Trance writing?


in the JUNGLE!
how do you do the melodies? i seem to stumble across stuff by luck. is there any basic theory that can be learn't?


Studio Elf
antic said:
heh, in psy-trance-world no one seems to know the answer lately :Smile3:

Nah, it's just that melodic trance sucks. :P

If you really want to do melodies, as Missing-Link says, create a nice rhythmical pattern using a lead sound, then move the notes about a bit until you've got something good.

Knowledge of the basic musical modes comes in handy here...

The patterns of tones (T) and semitones (s) are as follows:

TTTsTTs Lydian
TTsTTTs Ionian (modern major)
TTsTTsT Myxolydian
TsTTTsT Dorian
TsTTsTT Aeolian (modern minor)
sTTTsTT Phrygian
sTTsTTT Locrian

Have a poke around on the net to see what you can find. :Smile3:

Of course, if you're a reasonable keyboard player, it's often a lot more fun to just bash it in over a loop and tidy up afterwards as necessary.


Wandering Kid

Junior Members
this was part of a tutorial i wrote on music theory, part of which was posted on the tranceaddict forums. you can use it for any type of music but because it concerns chord structure and harmonies you'll probably find it most useful for trance. some of the chords here dont even fit well in trance. you never see diminutive chords or large chords in trance because they often sound anti melodic. experiment and see what you come up with. its just straight up basic theory. once you feel you know the rules, feel free to break em and see what you come up with. maybe it'll help someone here...

a scale from C is C, D, E, F, G, A, B

which is 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th note from the root note C.

From the root (key) note C, each note is:

D - Major 2nd
E - Major 3rd
F - Perfect 4th
G - Perfect 5th
A - Major 6th
B - Major 7th
C - Perfect Octave

The Major intervals can be made either diminished (down 2 semitones), minor (down 1) or augmented (up 1)

The Perfect ones can only be made diminished (down 1) or augmented (up 1)

this is also known as a C major scale b/c it has no sharps or flats and its recommended you start learning scales and chords from this root note because of this.

you make a chord using a triad of notes. the 1st root note, major 3rd and perfect 5th.

hence. a C chord is C, E, G.

you can extend this by adding extra notes in harmony.

a C6 would be C, E, G and the 6th note of the scale A.

a C7 is annoying because the 7th is flattened.

this is because there are 3 key familes. major, minor and dominant. a Cmaj7 would be C, E, G, B. a Cdom7 aka C7 = C, E, G, Bb

for 9ths, 11ths and 13ths you need to extend the scale because these chords span 2 octaves.

C, D, E, F, G, A, B,, C, D, E, F, G, A, B,

thats 14 notes.


C9 = 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th (careful), 9th

i.e. C, E, G, Bb, D

C11 = C, E, G, Bb, D, F

and C13 = C, E, G, Bb, D, A

remember we are still working in C dominant. for C major the Bb would be a B. as a general rule concerning the bigger chords, you can leave out some of the notes in the C9, C11 and C13 for example as long as you keep the root and 5th. this is because playing all 6 notes of a C13 can sometimes sound a bit too cluttered. but then it depends on the sound you want to achieve.

you can simplify a large chord that spans more than 1 octave or use smaller chords that just add an extra note in harmony using add.


C6add9 is a C6 + 9th note.


C6add9 = C, E, G, A + D

C7add13 would be a C7 + 13th note


C7add13 = C, E, G, Bb, A

a C9add13 would be a C9 chord (C, E, G, Bb, D) + 13th (A)

yep you guessed it. its the same as a C13 chord. hence sometimes the confusion in music theory. its also why you wont find a C9add13 in a chord library more often than not. there will only be a listing for C13. or sometimes vice versa.

you can do the same for scales starting in anything other than C but remember to count up in whole notes (this will includes using sharps and flats).

to end this chord library shit once and for all you can make chords minor, major, suspended, diminutive by altering the original chord triad. there is no need to look up abstract chords in a chord dictionary and doing so is a waste of time because once you know this stuff you can figure out any chord in your head (but to do it on the fly as you are playing is difficult and requires a quick mind and good mental arithmetic. this is why improvized jazz can in many cases be truly amazing and awe inspiring. you can see how quick witted everyone has to be to keep up with the insane number of key changes).

to make C into a minor chord you flatten the major 3rd.


C or C major = C, E, G
C minor = C Eb, G

to suspend a chord you can do it in 2 ways. either by sharpening the major note (sus4) or double flattening it (sus2)


Csus4 = C, F, G
Csus2 = C, D, G

to diminish a chord you flatten the 3rd and 5th notes.


Cdim = C, Eb, F#

you can chain these with 7ths and 11ths to make bigger chords and so forth so that a Cdim7 would = C, Eb, F#, Bb.

C7sus4 would = C, F, G, Bb


an inversion is where you take the root note and put it at the end of a note triad. for example if a C chord is C, E, G then the first inversion would be E, G, C. this chord is sometimes written as E/C.

a second inversion is where you 'invert' the root note *and* the second note of the triad (major 3rd) by moving them to the end of the triad. a second inversion of a C chord would = G, C, E.

use inversions to make ordinary chords a little more interesting. if you listen to gabriel and dresden's imagination, which is just an acoustic guitar and vocal peice, alot of the chords in that are inversions of pretty basic guitar chords. i have transcribed that song pretty accurately if there are any guitarists here. just PM me if ya want it.

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Wandering Kid

Junior Members
in addition to the above:

you can play the root notes as a bassline typically in trance and have your leads just with the major 3rd and perfect 5ths.

for example, with your left hand you can play the bass in C. with your right hand you can play the lead Eb, G for a minor interval say 2 octaves higher (C, Eb, G = C minor). an interval is a chord with only 2 notes. typically root and major 3rd.

doing this sometimes just makes things more interesting.

you can also add 7ths, 11ths, 13ths etc to this but remember that its relative to the root note.

i made this in key of C using a plucked sound on my virus to show you what i mean...

classic convention to start on C minor, drop it into Csus2 then a C minor interval, drop the bass note 2 full notes to Ab then bring it up to Bb. thats another classic (cliched) 3 step trance bassline. see if you can figure out the chords for the next 3 bars. then once you know what they are, write your own trance riff and post it here. or warp it, use a little portmento on some 5th chords and turn it into a psy lead. have the bassline running straight 1/16th notes to get it rolling and just improvise the rest.

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open your mind
wow thanks very much for this wandering kid!

I'm kinda happy that most of it makes sense to me :jump: I've always written my music by using my ears - knowing the 1,3,5 major thing and a bit of experimentation.. and the occasional arpeggiator have got me thru... (plus shit loads of fx to twist the fuck outta em)

but for live sets i wanna be able to play chords as well as make warped noises - am planning on learning much more keyboards this year - wicked mate

thanks again!!!


Wandering Kid

Junior Members
yea you can get by on trial and error but its always nice to understand at least some theory. glad it helped someone. once you got it down solid then you can think about breaking the rules and coming up with some more interesting stuff.

pure theory though might as well be maths. all those crazy key changes in improvised jazz - those people can do damn fast mental arithmetic!

sometimes its also good to keep some of the fuckups. the gaps in your knowledge of theory and stuff. just to keep some character in your songs and stop them from becoming classical machine music. good luck writing a psy stomper.


The Bad News Faerie
Staff member
Some more top advice from ages ago. Once again, nice one =]

sideshow bob

the bart the
Theory, yes.

But also listen to other music. Every time you hear a chord change that makes your hair stand on end, try to figure out what they did. What was special about it, what does it have in common with other cool chord patterns? Etc.

As for psytrance melodies, a friend of mine recently said they're like anti-anthems ... figure out what you expect a classic anthem to do and do the opposite, taunt the listener and f*ck it up royally :taunting:


Spaniard DeLuxe
Dood, I'm a noob so please take this for what it is, which is thinking aloud. Mind you what I'm trying to do is goa which is more melodic than psy, but hope it helps anyway.

I normally lay out a scaffold first (kick & bass from a prev track on a diff root note), add some rhytmical pads around that note, drop in one of my lead sounds doing stuff on the root note, sequence 3 minutes of it, drop it in my ipod and listen to it a few times the next day. Something always pops up, just have to make sure I write it down before I forget. In the afternoon I put it on the sequencer, create a few melodies around that idea and start working on the mid section. Why the mid section, I don't know, I seem to work better backwards and forwards from there.

I try to lay down the full length of the track as soon as I can. Then I start modifying parts.

I also do it with other people's music alright. Can't help diverting music as I hear it.

For me rhythm is as important as the melody, I will stop the melody here resume it in two 1/16ths, a few 1/32ths followed by one 2/16ths. I also like having a secondary lead with a totally different timbre syncopating with the main one doing a similar melody on a different rhythm, or a totally different melody on a different rhythm.

I'm learning as I create tracks. For the one I'm working on at the moment I'm not sharply changing melody every few bars, instead I go on with the same one changing one or two notes each time.

Funnily enough I mostly land on the phrygian or minor scales.

A problem I'm dealing with at the moment is to avoid peaking too soon, I think this is very important to give the track a sense of continuity, and the end, uniqueness. The problem is that my tracks do sound fairly empty when not peaking. This sucks. Any advice muchly appreciated.


dito on learning scales, its boring work, but once u've figured out a few of them, you can start playing around with joining them up, and bingo, u've got a melody :Smile3: you can of course just tap away on a keyboard till you hear sumthing u like, but thats not creative imo, although i guess it doesnt really matter, if it sounds good


Pie Fly
I've no musical training or theory behind me. I just tend to figure out scales and so on through logical experimentation. First I p[lay three notes and then it kind of tells you where to go next. once you have that scale sussed out I try playing a not that shouldn't work and all of a sudden the scale will sound bluesy or eastern or shit hehe. This process alone can throw up good ideas but on the main I have something I want to aim at and just need to let my hands catch up.
But Its not just scales that are Important the rhythm not length bending and so on are all important for making a good "hook" not so much a case of what is played but how its played. Leads that are sequenced as in 303 type lines are a completely different animal from the more hand played melodies.
I say mix them all up.


Forum Member
hey guy's dark psyde here just poppin in to say hello and ask a Q that mite seem odd

is there anyone that use's ableton to write music on and stays in the area of lancashire (preston, blackpool, st annes) region plz cld u pm me plz
tx's 4 ur time
dark psyde


Forum Member
writing trance with ableton

hey guy's

i would like to know if anyone that writes trance in ableton that lives in the north west ( preston,blackpool, st annes lytham ) area to plz pm me
i have a few Q's i would like to ask about ableton

dark psyde


Forum Member
tx NabLa

but i think i need to have some1 here to show me a few things about the software due to the fact that iam new in using ableton and it's well .....complex