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EDM Music Theory - Arrangement: The Perfect Intro

Hey Ninjas,

Zen World here today to discuss something very important that has to do with the arrangement of your tracks. First the Arrangement of a EDM track plays a huge role in your success as a producer as you need to make your tracks fit and work. If you don't have the right arrangement in your tracks this simple mistake will cause DJ's not to play out your tracks no matter how good they are.

Why is this?

Shouldn't the quality of your melody or drop matter more?

Well not exactly

If you have been hearing EDM for quite some time you will notice that most tracks have characteristics in common when it comes to the arrangement like how long the intro is, how long the breakdown is, how long the drop last, and so on. This doesn't happen just as a coincidence. This is done on purpose to allow DJs to mix in and out of tracks.

So knowing this how can you properly execute the perfect intro for your tracks?

1. Choose a Reference Track

I recommend you to grab a reference track which you will study the intro of. Studying tracks is a perfect way to learn arrangement theory as you know it will work, bonus points if it's a track supported by a world renowned DJ.

For this post we will be using this track By my good friend Kevu and Jaggs called Stop Me.

Oh BTW KEVU released a huge big room sound bank if you wanna check it out click here

2: STUDY The Reference Track Intro

So the first thing about the intro we need to notice is that it is 16 Bars long resulting in a 30 second intro. 30 second intros have become more common in the EDM World as the attention span of listeners of our genre have shortened. Listeners expect you to get right to the point. The art of 1-2 minute intros is no more in the genre of EDM, but it can still be seen in genres like Techno and Tech-House.

The 2nd thing we need to notice is that the intro starts with a downlifter, a technique made popular by Nicky Romero. The downlifter allows your track to start with a lot of atmosphere which will help in filling up the frequencies.

The next thing to note is the kick is fully evolved meaning we hear the main kick of the song instantly, it doesn't work up to it. Drums are also present so they are already introducing the elements of the kick and drums to the listeners right in the first 30 seconds.

The leads can also be heard in the background teasing the melody but not fully out there. Finally the vocals and uplifters can be heard as the song progresses into the breakdown.

Now that we have listened to the track Stop Me, how can studying it help us make our very own perfect intro?

Apply What You Learned

3: Teasing

First the intro has to be seen as a selling point as it's the first thing the listener will get to hear in your track. Just like any sales pitch you don't want to start off too strong, but not too light either. The perfect intro will contain a balance of teasing and power. Teasing as you want people that have heard your track to instantly recognize it, may it be the kick or the first few notes of your main melody. Teasing also aids in introducing the elements of your track to new listeners.

In the track Stop me, you can easily recognize it by the melody playing in the background filtered, the vocals, and the kick.

4: Melody and Power Balance

The 2nd thing a perfect intro is gonna need is enough melody to not cause any mixing problems for a DJ. If your intro is blasting a catchy melody in a different scale along with the bass than the track being mixed out, well it's gonna sound unpleasant. You need the perfect balance so having your melody play in the back isn't bad unless you also add movement to your bass. Kevu in their track stop me maintain the kick in the same note all the way through the intro which allows their melody to be played without causing too many problems. IMPORTANT: Note that they aren't playing the full melody of their track before the first 8 bars(15 seconds). Not playing the full melody in the first 8 bars allows the DJ to have the track their mixing out of finish it's melodic phase to go into the outro and allows the KEVU track to instantly start being mixed in.

Power also will be controlled as you don't want too much nor too little. Too much power will cause your track to feel like it's on the decline in energy rather than on the incline and vice versa. You want to take your listeners on a ride and you never start off with a bang in the intro.

5: Structure

The 3rd thing the perfect intro is gonna need is structure so you need to decide how long you want your intro to be. A 16 Bar intro is perfect for big room because it allows for you to get into the breakdown fast. A 16 bar intro is recommended for Big Room songs that drop with a similar melody to the break.

A 32 Bar intro is only good for tracks that you want to progress slowly like progressive house.

A new type of intro is the 25 bar Intro( 45 seconds) which allows your track to instantly go into the Drop. The 25 bar intro starts the build up to the drop at the 30 second mark. A good example of this type of intro can be heard in this song by KEVU and Olly James called Bandana.

Notice how the build begins exactly at the 30 second mark and the track drops by the 45. This is a perfect example of the 45 Second Intro which is good for tracks with good drops. The downside of the 45 second intro is that it only allows for 1 breakdown but it's usually a long one.


This has been a long post but I hope this helps you guys create some great intros for your tracks. When it comes to intros there is so much you can do so experiment. Just remember to stick to the DJ Formula so that your tracks can get played worlwide.

-Zen World

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