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EDM - Timing


Most music has four beats in what is called a measure.   Four pulses of music pass and then repeat.







This example above is essentially how a musician counts measures.

















To Review:


1. Play the track. 

2. Starting from the first beat, count the beats and bars as in the Diagram above using the “ONE-two-three-four, TWO-two-three-four” method taking note of how the beats build the bars and the bars build the phrases.  


How many Measures are in this example?

How many beats total?





How many Measures are in this example?

How many beats total?












In dance music, song structure almost always revolves around multiples of four. 


For example: 


Four beats = A Bar 

Four bars = A Phrase 

Four phrases = A Verse 


When listening to most music, you’ll notice what’s called an end of phrase marker and significant changes in the music around these markers. Music producers use these markers as a major part of a track’s structure. The instrument or sound they use may vary although often a reverse cymbal is used. The marker lands on the first beat of the first bar of a phrase, indicating a change that could be something like a key change, a bass line change, or a vocal. 


Your main objective is to know when you are approaching the end of the fourth phrase so that you can be ready for the track’s change of direction. To help find the end of a phrase, aside from the reverse cymbal, other elements to listen for include extra drum patterns; snare patterns; drum beats; percussion dropping out; a rise or synth ‘whoosh’ peaking at the end of a phrase or a vocal transitioning into the next phrase. 


The best way to understand the different methods and sounds used as the end of phrase markers in your music is by knowing your tracks inside out. By getting to know your music, you will build up a memory of each of the different indicators that you will eventually be able to draw upon as you need them without thinking. Repetition is the best way to store information, so practice is essential. 




1. Play an EDM track of your choosing. 


2. Begin counting the beats and bars ensuring that you start from the first beat. This time take note of how the phrases build into half of a verse, into a full verse or a major change such as a breakdown or chorus. 

Ensure that you take note of the difference between the half phrase markers and end of phrase markers. As well as making sure that you pay particular attention to the fourth and final end of phrase marker that transitions into the next section. 


The better your skills become when identifying the various markers at different stages of the track, the faster you will become at recognizing the point that you’re at in the 16 bar verse. This is another skill that will eventually become automatic with continued practice. 



Can you locate the intro, break, buildup, drop, break 2, drop2 outro?








Exercise 1
Exercise 2

Answers at bottom of page

Ex. !:  4 Bars  16 beats

Ex 2: 16 Bars  64 beats

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