Have we lost the art of the sub melody / counter melody in Trance?

Magdelayna

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When people say why was Trance better back in '99 or where has the classic tracks gone - one of the first things that pops into my head as a reason is those sub/counter melodies you used to get in the first part of a track before the main breakdown and main melody.

Nowadays most producers dont bother with creating these,they were seperate from the main melody,and in my mind they were nearly as important as the main melody itself in terms of creating the atmosphere and buildup to the 'main' event. They also gave the track more of an identity as you knew what was coming early on.

If you go back and listen to old Ferry,Lange,Matt Darey etc stuff youll see what i mean. Have i got a point or does anyone else think this?

And also what were your favourite sub / counter melodies in tracks?
 

Gagi

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I concur, they are very important, and you can't even hear them nowadays - and even if you do, they hardly complement the main melody, they just compete if in the climax, or are a completely different and have no relation to anything (those pluck riffs in particular).

My idea of what sub/counter melodies are is a melody that plays together with the main melody, am I wrong in believing this?

That said, we have lost the art of...everything! with regards to modern trance. You can't even hear melodically rich tracks anymore, if you know what I mean. Only a few do this nowadays.
 
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Magnevi

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Twisted has one of the best build-ups. Very atmospheric little melody (2:03), with those subtle plucks (those at 1:50) behind it. Add the epic pads (enter at 2:17). Throw in some unique FX, like that weird reversing "alarm"-ish sound (1:47), and of course the famous "rise" part in the breakdown.

And then you already got a huge trance track, with the main melody yet to come.

 

dmgtz96

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My idea of what sub/counter melodies are is a melody that plays together with the main melody, am I wrong in believing this?
This is also how I thought about sub/counter melodies. They run along the main melody.
For example, in PvD - Nothing But You at 1:50 onwards, you have the main vocal melody and strings playing along a trance pluck, which sounds pretty neat.

Modern trance just has one melody in different formats; you don't really hear these "parallel" melodies that complement one another.
I think @Magdelayna and @Magnevi are referring to the fact that modern trance is melodic only in one part of the track (which would be the breakdown/climax). Lots of producers create a tech part for the intro, then randomly drop the main melody all of a sudden, use the melody for the climax, and return to tech. It's pretty cookie-cutter and doesn't require much brain.

Using the same example of Nothing But You,
00:00 - snippets of the main melody
01:09 - melody for the first break
01:22 - main melody introduced seamlessly during the first break
01:50 - trance pluck running along main melody
02:59 - tech part
After the tech part, repeat what you just heard but with slight changes to the main melody. Instead of a 2nd tech part, insert the outro. Done.
 

Magdelayna

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I mean a seperate sub melody in the first part of the track and sometimes comes back i for the outro - there was an art in writing a seperate sub melody. Of course,you can do it another way by using snippets of the main melody,or the pads from it.
 
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dmgtz96

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I mean a seperate sub melody in the first part of the track and sometimes comes back i for the outro - there was an art in writing a seperate sub melody. Of course,you can do it another way by using snippets of the main melody,or the pads from it.
Yeah, either of those works. As long as there is enough variation, that would be fine. The problem is... most producers just aren't putting in the effort, leaving listeners with effectively an empty track until the breakdown and climax hit.

Something like Nick Sentience - Electrify (Uplifting Mix) can work if you want to make high-energy, 138+ BPM "steroid trance":

01:26 - a couple of tech/'90s - sounding pads, but nothing major
01:53 - first real melody introduced in a beats section
02:21 - breakdown, which emphasizes the melody from 01:53
03:02 - main melody is introduced, which is different from the 01:53 melody
04:10 - climax with the main melody. There are no sub-melodies running here; instead, white noise runs under the main melody.
05:19 - bridge between the climax and the outro, which feels similar to the 01:26 section. No melodies here.
06:00 - (and here's why I think this track is brilliant) the melody from 01:53 returns
06:28 - subtle "climax" but with the first melody instead of the main melody
06:55 - outro
 

Hensmon

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Never got the feeling that producers using intro or build melodies in addition to a primary melody was something that we lost as much when compared to other things, but wouldn't surprise me if you are right. Hard to say without following the modern, especially uplifting scenes a bit more in order to get a good idea.
 

Progrez

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Someone wants to make everything the same. The tracks are getting shorter which really shits me because I love to hear a long track. There seems to be more focus on drops and adding random bits to appear 'different' or 'innovative'. What happened with adding cool intros and breakdowns and melodies and outros that someone could get highly addictive to the track? Most of the modern day tracks lack that addictive property, something you want to come back to over and over and over again.