With electronic music, distinguishing between all the genres is often less than an exact science. Trance music is no exception, as it combines elements from other styles, including techno, house, ambient and industrial, and is still evolving and developing its own sub-genres. But despite a little ambiguity, there are several things that make trance the unique and powerful genre that it is today.
History of Trance
Trance music first emerged in Germany during the early 1990s. At the time, many parts of Europe were becoming hooked on house and techno, and this naturally lead to further experimentation.
Many people agree that Frankfurt, Germany is the birthplace of trance music as we know it today, when producers began to add uplifting and emotive melodies to their techno creations. Some point to specific songs as the force which caused the development of trance, including Jam & Spoon’s remix of The Age Of Love, Dance 2 Trance’s track “We Came in Peace” or Paul van Dyk’s 1993 remix of Humate’s ‘Love Stimulation.’ (source)
As the 1990s progressed, trance evolved from an early experiment into a legitimate genre which would gain massive popularity. Songs featuring emotional, usually female vocals lead to the formation of a sub-genre known as vocal trance.
What Sets Trance Apart
Moodbook explains that the popularity explosion of trance music in the 1990s was due to the fact that it was “edgier than house, more soothing than drum-n-bass, and more accessible than techno” (source).
In general, trance is a more melodic version of techno or house, with a tempo in the range of 130-150 beats per minute (BPM). Trance producers combine their melodies alongside with a repetitive, often hypnotic beat which produces a feeling of euphoria for of its many fans.
Most trance music also employs an interesting song structure in which the beat is dropped near the middle of the song, leaving only the melody. After building up again, the beat comes back in with increased vigor, upping the emotional stakes. Some trance tracks might get you pumping your fist with energy; another might cause you shed a tear. The rhythms and sensations created by trance DJs can’t be found in any other style of music.
Trance Music Today
After its first years as a more underground style, trance’s popularity inevitably brought it to the mainstream market around 2000. A few years later, tensions had grown between commercial trance and enthusiasts of the genre’s roots. As a result, new styles were developing in order to combat the commercial influences. These include progressive trance, tech trance and hard trance.
Today is a great time for trance music, as wildly popular DJs including Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk, Above and Beyond are producing, remixing and collaborating on exciting tracks, delighting trance purists as well as fans of electronic dance music in general.
Stay tuned as we’ll be expanding this page with additional information soon.
Trance subgenre pages: