Trance

Primary Stylistic Influences:
Secondary Stylistic Influences:

"I try to explain this to people - trance is a feeling. You have this whole debate about EDM or electro, progressive, progressive house, trap, or whatever nonsense. Trance is an addiction and I think everyone listening right now would relate to that."

Trance is the most emotional genre. It can make you cry, make you shout, make you cheer, and make you celebrate absolutely nothing of substance except pure ecstatic bliss.

Trance is a genre of Electronic Music with many distinct subgenres. It is often composed with synthesizers, drum machines, and computer software programs, though certain variants and songs may incorporate instruments as well, and is characterized by a tempo lying between 125 to mid 140 beats per minute (BPM), repeating melodic phrases, and a musical form that distinctly builds tension and elements throughout a track often culminating in one to two "peaks" or "drops". While often purely instrumental, vocals in trance is just as common.

What sets trance apart from other genres of electronic music like Techno and House Music is that it's far more melodic, often aiming to evoke an emotional response and a feeling of being lost in the music from listeners (hence, feeling hypnotized, or in a trance), mixing layers of different sounds with a distinctly foreshadowed build-up and release. A characteristic of virtually all trance music is a mid-song climax followed by a soft breakdown disposing of beats and percussion entirely, and leaving the melody and/or atmospherics to stand alone for an extended period before gradually building up again.

While trance's origins can be traced as far back as The '80s with certain acid house tracks and early electronic music produced in Europe, it's considered to really have begun in The '90s when a few tracks that focused on regular 4/4 time, 32 beat phrases and kick drums started seeping out of Germany. It was slightly faster than house music but it built up much more slowly. Two tracks in particular, "We Came in Peace" by Dance 2 Trance and The Age of Love's self-titled song, stood out as the groundwork for the dance genre, which would go on to split into several different subgenres with different atmospherics and aims for what kind of state it wanted to induce in the listener.

The subgenres are as follows:

  • Psychedelic Trance
    • Easily the most recognizable form of trance alongside the Progressive and Uplifting varieties. Has a fast, energetic tempo (around 140-150 BPM), a very distinctive bass and percussion style that pounds constantly throughout the song where the bass is overlaid with Echoing Acoustics and complex rhythms drawn from funk, techno, House Music, and Synth Pop using drums and other instruments, and has a more "manipulated" sound achieved by combining and overlaying various sound effects such as distortion and flanger onto the riffs and melodies. More modern releases often have slight hints of big room, dubstep and neurofunk.
    • Notable artists include Astral Projection, 1200 Micrograms, Infected Mushroom, Astrix and Syndrome.
    • Psytrance is also notable for its multiple spin-off genres which include Psybient (the Lighter and Softer variant), Psycore (the Darker and Edgier variant influenced by Hardcore Techno), Psybreak (a fusion of psy and Drum And Bass), and freeform psy (a primarily Finnish genre that can be described as psytrance with jazz and chiptune elements).

  • Goa Trance
    • Tends to have a more "organic", spiritual and relaxing sound than psytrance, but is otherwise quite similar. Draws influences from folk, tribal and world music, primarily traditional Indian Goa music, as well as EBM and Industrial. The tempo typically lies in the 130150 BPM range, although some tracks may have a tempo as low as 110 or as high as 160 BPM. Generally 812 minutes long, Goa Trance tracks tend to focus on steadily building energy throughout, using changes in percussion patterns and more intricate and layered synths as the music progresses in order to build a hypnotic and intense feel. The genre is notable for its heavier focus on lower frequencies than most trance styles, in particular, its use of wobble bass and binaural beats (low-frequency beats arising from interference between two different bass tones played in unison over different stereo channels). Sampling is frequent, with quotes often taken from science fiction movies and documentary shows relating to mysterious or unconventional topics.
    • Notable artists include Goa Gil (considered the Trope Maker for the genre), Man With No Name, Juno Reactor (earlier works, now also incorporates World Music), and Hallucinogen.

  • Full-on Trance
    • Generally has a more powerful, cerebral, and overwhelming sound in comparison to the aforementioned psy and Goa trance, as the name suggests. Distinguishing features of the genre include high tempos (often around 140-170 BPM), complex basslines with more gain and distortion than psy, use of supersaws, extended buildups that increase in volume and pitch, a fast, galloping rhythm, aggressive, multi-layered instrumentation that creates a massive wall of sound, and inclusion of all sorts of sounds from other electronic music genres like Electro House, Industrial, Eurobeat and Harsh Noise, to the point where the term full-on has become a catch-all term for psytrance fusions that do not fit the style-blending conventions of the genre
    • Notable artists include Astrix, 1200 Micrograms, Ace Ventura, Talamasca, Juno Reactor (later material), Protonica, Vini Vici (also incorporates folk music), and Sesto Sento.

  • Uplifting Trance
    • Also known as "euphoric", "epic", "melodic", or "emotional" trance, Uplifting Trance is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, being much lighter in tone than the aforementioned psytrance and Goa. As a general rule of thumb, tempo lies in the 136-142 range. Tracks' chord progressions usually rest on a major chord, and the balance between major and minor chords in a progression will determine how "happy" or "sad" the progression sounds. Uplifting features longer major chord progressions in all elements (lead synth, bass, and treble), extended breakdowns, and relegation of arpeggiation (the melodic part of the song, usually consisting of "Saw Synths/Square Lead" type sounds) to the background while bringing wash effects to the fore (the harmonic element of the music, or "background fill", usually consisting of synth choir/voice/string chord progressions).
    • Also notable is the "Anthemic" Trance subset, which focuses on extended melodic runs, loud, heavily arpeggiated riffs, and a Eurotrance-inspired big sound suited for large raves and outdoor performances.
    • Notable artists include Armin Van Buuren, RAM, Above & Beyond, Tiesto, Daniel Kandi, Aly & Fila, and Ferry Corsten.

  • Dream Trance
    • Originating from Italy, Dream trance is a precursor of sorts to Uplifting (and one of the codifying sounds of modern EDM in general). Dream trance is very melodic with a moderate tempo (sitting at 130 BPM) with a calmer atmosphere meant to help ravers calm down after a night of raging out. Use of strings, piano and other classical instruments is frequent.
    • Notable artists include Robert Miles (considered the dream trance producer), DJ Dado, Ian Van Dahl, Zhi-Vago, and W.P. Alex Remark.

  • Hard Trance
    • Loud, aggressive trance that has a rapid and empowering feel, achieved through fast tempos (typically around 140-180 BPM, can reach 200 BPM in so-called "speed trance" tracks), deep, pounding basslines, pitched sub-bass kick drums, and fast, technical supersaw melodies. Recognizable for a verse-chorus-verse structure with shorter-than-usual buildups that lead to aggressive climaxes, and listeners may mistake it for Eurobeat or Gabber at times. Often draws inspiration from Hardcore Techno and may or may not contain rock instrumentation such as electric guitars.
    • Notable artists include Flutlicht, Cosmic Gate, Mauro Picotto, Sunburst, DJ Scot Project, System D, and Technikal.

  • Eurotrance
    • Also called "mainstream", "commercial" or "festival" trance, Eurotrance is a spin-off of the aforementioned hard trance, and is easily recognizable for an overall big and catchy sound that makes crowds dance like crazy for hours on end. Typically slower than hard trance with tempos ranging from 128-150 BPM and tends to use more supersaw with leads often layered on top of each other, but is otherwise very similar. Primarily European (with most releases being of Dutch or German origin), but more popular elsewhere. The genre was, along with psytrance and tech trance, very popular during The '90s and the early 2000s before suffering due to being derided as "cheesy" and "generic". Nevertheless, it was very influential in the development of the modern EDM sound, with other trance subgenres and even other electronic music styles such as Electro House and Synth Pop taking inspiration from it. As of The New Tens, the genre has experienced a slight resurgence due to some EDM communities being vehemently opposed to big room and trap and wanting to bring back the classic rave sound.
    • Notable artists include Darude, Cascada, Basshunter, Dash Berlin, Insomniac, Yuzo Koshiro, and Tiesto.

  • Progressive Trance
    • Known for a tempo ranging from 128-136 BPM, long massive build-ups and subtle breakdowns, and eschewing the louder synth sounds of Eurotrance, hard, and psy in favor of a subdued, deeper, more serious tone with more emphasis on atmospherics, evolving sounds and musical motifs. Songs typically clock in at 7 minutes and longer, and is the genre of choice for extended sets. Commonly, many artists blend elements of uplifting and progressive trance together on their tracks, resulting in a softer and more ambient but still "happy" feeling sound.
    • Crossovers between Prog Trance and the Big Room House sound have become fairly common, to the point it's become its own genre (a.k.a. Big Room Trance).
    • Notable artists include Nitrous Oxide, Above & Beyond, Sasha, Armin Van Buuren, Markus Schulz, Jorn Van Deynhoven, and Cosmic Gate.

  • Nitzhonot Trance
    • Originating in Israel, Nitzhonot is a faster, harder, and more minimalistic form of Uplifting, and often incorporates elements of psy and Goa trance. Tempo lies in the 145-155 range. The genre ended up suffering due to many cheap, rushed songs that more or less crippled it through saturation.
    • Notable artists include Eyal Barkan, Mihabra, and Cyan.

  • Dark Psytrance
    • Obscure genre originating in Germany. Exactly What It Says on the Tin - a Darker and Edgier version of psytrance, with more distortion and wobble, sparse instrumentation, and heavier use of samples and found sounds.
    • Notable artists include Xenomorph (the original dark psy artist), Dark Soho, and Para Halu.

  • J-Trance
    • Trance music from Japan, with stylistic roots in the harder trance subgenres (Euro, hard, tech and sometimes psy). Identifiable in many cases by a persistent unison lead playing the melody, a verse-chorus-verse structure with short, minimalistic buildups leading to extended breakdowns, the presence of guitar, piano, or synth solos, Hardcore Techno influences or by Japanese vocals. Especially huge with fans of anime music, with most releases being remixes of opening/ending themes from popular series; original compositions are just as plentiful.
    • Notable artists include Yuzo Koshiro (credited as an early pioneer of the subgenre), Satoshi Yaginuma (known for his J-pop projects fripSide and ALTIMA), I've Sound, globe, savage genius, and livetune.

  • Balearic Trance
    • Originating from Spain (particularly the party destination of Ibiza), Balearic trance has a typically more moderate tempo, averaging around 130 BPM. Expect warm, wistful and atmospheric vibes perfect for sunset listening sessions, and elements of guitars with a Spanish flavor.
    • The microgenre known as Balearic Beat is the more organic-sounding, energetic and danceable variant commonly played in most summer EDM festivals.
    • Notable artists include Roger Shah, Chicane, Energy 52, Solarstone, and Humate.

  • Tech Trance
    • Originating in Germany, tech trance, as the name implies, draws influences from both techno and trance with complicated electronic rhythms and dirtier, harder, more synthesized, and generally more "robotic" sounds than the other subgenres. There's more delay and distortion, coupled with repetition, a bold 4/4 beat with pitched sub-bass, rolling rhythms, and minimal vocals. Rose to popularity alongside Eurotrance and psy in the early 2000s and later diversified alongside other trance subgenres.
    • Notable artists include Oliver Lieb, Darude, Humate, Marco V, Indecent Noise, Simon Patterson, and Timo Maas.

  • Hands Up
    • A more mainstream derivative of tech trance that emerged in the early 2000s. It is a fusion of trance and hardstyle, characterized by fairly high tempos (around 140-146 BPM but can go as high as 160-180 BPM), booming bass, verse-chorus-verse song structures with short build-and-release cycles, repetitive supersaw leads and Europop vocals. As with hardstyle, it prominently features the "hoover" sound. Related to, and often lumped with Eurotrance.
    • Notable artists include Cascada, Pulsedriver, DJ Sammy and Special D.

  • Acid Trance
    • Originating in Belgium, acid trance uses the "acid" sound created on the Roland TB-303, by playing a sequenced melody while altering the instrument's filter cutoff frequency, resonance, envelope modulation, and accent controls, resulting in soft, deep, bouncy basslines and chirping riffs. Shares many similarities with acid house, but can be distinguished from it by its slower approach to song progression and more melodic sound. Once the most common form of trance, nowadays it rarely exists in its pure form, being mostly fused with psy or progressive trance.
    • Notable artists include Art of Trance, Electric Skychurch, Hardfloor, Kai Tracid, and Ultraform.

There are also various artists who are harder to pin down, such as S.U.N. Project, which could only be described as "rock trance", and Gareth Emery, whose style is akin to a mix of trance, house and progressive, which the artist himself calls "simples".

Trance has also been influential on various other genres. For instance, from 1999 to the early 2000's, the Industrial scene began to incorporate various influences from trance resulting in a subgenre called "Futurepop." The modern strains of Eurobeat and Hardcore Techno often utilize trance-based melodies, beats and song structures. Some Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore bands have also incorporated elements of the trance genre into their music. Even Dubstep has shown influences of trance, namely the Lighter and Softer chillstep subgenre, though some brostep tracks can feature certain elements to contrast with the dirty drops. More ambient/softer leaning house music has elements of trance to them as well.

Something to keep in mind is there is a lot of overlap with these genres. To make matters worse, some artists blend the genres even to a point where prog-Goa, prog-psytrance, uplifting psy, psy-tech, prog-tech, and uplifting tech have become their own little subgenres.

Not to be confused with the movie.

Tropes associated with the genre:

  • Ambient: Trance began with D Js attempting to fuse the genre's stylistic elements with house music, and since then, trance has grown to incorporate influences from the genre in varying degrees, from the ethereal and atmospheric sounds of dream trance, prog and uplifting to the Echoing Acoustics and sonic trickery of psy and Goa and the layers of effects applied to the harder, techier strains.
  • Auto-Tune: Like many other electronic genres, trance sometimes utilizes the software to go for a more "distorted" sound or to add audio effects rather than to correct pitch. It's much more prevalent in psytrance and tech trance, where the sparse vocals are made to sound more alien or robotic to add to the Mind Screw effect.
  • Bolero Effect: Perhaps the most distinguishing element of the genre. Songs will often start with a light intro or a drum beat, slowly adding in more instruments as the music builds up before releasing all the tension in a chorus or breakdown. Some styles such as psy or hard trance up the ante by employing multiple build-and-release cycles, while other genres such as uplifting, Goa and prog go for Epic Rocking and a slower approach to song progression. Extended sets are also known for evoking this, taking their time first building up with calmer, ambient songs playing for some time before steadily building up the energy throughout until the last hour or so plays heavier, faster tracks.
  • Broken Base: Trance is quite possibly one of the most divisive genres in electronic music with arguments mainly centering on what qualifies as "true" trance. The fandom continues to schism at an alarming rate due to the ever-increasing number of trance variants in the current scene and the directions the genre has been going, especially in the increasingly commercialized climate of the 2010's Electronic Music scene.
  • Classical Music: It's either an in-joke or a serious comment amongst fans that trance, especially uplifting and (to a lesser extent) progressive trance, is the Spiritual Successor to classical. Some artists are known to incorporate classical instruments (mainly violins and other string instruments) into songs, and the two genres share many common characteristics such as attention to songwriting and arrangement (as with classical, virtuosity is strictly observed), long tracks that (usually) eschew the usual verse-chorus-verse formula for song structures based around movements, and the same goal of evoking an emotional response (usually described as the feeling of being "immersed in the music").
  • Doing It for the Art: A lot of trance artists tend towards this, often making music as an artistic outlet or simply to entertain. This is also something of an Enforced Trope in the scene due to its greater emphasis on musical exploration than other popular electronic subgenres.
  • Electronic Music: For the most part. Trance can incorporate traditional non-electronic instrumentation such as strings, woodwinds, and tribal percussion but the genre is mostly characterized by an electronic sound.
  • Epic Rocking: Many trance songs go on for 6 minutes or longer, focusing on long build-ups before going into a breakdown. Trance DJ sets and mixes are also known for going for hours on end, intending to take the listener on a musical journey.
  • Ethereal Choir: Vocals on uplifting trance songs are often this, with soprano singers (usually female) belting out grand, soaring and operatic vocals.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoffinvoked: While the genre has its origins in Germany and surrounding countries and is popular all over the world, it's especially huge in the Netherlands, Japan and Australia.
    • The psychedelic and full-on varieties are very popular in Israel with many big name acts like Astral Projection, Future Prophecy and Infected Mushroom coming from there.
  • Instrumentals: Like most forms of electronic music, trance places greater emphasis on beats and melody. In fact, so many songs and artists are intrumental that Vocal Trance became its own genre.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: Combined with Epic Rocking and heavier emphasis on instrumentals, and what results are lyrics on the simpler side. Uplifting will have emotional lyrics about subjects such as love, happiness and other positive emotions; psy meanwhile will have samples or sentence length lyrics talking about strange topics (be supernatural, paranormal, extraterrestrial, etc) to enhance the mind screw effect.
  • Long Runners: Many of the artists featured on this page started their music careers around The '90s, some even earlier. Many of them also maintain dedicated followers going as far back as the beginning of their careers.
  • Mind Screw: Psytrance and Goa are all about this, achieving the effect by taking relatively simple dance tracks and adding in all sorts of random noises, samples, melodies and effects to throw off the listener's expectations of how the music is supposed to sound, and in the latter's case, instrumentals from more "organic" sounds to up the ante.
  • Minimalism: Psytrance has a lot of influences drawn from minimalism, mainly focusing on pounding basslines, repeated notes and ambient noises in the background.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: In a way. Some tracks can be very soft and calming, others engaging in Loudness War and all about making the crowd dance like crazy. And even those can vary in atmosphere and what feeling they wish to evoke from the audience. Uplifting and progressive are around the lower end of the scale (mainly 3) while psytrance, particularly Infected Mushroom (known for using rock instruments and having some Industrial and garage influences), lies in the middle range (4-5). Hard trance and some forms of tech trance can be a little higher on the scale, but as a whole, the genre doesn't go any higher than 8-9.
  • Neo Classical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Goa trance is basically electronic trance music mixed with Indian Goa music and all sorts of folk sounds. Uplifting trance meanwhile is known for its near-seamless fusions and similarities with European classical music. Many producers are known to mix several different types of subgenres in certain songs, and trance in general is known for being easy to mix with other genres of music, electronic or otherwise.
  • Popularity Polynomial: The genre began in the early 90s, and grew to popularity within the then-growing European club and party scene through the decade, splintering off to several different subgenres. Trance continued to maintain a very dedicated fandom that gradually grew more and more through the Turn of the Millennium all over the world, eventually peaking in popularity from 2002-2004 and still remaining big up until 2009, but at the same time it was being written off by house, hardstyle, Drum And Bass and techno fans as being cheesy and sappy, with numerous think-piece articles proclaiming trance had become a Dead Horse Genre. Then The New Tens came in and an EDM explosion took over the world, starting with America, and while trance wasn't quite as big as Electro House, Trap Music and dubstep, it still benefited greatly from the exposure, and several DJs, new and long-established acts alike, began experiencing a major surge of new fans. The immediate selling-out of tickets for Insomniac's Dreamstate festival (which primarily featured smaller-name producers in its lineup) became the topic of discussion as the genre making a major comeback. The continued (and renewed) success of trance artists in large festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival, Tomorrowland, Transmission and Ultra helped maintain the genre's relevance in the modern EDM scene.
  • Public Medium Ignorance: To the non-electronic listener, trance is generally known as either "that cheesy European club music" (for uplifting and progressive) or "the genre of choice for weird hippie-inspired raves" (for psy and Goa). The genre is also confused with Electro House and Hardcore Techno by listeners who are unfamiliar with the less-mainstream variants.
  • Sensory Abuse: Full-on, hard trance and most festival sets can come across as this, with performances focusing on creating a massive wall of sound synced to flashing lights and hypnotic visuals in bright primary colors to further reinforce an "immersive" or "trance" state among concertgoers. There are occasional aversions to this, such as Gaia's debut performance at Ultra 2014, with subdued visuals and more atmospheric tracks.
  • Silly Love Songs: Quite a lot of vocal trance songs are this, with very heartfelt and emotional lyrics to reinforce the euphoric effect.
  • Trope Codifier: Jam and Spoon are considered to be the ones who set the standard for what trance is all about.
  • Trope Maker: Depending on who you ask, it's either The Age of Love's "Age of Love", the remix by Jam and Spoon, or Dance 2 Trance's "We Came in Peace".
  • Ur-Example: Either Klaus Schulze's album Trancfer or Jean Michel Jarre's album Oxygène.
  • Watch It Stoned: Averted. While the genre is very popular with stoners, acid heads, and ecstasy lovers, it's widely agreed upon that drugs are not needed to enjoy it, even by drug users themselves, as the music alone can evoke similar sensations to certain recreational drugs.

A list of well-known trance artists and bands:

  • Above & Beyond
  • Abstract Vision
  • Ace Ventura (not to be confused with the movie)
  • Adam Ellis
  • Alex M.O.R.P.H.
  • Allen & Envy
  • Aly & Fila
  • Andrew Rayel
  • Andy Moor
  • Arctic Moon
  • Armin Van Buuren
  • Arty
  • Astrix
  • ATB
  • Basshunter
  • Ben Gold
  • Ben Nicky
  • Binary Finary
  • Bobina
  • Bryan Kearney
  • BT
  • Cascada: Trope Codifier for Eurotrance
  • Chicane
  • Christopher Lawrence
  • Cosmic Gate
  • Darren Porter
  • Darude: Best known for his 1999 release "Sandstorm", which became a rave classic in the early 2000s and later went on to achieve Memetic Mutation status on the web.
  • Dash Berlin
  • DM Ashura
  • DRYM
  • Eric Prydz (mixed with progressive house)
  • Faithless (mixed with Hip-Hop)
  • Ferry Corsten
  • Ferry Tayle
  • Gaia (Supergroup consisting of Armin Van Buuren and Benno de Goeij of Rank 1)
  • Gai Barone
  • Giuseppe Ottaviani
  • Goa Gil
  • Heatbeat
  • Humate
  • Indecent Noise
  • Infected Mushroom (later releases fuse psytrance with dubstep and Hard Rock)
  • Insomniac
  • I've Sound
  • Jean-Michel Jarre: His albums "Oxygène" (1976) and "Equinoxe" (1978) are considered to be predecessors.
  • John Askew
  • John Digweed
  • John '00' Fleming
  • John O'Callaghan
  • Jordan Suckley
  • Jorn van Deynhoven
  • Judge Jules
  • Juno Reactor (fuses trance with cienmatic score and world music)
  • Kai Tracid
  • Kyau & Albert
  • Lange
  • Liquid Soul
  • livetune (overlaps with Electro House)
  • Marco V
  • Marcel Woods
  • Mark Sherry
  • Mark Sixma (mixed with big room)
  • Markus Schulz
  • MaRlo
  • Matt Darey
  • Menno de Jong
  • M.I.K.E. Push
  • Myon & Shane 54
  • Neptune Project
  • Omnia
  • Orjan Nilson
  • Paul Oakenfold
  • Paul Van Dyk: His 1993 remix of Humate's "Love Stimulation" is considered to be the groundwork for uplifting trance in general.
  • Photographer
  • Pure NRG (supergroup with Solarstone and Giuseppe Ottaviani)
  • RAM
  • Rank 1
  • Richard Durand
  • Robert Miles
  • Rodg
  • Ruben de Ronde
  • Sash!: Best remembered for "Encore Une Fois" and "Ecuador".
  • Sasha (not to be confused with the above)
  • Satoshi Yaginuma (known for his musical projects fripSide and ALTIMA)
  • Scot Project
  • Sean Tyas
  • Sesto Sento
  • Sied Van Riel
  • Signum
  • Simon O'Shine
  • Simon Patterson
  • Simon Posford: Known for his material as Hallucinogen and Shpongle (alongside Raja Ram). Considered the God of Trance.
  • Snap!: Best remembered for "The Power" and "Rhythm Is A Dancer".
  • Sneijder
  • Solarstone
  • Standerwick
  • Sunny Lax
  • Super8 & Tab
  • System D
  • Talamasca
  • Talla 2XLC
  • Tenishia
  • The Thrillseekers
  • Tiesto (earlier material, crosses over into House Music)
  • Tokyo Ghetto Pussy
  • Tritonal (mixing progressive trance with Electro House before genre shifting to the latter completely)
  • Ucast
  • Underworld
  • Vibe Tribe
  • Vini Vici (also incorporates world music and big room elements)
  • W&W
  • Will Atkinson
  • Yuzo Koshiro
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Trance