How to Arrange Hardstyle Music [Day 6 | Hardstyle Tutorial 7 Day Song]
Hi! I’m Dave from boyinaband.com – welcome to day 6 of the 7 day song on hardstyle. Yesterday we added the last sounds to our track. Today is all about the arrangement.
I learned what I’m about to tell you from doing critical listening – basically listening to a hardstyle song, and writing down notes saying how long each section lasts for, what new elements are brought in, that kind of thing, then comparing them all and making a judgement. I’d definitely advise doing this yourself, just because it really makes you think about how to arrange your track, plus you get to listen to a bunch of hardstyle.
The main thing I noticed is that unlike most dance music genres, Hardstyle tends to have several varied parts within the same song. Genres like electro house and dubstep tend to have very similar drops done twice. Hardstyle is much more open to interpretation and generally has at least 2 completely different drops in the same track from what I heard.
So let’s go through how I’ve arranged our track.
Intro – 16 bars
Mini Drop – 16 bars
Breakout/Build – 32 bars
Drop – 32 bars (plenty of fills to keep it interesting)
Breakout/Build – 16 bars (keep the energy going by not having it too long)
Drop 2 – 16 bars
Outro – 16 bars
And as you can see, there’s lots going on that keeps the track changing so the listener’s attention is maintained.
I’ve used three blocks in reason 6 because it’s a really convenient way of arranging. If you want to change one thing then you don’t have to go through and copy and paste a bunch of clips.
There’s the build, which doubles as my intro, the drop, which I’ve muted the hs kick on the first mini drop to make it a bit less intense so the main drop sounds comparatively more intense. And I’ve got drop 2, which just has a different melody to drop 1 for the final drop and outro.
Let’s go into more specific detail then.
Intro: I’m filtering in the arp with those techniques I taught you in day 4, got a nice little melody that changes up just before the drop hits, I make it hit the semitone for extra tension, anyone that’s heard my other tracks will know that’s something I do all the time, such a good way of making the drops more satisfying when doing melodic genres.
I’ve also got the decay opening up on the filter envelope just before the drop – that and the filter down which makes it feel like it’s simultaneously getting more intense and less intense – nothing like a bit of multiple personality disorder in your automation.
The lead has been muted – simply draw a blank clip over the note lane where the block is making the tracks appear to do that, such a nice workflow with blocks in Reason.
Bring in the pads part way through, and the claps – not the snares at this point, again by restricting the amount of things that build up it makes those elements more impactful later on.
Starts on a crash, and here’s a reverse before the mini drop.
Mini Drop: The lead and kick are muted as I mentioned, but the bass and sub come in here for the first time, so it does feel like something has kicked in. 8 bars in the claps come in and 4 more bars we bring in the snare. Same rhythm as the clap – you don’t want the start of your tracks to be too complex and layered or the DJ spinning it will have a nightmare trying to make it fit nicely with the outro of the previous track.
First build: Here is where we start to get a little bit interesting with the arrangement. Crashing to just the arp filtering in, a reverse brings us to the lead for the first time, with the fully opened arp and the pad.
The sub makes it really feel powerful and tense, just on one note, that root note of F# that everything revolves around. The claps come in here again, building it nicely, followed by those snares to continue the build.
Then for the final 8 bars of the 32 bar build we have everything filtering down and you can see I’ve just looped the first part of the lead – this emulates that stuttering loop effect you generally get before a big drop so mentally informs the listener that something big is about to hit them in the face.
The arp goes to one note as well, as does the pad, all building that tension because the note wants to change so much to something else. It all filters down, then the reverse brings things up until all of a sudden the huge vocal sample hits and the arp filters back up in the last bar. This brings us to…
Drop: Our first drop! The Hardstyle kick hits for the first time, the bass comes back with the sub, we’ve got our layered kick and I added the pad for extra filling goodness. Those FX consistantly going through there, only changing positions where we have fills, which I’ll talk about now.
Hardstyle drops are frequently interspersed with these fantastic fills that involve weird syncopations of the beat and melody that usually feel like the music has tripped over itself or something, I love it.
The first fill I filter down the lead a touch so the cut up “PUMP DA BASS” from the vocal which I’ve put every 8 bars in one form or another for the drops can really come through, then the first beat you expect is missing, followed by a triplet trip into the next beat, as if it kinda forgot it was meant to play and then rushed into line, which I generally picture mentally when I’m making these. That crazy scatterbrained Hardstyle kick! It tries its hardest, bless it.
I also mute the bass and sub for that one note to really emphasize the brief quietness there.
Next fill is a longer, more interesting syncopation – again, kick and hs kick layered here, lead drops out, then that reverse kick brings it back in. The FX are all adding to the emphasis, with a small clap indicating the start, then the big boom when everything comes back in in earnest.
I also introduce the ride on the kick to continue the build along with the clap.
Last up for the final 8 bars we bring in the snare and reverse to the second build.
Similar to the first with the same claps and snares and FX – just a bit shorter and no epic middle break because we want to keep the song moving now we’ve got our partygoers moving from the first drop. The main difference is it filters down the arp at the same time we’re filtering up this new lead riff – the second drop is completely different melody-wise, remember?
This lead riff is all triplets and plays with octaves, the lower notes following the new bassline progression that kicks in in the drop – from F# to A down to D then to E. Just adding in the A to the previous progression really, just makes it a bit happier. Hardstyle is a fun genre so this fits nicely.
It’s really bouncy as well, so many triplets!
Then when it kicks in we’ve got the bass doing that new progression, but no hs kick. We’ve got a new kick – take a listen. This is just a sample, you get a lot of these kicks with an extended kind of wooshy noise at the end in hardstyle so I wanted to show you. Just find a sample with it in.
The second drop isn’t as long as the first, we’re just having one last little burst of energy before the song ends.
Same build with the claps and snares that we’re so used to, filtering the lead down into the…
Just removing the sub, then the bass (which I’ve made more tense so we can start building some intensity for the next track the DJ spins) with a throwback to the vocal hook in there, and finally reversing into a boom and crash for the last hit.
Phew! What a journey. I’m pretty sure that covers everything. Remember – do your own critical listening and see which elements producers you like introduce at what points. remember to think about the DJs who will be mixing the track when making the intro and outro, and remember to keep changing things up as the track progresses, otherwise it’ll be boring!
So there we have it. Arrange your track, don’t forget to like this video, then meet me tomorrow in day 7 where I’ll give some tips on mixing and mastering the song and show you the final finished 7 day hardstyle song.