Trance is perhaps the most ambiguous dance music genre. It could be defined as very melodic. Some say trance is more or less freeform music evolving partly from house music. And while there is no precise definition, one can describe these tracks as anthemic, epic, and psychedelic.

Trance Music Origins

Musicians in Germany created the original sound of modern trance as early as 1990. Innovative labels like Dragonfly helped the sound gain widespread appeal in the late 1990s. After a more quiet time – what we call the “dance scene”- its repetitive nature allowed club-goers to immerse themselves in a new music form.

Trance borrowed from the rhythmic tempo patterns of techno while including melodic overtones from the house genre popular in Europe. However, the melodies differed from those in euro/club house music. These anthemic elements define the early form of trance. It frequently included a breakdown section when the beat was abandoned for a few bars to concentrate on the melody before returning with a renewed intensity.

Trance became one of the dominant dance music genres by the mid-1990s. It filled a void, being edgier than house music, more calming than drum & bass, and more approachable than techno. By this time, Trance and Progressive house had practically merged under the label “progressive.”

Notable Legends

Artists like Brian Transeau, Paul Van Dyk, Ferry Corsten, and Underworld carried this genre’s dramatic, epic tone. They rose to prominence as leading producers and remixers. Also, DJs like Paul Oakenfold, Sasha, and John Digweed promoted the sound in clubs and pre-recorded mix sales. Trance was still quite popular commercially in the late-1990s. However, it had fragmented into a diverse number of sub-genres.

In 1996, the UK emerged as the new trance movement center, bringing the genre to clubs around the UK, Ibiza, and even the island of clubbers. DJs like Paul Oakenfold, Sasha, and John Digweed began to introduce the party audience to what is now most appropriately referred to as euro trance: long, meandering songs with massive breakdowns and euphoric lead lines that culminated in the 2000s ATB and Delirium sounds.

A basic trance track could have a melodic or vocal hook that has prominence over a bassline, a drum pattern that frequently includes snares or kicks, drum rolls to mark significant moments, and possibly one or two other semi-quantized aural elements to provide texture and enhance the rhythm. Not all trance, however, matches that description. Sometimes, a song’s designation as trance depends just as much on the person performing it as it does on how it sounds.

The 4/4 rhythm is the foundation for this genre, most of which can be upbeat and energizing. Also, it contains euphoric powerful synthetic sounds propelled by a beat and huge melodies, frequently with lengthy breakdowns increasing gradually to instill suspense and anticipation on the dance floor.

If you liked this, please check out these articles on similar topics: