Techno Arrangements


I have a problem with making the arrangement of techno songs. I start with the bassdrum and percussion, then a fancy break then my mainsound comes in, again a fancy break, then everything stops, I don’t know what to do anymore.

It’s easy to start again with the bassdrum without the mainsound, but then it sounds like the track is starting all over again.

End of the story is that I don’t finish the song and start a new one, but after a couple of days I run into the same problems. This happens to me for over ten years by now. Can someone tell me how a good hardtechno arrangement is put together?

Thanks for your time!

What would Scooter do? :)


Introduction of main rythm and melody


Start Song

Break to Chorus

Repeat Song slightly altered

Break and Build-up

Continue Song

Break to Chorus




OR… do whatever the f**** you want :w00t:

shout cheesy gibberish over it? :P

i think with techno, it’s important to consider the dynamics: the way it builds, rushes and drops out. i think it’s these variations of intensity that make for a really great dance track - that’s why trance blew up so big 10 years ago: cos it made full use of these dynamic variations (and subsequently reduced them to a dull and predictable formula, but that’s another issue. <_< )

myself, i think it helps to have at least two alternating themes: one which is your all-out, full-on rush and another which carries the track in between. i think it’s best to try and keep this secondary part fairly simple: leave enough room in it to be able to build on and develop it so it can naturally lead into the first main rush section. think of the best bits of a rollercoaster: it’s the slow climb to the top and then the headlong rush. create tension then release it. :w00t: :D

couple of examples, if i may:

things to do on a tuesday night
there’s two basic elements to this track: the really busy synth workouts, with it’s rising 303 and the slightly smoother rush led by the strings. it’s all crunch and flow. notice the use of the claps on the synth-led sections to help crank up the intensity and that they cut out again for the string part. building and releasing tension.

gimme drugs
similar deal here, except there’s three sections. again, notice the way the snare is used on the synth and 303 workout part to subtly vary intensity. also the alternation between major and minor keys, with the latter being used to increase the sense of tension. if you notice the soundtrack on horror films and thrillers, they almost invariably use a minor key for parts where they need to build tension.

anyhow, hope that’s some help. ;)

I don’t know, I’m not into that scene, thanks anyway. :P

Thanks for you’re reply, but my opinion is that this doesn’t work for techno. Most of the time, a techno song has only one big long break, the rest of the song seems the same repeating over and over with a small fill in here and there, but without getting boring. But how this arrangement works is really a mystery to me.

Really cool acid lines in there, the music is really different from what I make, but the theory behind the songs you write about is really interesting. The difficulty I’m experiencing is that I only use percussion. I don’t have any melodies in my music, this makes composing the music very different.

Well, depends what you aim for.

If you want to do a track that can be played by DJs you will need to have 1-1.30 minutes of pure drums (and maybe bass) at the beginning and end so djs can mix properly.

2 Breaks are normally standard but you can ofcourse just stick to one. And keep the buildup in mind.

add some stupid high pitch vocals

Well allright SPDK; your next assignment, if you choose to accept it, will consist of analyzing the songstructure of your favourite technotrack, and subsequently post it in this thread. Sadly, this message will not selfdestruct :huh:

Thanks for the replies.

I’m gonna study techno tracks for some hours. If my track isn’t finished in two weeks, I will post it here, so you can tell me what to do. Maybe we can vote or do a poll :)

I hope the voting will not be necesarry (nasecarrie?) so I can post the whole track!

Well I’m going offline now, my study waits.

if it’s hard-techno, or schranz as some call it. one thing i notice alot is during the middle, you’ll get a build up (like a 90s trance snare buildup) no snare though, just lots of hiss, and slowly HPF everything up for a mega long time, then when it finally drops, there’s no HPF going on at all. it sounds so great. Ill have to find an example.

its your song, and we haven’t even heard it.
theres no way for us to tell you how to structure it.
you can always add another element for the break, even something subtle like a lp cutoff-lfo synched pad or something. Also, you can add in vocals to keep a break interesting.
if you’d post the song, i could help alot more.

as well, try listening to what you hear with your musical ear coming next.

If you want to maintain a tried and tested formula, you are going to have to copy something directly.

Import a complete song into Renoise that you like by an established techno artist.

Figure out the BPM

Slice up the song into segments that match your standard pattern length (another reason why renoise needs audio tracks!)

Basically load the commercial song into to renoise to it plays all the way through but is in pattern length chunks.

Now you will go through and copy the structure with your song that you have made.

Once you have finished, remove the track with the commercial song on it and you are sorted.

This is also good because it will allow you to a/b mix it down at the same time!

Thanks for that!

That’s a good one, it’s not that I want to copy a song, but this gives me a good impression on how the song is put together and where I should put my breaks to get the same result. After that I can adjust it to my own taste of course.

Another problem with my arrangements is that I know how to tell the story. Every break is exactly as I wanted it it and every thing comes in the right place, but at the end my tracks are at least 10 minutes long. 10 minutes is too long for other people to listen to a track, let alone pressing it to vinyl.

really depends, if you are very good … mathew johnson and dominik eulberg did tracks that were up to 20 minutes (and they worked actually). also, one vinylside can contain 12 minutes of music.

This thread makes baby zombie jesus cry. Why on earth would one want to conform to the a blueprints laid out by a particular genre when they could just as easily make their own formula up and take over the world with it? Hell, what the heck is with formula music anyway? WHAT’S HAPPENED TO THE SOUL?!?!?! WHERE’S THE EMOTION?!?!?!

I don’t to want copy a complete song or style. I just want to take a closer look at tracks that inspire me to making my own music. I’m not to proud to say that I can learn a lot of the tracks made by Speedy J or the dj-sets by DJ Rush.

Pavlovian Response.

i dont know if you can do it this way very easily in a tracker (im a complete noob) but i reckon you should try just making a 16 or 32 bar loop and make this the main body of the song - as in this is the part that kicks in after the main breakdown - fill it up nice and proper with your leads etc… perhaps even over fill it - then copy that out over the length of the tune, and stick to building towards it… the track basically sequences itself that way, all you do is minimise and build interest by removing chunks… thats how i do it anyway…

techno is easier with a tracker.

…another pavlovian response :D