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EDM Music Theory -The Perfect Melodic Breakdown.

The club is going crazy and the lasers feel electric as the confetti filled the room.The beautiful girl you met in the line happens to be right in front of you and your heart feels one with the beat. The beat drops and everyone is anticipating for what is to come. You are then captivated by a melody that is slowly coming in while the sound of white noise starts to diminish the room. You start spreading your arms out as if you are about to fly. Goosebumps cover your whole body as the bass and melody take you into a euphoric state. If this has ever happened to you then you have experienced the perfect MELODIC breakdown.

In order to create the perfect melodic breakdown we first must ask ourselves: what are the steps necessary to creating a euphoric giving break?

There are 3 important elements in order to have a perfect melodic breakdown.

  1. Good Melody and Chords

  2. Good Sounds

  3. Good Arrangement

Step 1: Melody and Chords


Melody is going drive your breakdown.

Many people debate on the best possible ways to create a melody.

There are so many techniques, but I'm going to give you guys my techniques

In this video provided below I go over how to create a progressive melody.

Make sure to follow the video all the way through.

Summary: Good melody will contain: Good Rhythm, repeating catchy elements, and a good chord progression.

Any good melody without a good chord progression will not sound up to its potential. Make sure you have a good sounding melody to hear it with the chords.

*Here is another video if you need more inspiration that I made about 2 years ago containing a different type of melody.*


Chords are going to be the backbone of your melody. Without chords you are pretty much going to hear a set of notes repeating without harmony. Most melodies without the right set of chords will not sound as catchy. So of course we want to utilize good chords.

How do we go about in creating good chords?

In this video, I explained my theory on chords that should simplify the process down so you are not overwhelmed.

SUMMARY: Pick a Scale, pick any note in the scale and when you count 2 notes up in that scale, that note will be harmonic to the note you are on. Watch the video for a good example so you can create chords on the breeze.


We play G and B Flat and D Together we have the first 2 notes of the g minor chord.

G--> A---> BFlat--->C---> D

1 2 3 4

Notice how every 2 notes up IN THE SCALE is harmonic to the first note. This theory will help you in creating chords and you can apply it to any scale and note. Just make sure to count up by 2 IN THE SCALE!

Step 2 Good SOUNDS

Good sounds are important for the perfect melodic breakdown.

If your melody in the breakdown sounds very cinematic why not use strings? Here is the perfect example of using strings. Check Minute:0:37

As you can see orchestral instruments are used to create a great atmosphere. In the track with KEVU strings start the melody and are then transitioned into electronic sounds.

Strings can be used amazingly in melodies that are very cinematic and orchestral.

Why stop at strings? Why not use a choir as well like here at minute 1:00

For sustained melodies meaning the melody is very long in the duration.

Build to it from pluck to a sustained lead like AVICII.

Minute : 1:15 - 1:45

AS you can see we start with a very woodblock sound and move into a sustained lead that works into the build. The important thing here is that the melody fits the sounds as it's a very emotional one.

Now what if your melody is very epic and must be played with chords in rhythm and sounds very statacato. Well this is the generic big room house and big room trance method. For this type of melody you want to use EPIC sounds and what sound is more epic than a supersaw?

Minute: 2:30

As you can hear we have a melody that is a rift played that progresses into supersaws. If you never knew what a rift was this song contains a perfect example of it.

Step 3: Arrangement

Finally, we have reached the arrangement section which puzzles a lot of people.

What is the perfect arrangement for a breakdown and how do you approach it?

The first important thing to note is whether you have 1 big breakdown or 2 small breakdowns or 1 small break and 1 big breakdown. The formula for breaks will differ pertaining to these 3 choices.

1 Big breakdown will usually result in a 32-48 bar breakdown which adds up to 1-1:45 Minutes and can sometimes last longer.

2 Small breakdowns usually results in the 1st breakdown being 16 bars long which results in 30 seconds and the last one being the longest at 25-32 bars at 45 Seconds - 1 Minute long.

Is this important and should you stick to this?

NO, this is only a guideline to how long your breaks should last. Remember the breakdown is here as a breather to give people a rest and take the energy level down to bring it back up again.

Lets look at some examples

Here is a perfect example of 2 Breakdowns the first one being the shortest at 30 seconds and the 2nd one being the longest at 1 minute.

Breakdowns will come in different sizes, but keep in mind that you want to keep your break between 16 25 32 40 48 56 64 bars long. Notice how they are all divisible by 8.

Why do you think that is?

Well lets see the times at 128bpm

  • 16 bars = 30 Seconds

  • 25 Bars = 45 Seconds

  • 32 Bars = 1 Minute

  • 40 Bars = 1 Minute 15 Seconds

  • 48 Bars = 1 Minute 30 Seconds

  • 56 Bars = 1 Minute 45 Seconds

  • 64 Bars = 2 Minutes.

This makes it easy for DJS to keep track on how long your break is and opens up your break to be edited by adding vocals to create mash ups.


What can we get from all this?

Yes EDM is very formulaic as can be seen but it's done to make the DJS Life easier. It also allows there to be possibilities in mash ups, and bootlegs.

So next time you want to create a perfect melodic breakdown, just follow these guidelines and reap the benefits.

-Zen World

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