What Is Trance Music? With 9 Top Examples & History
Trance music is a relatively new genre that burst onto the scene in the late 1980s. Since then, it has rapidly grown in popularity. It first spread throughout Europe and has become a popular musical genre in the last decade.
Trance music is a distinct genre of music that is separate from other electronic and DJ music forms. You are in the right place if your ears are new to the trance music scene. This article will cover everything you need to know about trance music, from its definition to popular songs and rich history.
Definition: What Is Trance Music?
Trance music is upbeat electronic music that diverged from the hardcore german electronic music scene of the 80s. Trance is fast-paced, but it is slower and less aggressive than other forms of electronic music.
Like other forms of electronic music, trance music ebbs and flows, builds in intensity, and ultimately releases tension. Most trance songs build up to 1 or 2 drops where the music reaches its peak.
Trance is its unique genre of music, but it draws heavily from other electronic music genres. Techno, house, pop, chill-out, ambient, and even classical music all influence trance music.
A trance is a state of hypnotism and heightened consciousness induced by rhythmic noises or music. Trance music earned its name for eliciting a similar sensation in listeners.
When you listen to trance music, you will notice a pulsing, thumping feeling that is difficult to resist. The best trance songs will make you want to dance all night.
Trance music accomplishes this by layering musical elements on top of each other. Most trance songs start with light instrumentals or ambient music. As the piece develops, layers of music are added, including vocals and bass. Additionally, the tempo of the song tends to pick up over time.
Traditionally, a beat drop or climax occurs halfway through the song. After the drop, the song becomes more mellow, and several musical elements fade away. After an extended time of melody, the song begins to build again until it reaches a final peak or beat drop.
The ebb and flow of trance music result in songs that are much longer than other genres. Many DJs incorporate extended intros and outros into their trance songs.
Trance is overwhelmingly instrumental. Some DJs mix in vocals, but vocals tend to come and go and are rarely the song's focus—the vocals in trance music are predominately male voices.
Trance Music Characteristics
Trance music is a genre of music. However, the tempo of trance music is usually around 130-160 beats per minute (BPM). Additionally, four main elements define what trance music is:
- Melodic breakdowns or “drops.”
- Repetitive, hypnotic basslines
- Layers of synthesizers and samples
- Arpeggiated rhythms
Trance music induces a state of heightened awareness or “trance.” DJs achieve trance through the use of repetitive beats and melodies. The result is a music genre that is both stimulating and relaxing.
Now that you know the definition of trance music let's look at some of the greatest trance songs of all time.
9 Examples of Trance Music
These are some of the most famous and influential trance music songs.
“Carte Blanche” by Veracocha
“Carte Blanche” begins with a bang. An upbeat bass track greets you that gets your heart pumping. Additionally, several layers of instrumentals are on top of the bass track. These instrumentals fade over time, and the track mellows out after about a minute, almost lulling you to sleep.
A fast-paced melody picks up almost without warning, and a heavy bass line quickly joins it. The bass line is similar to the one from the song's beginning. The repetitive melody and the bass line continue for the rest of the song before fading out suddenly at the end of the track.
“As The Rush Comes” by Motorcycle
“As The Rush Comes” comes at you fast with a driving bass track and some synthesizers layered over the top. Unlike many other famous trance tracks, a female vocalist is one of the main elements of this track.
The female vocals begin almost immediately. The lyrics reflect the experience of listening to a trance song, and the vocalist sings about falling deeper and deeper into a piece. She then speaks directly to the music and calls for the song to embrace her as the rush comes.
“Communication” by Armin van Buuren
Armin van Buuren is one of the most famous Trance DJs, and “Communication” is one of his most famous tracks. “Communication” is heavily influenced by techno, and the song begins with a heavy techno beat.
However, the bass track and synthesizers quickly fade away. As the melody plays, van Buuren adds melody in ways that build intensity and speed; as the beat builds, the bass track returns at a medium pace.
For the rest of the song, van Buuren plays with the different layers of instrumental and synthesizers before the music slowly plays its way out.
“Exploration Of Space” by Cosmic Gate
“Exploration of Space” has a great name and is heavily influenced by the techno roots of trance. You immediately hear an audio track of JFK saying “exploration of space” and an aggressive synthesizer.
As the bass drops out, an iconic instrumental track and bass track that has made appearances in thousands of different electronic songs greet you.
The melody drops away, and the bass track becomes the focus for the middle part of the song. The melody quickly returns and continues until the song fades away.
“3rd Earth” by Solarstone & Scott Bond
“3rd Earth” is an incredible collaboration between Solar Stone and Scott Bond. This track begins with a fast-paced melody and an ethereal background instrumental. The bass track jumps in quickly, and a sensation of a foggy evening in a high-tech futuristic city consumes you.
The bass track quickly adds elements, becomes more intricate, and perfectly meshes with the ethereal background instrumental. The DJ adds a synthesizer track that makes the song more fast-paced and exciting.
Some mystical vocals are added, and the song continues to play with different layers of bass, melody, and instrumentals.
“Spiral” by Robert Nickson
“Spiral” begins with a repetitive bass track, the feature of the first portion of the song. The DJ adds a synthesizer track that adds some funk to the track before adding a high hat to increase the pace.
The melody comes in after about a minute, and the song continues to pick up the pace. This song is fast-paced and gets your heart pumping.
“Playmo (1st Play)” by Bart Claessen
“Playmo (1st Play)” starts with an aggressive synthesizer melody that Bart Claessen gradually adds different elements. The pace picks up when the DJ adds the bass track. The song continues to build in intensity as other percussion elements join.
The melody drops a minute into the song, and a heavy bass track takes over. The song continues to play with different layers of melody and bass. This song features multiple peaks and drops and keeps the listener guessing when the song will end.
“Elements Of Life” by Tiësto
“Elements of Life” is one of the most famous trance tracks. The song begins with a soft instrumental with which Tiesto gradually blends different elements. The melody comes in after about 30 seconds, and the song continues to build in intensity.
The song features several layers of melody and instrumentals that are all perfectly blended together. At the song's midpoint, the track seems to stop almost entirely, and Tiesto slows down the beat to a snail's pace before introducing a new rhythm and picking up the pace. The song reaches its peak about three minutes before slowly dropping off.
“Play It Louder” by Randy Katana
“Play It Louder” is an iconic trance track with a repetitive melody and a heavy bass. The song begins with the melody, and the DJ gradually introduces the bass track.
The melody drops away, and the bass track becomes the focus for the middle part of the song. The melody quickly returns and continues until the music fades away. This song will get you off your feet and dancing.
5 Top Trance Musicians
There are hundreds of incredible trance DJs, but this is our list of the top five.
Armin Van Buuren
Armin van Buuren is a Trance DJ from the Netherlands. He is one of the world's most famous trance DJs, and the Grammys nominated him several times. He has released six studio albums and has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the music industry.
Some of his most famous tracks include “Communication,” “Exploration of Space,” and “3rd Earth”.
Above & Beyond
Above & Beyond is a Trance DJ group from the United Kingdom. The group is made up of Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness, and Paavo Siljamäki. They are one of the most successful trance groups in the world and have won multiple awards. They have released six studio albums and have headlined some of the biggest festivals in the world.
Some of their most famous tracks include “Sun & Moon,” “Thing Called Love,” and “Black Room Boy.”
Paul Oakenfold is a Trance DJ from the United Kingdom. He is one of the pioneers of trance music, and many people credit him for popularizing the genre in the early 1990s. He has released six studio albums and inspired many of the top current trance DJs.
Some of his most famous tracks include “Ready Steady Go,” “Starry Eyed Surprise,” and “Not Over Yet.”
Gareth Emery is a Trance DJ from the United Kingdom. He has released five studio albums, and several video games and films feature his music. He hosts his podcast and has a very successful YouTube channel.
Some of his most famous tracks include “Concrete Angel,” “Long Way Home,” and “Uprising.”
Tiesto is a Trance DJ from the Netherlands. Tiesto is probably the most famous Trance DJ at the moment. He has won numerous awards and is one of the highest-paid DJs in the world. He has released seven studio albums, and Hollywood, television, and video games use his music.
Some of his most famous tracks include “Adagio for Strings,” “Traffic,” and “Elements of Life.”
The History of Trance Music
The roots of trance music can be traced back to the early 1990s. The genre began to emerge in Europe, specifically Germany and the Netherlands. Trance music was influenced by other genres like techno, acid house, and new age music.
The first era of trance music is often referred to as the “Golden Age.” This era lasted from the early 1990s to the late 1990s. The Golden Age was defined by its joyful, uplifting sound. This era is characterized by innovation and the evolution of trance away from its techno roots.
The second era of trance music is often called the “Dark Age.” This era lasted from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. The Dark Age has a dark, brooding sound, and this era earned its name because many trance DJs experimented with darker, more aggressive sounds.
The third era of trance music is often referred to as the “New Age.” This era began in the early 2000s and is still ongoing. The New Age has a melodic, emotional sound. Many people consider this the new age because it marked a return to the happy, uplifting sound of the Golden Age.
When trance music first came onto the scene, Europe was the center of the trance world. All the significant DJs, festivals, and organizations played to European crowds, and there was little interest in trance music in other parts of the world. However, in the past few years, trance music has exploded in popularity and is now enjoyed by people worldwide.
The United States has become a significant player in the trance music scene. American DJs like Tritonal and Seven Lions have become very popular, and there are now many American trance festivals, such as Dreamstate and EDC.
What Is Trance Music? Final Thoughts
Trance music has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the early 1990s. The genre has undergone many changes and has evolved into what it is today. Trance music is now one of the most popular genres in the
Now that you know what trance music is, give it a listen! You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it. Check out some of the artists and tracks mentioned in this article. And, if you're feeling ambitious, try your hand at creating trance music yourself.
What's your favorite trance song? Let us know in the comments below.
P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!