Following some very positive feedback on the tutorial video on how I create trance music I also decided to dedicate today to make another tutorial of how I arranged the entire track Spirit Within You.
This video takes a detailed look at all the sections that form the track - such as the intro, the build up, the breakdown, the culmination, and the outro. It also explains how various instruments are introduced and modified during various stages of the track.
I am, by no means, saying that this is how you must make trance music - it's just at peek into how I arrange most of my tracks. When I started out making music in the 90s I found no tutorials like this and I'm hoping that this video can help some of you that are interested in making music.
Right then, here is the tutorial of how to arrange a trance song / track:
As usual, I use Cubase 5 and my trusted VST instruments Nexus2, VanGuard, and Sylenth1 - but this arrangement technique can be applied regardless of what software you use.
If this tutorial helps you out - I'd be happy to hear about it in the comments field =)
Today I decided to create a tutorial based on my latest trance track "Spirit Within You". It's a detailed look at a section of 15 measures of the track where I go through each and every instrument, what notes and chords are played, which presets are used, what VST instrument was used, etc. This should hopefully give you the foundation of percussion, bassline, melody, filling effect - but it won't teach you how to arrange a full length track - that will come in another tutorial.
Have a look at the tutorial
What's in the video?
The video describes the following elements:
Percussion (drums) - kick, closed hihat, open hihat, claps, cymbals
First bassline (rapid 1/16 notes)
Second bassline (offbeat 1/8 notes)
Cluster of 5 simultaneous leads for extreme atmosphere
Two trance gates for an even fuller effect
Pads for more euphoria
And a classic trance piano with delay end reverb
First the video lets you listen to the end result. Then I solo each instrument and describe what notes were played. You can also see exactly which presets are used in Nexus2, VanGuard, and Sylenth1. All presets, more or less, use the default settings and the default delay / reverb effects. Filter cutoff frequency is altered on a few instruments to create that classic morphing or transforming sound commonly found in trance. No additional, external, or invisible effects are applied.
In this video tutorial I use Cubase 5 as a sequencer - but the technique can be applied to any sequencer and VST instruments.
Since this video focuses on a cropped out section of the track, I plan to make another video showing how the track is arranged in terms of introducing various instruments, the intro, the chorus, the breakdown, the outro, etc.
If you like this video and, of course, if you like my music - please consider supporting Imphenzia by buying one of my albums in the album section (or on iTunes and other digital stores) - you can also gain Full Access to all Imphenzia tracks for high quality 320kbps MP3 and lossless FLAC files.
Virtual Instruments (VSTi) used
Groove Agent ONE (Cubase 5 drum machine)
All the presets are available in the retail version of each VSTi without the need for any expansions. The exception is the percussion since I just use various percussion samples.
After recently discovering and listening to the Dub Step genre I got influenced by it and modified the Nostalgia chill out edit to incorporate some of the elements. Well, mainly it's the wobble sound but there are other aspects I like as well like the random stabs and effects. The track that caught my attention was Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites by Skrillex. And I also liked Kill EVERYBODY a lot.
Following the launch of the revamped website, Imphenzia Soundtrack is currently my main priority. I tend to switch focus between Imphenzia Music (my trance music), Imphenzia Soundtrack, and Imphenzia Games depending on where I find most motivation at any given time.
The first half of this year I put a lot of effort into Imphenzia Music by rebuilding the entire web site from scratch, creating a new web shop, introducing Full Access feature, releasing new singles, releasing the Chillout album, introducing all my music to digital stores and Spotify. I also made the decision to allow full length streaming of ALL my tracks (previously high quality streaming was only allowing the first two minutes.) I'm not sure if that was the right thing to do because since then the number of Full Access users have dropped and now one person every other month opts for (the low end of) Full Access. I will keep things as they are, but I think the lack of interest in downloading my music is one of the reasons why my motivation has switched to Imphenzia Sountrack at the moment. Not to worry, it'll shift back at some stage =)
There is a hole in my virtual studio
I've purchased quite a few great music products over the past few of years, and my current virtual studio consists of the following:
I'm fairly happy with this list of software but there is one gigantic hole. For trance I don't feel I need anything more than Nexus2, VanGuard, and Sylenth1 at the moment - it's such a competent set of instruments for that purpose.
For Imphenzia Soundtrack, on the other hand, I am missing an instrument or library for soundscape textures, glitches, and futuristic grunge style sounds.
I've done some online searching today and I found Native Instruments Abysnth 5 which I think will fill this hole perfectly. Absynth comes with 1800 presets and a, what seems to be an amazing, morph feature that will allow the creation of totally unique sounds. I've been looking at the demo videos and listened to the sample tracks and all I have to do now is to decide whether I should by the boxed DVD version or the digital download version. If I get the digital version I'll have it straight away but I've got boxed versions for Nexus, Cubase, and the Complete Composer's edition (featuring all the large sample libraries) so it would be nice to have the cyan colored Abynth 5 box in that collection. Both the digital download and boxed version is €179 (including shipping) so I'm leaning towards the box after all. My PayPal account is missing $25 so I'll wait to see if any non-exclusive licenses go so I can place the order.
Good hardware for the gigantic sample libraries
The only music hardware I use nowadays is my 88-key Roland FP-7 stage piano as master midi keyboard and to play improvisation to come up with new ideas. Some will find it amusing, but I use the Asus motherboard sound card. I down-mix all the audio without it ever touching the sound card so it serves no purpose to get another one. In fact, I've got a Creamware Pulsar 2 DSP sound card that I bought for £2000 - but it's old now and they didn't bother to release any Windows 7 drivers for it... But again, I don't need it =)
If you found this post because you are looking for a computer with a lot of memory to run the EastWest libraries - I can confirm that my current computer handles it beautifully:
Asus P6X58D-E Motherboard
24 GB RAM using 2 x Corsair 12GB (3 kit) DDR3 1600MHz/CL9/DOMINATOR
Intel Core i7 3.06GHz Quad 8MB Cache Processor
Corsair AX 850W PSU
Crucial RealSSD 256GB (for the sound libraries, they consist of over 177'000 files)
Corsair SSD Force Series 120GB (for Windows 7 x64 Ultimate
Making seamless loops is an essential part in creating music suitable for games. Loops will keep the distribution size of games to a minimum and it also makes the audio cheaper to license which is crucial for smaller indie game developers.
Although I've been making music as the trance artist "Imphenzia" for 14 years, which is starting to sound like a very long time also making me sound old, I've only been releasing music for games during the past 3-4 years as "Imphenzia Soundtrack." I mention this for no apparent reason at all, so lets move on.
I've created a video tutorial of how I go about when creating a seamless loop. In this case it's an orchestral movie-style piece of music that will be added to my library of non-exclusive music. I use Steinberg Cubase 5.5 and Sony Sound Forge 10 to create the loop but you will probably be able to replicate the steps in your sequencer and audio editor of choice.
Time for the tutorial - have a look at it and don't forget to watch it in 720p so you can read the options better.
I hope the tutorial helps you to create perfect seamless loops of your music. Some of the important things to stress are:
Repeat the music you want to loop three times in your sequencer, exactly 3 times down to the measure. Why? It's because you want to ensure a good loop including any trailing audio at the end of the music piece, it could be decay, reverb trails, and echo.
Export the audio to a Wav file (or a format of choice) and load it into a good sound editor.
Crop out the center third of the music, use sample precision to do this.
Remove any clicks by ensuring that the audio file starts and stops on 0 dB exactly (or infinitely low as Sound Forge describes it.) This is performed by fading in the start and fading out the end by only a few samples, 20-100 samples is usually suitable.
I also had time to reflect on the historic designs and trends that my site has endured over the past 13 years. In recent time, for the launch of the 2008 site, it was all about content, content, content, account features, google ads, and more content. Following the trend at the time the font was small to fit in as much text and information as possible and the layout was split into three columns complicating it even further. The 2011 site is the complete opposite with much less information presented in a tidy manner with larger text and without columns. I also think that the time of content packed sites was a natural way to progress as it was expected to make use of fancy layouts and high screen resolutions, where as we’re now back to putting the visitor at the center of attention making sure that the message you want to get across is clearly visible and simple to understand.
For some time I have been contemplating over how I should release my music. In the very beginning it was only possible to purchase physical albums, then the addition of mp3 albums, then single mp3 tracks, then a “donation” to download all tracks for a period of six months. I found the various options, and how they were presented on my site, to be very confusing. What would my visitors think if I thought it was confusing? The idea of a donation, for example, would only make sense if all tracks were downloadable to begin with since a donation is giving without the expectation of receiving anything in return. Bottom line; it was very confusing.
I hope that the new site has taken a big step in the right direction to combat the issues outlined above. The album section has been totally redesigned with a clean look and a visitor can add digital albums and CD albums into a shopping cart. The donation feature has been replaced with a new feature for full access that still focuses on allowing the visitor to contribute with an amount of his or her choice and is return rewarded with longer term of access depending on the size of the contribution.