Beatport is the place where DJs from all over the World share their works. Being a large and popular platform it provides perfect opportunity for learning and analyzing general electronic music tendencies.
What this Article is
The best way to learn something new and get better in creating music is to analyze someone else’s work. It is where you find the biggest amount of production features and combinations.
So, this was exactly the job that was done. Top-100 tracks of the most popular genres were downloaded and analyzed thoroughly. The article is the mix of technical numbers (length, popularity, etc.) and my own impressions of the music I listened to.
The working Process
As I learned from the different sources the best things to do with the music is:
- To write down the basics. It is really important to have something to start with. Even if you’re completely new to creating and analyzing, there will be no problems with creating an Excel spreadsheet with names, genres and durations.
- Analyzing structure and samples in Ableton Live or FL Studio. This one is much more complicated, but will teach one faster. As there are thousands of tracks to work with, a decent thing to consider is to thoroughly analyze top 5 or even top 3 tracks. This will both save money and time, and provide more information and experience.
- Listening to tracks and writing down the impressions. It is easy-to-do and free way to create an own personal top and find the best and most suitable genre to work with. It is really important to listen to the music at least twice. Once in the relaxed mood, not thinking too much about the technical part (to generate “listener’s” opinion), and once being really attentive (for creating a view of the DJ).
Doing this sort of an exercise will help to improve general skill, work out what music is the most trending and, of course, gain a huge amount of material to trade and share.
The things required to start exercising are: PC or Mac, Ableton Live, Excel or Google Spreadsheets, time and patience. Average analyzing process of 1 track takes 20-25 minutes. Setting up the base will take several hours as well. Tracks are worth around 2 dollars each.
Beatport – General Top-100 Review
It is easier to start off with general things. There are three most popular genres, which together have 59 (!!) per cent of places in trending genres. They are tech house, house and deep house. The first two places are not surprising at all, while the third is a little unpredicted. Though some authorities claimed that deep house will gain its popularity back, little of them expected this to happen so fast.
The middle genres are techno, progressive house and electro house. They have 35 per cent of places in the top. There is nothing special or unexpected in this, as club-oriented music will always have fans, and, therefore, upvotes and purchases.
Indie and trance closed the list with the total of 6 per cent only. Well, these two are not exactly dance music genres, so they are not accepted as warm as their opponents are.
Some genres, as, for example, dubstep, funk, drum’n’bass, etc, did not make it to the top at all. They are either too aggressive, melodic or too hard to listen to. So, the first conclusion to make is that top tracks are usually not complicated. They are balanced and have thought-out structure.
Some average numbers
It is worth starting with some dry numbers. They might be boring a little, but are nice base for further analysis.
- Average duration. The average track duration is around 5.40. This is a predictable number, so nothing interesting here. The longest track was over 8 minutes, the shortest one – 3 and a half.
- Average BPM. It is close to 125. Again, casual average BPM, not much to talk about.
- Keys. Minor key is dominating with 65 per cent which is a normal case for dance music. This number is however, lower than expected. My pre-analysis expectations were something like 70-75 per cent.
Now a little about my personal impression. I really enjoy the vector of modern music development. Melodical tracks with vocal parties tend to be much more popular, than aggressive ones. Simple-structures ones are warmly accepted, while complicated are not declined as well. Trending music turned out to be an easy-to-listen product of high quality.
The last thing before going to more detailed review is a common structure components review. It is important to look through, as it will be used in every genre.
- A bulid-up, verse, break or alternative section.
- Main section. Either drop or chorus.
- Bridge or breakdown.
Now, having the base set up and common knowledge prepared for working with, it’s time to dig deeper into genres.
Tech House Top-100 Beatport Review
Tech house is first of all interesting because of using alternative structures. For example, more than half of tracks starts straight with a drop (unlike other genres, which mainly start with a verse or a break).
To differ tech house from other subgenres look for techno elements (short and deep kicks; quick hi-hats; noisy snares and synthetic acid) that replace classical house sounds (realistic jazz and booming kicks). Some DJs use raw electronics as well.
- The most popular structure is “1-2-3-2” or “2-1-2-3-2”. It makes tracks sound rather calm, but not monotone. The most popular average “1-2-1-2” structure is met rarely.
- The average track length is almost 7 minutes, which makes tech-house the leading genre in this rate.
- The average BPM is 123.
I am a huge fan of tech house, so listening to and working with top tracks was a pleasure. I highly recommend to pay more attention to this exact genre as it has an original structure and interesting combinations of vocal and melodic parts.
Favoured tracks: Fatboy Slim – “Right Here, Right Now”; Andrew Meller – “Insomnia”; Fisher – “Crowd Control”; Green Velvet, Mihalis Safras – “Shmash”, DEL-30 – “You won’t Regret”.
Top-100 House Tracks on Beatport
Casual house is one of the easiest genres to analyze for newbees, as it mainly keeps the same structure and idea the whole time.
Classical house includes synthesizer, chorus and lots of drum beats, that provide the main tempo. The most popular drumming elements are hi-hats and drum beats. The 4*4 beat is used.
- The most popular structures are simple “1-2-1-2” and “1-2-3-2”. More than half of the tracks have one of these two structures. None of them can be called dominating though, as they are spread equally. The tracks mainly start with a verse. Only 1/5 of tracks started with a drop.
- The average track length is 5 minutes, which keeps house under the general average number. This can be explained with large amount of rather complicated verses.
- The average BPM is 124.
The thing that I love the most in house is the verses. Tracks sound more like independent EDM songs, than like casual electronic music. The ones standing in the very start of their career should pay more attention to house analyzing, as there are some really easy tracks (For example I met one that had the plain “2” structure, developing little by little).
Favoured tracks: Mat.Joe – “Sunshine”; PAWSA –“The Groovy Cat”; Supernova – “The Joy”, Robosonic, Ferreck Dawn – “In Arms”; Franky Rizardo – “Revoke”.
Deep House Top-100
The third most popular genre is a little similar to the first one. However, less starting drops and more pop-like structures are being used.
Deep house sounds more like an acoustic type of music. Keyboard sounds, chorus with positive lyrics, and lots of percussion elements are the most typical components of the subgenre.
- Half of tracks use either “1-2-3-2” or “2-1-2-1-2” structures. Some tracks use traditional pop “1-2-1-2” and “1-2-1-2-3-2” structures. Only 30 per cent of all tracks start with drops (mainly breaks).
- The average track length is 6.25. Subgenre stands above the general number due to large amount of drops and pop-verses.
- The average BPM is 122.
I would place deep house somewhere in the middle. I mean the analysis difficulty and my personal preferences as well. It has some odd constructions as well as some simple ones. The interesting thing is that this genre has the smallest percentage of original mixes (under 70 per cent of them in fact).
Favoured tracks: Bicep – “Oval” (Four tet Remix); Mark Alow – “White Tusk”; Whitesquare – “Traces to Nowhere”; Audiojack – “Reverie”, Saison – “Senor Blues”.
Techno Top 100
Techno always has stable mid-positions, as it is the most popular genre of club music. It has the fourth position in the chart with 10 tracks in top 100.
This genre can be characterized as repetitive and instrumental. An important aspect of creating techno music is using the technology only (synthesizers, drum machines, etc). It also has 4*4 beat with bass in each quarter.
- The only dominant track structure is “2-1-2”. It is used in half the tracks, while other half’s structures are different. The simplest track had constantly development “2” structure. The most popular beginning is the drop (7 out of 10 tracks star with it).
- The average length is 6.51. It is the second longest average track duration, which is explained with rather long drops, breaks and slow development inside the track.
- The average BPM is 125.
I personally prefer techno to other EDM genres, as it has the perfect correlation of structure parts. It has a lot of cycled drops and bridges as well, which makes analyzing easier.
Favoured tracks: Mark Reeve – “Far Away”; Wehbba – “Protocol”; Olivier Giacomotto – “Bipolar Star”; ARTBAT – “Planeta”; Bart Skils – “Ocean Drive”.
Progressive House Top 100
The way to differ progressive house from other subgenres is to look for rolling drums and anthemic choruses while listening to it. The drops are usually not cycled, each one is at least a little bit different.
- Progressive house has the biggest amount of tracks using the same structure. The “1-2-1-2” is used in 60 per cent of all tracks. The second most popular is “2-3-2” with only 15 per cent. The most popular beginning is break, whilst only one of 8 tracks starts with drop.
- The average track length is 4.55. This is the second shortest genre. Such length is caused by big variety of drops and choruses.
- The average BPM is 128.
Progressive house has really long build-up sections (up to 4 minutes or 75-80 per cent of the whole track), which makes it rather interesting to listen to for me. Analysis might be boring though
Favoured tracks: Kamilo Sanclemente – “Elixir”; D-formation – “Anbar”; Sahar Z – “When We Face Reality”; Dosem – “Not a Coincedence”, Nicolas Rada – “Tempelhof”.
Electro House Top 100
The one of the most aggressive genres of electronic music closes the list. It can be recognized by heavy basslines (usually featuring kickdrums) and some electro-samples. Some of the most popular club tracks are composed in this genre.
- There are two dominant structures “2-3-2” and “1-2-1-2”. They are used in 8 out of 10 tracks. The other ones met are “2-1-3-2” and “1-3-1-2”. Moe than 50 per cent of tracks start with a drop.
- The average length is 4.15. It is the shortest average duration. These timings can be explained by high development tempo inside the tracks.
- The average BPM is 128.
As for me, electro house is way too aggressive and fast. Still, it has some decent samples to analyze and work with.
Favoured tracks: Bounce inc – “Nobody Likes”; Bingo Players, Goshfather – “Nobody”; Skrillex, Habstrakt – “Chicken Soup”; TWISTERZ – “Selecta”, Breathe Carolina, Delayers – “Long Live House Music”.
Trance and Indie were not analyzed that deep, as there are only was a couple of tracks in the top. This was not enough for making average statistics and thorough reviewing.
Some Interesting Statistics
There is more information to work with. It is not directly connected with technical parameters, but is still useful to look through. Here are some facts:
- 9 of 10 tracks are original mixes. Extended mixes and remixes are not that popular, as original first-hand content is more attractive and valuable for the audience.
- 6 of 10 tracks use melodic content in the build-ups. It is old and classical structure, that is warmly accepted.
- 7 of 10 deep- and tech house tracks have borrowed samples.
- 3 of 10 tracks are vocal ones. They feel less energetic when compared to the others.
Most of popular tracks have simple structures. It is not that complicated tracks are bad, it is just harder for simple listener to value their complexity. It is more important to have decent structure and production. Vocal part is not that important as well.
The popular dance music still remains diversified. Though all the top positions are occupied by house and its’ subgenres, there is a decent amount of other EDM samples as well. The most suitable club music makes it up to the tops, while more specific genres remain dark horses.
Learning and analyzing music is useful for EDM makers of any level. The more tracks you study, the more experience you gain. It is also a great inspiration for creating own tracks.
Remember to pay much attention to structure, as it plays the main role in how the track will be accepted. There is nothing wrong with experimenting as well. Try different keys and complectations.