Trance is a form of music best characterized by quarter note drum patterns, and 16th/32nd note rhythm synthesizer patterns. It has a meter of 4/4, with a quarter note bassdrum acting as metronome, and quarter note high-hat hits on upbeats. This unwavering drum mechanism may be constantly tweaked with for effect, with the Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release ( ADSR ) all given liberal treatment. The tempo is generally around 130-158 beats per minute (bpm).
The arrangement consists mostly of a repeating 32nd note sequencing arpeggio , and a bass section of whole notes usually drifting through the aeolian or natural minor scale. Harmonic structure is typically minimalist, with often no more than 2-4 chords. Iterations of the i-iv-v progression (A minor, D minor, and E minor, for example) lend a dark feel by eschewing major chords entirely. Additional rhythm sections are added and subtracted every 16 measures (sometimes 8, and sometimes 32) to add weight and anticipation to the composition. The bass chord will usually change every 4 measures.
There is a lead synth, and it will be a simple minor scale melody of 8th notes, looping every 4 measures (some have 2, some have 8. Some even have 16). Trance is produced with keyboards , computerized synthesizers , drum machines , and music sequencer software connected via MIDI . The average trance song has a polyphony of 8. The most busy will have 16.
Some sub-genre classifications of trance include:
- Acid trance : An early '90's style.
Characterized by the use of a Roland
TB-303 bass machine as the lead
- Artists: Hardfloor , Art of
Trance , Eternal Basement
- Anthem trance : Style of trance
that emerged in the wake of progressive
trance in the late 90's. Characterized
by extended chord progression in
all elements (lead synth, bass chords,
treble chords), extended breakdowns,
and relegation of arpeggiation to
the background while bringing wash
effects to the fore.
- Artists: Vincent De Moor ,
Ronski Speed , Tiësto ,
System F , Super8 , Ayla , Paul
Van Dyk , Armin Van Buuren
- Classic trance : Original form
of trance music, said to have originated
in the very early 90's. Characterized
by less percussion than techno,
more melody, arpeggiated melody,
and repetitive melodic chords/arpeggios.
- Artists: Resistance D , Progressive
Attack , Arpeggiators , Union
Jack , Dance 2 Trance , Jam
- Euro-Trance : Euro-Trance is a
hybrid of Techno and Eurodance music
incorporating Hardstyle bass drums
and trance elements. The trance
synths at times sound like techno
hoovers with trancey effects and
strings backing it up. The vocals
are often pitched up for the most
part, but sometimes they can be
heard as in normal pitch range.
This is often confused as Vocal
Trance because of its use of vocals.
The lyrical content is usually pretty
simple, containing an introduction
to the song with usually no or little
drums, and often includes renderings
of classic Happy Hardcore anthems
- Artists: DJ Trancemaster ,
Groove Coverage , Jan Wayne
, Starsplash , Rob Mayth , Special
D and DJ Volume .
- Goa trance : A complexly melodic
form of trance named for Goa, India,
and originating in the early 90's.
Often uses the Raga .
- Artists: Psygone , mfg , S.U.N.
Project , Man With No Name ,
Astral Projection , Juno Reactor
- Hard Trance : Aggressive sounding,
Originating in Frankfurt, includes
influences from hardcore and hard
- Artists: DJ Scot Project ,
DJ Wag , Yoji Biomehanika ,
Cosmic Gate , Hennes & Cold
- Hardstyle : Closely related to
Nu Style Gabber and hard trance.
Its sound is usually characterized
by a mix of gabber and hardcore
like kick/bass sounds, trance like
synth stabs and sweeps and miscellaneous
samples. However, Hardstyle usually
has a lot slower BPM (between 140
- Artists: Blutonium Boy , Lady
Dana , DJ Pavo .
- Progressive trance : Style of
trance that originated in the early-mid
90's. Differentiated from the then
"regular" Trance by bass chord changes
that gave the repeating lead synth
a feeling of "progression"
- Artists: BT , Cosmic Baby
, Art of Trance , Sasha , John
- Psychedelic trance : (better known
as Psytrance , ambiguously synonymous
with Goa trance, less melodic more
abstract and futuristic)
- Artists: Shiva Chandra , Etnica
, Infected Mushroom , Astrix
, Phacelift , Total Eclipse
- Vocal trance : Broad term referring
to trance with a full set of lyrics,
which may or may not be any of the
above genres. Oftentimes an artist
will borrow a singer's talents as
opposed to the singer herself (vocalists
are typically female), or sample
from/remix more traditional pop
music. Note that there is some debate
as to where the divide lies between
Vocal Trance and Pop or Eurodance.
- Artists: 4 Strings, Lange,
Ian van Dahl , Oceanlab, Fragma,
Paradise, Lost Witness, Armin