Trance Sequence

Well… after a day of listening to endless hours of mixsets, I was getting ready to head off to bed when a melody popped into my head. I quickly rushed over to the computer and banged out a horrible rendition of the melody, then went to bed. The next morning, I picked up the melody, and tried to get it to sync correctly – no dice. So, I ended up doing some editing, and what was to be a laidback melodic track turned into bass-pounding hardtrance… In any case, this project rolled to the final note after some hours, and then a couple more of additional tweaking. All in all, it was definitely an interesting project, and aside from a few program glitches, came together surprisingly quickly – my other recent “long” piece, which is being released simultaneously with this one, was done incrementally over the course of weeks.

I had planned on doing a “pro mastered version” of this, with all sorts of fascinating EQ, compression, and so on, with a powerfully EQed GPO Steinway Grand in place of the Bashar Maestro soundfont. However, once it was put into place, I realized that while the piano sounded absolutely amazing on its own, it turned the mix into a muddled wall of sound that drowned out the other instrumentation. Unfortunately, while working on resolving this and coming up with a new mix for the track, the sequencer became unstable, and eventually corrupted the project file so that I could no longer open it, as well as the automatic backup. As I have no other versions of the project file, the resulting mp3 is, regrettably, the only surviving version of this track.

This track definitely falls within the genre of trance, but it doesn’t necessarily follow all of the usual rules that you’ll hear in the mainstream – it definitely takes on a life of its own, and it definitely has the feel of a DigInt piece. That being said, it covers most of the high notes – the 1/4 note 808 kicks, the required section of slow, muted pad sounds, drum/filtersweep buildups, and a number of powerful, screaming arpeggiated leads. The peice definitely harkens back to the harder sounds for the earlier days of trance and rave music – it tires to be clean and dirty at the same time, and almost succeeds at both.

One thing to note is that I was inspired to do this track by System F’s powerful “Dance Valley Theme 2001.” It was the model that I used for tweaking Vanguard and some compressors to at least somewhat emulate that crisp, clean, articulate bass sound. The bass pattern is slightly based on that as well (okay, maybe more than slightly based… but the actual notes are quite different, and let’s face it, there are really only so many ways to do a 3-note trance bassline). DVT, however, is a much different track, and is in fact one of my favorites – it harkens back to the day where trance was much less complex, much cleaner, and much less homogenized. DVT definitely stands out as a track all on its own, and I can only hope that my music can live up to that as well. If you can track down that tune, it’s definitely worth a buy – which is why it’s a shame that it’s virtually impsosible to find in the states (I heard it in a recording of Armin van Buuren’s A State of Trance, from a webcast on ID&T Radio).

As usual, all sequencing work was done in Logic. There were a number of different things that went into this track. The piano and strings were done with the EXSP sample player – the piano is the Bashar Maestro Piano soundfont, and the strings are a string ensemble patch from Garritan Professional Orchestra (oh, and one of the basslines was from a preloaded EXSP sample). The main leads, the bassline, and the pads were done in Vanguard – many were from the Bigtone soundbank, although the second main lead was my own custom-tweaked “powercore” preset. Oh, and the weird, wobbly sound thing that comes in at some point was done in FilterScape. Finally, the drums were done with the GarageBand Drum Kits sample instrument, with the TR-808 sample set.

BTW, you can also download this track from SoundCloud.