Study the Pros And Arrange Faster

Free Ableton Arrangement Template - Layton Giordani's "Dragon Fly"

I listened to this tune in great detail, jotting notes down below and making a template to arrange from in Ableton. Shorten your production time when you study the masters and take the guesswork out of arranging.

The screenshot above isn't the real working session of the tune, but a template I made in Ableton using silent “dummy” audio clips.

Studying other people’s music is a great way to improve your own productions. This way the process becomes internalized and you’re no longer guessing how to finish a track.

Today we’re taking a look at young techno star, Layton Giordani's track "Dragonfly" which is a single on his debut album on Drumcode. 

Here are some high level notes and key takeaways.

A well done groovy track that's more house than techno.   All the elements compliment each other.  A sub bass sound provides much of the foundational groove, while a brooding chord stab plays on the off beats.  The other memorable part is a simple melody played by another synth.  Subtle airy synths, vinyl hiss are used in the background to keep things interesting while pads compliment the main melody and keep things going at the bread downs right before the drops.

What can producers learn from this?

Keep things DJ friendly/"club track" ready.  Layton's track doesn't stray far from other dancefloor friendly material.  Musical patterns evolve in groups of 8-16 bars with the main drop occurring at bar 129 which is quite common - same for a break down length of 16 bars. 

Bars 1 - 16 - DJ friendly intro with the lows hi passed. There's a clap/snare on beats 2 and 4.  A closed hi hat or shaker sounds on the 8th notes between the kicks.  At the end of each 4 bar section we hear a double clap and a little hi hat shuffle.  For back ground ambience we hear a very slight hissing sound.  As the intro progresses to the drop at bar 17, more of the low end is rolled off. 

Bar 17- 33 -Bass drop, the low end is dropped into the mix.  Everything else remains the same, except for some low end removed in bar 32, and the entrance of an ominous sounding chord stab on the last 8th note of the measure.  So that's 1, 2, 3 4, AND 1.  We hear the chord on that "AND" 

Bar 49-65 The low end is cut out and we hear another synth playing a melodic line.  What sounds like a pad with flanger effect on it is heard towards Bar 65

Bar 65-81 - Nearly the same 16 bar section just like bars 33-49.  Only at Bar 79 the melodic riff is played, some of the low end is removed at Bar 80 and we hear a clap fill.  If you listen very closely there's an side chained airy effect or reverb that starts just before bar 65 which adds an extra bit of energy and character. 

Bar 81 - 97 - Sounds like a Ride with a short decay or an open hi hat is used to add some energy.  Around bar 89 an airy pad sounds fades into the track becoming louder by bar 97

Bar 97- 113, Much of the low end is filtered out in this 16 bar section, and the melody is played more frequently.  The pad is faded in louder by Bar 113 

Bar 113 -129 another 16 bar section - the main breakdown of the track. ON bars 113 and 117 we hear the main riff and then from there it's all synths/sound effects and a snare roll into the main drop.  The pad sound is side chained as we can hear it pump.  The snares roll along with that pad type sound with the flanger effect on it.  Then there's near silence and we hear the chord stab right before the drop

Bar 129-145  This section is super similar to what was done previously in the track only the pad sounds during the break play on for subtle variation

Bar 145 - 161 - Rides are back in to increased energy - we know what when energy increases there tends to be an immediate decrease right after.  

Bar 161 - 177 The lows are dialed back with a hi pass filter.  At bar 169 the melody returns, and familiar pads and "flanger" effects are used for the drop at bar 177

Bar 177 - 193 Here we have another similar song section, with the pads/atmosphere section over the beats. The familiar chord stab has been replaced with a vocal sample

Bar 193 - 209- Vocal sample fades out 

Bar 209 - 225- for 8 bars we have drums and bass line which get removed at bar 217 for the last 8 bars of the song.  Around bar 220 there's a reversed vocal sample and other synth sounds used for an effect that transition to the end of the tune 

All in all this track is full on all the way.  I liken it do just having a great steak dinner - like wham, bam, here's an awesome steak. No appetizer, no desert no bullshit - I need something good to eat and them I'm gonna GTFO!  

Key Take Aways

SIMPLICITY - LESS IS MORE

This is a very well done track due to it's simplicity and subtlety. The melodic parts are used very sparingly during the track.  There's no big drops, or elements that jump out and smack you in the face.  It's kinda of a sublime tech house groover that to me would fit in at the beginning of the night or to warm up the after hours crowd.

Most people out side of NY probably don't know Layton has lots of productions behind him, he didn't just start doing techno a couple years ago, handing Adam Beyer singles here and there that turned into an album.  For a while he produced and DJ'd in NYC under the name "Rich Gior."  See more on Beatport.