Trance music is a form of electronic dance music (EDM) characterized by hypnotic rhythms and sounds, with the aim of helping you reach a heightened consciousness.
It is characterized by song tempo ranging generally between 128 and 142 beats per minute (BPM). It has a musical form that builds tension and sonic elements till it reaches its climax, peaks or drops. Generally, a typical trance track has 1 to 2 “drops”.
A characteristic feature of most trance music is a “breakdown” with only the melody and atmospheric or hypnotic elements, which builds up for a substantial period.
Let us listen to a track because it is better than describing it with a thousand words. Here is an example of a typical trance track.
Trance has developed into a genre of its own since the 90s. Since then, it has branched out into various equally mesmerising sub genres.
Figure 1: Mesmerising is an understatement.
Here is a breakdown of the major sub genres of trance. For the sake of keeping this post more concise, please check out the aural examples for the sub genres below with our essential list here.
1. Dream Trance – Very melodic, soothing piano riffs
2. Electrotrance / Trouse – Electro house beats and bass patterns
3. Progressive Trance – Focuses on the progressive buildup of the track
4. Tech Trance – Fusion of techno and trance. Focuses on beats and percussions
5. Uplifting Trance – Gives you the epic feeling, focus on the atmospheric elements.
6. Vocal Trance – Involves a male or female singer
7. Psychedelic Trance – Focuses on bassline and evolving hypnotic sounds. Thought to make you see the truth of life.
8. Hard Trance – Aggressive sonic elements and tough beats.
9. Balearic Trance – Melodic, mellow, influenced by the beach.
10. Eurotrance – The cheesy and commercialised version of trance
11. Chillout Trance – Primarily used as a sleeping / relaxation aid
12. Big Room Trance – a fusion of commercial EDM and trance music
In this day and age, it is still one of the most popular underground dance music. Let’s explore some of the reasons it has remained relevant even till this day.
Figure 2: Perhaps you are drawn to trance because of its art
Very often when you ask real trance music lovers, they will tell you that it is not just music, but it is a feeling and a lifestyle. Here is one such person!
Trance is part music, part feeling. You listen to certain tracks on a regular basis because of the feelings you associate with it. – Brendan
Trance is not just any other music, it is music created with a lot of emotions. Just check out the lyrics of Above & Beyond’s “Lonely Girl”.
Weirdly, listening to these emo songs gives you a feel good factor.
Another reason is because of the lifestyle aspect of it. Real trance fans are some of the most unpretentious people you will find on the planet. They are friendly, they look out for one another during events and there is a genuine chemistry between people when they all get connected to the same music in the club. The slang word PLUR (which stands for Peace, Love, Unity and Respect) is synonymous with the trance crowd. They are also one of the most fiercely loyal fans in the world, hence the term, Trance Family. If you do not believe me, you can believe this global media giant.
A more practical reason is because the music is fast and energetic. Which serves as a good workout or wake up music in the morning. The reverse is true with Chillout Trance, as it helps to wind down your day. It is a fairly versatile music genre and can fit in many people’s life.
In recent times, music became harder to categorise due to a fusion of styles. With the popularity of commercial EDM music, comes the emergence of Big Room Trance (which is a fusion of commercial EDM sounds and trancey sounds). Many celebrity DJs point out that because trancey elements were used in the music production, it can be considered as trance music. In fact, they call it trance version 2 and beyond! So how do you know what is trance now?
The litmus test. If the track uses hypnotic rhythms and sounds and helped you reach a heightened consciousness without the use of external stuff, then it can be considered as trance. Else, its not. It is that simple.
You can also be mathematical. If at least 51% of the track is represented by “trancey elements”, then it can be considered as trance.
Figure 3: Sounds of Roland TB 303 synth is used on countless of trance records.
Situation 1 – The total beginner
With today’s technology, it is really easy to discover more about the music. Just search “trance music” in Google or YouTube and you will be flooded with tons of trance tracks and mixes that you can listen to. Spotify and Mixcloud all serve as good platforms to discover trance music as well. Just note that there is no quality control of the music that are published on these sites.
You can also find quality trance mixes from the TR Podcast section on the homepage of the Trance Republic website.
Situation 2 – The Initiated Trancer
Once you have developed some preference with some of the sub-genres of trance, you can start to follow the music produced by DJs that appeal to you. This will usually be the DJ’s podcast or soundcloud page.
You can also find quality trance music through dedicated online radio stations, such as DI.fm or ah.fm. Music is curated and compiled by music directors who supposedly know their shizzz, so the quality is generally on a higher level.
One of the best ways to explore trance music is to experience it in the club. Check out the event listings from your local clubs or follow the trance community in your area. On the homepage of the Trance Republic website, you can find the updated trance events happening in Asia.
Situation 3 – The Traveler
For the ultimate experience, flying overseas for a trance music festival will be a check on the bucket list. There are many reputable music festival brands, such as Luminosity or FSOE. The combination of music, venue, beautiful surroundings, crowd, DJs, lighting and show stage will leave a big impression in your memory for the rest of your life.
Figure 4: An underground trance festival in the woods somewhere in the world
1) Is it ok to like trance music and other types of music at the same time?
Absolutely! Music preference is a very personal thing. There is no right or wrong.
2) Most of my friends does not like trance music. Am I weird?
3) I only like vocal trance. The other sub genres sucks!
Genre categorisation is meant as a guideline or system for you to better understand and process the music you are listening. Now go enjoy your trance music!
4) People who like other types of electronic dance music have criticise trance music. They say it is cheesy and does not have class. I feel offended and upset.
Great! That shows that you love trance music. However, try not to take their comments to heart as they do not understand the music.
5) Where can I meet people who share the same interest in trance music?
You can start with the Trance Republic facebook group. In Asia, each country has their own Trance Family Chapters. For example, Indonesia Trance Community, Trance Family In Malaysia, Trance Lovers Thailand and the list goes on. In the US, there is the mighty Trance Addicts.
Figure 5: A real trance family in Belfast who took the internet by storm with a series of viral videos of them raving to trance music in their car