside a complete trance sequence we would need the following basic elements inside our production:
- a saw lead
- an arpeggio
- a sweeping pad for the atmosphere
- a monotone bass line
- a drum track
- a set of climax builders and breakdowns.

Other elements that are very common inside trance sequences are:
- snare drum rolls
- crash cymbals
- reverbs inside the lead
- panning effects (eg: making a sound go from left to right)
- 8 beat phrases (one melody that is 8 beats long)
- 16 beat phrases (one melody that is 16 beats long)
- setting the tempo on 140bpm
- filter sweeps

Some thoughts about the complete sequence

Since there are multiple ways to setup a trance song (which I will discuss in the part about the climaxes) everything has to do with how many breakdowns you want to have and how many buildups inside the song you want to have. If you take a single commercial track most common commercial tracks (especially the radio edit versions) will go like this: bring in the drums, throw in a minor lead session, break everything down and come with the atmosphere part.Build up a huge climax. When the climax hits let this roll for around 32 till 64 beats and then bring in the drums to end the complete sequence.

This sounds pretty simple, and yes in a way it does... since a radio edit usually takes around 3 minutes to complete. So in a way you can write down the numbers very quick:
- first minute intro
- first minute till 2nd minute drop off and build up the climax
- 2nd minute till somewhere 2.30 or 2.45 climax
- 2.30 or 2.45 bang the drums
- 3 minutes autro

So with a simple trance sequence the only real thing you have to focus on is the big climax part, build everything around that and you should do pretty fine I guess. That is also one of the reasons why I prefer to start with the basics of trance that has everything to do with setting up the climax part and the main lead. Since these 2 are very much vital inside a trance performance part. Other then that, one could start with the atmosphere, but most common problems I usually run into.. I can't find the lead that plays that well with the atmosphere. That’s why I usually do it the other way around...

Trance template on how to setup the sequence

In this sequence template I have put most of the focus on the atmosphere part (at least its the longest part inside the song). One might discuss it to whether to have such a long part for the climax buildup or not. Some might want to have the climax bit longer some might want to have intro longer stuff like that. Once again, this is just all up to you once again.

Setting up the Lead

While the other parts from the song are pretty much the monotone parts, the biggest problem inside a trance sequence will probably the lead. So, the easiest way to get things rolling is starting off with the hard part. After that the rest becomes easy. And thus makes making trance productions even fun in a way. The easiest way to setup a descent trance lead is by bringing in a malstrom with a oscillator placed on a Sawtooth 16, or a Thor patch with a couple of multioscillators with a fair amount of detuning. One of the easiest melodies using inside a trance sequence will probably be a repeating chord session of some kind. Other then that, playing around a chord session works pretty well too.

Just to come up with some ideas here:

Download RNS example: Lead1.rns
Download Mp3 example: Lead1.mp3

Download RNS example: Lead2.rns
Download Mp3 example: Lead2.mp3

Download RNS example: Lead3.rns
Download Mp3 example: Lead3.mp3

As might already notice by now, most trance melodies are kept 'simple' and easy to remember. One might even discuss the 'simplicity' of it all, but that is just how it is. You don't want to start playing a bach or a Mozart inside a trance sequence (ok, of course it has been chewed and done already... which has been done with any music genre :P).

Anyways... I will just stick with the 2nd melody and keep on going from there and make some minor modifications inside since I personally find the 3rd melody a bit too funky like (however it does sound nice in a way).

Some thoughts about the melody

Here are just some things that come in mind when creating your melody:
stick to the easiest chords that you can find. Since the whole trance sequence is also based on an arpeggio kind of technique. Having these really complex chord sessions going on, you might get stuck when adding an arpeggio around it. So, in first I think you would keep it simple. Just to get some experience on the whole trance sequence building. When you are up to the challenge, one might starting to bring in the 4 finger chord sessions just to spice things up a bit. Or even better yet, make the chords jump from note to note. In this lead I kept it simple (just using the same A minor (A C E) chord over and over again. But in a later stage I will make modifications inside this trance lead... you'll see.

Setting up the Bass line

The bass line inside of a trance sequence comes in most cases with 2 flavors. One bass line that is being placed between each bass drum. And the second one is the offbeat bass line. The offbeat bass line comes again in 2 different flavors: jumping from octave to octave either having it on 3 steps. There are multiple ways to setup bass lines. But one thing is a given: keep them monotone and repeating itself ... over ... and over.. and over again.

Just to demonstrate I have cooked up the 3 different bass lines I just mentioned using a subtractor (I just love the subtractor for bass lines ;))

Download RNS example: bass line1.rns
Download Mp3 example: bass line1.mp3

Download RNS example: bass line2.rns
Download Mp3 example: bass line2.mp3

These 2 bass lines are what I refer as the offbeat bass lines. They just hammer on every bit around the bass drums. Where the first one jumps from octave to octave while the other is based on a 3 steps technique (something you might also find very common inside of progressive trance productions).

Download RNS example: bass line3.rns
Download Mp3 example: bass line3.mp3

Download RNS example: bass line4.rns
Download Mp3 example: bass line4.mp3

these 2 bass lines are most common inside of trance sequences. Where the first one is very low (and is ment to support the bass drums) while the other one is more present and accounted for. Having a delay line on 3 steps works pretty well with the last sequence. Such as this:

Download RNS example: Lead4.rns
Download Mp3 example: Lead4.mp3

There are so many other things you could do though when setting up the bass line. One thing would be using the notes that we also use inside the chord session for instance. Making it go from low to high, either from high to low. Just depends on what your prefered choice would be. I prefer mine from low to high... So I will just do that here aswell:

Download RNS example: Lead5.rns
Download Mp3 example: Lead5.mp3

In this last bass line I kind off made some modifications to the bass line itself. Since it just didn't sound to right when changing the note height of the bass line.

Setting up the drum track

When setting up the drum track there are a few things you want to keep in mind. The drum track should be monotone (again ;)). Most likely you will start of with a simple bass drum in the beginning, while advancing the trance song one might start adding other elements in here in as well such as hihats, open hihats etc. Just to give a summary on what works well here is a list:

- bass drum (commonly very dry and also somewhat high pitched)
- A very low bass drum that has a really low attack
- a closed hihat that plays the same note as the bass drum
- an open hihat that comes between the bass drums
- a snare or clap that plays each 2 bass drum. (Eg: Bass, bass+clap, bass, bass+clap)

Other elements one might keep in mind:
- use a closed hihat (not too much present) on each step
- congos
- bongos
- hihat slides

Things you want to use for climax parts:
- crash cymbals
- snare drum rolls (very common for building up the climax)
- bass drum rolls

Things you dont want to use in a straight forward trance sequence:
- Using shuffles or grooves.

So, we have enough stuff to pick from. To get things started I have already placed a bass drum in the lead5 track. That was only just to test if everything sounded nice enough and just not too crowded yet. Some of the most common bass drums one might be using inside a trance productions are ones that slap hard, and also sound very low in the end. Just to name a few: BD_XTC7,BD_ XTC1, DB_Beltram, BD_Congo and the BD_Heimat.

It is just a matter of experimenting with the bass drums. Something that is really important though, is also to screw around with the pitch knob of the redrum computer to actually make the bass drum have the same pitch as the bass lines. Having it pitched down too much, or pitched up too much will make the bass drum either the bass line become 'offsync'. You might want to prevent that from happening. It is most likely a matter of experience whether a bass drum sounds perfect or not (heck, even my bass drums don't sound perfect even having more then 15 years of experience in the dance scene ;)).

So, lets just start spicing up the bass line that we already have by bringing in a couple of hihats in here... Usually I prefer to use multiple redrum computers for each individual set of drums (eg: the hihats go in one redrum, the snares go into another etc). This work flow has been my prefered choice since I can visually see in the sequencer what plays where. However, one might also just use one redrum and place all the drums in there. It is just a matter of choice.

Lets just start with the closed hihat and see what we can create from that:
Download RNS example: drums1.rns
Download Mp3 example: drums1.mp3

Personally, I prefer my hihats not to be too loud and to much present (it just sucks too much of the complete soundspectrum having a hihat slapping above the bass drum). But then again, this is just the way I prefer it. Some Dj's make their hihat more present (Dj Jean just to name one).

Ok, lets bring in the open hihat. Like I have said, in most cases the open hihat will play between the bass drums. So, in this example it will play the same notes as the current bass line that we have setup inside this track.

Download RNS example: drums2.rns
Download Mp3 example: drums2.mp3

One tip I might want to add in here. While the song progresses and becomes more crowded in a way it might become harder and harder to tweak everything and make everything sound pretty harmonic and in sync. To solve this issue we can mute the channels that we don't need and adjust the sounds that we placed. For instance the open hihat must be in harmony with the closed hihat. So in that case one might mute all the other channels and keep the open and closed hihat and tweak them. Once these 2 are in sync, all the other channels might be brought back in here just to check that we haven't messed up too much.

Same goes actually for anything when creating any production. You want everything that is being placed inside the sequence to actually become a part of the whole thing. Not just something that just sounds good, or is way too cool in a way. It has the be a part of the greater thing: the complete song.

So, with that being said, another element that might be very common is using claps or snares. These 2 elements are usually being used to emphasized the 2nd beat and the 4th beat. Some trance productions even go one step further by placing the clap somewhere on the 10th step (of the 16step sequence). Or do an alternate clap in between the last beat and the first beat (in steps that would be step 15).

So, lets put all this theory into play. First the 2nd beat and the 4th beat seqeunce:

Download RNS example: drums3.rns
Download Mp3 example: drums3.mp3

Next thing we bring up is the clap alternation. I will be using pattern A2 and pattern A3 for those inside the 4th redrum patch (that I have renamed into claps).

Download RNS example: drums4.rns
Download Mp3 example: drums4.mp3

At least the drum track isn't sounding that much like a monotone sequence. However there are multiple ways to sculpture the complete drum sequence as we see fit. For instance using multiple hihat phrases in here, would work pretty well to spice things up a bit more.

Download RNS example: drums5.rns
Download Mp3 example: drums5.mp3

Ok, so much for the drum sequence for now, lets start making this lead a bit more complete by setting up a climax part.

Building up a climax

There are probably a few methods on how trance songs are building build up and broken down again. It has all got to do with how the climax is beeing buildup and broken down. Here are just a couple of ideas that kind of go through my head when looking at excisting trance music.

- there are type of song which uses a real long and climax. These songs usually only one big climax and the buildup to this single climax is usually pretty long in length
- there are type of songs which uses a couple of breakdowns and climaxes. These will take eachother over during the complete track. So you might get something like the following: intro, build up the climax, playing the climax, breakdown, build up another climax, break down again, build up another climax and keep the climax going. Something similar like this.

One thing that most trance songs do have in common though, they start with banging on the walls kind of thing. Eg: start with a couple of drums just to get things started. Through in some leads left and right and then drop the whole thing and start playing the atmosphere.

Ways to buildup the climax

There are multiple ways to setup the climax inside a trance music song. Most common things that are being used are snare drum rolls combined with a lead, or an arpeggiated kind of lead that filters in. Also what works pretty well inside sequences like this is using volume slides. Or just bringing in the main lead in one go while you already builded up a minor piece.

Download RNS example: climax1.rns
Download Mp3 example: climax1.mp3

This could probably be one method to start a simply trance climax. However there are other ideas on how to set one up. Preferably you want to make these climaxes just a bit longer, since it also allows you to fool around with it much more.

Download RNS example: climax2.rns
Download Mp3 example: climax2.mp3
Just to name something really common: filter up and using longer releases inside the amplitude envelope to make the notes longer. This is something that has been used inside some of the popular trance trance tracks. After the climax hits, go back to a shorter release. This adds just that minor extra 'oomph' inside the complete sequence since the bass drum will jump out some more since the release of the lead isn't conflicting with it that much anymore.

Crash cymbals and snare drum rolls are the key for climax building

To emphasize the climax one bit more is using snare drum rolls combined with a couple of crash cymbals which slam almost the same as each 1st bass drum would do in a 4/4 pattern. The more you get to the climax part you want to speed up the crash cymbal a bit (not too much, overcrowding is something we want to prevent over here). For the snare you probably want to go for a snare that kind of sounds a bit wet with some high pitched tones in them (the tone knob inside the redrum works pretty well in that case).

The thing you probably want to do with the snare is start soft and slow.. while you get closer to the climax moment, make the snare drum play faster. In most cases I park the notes on the keylane since this works the easiest and fastest way for sequences like this (copy paste, copy paste) rather then creating all kinds of different patterns on different tempos. It does work with the last option though, I personally don't find it handy.

Download RNS example: climax3.rns
Download Mp3 example: climax3.mp3

One minor warning sign - Here it is again: audio out clipping!

When it comes to audio out clipping parts, in most cases you will be struggling with the audio out clipping signals the most when trying to setup a descent climax. It is not really that much of a surprise either, since we are slightly increasing volume knobs everywhere, we adjust filters, everything comes more crowded and we just want to make things louder and louder just to get this really upgoing climax comming.

So, we have ourselves a climax part... now what? Here is another important part inside the world of trance: atmosphere! We'll be working on that right away!

Atmosphere in Trance

So, what is this 'atmosphere' in trance, and why the heck is this so important? An Atmosphere is usually based on a series of pads,sweeping pads, voices (choirs), analogue pads you name it. As long as it just slides a bit with a low attack. Preferable you won't want pads that have a high tick amount infront of it... It scares peoples socks of... Make them come in gently and make them dynamic (read: lfo works very well for this).

So, to sum things up what works?
- the default NN-XT pads that come default with Reason 5.0 work very well
- for the NN-XT, the Superstring and the panning choir from combos and extras
- almost any subtrractor, malstrom or thor sound. As long they have a long attack in the ampitude envelope and a long release

What effects could we use for our pads?
- Delays. Lots of delays
- Reverbs (the Rv7000 would be the prefered choice here)
- Scream unit 4 set on Tape or Tube to make them a bit warm flavored. Be carefull with the damage amount. You probably dont want to use too much using chords.
- Phasers. Work very well to create something really dynamic

Just to come up with an example on this matter, I have parked in a NN-XT sampler which holds the superstring patch from the combo and extras. Next to it I have a thor patch which holds 3 different analogue settings. 2 saws (detuned) and one square (with having an LFO on the PW setting for the dynamics).

Download RNS example: atmosphere.rns
Download Mp3 example: atmosphere.mp3

Ok, this is just a minor idea that went through my head, but there are so many other options to screw around with... But mainly it is the idea that matters, keep the pads sliding on long strokes should get you half way there already. Going crazy with filters might also add something to the whole thing. Just make it light and wide sort of. Or when you want to create something like really dark... go low...

Download RNS example: atmosphere2.rns
Download Mp3 example: atmosphere2.mp3

Right, the only annoying part with the low part is that it will in the long run be overrun by the power of the lead. So this example might probably not be the best example to show it... but it is just the idea that matters. The lower version might have payed off a bit better when the main lead wasn't that crowder in this case.

Arpeggio

Since we now have our simple chord session up and running inside the pads, and we know what our base chords are going to be like, we might even throw in an arpeggio of some kind. The hardest way to do this is by doing this one manually. Since an arpeggio is marely based on a system (take the bass note, move one note up, move one note up etc). All this work will become pretty much time consuming. The easiest way to take this approach is by using an RPG-8. I prefer my arpeggios by hand ;)

Download RNS example: arpeggio-manual.rns
Download Mp3 example: arpeggio-manual.mp3

In this part I am running a manual arpeggio. I inserted the notes around the chord session that we are playing (which is a A minor, also known as A C E chord). The other chord we are using inside this sequence is an A C F chord. And personally, I don't know how that thing is called. However, that doesn't matter, what does matter is that we are using the notes A C F. Which means playing an arpeggio (eg: not playing all the notes at the same time, but all repeatingly after eachother) we can create notes which actually follow the chords, but fill up the pieces left and right while we are not always playing the same notes. Make note of the D notes that have been inserted left and right... and other notes on that matter. These notes will disctinct themselves though out the complete sequence. And also works very well for fill ups.

Another thing you might notice in this apreggio sequence is the amount of filter usage. In most cases, when the climax hasn't been breached yet, you want to archieve that your filters go up and down just a little bit. This not only adds tention to the song (since you are constantly going: when does this go bwem). Another thing that this does is makes it more exciting to listen to, rather then having a monotone arpeggio just play the same notes over and over again.

So what usuage would this arpeggio have?

Why have an arpeggio inside a trance sequence you might ask? well, it is just one of those elements that just belongs in here. It is ment to support the main lead and the atmosphere. It is kind of like the bridge between the silent part and the climax part. You could do without though. It is not a must. But these things do have a thing for building up the tention in these Trance sequences.

What kind of instrumentation to use inside a arpeggio?

The numbers are big if you take the most commercial track. Pizzacato's (picking on the strings of a violin kind of sound) have been a thing from the late 90's. After that most of the arpeggios that have been brought up inside trance sequences would be analogue sounds such as the saw, square, triangle and sine forms. Just note when you are going to use arpeggios inside your trance sequences, you want to make the notes sound short and picky... In Propellerhead Reason, the easiest way to get those effect is using a attack with 0ms. A decay and sustain which are pretty low and a sound with almost no release what so ever. This is ment for the amplitude and filter envelopes. Setting the decay on the envelope higher might end up that the sound itself becomes to squeeky in a way, and you want to control the squekyness by using the filter (maybe I just introduced a new term here... squekyness ;)).

Making the climax a bit more interesting

One things you might want to do is make the build up slightly become more interesting in a way rather then having just a atmopshere (darn I hate this word!) and an arpeggio playing at the same time. Here are just a couple of thoughts:
- place in a couple off effects in here to fill things up a bit. Sweeping sounds, pitching effects or reversed rides do the trick very well
- use a really long and low bass to emphasize the climax bit. There is one reverb preset ingeneral that works pretty well which is the RV7000 EFX kick bomb for instance.
- bring in a couple of chords that come from the main lead. Just stab them once or twice inside the climax build up. Just to get people to get used to the whole lead thing.
- bring in a couple of breaks left and right. This might sound like surprisingly and unpredictable

Place yourself into your listeners or try to picture yourself dancing on the dancefloor. You probably don't want to create something that sounds rather nice, but it should life up the expectation for your listeners. One minor tip I might want to add when it comes advancing with the climax bit: listen to other tracks aswell while you are advancing with the whole bit of creating the climax of a simple tune. Listening to other examples might give you some ideas on what to do, and what not to do.

Last piece of advice: experience. Practice makes perfect when it comes to creating these sequences. But this is probably usually the case when you are into creating music and all that kind of stuff..In the beginning you will probably stuggle most of the times hitting the climax bits right. While the melody itself will probably be the easiest part to archieve while creating trance music pieces.

In a way I kind of have added some sweeping effects left and right, and placed a kick durm effect (using the Redrum + RV7000).

Download RNS example: expanding-the-climax.rns
Download Mp3 example: expanding-the-climax.mp3

Finishing of the climax with a break

With most music genres, the climax build up and the climax itself usually take place after one and other. While on the other hand one usual sollution on climax building that is very common to use is using breaks inside the climax build up sequence. This might sound very odd in a way when you are not used to it. However with trance music this is just simply the case. So when we take the previous sequence, one might want to start breaking at bar 33 in this case. This is the place where the climax buildup reaches its peak and braking down right there and continue with the pieces from 33 and above would just be the trick.

Something similar as the following might do the trick:

Download RNS example: break.rns
Download Mp3 example: break.mp3

Discussable points

This is the point of discussion where some people might start doing it differently. Since at this point the complete atmosphere is not being used inside the later sequence right now. One thing that we could do, is use the pads inside the later stage but use it on a very low volume (so it tends to go back inside the background). Another thing that might be discussable is whether using the arpeggiated technique and let it continue its course.

There are all kinds off different ways to continue the whole climax part depending on what your style would be. The only thing I can do is give you some guidelines on how to approach certain things and you will have to decide what sounds best.

Another thing that might actually be discussable inside the whole climax bit, do we want to have certain effects that we brought up inside the climax buildup part also brought back inside the climax itself? Some people actually do, others don't. One thing that is most certain though, the effects do come back from time to time... It is just up to the producer where to place them.

One thing that will be most likely is after the climax part is that we could do another breakdown. Come back with another climax build up and resume its course. Or, we could extend the climax buildup for the first sequence a bit more to extend the song. Like have said somewhere in the beginning of this complete tutorial: trance songs depend on climaxes and climax buildups. It is up to the producer to decide how many climax, build ups etc he wants to have.

So, it really depends on how many buildups you want to have inside the complete sequence, as I also mentioned somewhere in the beginning.

Download RNS example: climax-alternate.rns
Download Mp3 example: climax-alternate.mp3

So, just to name something here, this could be an alternate method on handling the climax. The basic difference would that the atmosphere that we have used in the climax build up part inside the climax sequence also. In this case I refer to the long pads. But someone might not really notice them there since they play really soft in a way yet they are present. And that is what matters the most. You still hear something humming in the background. And it is somewhat recognizable. Another thing I have been doing inside the climax part is filling up the bits and pieces a bit by using other elements that actually originate from the climax build up part. I just use them once or twice and let them rest again. Otherwise it might lead into something totally too crowded.

One thing that might become really noticable by now is that most of the focus lies on the instrumentation parts, while we haven't actually paid that much attention to the bass drum. It just misses a minor low tone in it. So I will go fix that by using a low attack bass (one that gradually sweeps in in volume)

To solve this issue, one might start bringing in a really low bass drum inside the sequence. While most of the bass drums that inside the reason factory bank are mostly high pitched rather then having this really low ooomph bass drum for trance production, we could start manipulating a drum to actually create a really low basstone from it. The easiest way would be using either the NN19 digital sampler or a NN-XT sampler and load up a bass drum in there. Set the filter on BandPass, crank up the Resonance of the filter and set the filter amount really low.

Most of the frequencies will simply be cut of using this method, the only thing that you will keep on this matter is a really low tone, which is being caused by the high resonance of the filter.

Filter Resonance?

Just a minor explination what a filter resonance does. In most cases a filter setting somes with 2 settings: filter frequency and resonance. The filter frequency is the frequency that will be filtered out (depending on what type of filter we are using). The filter resonance will generate a peak around the filter frequency that we have set, and thus emphasizes that portion of Hz or KHz that we have selected. If we take a close look inside of Thor for instance, the frequency of the low pass ladder filter is telling us in Hz and KHz which range of frequency we are filtering out (most other devices will only give 'an ammount' with a range of 0 - 127). So, for instance if we would bring back the filter of the low pass ladder filter all the way down, lets say, around 100Hz we will cut off all the frequencies from 100Hz till 44Khz. By using a resonance inside the filter, we will create a peak around the 100Hz, where the 100Hz is being emphasized. Thus creating a really low bass tone which focusses mostly on the 100Hz

this is what a bandpass would do without resonance

this is what a bandpass would do with resonance

Ok, my drawing skills are not as good as they used to be, but I think you get the idea...

Be aware though (same tip as I have given inside the drum and bass tutorial), bass tones are most like not being heard by the human ear. So usually one will start increasing the volume so it actually becomes noticable. However, you will cause stress to the 0Db level very easy by increasing the volume of the sound itself. One thing you want to keep an eye on is the output volume of the channel inside the remix mixer either keep a closer look on the audio out clipping signal (the minor icon at the left lower corner of the reason rack).

If you have problems with creating audio out clipping signals, you might want to start reducing the volume of the sound either use a compressor inside the bass tone itself. Compressors or limiters will cut off any given signal that reaches the 0dB level depending on how the compressor has been setup though.

Download RNS example: lowbasstone.rns
Download Mp3 example: lowbasstone.mp3

In this example I am using the NN19 digital sampler with a BD-Boomer bass attached to it. Combine the follow settings: band passfilter, low frequency, high resonance, a little bit attack (so it just doesnt become a bass drum but focusses more after our initial bass drum as kicked in). Also tweaked the Filter envelope a bit so it actually sticks around the low frequency abit.

Clearity around each frequency

Another technique that I personally use inside my trance productions in a later stage is getting clearity around the frequencies that I want some instrument to focus on. Eg: bass drums go low, instruments and leads usually go high on the frequencies etc. In most cases people will bring in a Equalizer and start boosting the frequencies that they want to emphasize. Personally, I don't use this method since it will stress once again the 0dB level very easy and also cause certain sounds to just drop of when we add a compressor inside the final mix. I prefer to use the equalizer to limit the frequencies that I don't need inside an instrument. Just a few examples:

- bass drum, cut off the middle frequencies a bit. Most bass drums focus on the high and and the low end. Not the middle
- Lead, cut off the low frequencies. It makes the bass drums jump out a bit more
- Pads, likewise as the leads. Also the high shelf can be boosted a bit since most sounds really focus around 6Khz and below. Everything around 6Khz and above is mostly being triggered by hihats. So no problem there to increase the high shelf a bit.

With most commen equalizers like the 2 band parametric Eq, or the MClass Equalizer we could start filtering out any frequency that we want to cut off. This works pretty balls on accurate (and works better then just using a Low pass ladder filter or any other filter type that we have inside the rack). The only thing you will probably not be using is the edit automation features inside the equalizers (since we can simply do without, we have the filter settings like the low pass ladder filter to that for us).

This whole process on setting up equalizers inside each individual instrument might be a time consuming process, however in the end it pays of. Since most of the instruments that focus on a specific band, or eq, will jump out on that specific frequency where you want to play them. While the complete sound itself is not being distorted nor changed. Even better yet, they just become more clearer in a way.

When it comes to tweaking like, which frequency to cut off, either how main gain to reduce either how wide the frequency band should be (eg: the Q setting inside the equalizer). Depends on the style and experience you have. It is just a matter of playing the instrument on solo, start tweaking the bands left and right, reduce the gain, reduce it a little more etc.. until you feel confirtable enough with the output of the sound. When the solo instrument has been tweaked, bring in the complete mix again and see if you will notice the changes.

One thing that is certain at this point: when we cut of frequencies from any instrument, the loudness of the instrument becomes a little bit lesser. So in some point you might want to start give some instruments just a little bit more gain to get the sounds back into place (be aware of the 0dB level however, that you don't push it too much).

Download RNS example: clearity-frequencies.rns
Download Mp3 example: clearity-frequencies.mp3

After listening and comparing this with the previous version you might notice (or not) that some sounds have been pushed toward the low end of the spectrum, and some instruments have been pushed more to the high end. As some instruments have been added a high shelf increased, some people might starting to discuss my 'methods' on mastering a track. As I have also said, I prefer to reduce rather then too gain. Well, yes... but, as it comes to most normal instrumts, these instruments don't have much stress on the high end of the music spectrum (only 'real' instruments are the hihats that do that). Most likely you don't want to cross a gain of 4dB (when increasing the high shelf). In most cases you won't be getting into trouble crossing the 0dB level increasing the high shelf. As you might also have noticed inside this example, I haven't touched any volume knobs yet... Even while some stuff has been increased... Hence, my theory has been proven ;)

The leads become more clearer in a way, they don't interfere with the low tones, and the low tones don't interfere with the middle tones and the high tones. And that is something I am getting at using this method. And at the end, when we will be doing our complete mastering suite inside the system (which is still disabled at this point) we will definitly gain some when we bring in the maximizer into play.

While I think of it, I think i might even want to update my personal tutorial about 'mastering' while I think of this technique though...

Ok, enough about the whole 'eq' bit... lets move on shall we.

The discission point, to climax or not to climax

Just to come up with the whole part about the whole climax bit... we could create a song that has a really long and extended climax part, either we could keep the climax as it is. Yet the song itself is just to short in length right now. So in the last case we have to break down once more, come with a second climax and resume the track. Just to demonstrate, I am going to place 2 songs that has both of them:

Download RNS example: climax-method-1.rns
Download Mp3 example: climax-method-1.mp3
While some thing drasticly has changed inside the song. First of all you will hopefully notice that the lead has a backup lead (Malstrom sawtooth 16). This lead I brought in to emphasize the higher tones a bit more. Since I also added a string session in the climax itself, it felt like the main lead was suffering from this. Also, I added a couple of delays left and right inside the main leads. This will make the lead jump from left and right all the time making it a bit more trancy.

Download RNS example: climax-method-2.rns
Download Mp3 example: climax-method-2.mp3

With the second climax method I am using a shorter buildup in the beginning. After the climax has hit I just play the same length for the climax as I did with the previous version. After that the whole thing breaks down... Leading into another climax buildup.

It really depends on what your prefered choice would be. Both methods have their advantage and disadvantage. Where the first method is good for building up a long tension, but also sounds boring in a way as a the climax could be just a bit too long. Yet the other version is just a bit more divers yet jumps to conclusion rather fast.

12 inch versions to Radio edits

One good piece of advice I also want to point out: create extended versions of your songs (also known as 12 inch versions). These versions are rather long in length (10 minutes is no exception here). The main reasoning behind this thought is that you have more material to work with having an extended version. You might find certain parts really entertaining in a way, while other parts inside the 12 inch version don't cut it. In the end you'll have more material to screw around with and it becomes easier to create a radio edit (which usually lasts around 3 till 4 minutes in length). It just works as easy as possible: the more 'stuff' you have the more you have to edit it down.

As I have also done this part with most of my own production, which usually are around 9 minutes in length each. When I want to start releasing these songs I have more material to cut down and make the 'perfect' track.

The Autro

The Autro in Trance sequences are pretty easy to beat. Since most trance songs just stop... usually. They don't pay much attention to the autro. It is just like a trance song does not really have an autro of some kind, since they focus more on the intro, climax buildup and the climax itself. When someone does want to create an autro, there are some ideas that come to mind:

- break down the drum track
- filter out the main leads
- fade out

etc.

The Intro

Since I kind of gotten used to creating the sequences backwards (start with the climax part and then build around it), the intro is once again the last part that I am going to discuss in thise complete trance tutorial. Since trance is based on building up a climax and also having this huge climax in the end, one thing that remains is the intro in the beginning. With most styles, the intro is probably the first part that people listen too. As I have also said in the drum and bass tutorial, this is also the part that decides whether people are going to listen to the complete track or not. However, with trance there is also another thing that you want to keep in mind: mixing songs!

Trance is probably one of the music genres that make mixing as easy as it is. Since the tempo is pretty much straight forward (140 Bpm till 148 Bpm), the beat itself is pretty straight forward (bass drum, hihat, open hihat and emphasizing the 2nd bass drum en the 4th bass drum with a second piece of percussion). Most trance songs usually just start with the beat and a bass line that goes along with it. This beat will play around a 32 beats phrase or 64 beat phrase... and then the whole climax bit comes into play.

The reasoning behind this is that a Trance DJ can decide whether to use this intro part or not. Most of the dj's that are into mixing trance songs will usually start by picking the beginning of tracks for building up the complete mix. In a later stage the DJ tends to break the house down by playing only but the climax parts from all kinds of songs. This is what makes a good DJ in some way (there are other factors that come to mind though). However, this is also one thing you might be keeping inmind when creating a complete trance song. That is also one of the reasons why the intro is important in some way inside of trance sequences.

At this point I am using the first climax method to demonstrate how an intro might work out:

Download RNS example: intro-method-1.rns
Download Mp3 example: intro-method-1.mp3

So to recap...
This you want to do inside your intro:
- use the drum track
- build up the drum track
- use a bass line
- use some effects to fill up the place a little bit
- use some minor pads in the background
- grab a couple of chord sessions (if you are using any) and play those once or twice in the intro part

Things that you don't want in your intro:
- the complete lead sequence that you are using in the climax.

Conclusion

This concludes the complete tutorial about how to get started with creating Trance sequences. There are other possibilities that I haven't discussed in this (almost) complete tutorial, but I think having explained most of the things that are very common inside of Trance music, I think this tutorial part should get you started to explore this kind of music genre.

Have lots of fun with creating music, experiment with it, use your own touch when you create music and be creative!

 

Published on Reason Experts
Written by
Published on Reason Experts
Published: 2016-09-04

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