With just about any style of music, the many genres that inevitably form can defy easy definition. It’s no different for trance music, and in many ways the differences are even more subtle and contested than in other types of music.
One of the major subgenres of trance is progressive trance, which has been getting a lot of mentions in recent years.
Most would agree that there is more than just one possible definition for this subgenere, while others reject the label entirely!
DJrichmatthews argues that there are two completely different definitions of progressive trance that are commonly thought of as acceptable: “The more widely accepted of the two (it seems anyway) defines PT as trance that focuses less on vocals and lyrics than it does the feel or vibe of the music itself. The other definition is akin to say progressive house in the sense that its trance music that incorporates cutting edge elements and/or elements that wouldn’t normally be found in ‘traditional’ trance.
Despite these two different understandings of progressive trance, most would agree that this genre is characterized by longer tracks that feature a gradual buildup and breakdown, as well as an ambient sound and often a feeling of emotion or euphoria at the climax of the buildup. Atmospheric is another adjective frequently used in describing progressive trance.
Another trance critic phrased it a slightly different way:
“Shunning the instant melodies and loud exaggerated buildups found in anthem/epic/uplift trance, it loses a lot of mainstream appeal, but is a haven for those who despise the overdone, almost cheesey sound of most anthem trance.” (source)
Some characterize progressive trance by its absence of vocals, although this along doesn’t define the genre.
How would you define progressive trance music?