What is Trance Music? (18 Different Types of Trance Music)

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The birth of electronic music brought with it various unique genres.

Of these new styles, trance music is a notable one worthy of discussion.

Trance is specifically composed to manipulate its listeners into experiencing a hypnotic state reminiscent of a psychedelic trip.

The music started to gain popularity in the late 80s and early 90s, parallel to the birth of techno and house music.

Though trance can be categorized as one style of electronic music, it has distinct qualities that set it apart from its electronic siblings.

This article looks to take a more in-depth look into the funky world of trance— let’s take a trip with us.

What is Trance Music?

Trance music is a part of the electronic music genre. It was born from the new age British music scene, German techno, and hardcore music scenes in the 1990s.

Now, trance is considered a music genre on its own, often taking influences from other music genres, including techno, house, pop, chill, tech music, ambient tones, and even classical music.

♫ Best Uplifting Trance Mix - All Time Favourites #1 ♫

A trance can be described as a state of hypnotism and blurred consciousness.

It can be triggered by spiritual meditation, the use of psychedelic drugs, some breathing techniques, or even occur almost randomly.

Trance music mimics this state by building up tension through a series of build-up beats and release layers.

This music’s primary goal is to create tension and make people lose their consciousness in a trance state.

Modern trance music is often combined with other genres such as electro and progressive house.

Modern trance tracks may also include harsh bass lines and drum beats while still keeping its roots of melody breakdown and longer transition.

What Defines Trance Music?

Trance music is defined by its tempo, around 135-150 BPM, along with repeating melody and a musical form that builds tension through the so-called ‘peaks’ and ‘drops’ elements.

One of the most common trance music characteristics is a climax followed by a soft beat release leaving an atmospheric melody to hang for a while. The beats are gradually built up again.

Trance tracks are usually long to facilitate the multiple series of peaks and drops so the music’s goals can be achieved.

Trance music is mostly instrumental, though ethereal female vocals are sometimes used. Male vocals are sometimes incorporated, though rare.

The tempo of trance music is usually faster than house music.

It incorporates kick drums and other percussion elements on the downbeat and open hi-hats and snare rolls on the upbeat.

The tension is built through the frequency and volume.

dreamwave example

Trance tracks often use a central melody or hook as part of its main theme and are repeated throughout the entire track.

On each breakdown, a simplified form of the lead motif is introduced to give the listener a sneak peek of the climax.

In the climax, the main melody is revealed and mixed with the first part of the track.

What Trance Music does to The Brain?

Our brains are easily manipulated by the things we listen to.

Trance music’s effectiveness relies on this principle. Its repetitive melody sends signals and creates a pattern in the brain.

This can calm its listeners or make them feel “trippy”. When you reach this state, your brain releases dopamine, also known as the happiness hormone.

Dopamine is also known as the rewarding hormone, so your brain may ask for more.

This is precisely why some people can get addicted to trance music and crave for its trip on a daily basis.

Before you get your pitchforks out and start calling it the “demon’s music”, you should understand that trance music is neither harmful nor damaging.

In fact, it can be a useful soother to those struggling with panic attacks or anxiety.

The repeated melody in its tracks calms the brain and is proven to slow down your heart rate.

Who Invented Trance Music?

Every time we enter a discussion of who invented a specific music genre, the answer is never straightforward.

Music is a product of long developments and experiments. For instance, before the term trance music gains popularity, similar sounds with repetitive melodies have long existed.

These sounds were referred to as “acid house” or “atmospheric house” in those days.

Acid House Mix (1988 - 1990)

It gained popularity in clubhouses where psychedelics like the magic shrooms (psilocybin mushrooms) are often used.

A quick Google search inquiring as to the inventor of trance music would yield a range of answers because it is not that simple.

DJ Decks that people can play dubstep through.

For example, you might find Klaus Schulze mentioned— a German musician who experimented with minimalist music with repetitive sounds.

His 1988 album “En=Trance” is also solid evidence. However, some argue that Sven Vath is the true trailblazer for creating early trance tracks.

On the other side of the globe, fans of Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima claim otherwise, stating that these trance music artists have been developing trance soundtracks for video games for far longer.

Regardless of which person actually invented trance music, it is a general understanding that the genre was born in Germany and later spread through other European countries.

Detroit techno may have inspired German trance music artists and later added atmospheric ambiance and repetitive patterns to create the trance genre we all know and love today.

Different Types of Trance Music

After trance music gained its popularity, various sub-genres of the music started appearing. Some of the knows sub-genres of trance music are listed below:

1. Acid Trance

Also known as the first wave of trance, these tracks are characterized by the use of the Roland TB-303 bass machine as the lead synthesizer.

2. Classic Trance

The tracks are characterized by the emphasis on the melody and repetitive chords.

It also uses less percussion and more techno.

3. Dream Trance

The tracks are highly melodic, often featuring soothing piano riffs.