293 posts since 28 Oct, 2014
Keep all major changes in blocks of 16 bars, to keep the DJ happy.
So a minimal intro of 16 or 32 bars and the same with the outro (you'll be ok with 24 bars, if the track demands it).
Just remember that it's human brain that dictates the structure of 4:4 tracks.
In other words, if you are counting along to the kicks of a dance track, like 1234, 1234, your brain is automatically expecting a "reset" (or a change of some sort) every 4 bars, which is why major changes are happening in most EDM tracks every 8 bars.
So changes every 8 bars are acceptable, but a 16 bar grid will help avoid any surprises for the DJ.
You may think 8 bars is fine and 16 bars is overkill but i'll tell you, i can be talking to my friends, paying no attention to the music, and i will still be able to tell them exactly when the end of 16 bars is approaching, even if the track has done nothing noticeable.
An example of the 16 bar grid is 24 bars with kick, followed by 8 bars breakdown. That's 24+8=32. Perfect.
A 24 bar grid is also ok, but i'm not comfortable using it (as a producer)
Of course you should still have subtle changes every 8 bars, or the track will be rather dull. I sometimes do things like having 4 bars no ride, followed by 4 bars with ride, then repeat that again for another 8, and that's fine as long as you're not doing something weird like going into the breakdown after 12 bars, unless your breakdown is 4 or 12 bars. If it's 12 bars, you should still have some type of subtle change after 4 bars to let people know that the "proper" breakdown (the one expected by the brain) is starting now.
An example of the 12 bar breakdown is [28 bars with kick] [4 bars no kick] !! [8 bars no kick]
The !! means add a low verbed kick or some whooshy thing to signify the transition
Sheesh i'm rambling on here. My original post was gonna be "Keep all major changes in blocks of 16 bars, to keep the DJ happy", but you got a bit extra, so i hope it's of some use to you or someone else