Notes on playing electronic dance music „live“

Music just from speakers sometimes might be strange or irritating, because the originator of the sounds can’t be seen like e.g. a  violin player, where every visible musical gesture creates a sound event. That could be the reason why the DJ has been pushed into the light again, although originally it was planned that the personality of him or her just should serve anonymously as a ceremony master for the dancing crowd. But a lot of dancers always dance or look into the direction of a DJ, because they expect or need some additional entertainment respectivley they search for the sound originator. Just following the craft of DJing is not very exciting, what leads to the fact, that DJs with additional entertainment qualities got more popular than others.

For a while more and more electronic „live“ acts enter the stage to give the impression that the music is created in front of the audience. But one wonders how tons of hardware are being operated from two producers, who wave their arms in the air to animate the crowd. A closer look reveals that playing live often is reduced to a live arrangement by activating and deactivating preproduced tracks in a digital audio workstation or just editing some effect settings with an external controller.

A more valid live act for me was Element (Dieter Gerbe, Marc Engemann). They had really live elements like a drummer and a guitar player next to additional eletronic sequences.

A couple of days before I found this guy, which really impressed me, because it seems that he really is able to play his setup live and the music is being created during his session.

 

Elements of Progressive Psytrance

In this article I will follow another approach by looking at the base elements of Progressive Psytrance. I will explain this using different tracks to show their variations.

BPM

If you have a look at the Beatport Psy-Trance Top 100 page these days one can find a dominating tempo  for the progressive tracks – 138bpm. From a commercial point of view it seems at least that the progressive sound has gained the upper hand at the moment, because faster „classic“ psytrance pieces > 140 bpm (e.g. Planet Goa – Tristan, Trippy Trail) are heavily outnumbered.

Bass

I guess the most famous bass phrasing is the „offbeat“ bass. You can hear this here:

At the piano roll this would look like this:

offbeat base2

While the bass drum hits are on one, two, three and four (four-to-the-floor) you can find the the bass tones beetween the gaps by counting: one AND two AND three AND four AND. This element already could be found e.g. in the track La Musica Tremenda from Ramirez (1991).

The next bass phrasing is used in more uplifting tracks like this:

A rhythm sometimes called as „horses gallop“. The basedrum and the bass tones build triplet figures which reminiscent of horses gallop.

Triplets

The next one creates a nice layed back feeling:

layedback

And the faster pieces use a bass phrasing like this.

Together with the bassdrum one can here constant semiquaver notes.

16tel

Of course there are a couple of slight variations of the above mentioned phrasings and additionaly enriched with shuffle/swing,  but I would say that these are the most widely used ones.