Track Maps

One of the best ways to learn about arranging tracks is to analyze other artists’. Pick one of your favourite tracks, then listen closely to it, noting how and when each element enters and leaves the arrangement.

Here’s a track map of Steve Bug’s “Smackman” (click on the image for an enlargement). Each square in the map represents four bars:

Steve Bug Track Map

Looking at the map, you can see that “Smackman” is divided into six roughly equal sections, separated by short breakdowns, and that the percussion also drops out at the end of each section. The synths enter the arrangement gradually: first the bassline comes in, then the first main synth and the short, stabby synth, then the second main synth. The vocal sample and the FX are interspersed fairly regularly across the track. At the end of the track, the two main synths drop out, leaving just the drums, bass and stab.