Trance music

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Trance is a genre of electronic dance music [11] that emerged from EBM in Frankfurt, Germany, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and quickly spread throughout Europe. [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]


Trance music is typically characterized by a tempo between 120–150 beats per minute (BPM), [7] repeating melodic phrases [7] and a musical form that distinctly builds tension and elements throughout a track often culminating in 1 to 2 "peaks" or "drops". [7] Although trance is a genre of its own, it liberally incorporates influences from other musical styles such as techno, [4] [2] house, [1] [2] chill-out, [4] classical music, [4] [5] tech house, ambient and film scores. [5]

A trance is a state of hypnotism and heightened consciousness. [19] This is portrayed in trance music by the mixing of layers with distinctly foreshadowed build-up and release. A common characteristic of modern trance music is a mid-song climax followed by a soft breakdown disposing of beats and percussion entirely, [4] [7] leaving the melody or atmospherics to stand alone for an extended period before gradually building up again. Trance tracks are often lengthy to allow for such progression and commonly have sufficiently sparse opening and closing sections to facilitate mixing by DJs. [4] [7]

Trance is mostly instrumental, although vocals can be mixed in: typically they are performed by mezzo-soprano to soprano female soloists, mostly without a traditional verse/chorus structure. Structured vocal form in trance music forms the basis of the vocal trance subgenre, which has been described as "grand, soaring, and operatic" and "ethereal female leads floating amongst the synths". However, male singers, such as Jonathan Mendelsohn, are also featured. [20] [21]


Trance Energy Festival at Utrecht Trance Energy Utrecht 2002.jpg
Trance Energy Festival at Utrecht
Psychedelic trance culture of KaZantip in 2006, with decorations commonplace at trance parties. Psychedelic trance culture of Kazantip (2006-08-134) (329954412).jpg
Psychedelic trance culture of KaZantip in 2006, with decorations commonplace at trance parties.

The earliest years of Trance were defined by Frankfurt labels such as Eye Q, Harthouse, Fax +49-69/450464, Force Inc., and others. Producers such as Pete Namlook, Oliver Lieb, and Rolf Ellmer created noteworthy tracks such as "Eternal Spirit" by 4Voice, "Hearts" by L.S.G., and "We Came In Peace" by Dance 2 Trance. [22] [23]

Much of the development of trance can be traced to Sven Vath, who was heavily influenced by his experiences traveling to Goa where DJs were using psychedelic rock and other sounds to induce a trance state at beach parties. [24] Vath, Dag Lerner, and Torsten Fenslau had an affection for hypnotic dance sounds and the music at Dorian Gray and Omen began to reflect this. [25]

Vath launched Eye Q with Heinz Roth and Matthias Hoffman in 1991, followed by Harthouse in 1992, releasing some of the most well-known trance tracks of the era. Eye Q took a softer approach to trance with records such as Cygnus X's "The Orange Theme," Brainchild's "Symmetry" and Vernon's "Wonderer." Harthouse focused on a harder trance sound with tracks such as Quicksand by Spicelab, Spectrum by Metal Master, Human by Resistance D, and Acperience by Hardfloor. [22] [23] The sound of Frankfurt was the sound of trance. DJ Dag Lerner, one half of Dance to Trance has stated that he was the first to call his music trance and "gave the child his name." [26] The genre got its name from the trance-like state the music attempted to emulate in the 1990s before the genre's focus changed. [27]

In a 2006 interview with Resident Advisor, Sven Vath acknowledged the role of his labels Eye Q and Harthouse in helping to create what people know as trance music today, going on to say that "people are getting a wrong interpretation of what trance music is all about" and differentiating his own form from modern forms saying "They are following a format -- always producing the same structure. It's a pop format for trance." [28]

As German Trance made its way back to Goa, a new subgenre emerged that was more organic in sound with an oriental aesthetic in its melodies, often with references to Eastern philosophy. Goa trance would go on to spawn many sub-genres of its own, including psytrance, psybreaks, and others. [29]

In 1991 in Berlin, MFS Records began to gain a trance profile, signing Mijk van Dijk, Cosmic Baby, and Paul van Dyk, soon releasing some of the most well-known early trance tracks such as Love Stimulation by Humate and Perfect Day by Visions of Shiva, as well as perhaps the first ever trance compilation, Tranceformed From Beyond. [30] While writer Bom Coen traces the roots of trance to Paul van Dyk's 1993 remix of Humate's "Love Stimulation", [1] there is little evidence to support this contention. In fact, van Dyk's own Trance roots can be traced further back to his work with Visions of Shiva, van Dyk's trance project with Cosmic Baby coming earlier. [31] Early on, Paul van Dyk had been relatively sidelined on the scene, but his collaboration with Cosmic Baby quickly led him into the heart of the scene. [32]

In the UK, the British approach to trance music and house music was similar: progressive chord structures, crescendos, longer breakdowns, and more organic instruments. [33] In 1993 Platipus Records was launched by Simon Berry as an outlet for Barry's various projects, including Union Jack, Clanger, Art of Trance. Platipus would become one of the most consequential progressive trance labels. Another influential label of progressive trance was Hooj Choons with notable trance releases from artists Tilt, Oliver Lieb, Solarstone, as well as the well-known Three N' One remix of Cafe Del Mar by Energy 52.

In Germany, a harder sub-genre of trance emerged. With a faster tempo and gated pads, hard trance introduced the breakdown-build-anthem template that would become nearly ubiquitous in later trance sub-genres. Hard trance would inspire hardhouse, hard uplifting, jumpstyle, NRG, and hardstyle. Perhaps the best known label for this subgenre of trance was Bonzai Records, a sublabel of Lightning Records with notable tracks including Jones & Stephenson's The First Rebirth, Cherry Moon Trax's The House of House, [34] Blue Alphabet's Cybertrance [35] to name a few.

Aly & Fila, Egyptian trance music band performing Aly & Fila au Beachclub -- 4.jpg
Aly & Fila, Egyptian trance music band performing

By the late 1990s, uplifting took over the scene with its fast tempo, characteristic builds, long breakdowns and big drops. [36] In the early 2000s, pop-style vocals began being added into the music. [4] The development of another subgenre, epic trance, finds some of its origins in classical music, [4] with film music also being influential. [5] Trance was arguably at its commercial peak in the second part of 1990s and early 2000s. [37] [38] Afterwards, popular trance music providers such as Armin van Buuren's A State of Trance , Paul van Dyk, and Above & Beyond remained popular, while lesser known DJs changed to other sounds. [39] In 2017 a new wave of underground DJs such as Nina Kraviz began incorporating trance music into their sets. [39] [40]

In 2023, an effort by John 00 Fleming and others led Beatport to split their trance genre category into two: Trance (Main Floor) and Trance (Raw/Deep/Hypnotic). The latter designed for the underground side of the genre. [41]


Roland JP-8000, a synthesizer famous for its incorporation of the supersaw waveform JP-8000.png
Roland JP-8000, a synthesizer famous for its incorporation of the supersaw waveform

Trance employs a 4/4 time signature, [7] generally a tempo of 125 to 150 BPM, [7] [42] though the music can be any tempo, and 16 or 32 beat phrases. [43] A kick drum is usually placed on every downbeat and a regular open hi-hat is often placed on the upbeat. [7] Extra percussive elements are usually added, and in recent years major transitions, builds or climaxes are often foreshadowed by lengthy "snare rolls"—a quick succession of snare drum hits that build in velocity, frequency, and volume towards the end of a measure. [7]

A Simple arpeggiated (Roland JP-8000) Supersaw waveform pattern with chorus and flanging (some professionals used Lexicon Hall programs without pre-delay).
A trancegate pattern at 141 bpm as it is heard on a software trancegate using a Roland JP-8000 with the supersaw waveform and minor EQ edits. The gated pattern gradually changes to demonstrate the various rhythms possible with a trance gate. Note that some trancegate patterns are off-beat.

Rapid arpeggios and minor keys are common features of trance, the latter being almost universal.[ citation needed ] Trance tracks often use one central "hook", or melody, which runs through almost the entire song, repeating at intervals anywhere between 2 beats and 32 bars, in addition to harmonies and motifs in different timbres from the central melody. [7] Instruments are added or removed every 4, 8, 16, or 32 bars. [7]

In the section before the breakdown, the lead motif is often introduced in a sliced up and simplified form, [7] to give the audience a "taste" of what they will hear after the breakdown. [7] Then later, the final climax is usually "a culmination of the first part of the track mixed with the main melodic reprise". [7]

As is the case with many dance music tracks, trance tracks are usually built with sparser intros ("mix-ins") and outros ("mix-outs") to enable DJs to blend them together immediately. [4] [7]

EDM-infused forms designed for festival main stages often incorporate other styles and elements of electronic music such as electro and progressive house into its production. It emphasizes harsher basslines and drum beats which decrease the importance of offbeats and focus primarily on a four on the floor stylistic house drum pattern. The BPM of more recent styles tends to be on par with house music at 120 to 135 beats per minute. However, unlike house music, recent forms of Uplifting continue to feature melodic breakdowns and longer transitions. [44]


Trance music is broken into a number of subgenres including acid trance, classic trance, hard trance, hardstyle (which is a fuse between hardcore and hard trance), progressive trance, [4] and uplifting trance. [4] Uplifting trance is also known as "anthem trance", "epic trance", [4] "commercial trance", "stadium trance", or "euphoric trance", [7] and has been strongly influenced by classical music in the 1990s [4] and 2000s by leading artists such as Ferry Corsten, Armin Van Buuren, Tiësto, Push, Rank 1 and at present with the development of the subgenre "orchestral uplifting trance" or "uplifting trance with symphonic orchestra" by such artists as Sound Apparel, Andy Blueman, Ciro Visone, Soundlift, Arctic Moon, and Sergey Nevone & Simon O'Shine, among others. Closely related to uplifting trance is Eurodance, which has become a general term for a wide variety of highly commercialized European dance music. Notably late in the 1990s, German producer ATB revolutionized the scene of the aforementioned Eurodance with his hit single "9 PM (Till I Come)". Several subgenres are crossovers with other major genres of electronic music. For instance, tech trance is a mixture of trance and techno, and vocal trance "combines [trance's] progressive elements with pop music". [4] The dream trance genre originated in the mid-1990s, with its popularity then led by Robert Miles, who composed Children in 1996. Recently, there is also a very small subgenre called "medieval trance", which combines medieval elements together with trance elements, e.g. Maestro Giano, Green Clouds and other artists, which are effectively a kind of "reverse Bardcore".

AllMusic states on progressive trance: "the progressive wing of the trance crowd led directly to a more commercial, chart-oriented sound since trance had never enjoyed much chart action in the first place. Emphasizing the smoother sound of Eurodance or house (and occasionally more reminiscent of Jean-Michel Jarre than Basement Jaxx), Progressive Trance became the sound of the world's dance floors by the end of the millennium. Critics ridiculed its focus on predictable breakdowns and relative lack of skill to beat-mix, but progressive trance was caned by the hottest DJ." [45]

Music festivals

The following is an incomplete list of dance music festivals that showcase trance music.


DJ Tiesto playing Uplifting music in Bangkok, Thailand. DJ Tiesto in 808 Nightclub, progressive trance music, waves of euphoria, Bangkok, Thailand.jpg
DJ Tiesto playing Uplifting music in Bangkok, Thailand.
Sunburn Music Festival in Candolim, Goa. Sunburn Festival, Goa, Progressive trance music.jpg
Sunburn Music Festival in Candolim, Goa.

Notes: Sunburn was not the first festival/event to specialize in India in trance music. Much earlier pioneers of Goa parties [2] held events as early as the late 1980s and through all of the 1990s [8]


Clubbers at Gatecrasher on 16 April 2006 Gatecrasher.jpg
Clubbers at Gatecrasher on 16 April 2006


Sensation White at Amsterdam Arena 2006 Sensationwhite04 2006.jpg
Sensation White at Amsterdam Arena 2006

Electronic Music festivals in the Netherlands are mainly organized by four companies ALDA Events, ID&T, UDC and Q-dance:

  • Armin Only, Jaarbeurs, Utrecht: As the name states, the only DJ to mix at this event is Armin van Buuren. Organized by ALDA Events. Armin Only 2005 was held in Rotterdam Ahoy. The 2008 and 2010 editions were held in Jaarbeurs Utrecht. The 2013 event was held at the Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam
  • Dance Valley, Spaarnwoude: an outdoor festival organized by UDC.
  • Sensation, Amsterdam Arena. Organized by ID&T.
  • Energy, (formerly Trance Energy) Jaarbeurs, Utrecht: Previously Trance only under the name "Trance Energy", the festival was renamed "Energy" in 2011 and begun to incorporate other genres. Organized by ID&T.
  • Amsterdam dance event, One of the world's trance and electronic music festivals held every year at Amsterdam in October.
  • A State of Trance: Armin van Buuren's weekly radio show A State of Trance celebrates every 50th episode with an event in the Netherlands, usually in Utrecht.
  • Electronic Family: Organized by ALDA Events.
  • Mysteryland. A series of electronic music festivals held by the Dutch promoter ID&T. Being the first of its kind in the country dates back to 1993.
  • Luminosity: Amsterdam, founded in 2007. With the slogan "Spreading The Love Of Trance Music", the Luminosity Festival is organized by Luminosity Events and is attended by thousands worldwide.
  • Psy-Fi: outdoor psychedelic trance festival, at Leeuwarden.

North America


  • Bal en Blanc is a rave party that is hosted annually, in April during the Easter holiday weekend, in Montreal. This event usually has two separate rooms, one catering to house music and the other to trance music. It usually lasts for more than 14 hours.
  • Digital Dreams Festival in Toronto featured a full trance stage in June 2014
  • Escapade Music Festival hosted on Canada Day (1 July) in Ottawa
  • A two-day festival called the U4RIA Trance festival in Toronto featured 23 International acts, 12 Canadian acts, and 25 hours of music in June 2018. This 2-day all trance festival was the first of its kind in Canada.
  • Trance Unity, hosted in Montreal, is hosted annually and usually lasts 12 to 14 hours.

United States

Electronic music festivals in the United States feature various electronic music genres such as trance, house, techno, electro, dubstep, and drum and bass:

  • Fractalfest – Fractaltribe's annual outdoor psytrance festival held in Stephentown, NY. Fractaltribe is a community of artists, musicians & organizers dedicated to creating meaningful experiences and immersive atmospheres; celebrations to foster creative expression in a healthy and supportive environment through the vessel of psychedelic music and culture.
  • Decadence, an annual 2-day New Year's Eve electronic dance music festival. Held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, it is one of the largest NYE EDM festivals in the U.S. [55]
  • Decibel Festival, an annual music and digital arts festival started in 2004 in Seattle. It is dedicated to live electronic music performance, visual art, and new media. The core of the festival comprises concerts, performances, commissioned work, film screenings, and exhibitions. The programming is presented in a variety of locations throughout Seattle, centered on the Capitol Hill neighborhood and Downtown. Since its inception, Decibel has hosted over 750 acts ranging from underground dance and experimental electronic music to transmedial art.
  • Ultra Music Festival, an annual outdoor electronic music festival that occurs in March in the city of Miami, Florida. A State of Trance has frequently held milestone celebrations at the festival.
    Armin van Buuren 2014 Ultra Miami Armin van Buuren 2014.jpg
    Armin van Buuren 2014 Ultra Miami
  • Electric Daisy Carnival, an annual massive organized by Insomniac Events that was held in Southern California from 1997 to 2010, and was moved to Las Vegas in 2011. In 2009, the festival was expanded to a three-day event.
  • Nocturnal Festival, are annual events held in Southern California organized by Insomniac Events, held at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, California in September. Some have also been periodically held at the Downtown, Texas Amphitheater in Thorndale, Texas, just outside of Austin.
  • Beyond Wonderland, an electronic dance festival in Southern California organized by Insomniac Events.
  • Dreamstate, first produced by festival organizer Insomniac Events on 27–28 November 2015, at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino, California, is the first all-trance festival in North America.
  • Electric Zoo Festival, an annual electronic music festival held over Labor Day weekend in New York City on Randall's Island Park.
  • Electric Forest Festival, a four-day annual festival in Michigan.
  • TomorrowWorld, a three-day annual festival in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. Organized by ID&T, TomorrowWorld is a sister festival to Tomorrowland.
  • Spring Awakening, the three-day annual festival in Chicago, Illinois.


  • Beyond Wonderland, an electronic dance festival in northern Mexico organized by Insomniac Events.



  • Doof—A type of outdoor dance party, which is generally held in a remote country area or just outside big cities in surrounding bush or rainforests and similar to raves or teknivals. Doofs generally have live electronic artists and DJs playing a range of electronic music, commonly goa trance, techno, drum and bass, and psychedelic trance.
  • Defqon.1 Festival—A music festival that mostly plays hardstyle and related genres such as hardcore techno, hard house and hard trance, the event has been hosted in Sydney in mid-September since 2009 at the Sydney International Regatta Centre.
  • Rainbow Serpent Festival—A large electronic music, art, and lifestyle festival, located in Victoria. The festival is mainly known for psychedelic trance and minimal techno music, but also features other genres of electronic music and non-electronic music in the smaller stages.

South America


See also

Related Research Articles

Psychedelic trance, psytrance, or psy is a subgenre of trance music characterized by arrangements of rhythms and layered melodies created by high tempo riffs. The genre offers variety in terms of mood, tempo, and style. Some examples include full on, darkpsy, forest, minimal (Zenonesque), hitech psy, progressive, suomi, psy-chill, psycore, psybient, psybreaks, or "adapted" tracks from other music genres. Goa trance preceded psytrance; when digital media became more commonly used psytrance evolved. Goa continues to develop alongside the other genres.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Armin van Buuren</span> Dutch DJ and producer (born 1976)

Armin Jozef Jacobus Daniël van Buuren is a Dutch DJ and record producer. Since 2001, he has hosted A State of Trance (ASOT), a weekly radio show, which is broadcast to nearly 40 million listeners in 84 countries on over 100 FM radio stations. According to the website DJs and Festivals, "the radio show propelled him to stardom and helped cultivate an interest in trance music around the world".

Vocal trance is a subgenre of trance music that focuses on vocals and melodies. The subgenre came into existence in the early 1990s, when trance was still developing. Although many early trance records used vocal samples mixed in with the beats, the earliest examples of the style appeared in 1992–93.

Electronic dance music (EDM) is a broad range of percussive electronic music genres originally made for nightclubs, raves, and festivals. It is generally produced for playback by DJs who create seamless selections of tracks, called a DJ mix, by segueing from one recording to another. EDM producers also perform their music live in a concert or festival setting in what is sometimes called a live PA. Since its inception EDM has expanded to include a wide range of subgenres.

Uplifting trance is a broad subgenre of trance music. The name, which emerged in the wake of progressive trance in 1996, is derived from the feeling which listeners claim to get. The genre is popular in the trance scene. Classical music strongly influenced the development of uplifting trance both in the 1990s and in the 2000s, with film music also considered influential.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">ZoukOut</span> Dance festival in Singapore

ZoukOut is an annual dance music festival held in Singapore since 2001. One of Asia's biggest music dance festivals, it is organised by Zouk Singapore. DJs that have performed at ZoukOut include Paul Van Dyk, 2ManyDJS, Masters at Work, Gilles Peterson, Richie Hawtin, Sven Väth, Peter Kruder, James Lavelle, Armin Van Buuren and Stereo MC's.

A State of Trance is a Dutch trance radio show hosted by Armin van Buuren and co-producer Ruben de Ronde that first aired in June 2001. Currently, it is aired weekly every Thursday at 20:00 (CET) and 14:00 (EST). As of January 2021, ASOT is broadcast to more than 150 stations in 84 countries, and its weekly listener count surpassed 40 million.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sven Väth</span> German DJ and producer (born 1964)

Sven Väth is a German DJ and electronic music producer. He is a three-time DJ Awards winner, and his career in electronic music spans over 30 years. The single "Electrica Salsa" with OFF launched his career in 1986. Referred to as "Papa Sven" by his fans, Sven Väth has made his mark in the music community by being one of Germany's pop stars in the nineties, running two night clubs in Germany, and starting his own company Cocoon, which encompasses a booking agency, record label, and a branch for events. He is recognized for cultivating the underground electronic music scene not just in Germany but in Ibiza as well, with his own night at Amnesia for eighteen years and after-parties at creative locations around the island. Sven Väth is a major proponent of vinyl, using only two decks and a mixer for his extensive DJ sets, his longest set having been 30 hours.

Warp Brothers is the electronic dance music group started by German DJs Oliver Goedicke and Jürgen Dohr in 1999. Their style includes house, trance, breakbeat and electro in early days, lately hard dance, trance and psytrance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sensation (event)</span>

Sensation is an indoor electronic dance music event which originated in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and organized by ID&T. The original event, which ran exclusively in the Amsterdam Arena for a period of five years until 2005, is now located throughout various European and a few non-European countries.

Paul Vinitsky is a Russian electronic dance music trance and progressive DJ & producer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">DJ Awards</span> Spanish electronic music awards

DJ Awards is a celebration of electronic music, and aims to recognise and honour DJs and individuals who have influenced electronic dance music worldwide.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aly & Fila</span> Egyptian trance music production duo from Cairo

Aly & Fila are an Egyptian trance music duo made up of Aly El Sayed Amr Fathalah (Aly) and Fadi Wassef Naguib (Fila). They host an Internet radio show called Future Sound of Egypt, and are the founders of the label of the same name. The duo has played events across the world including Ultra Music Festival, Tomorrowland, Global Gathering, and Luminosity Beach Festival. Four of their tracks were chosen as "Tune of the Year" on Armin Van Buuren's show A State of Trance: "We Control The Sunlight," which featured the vocals of Jwaydan Moyine in 2011, "Unbreakable," with Roger Shah and vocals by Susana in 2016, "Somebody Loves You", which featured vocals from Plumb in 2020, and "For All Time" with Armin Van Buuren and vocals by Kazi Jay in 2021.

Radio Record is a Russian radio station that broadcasts on 106.3 FM from Saint Petersburg. It airs an electronic dance music format with primarily trance and house offerings now expanded to variety of different genres including Rock, Deep House, Future House, Dubstep.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arty (musician)</span> Russian musician

Artem Stolyarov, known professionally as Arty and ALPHA 9, is a Russian musician, DJ and producer. He has collaborated with Armin van Buuren, Above & Beyond, BT, Paul van Dyk, Mat Zo, OneRepublic and Matisse & Sadko. His debut album, Glorious (2015), peaked at number 14 on the US Dance/Electronic Albums charts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sunburn Festival</span> EDM Music Festival In India

Sunburn Festival is a commercial electronic dance music festival held in India. It was started by entrepreneur Shailendra Singh of Percept Ltd. The festival grew to become the 3rd largest dance festival in the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">W&W</span> Dutch DJ duo

W&W is a Dutch DJ and record production duo composed of Willem van Hanegem Jr. and Wardt van der Harst. They began their careers by producing trance music, before venturing into big room house and other forms of EDM.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sun City Music Festival</span>

Sun City Music Festival was an annual electronic music festival held over Labor Day weekend in El Paso, Texas at Ascarate Park. In its opening year, the festival was held at Cohen Stadium. The festival represents all genres of electronic music, bringing top international DJs and live acts from multiple countries along with local producers and radio personalities to three stages, one of them being the Beatport Stage. The festival was founded by SMG Events and Disco Donnie Presents. On May 9, 2018, it was announced through the Sun City Music Festival Twitter account that the festival would not be happening.

David Ciekanski, better known by his stage name Matt Fax, is a French electronic music DJ and record producer.

Big room house or simply big room is a fusion subgenre of house music that gained popularity in the early 2010s. Characterized by its simple instrumentation yet complex structure, big room house soon revolutionized the EDM scene into multiple subgenres that we know today.


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Further reading