What the hell is trance music?

HI! Aaron here again, still investigating genres. This time I thought we’d check out trance music. Here’s an example of a pretty typical (although creative for the genre) trance song:

First thing I notice – a spiritual transcendent energy. Sawtooth synths that are more melodic than techno or house. You’re in the same ballpark, with BPM’s at 120-140bpm, 4/4 time signatures and of course, the 808 kick on every beat. The snare is even more de-emphasized, but it’s still there. Usually an 808 or a 909 clap sound (I’ll talk about what an 808 and 909 is tomorrow, how about?). There’s usually another 808 snare that does some filling too. And, at times, the snare is out.

But I think the most important defining factor about trance is the sawtooth synth with the super transcendent melodies. Trance is DEFINITELY for taking you to another place, which of course is often enhanced with drugs. Trance songs don’t usually have an A-B-A-B verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure – trance tracks just sort of build and build, and go and go and go. There will usually be a drop or two where the track goes down to nearly nothing. You can literally do this repeating for hours and hours and if you’re mixing it live, all you have to do is follow the feeling (or drop when you need to catch your breath 😉 ).

Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say:

Trance is a genre of electronic music that developed during the 1990s in Germany.[5] It is characterized by a tempo lying between 125 to mid 140 beats per minute (BPM),[5] repeating melodic phrases,[5] and a musical form that distinctly builds tension and elements throughout a track often culminating in 1 to 2 “peaks” or “drops.”[5] Although trance is a genre of its own, it liberally incorporates influences from other electronic music styles such as techno,[3] house,[1] pop,[3] chill-out[3] classical music,[3][4] tech house, ambient and film music.[4]

I just said that! 😉

Let’s take a look at some “early” trance type stuff – Paul Van Dyke is often credited as being one of the first…

Ahh – yes – you can hear the connection between that mix and the newer Tiesto stuff. But as usually happens, things become bigger and more aggressive as they evolve…

Here’s a quote from Wikipedia that definitely connects Third Option to trance:

Rapid arpeggios and minor keys are common features of Trance, the latter being almost universal.

We’ve never used a major key in any Third Option production – ever. 🙂 And as I go through tracks, I do hear trance elements in Third Option stuff…observe:

[sc_embed_player fileurl=”http://www.nquit.com/sounds/ThirdOption/CultOfNice/03ThirdOptionPossibility.mp3″] Possibility – wait until 2:38…

I love Urban Dictionary’s first definition:

A euphoric electronic dance music genre that’s the love child of classical music, house & techno. In essence classical music for the dancefloor or ‘the next generation of classical music’.

And wait for it…another quote from Wikipedia:

Uplifting trance is also known as “anthem trance”, “epic trance”,[3] “stadium trance”, or “euphoric trance”,[5] and has been strongly influenced by classical music both in the 1990s[3] and at present…

Remember when I said Third Option has always been referred to as “techno/classical fusion”? That’s because what we do is use classical style melody and structure (classical music doesn’t adhere to pop song structure, as you probably know)…so…are we…”uplifting trance?”…or just simply trance because we try to do euphoric classical music using new technology?

The thing is, again, even though that fits us very well…I don’t think you can put us in the “trance” category really… and that’s part of the point of this series of genre investigations, I think. Like I said in “what the hell is techno music“, there’s an un languagable thing, which eventually just comes down to listening and knowing, it either is or it isn’t…

Ok…I need to keep this short…but I hope you’re enjoying these investigations. I’ll explain what the hell a TR808 and TR909 is tomorrow, I think, and then we can get into some other more esoteric genres. We’ll never get done with electronic music, but hopefully we’ll get somewhere.

If you want our free downloads, they’re up at thirdoptionmusic.com/free-music and of course, email me at thirdoption @ nquit . com to discuss anything! 🙂

— Aaron

Scroll to Top