Common Elements of Action Tracks

Structure:

  • Try to write in 4, 8 or 16 bar phrases
  • Aim to include clear sections such as an Introduction, A section,  B section, Bridge and Outro. 
  • Try to incorporate  breaks such as a silent bar, in order for your music to be edited easily by a video editor if needed.

Tempo and Rhythm:

  • Always write in simple time signatures4/4 works the best but 3/4 can also work. 
  • Aim for tempos of between 80 and 160bpm.  
  • Try to keep your melodies simple - either based on quarter, eighth or half notes.
  • Ostinatos often work well to add movement and drive to the track.  Try adding 16th or 8th note patterns. 

Harmony:

  • Action pieces can be in either major or minor keys.
  • Harmony is normally based upon diatonic triads - chords that are made up of notes found in the major scale of the key. If the track has an element of suspense then you can also try non diatonic notes to add dissonance
  • Switching inversions on some chords can add variation to the harmony e.g. the occasional 1st inversion or 2nd inversion chord. 
  • It is OK to use the same chord progression over and over as more variation can be provided by orchestration.  

Melody:

  • Keep the rhythms simple for the melodic material.
  • repeating melodic pattern, both in terms of pitches and rhythms, whilst changing chords underneath can present strong melodies.
  • Aim to use the notes of the corresponding chords often.
  • Try to avoid big melodic jumps of more than a 5th.
  • Counter melodies are also good way to add variation

Instrumentation:

  • Short Strings are often heavily used especially for Ostinatos.
  • Long String patches are good for  harmonic accompaniment and melodic writing. 
  • Epic, bombastic percussion is often used to add rhythmic detail and movement. Experiment with both high and low percussion sounds
  • Brass can also be extremely effective for melodic material (French Horns) and harmonic accompaniment (Trombones). 
  • A choral element is useful to add an extra layer of detail.
  • Pulsing synth basses often help to fatten up the low end of frequency spectrum