New to Trance?
Check out a couple
of my recs below
to grow acquainted
with the genre:
(All links keep you
within this webpage)

---------------------------------
1. Beautiful,
Energizing, & Repetitive:
Angel (Eteson&Nicky Dub)

---------------------------------
2. Uplifting Symphonic
Trance (Hard,
Repetitive-yet-Beautiful)
Everlasting (Original Mix)

[Skips intro (Skips first 2:32)]

Everlasting (Original Mix)
[Don't Skip Intro (long version)]

---------------------------------
3. Uplifting Symphonic:
Amnesia (SoundLift Remix)

---------------------------------
4. Video of a Concert
(Song is an Electro-y
Hard Electronica Anthem):
Elements of Life

---------------------------------
5. Yet More Anthem Trance:
5a. Old-School Soothing-yet
-Energizing Anthem:
Airwave

5b. Frenzied Euphoric
Fast Old-School (1990s)
Intense Uplifting Anthem:
Walhalla

---------------------------------
6. Uplifting Vocal Trance:
Just Be (Antillas Mix)

---------------------------------
7. Balearic Vocal Trance
(Sad/Reaffirming)
Lost (Original Chill Mix)

---------------------------------
8. Progressive Trance
(Harder, Multi-tempo Chill-Out):
Fake Awake (Blizzard
Remix)

---------------------------------
9. Uplifting Trance
(Electro-y & Latin-y):
Sounds Rushing (David
West Remix)

---------------------------------
10. Vocal Progressive Trance
(Laid-Back):
Punta Del Este (Beach
Mix)

---------------------------------
11. Vocal Trance
(Midtempo Melancholy):
Miracle

---------------------------------
12. Vocal Trance (Harder):
Falling
Everything (Cosmic Gate

Remix) Concert Video

---------------------------------
13. Progressive (fast & uplifting)
: (Wonderful Video of Penguins)
Make This Your Day
(Gareth Emery Dub Rmx)

---------------------------------
14. Vocal Anthem:
Nothing But You

---------------------------------
15. Brief Transitions:
Blossom (Lounge Mix)
In the Past

---------------------------------
16. Chill-Out Balearic Trance:
Sunny Tales (Original)

---------------------------------
17. Trance Downtempo
God Surrounds Us


What is Trance Music?

As mentioned, trance is very popular. The most popular radio show in the world, Armin van Buuren's A State of Trance, describes itself as "Religiously followed by about 30 million listeners every week." Once one starts learning about trance and liking various types of it, it becomes apparent why it's not a hyperbole to state millions of trance aficionados' devotion to the genre can be describes as religious. And its that very devotion that's why many Americans have been turned off from ever checking it out because it seems so over the top.

What about a definition? I'll quote the 2nd edition of the Dance Music Manual: "Trance is one of the most ambiguous genres of dance music because it appears in so many different forms, and few can actually agree on exactly what makes the music trance. However, it's fairly safe to say that it can be roughly generalized as the only form of dance music that's constructed around glamorous melodies which are either incredibly vigorous, laid-back or pretty much anywhere in between." Whereas genres such as house are based on beats and rhythms and interjections and improvisations, trance is all about melodies, usually beautiful ones. Of course, in many trance songs, there will be harder & sometimes harsher or not beautiful elements that contrast with and complement, or generate a psychological anticipation that is quenched when the beautiful part arrives. The contrast makes the beauty so much more satisfying.

To quote various other people about trance:

  • "Trance Music is uplifting, inspiring, happy sort of audological anti-depressant." -on Youtube
  • "it calms me down in an excited state of mind" - on Youtube
  • "contrast of beauty & emotion"
  • "you feel the energy and at the same time the peace"
  • "trance make me feel as though i can do anything if i set my mind to it" - darrenbrown2007
  • "i believe you can have the most *!?+ up life, but if you listen to pieces like this it makes everything seem O.K. ...rush of energy through body and the HIGH without the drugs" - koas578
  • "Life is sometimes hard, but a few minutes watching the sunset and listen to this kind of music can give people much energy." - andrismix5
  • "Everybody likes trance, some are just too shy to admit it. Music this powerful can change anyone."
  • "The New Classical Music"
  • "Pulsing beats and euphoric melodies"
  • "Mesmerized by this unique sound which merged beautiful melodies & rhythmic patterns so beautifully" - DJ/Producer Orjan Nilsen
  • "Pure, deep, uplifting, & melodic euphoria" - Announcer of A State of Trance
  • "I feel a great calm, beautiful... Beautiful music. Just close your eyes and ream... I can fly." - on Youtube
  • "Trance (trans) n. The most sublime, divine, advanced music genre known to man, representing a quantum leap in artistic creativity analogous to the development of the frontal lobe in the human brain." - EmotionalHD
  • "Trance music has a special kind of beauty, a wonderful and incredible sensation... We can't define it with words, just with sound" - The Original HD Trance & Chillout Music Channel
  • Trance stands for all the good things in life and all the good things in humans." - Youtube comment
  • "I don't think any other genre can reach the emotions that trance does." - Lange in DJ Mag.
  • [About a song:] "I want this played at my funeral. This song just reminds people of how great our world is, its a song of pure beauty and brilliance" - Youtube comment
  • "Trance isn't just a kind of music, like too many others. It's a style of life too. A wonderful, peaceful life. Discovering how our lives can be so beautiful... Understanding that we are just little things in this universe, but big enough to be happy" - The Original HD Trance & Chillout Music Channel
  • "Trance music is made to Elevate your Mind Automatically, you do not Need drugs to Enjoy!" -UltraTranceParadise
  • "So beautiful... i feel like flying." - Youtube comment
  • "trance music is a life style , a passion and an antidote to any bad feeling in the world."
  • "Trance is the meaning of life it touches you and fulls your heart with love and brings tears to your eyes...beautiful" - tec888star
  • "This sound is made by God himself"
  • "Trance is Love & Peace" [This is actually someone's iTunes username]
  • "Most trance producers will say they write 'emotional' and 'uplifting' stuff, but I feel the meaning of those words has been lost over the years.... my main concentration is to really make the melodies do the talking. I approach each production as something I want people to enjoy listening, something I really want them to feel, or give them chills." - DJ Eco
  • "I don't really focus on it being 'dance music' or something to play in clubs, because it's not just 'club music' anymore, it's the soundtrack to many people's lives who have fallen in love with this music." - DJ Eco
  • "The heavenly hymns of the angels" (about Andy Blueman's music)
  • Me: "I like trance b/c it's so spiritual, so beautiful, so uplifting." B: "Yeah, that's what trance is all about. It's like going to church. You get out & you feel good. All your problems are gone."

To again quote the Dance Music Manual 2nd edition, "Trance...deals mostly with emotional waves, consisting of building and dropping the arrangement to generate an emotional state in the audience. Mathematics play a part in this, created by collecting and introducing sounds every 4, 8, 16, or 32 bars, depending on the individual elements used within the track and the required length." (More on that below)

Much trance has the goal is to make everybody loving & happy either in a peaceful or an energized, usually spiritually uplifting & expansive, way. Much trance aims to give you a "rush", an amazing & deeply satisfying & fulfilling emotional/physiological feeling hard to describe, usually generated by the climax after a buildup or breakdown. Some trance leaves people describing that they feel they are flying in the sky over the ocean even when they haven't done any drugs.

Much trance has long buildups and then breakdowns (where the compositions is broken down into minimal elements by removing parts of the song, either gradually or suddenly, after which the melody or vocal is reintroduced more quietly). A point of buildups is to set your bodys internal pace either slower or faster so that it resonates perfectly when the climactic melody comes. Fake Awake above is an example where it first slows you down so your emotions will resonate with the slow melody, & then speeds you up to resonate with the fast. If I listen to its slow or fast climax without the corresponding buildups, it doesn't resonate or create a rush. Some songs buildups can be very long; eg, in Suburban Train & Find Me, the initial buildup lasts past the first half of the song. Again, the goal is to change your emotions to prepare the melody to launch you into bliss or calm you down.

Trance music can use any instrument, real or electronic. As there is no limit on what sounds or timbres can be used, producers can get quite creative. As for traditional instruments, the piano is very popular in much progressive trance, and acoustic guitars are not uncommon, but both are very rare in anthem trance. One hears in trance tracks such diverse instruments as electric guitars and whale or bird sounds. Any sound, especially a snippet of a vocal sound, can be sampled and changed or combined in many ways, and modified vocal samples are often used, usually with repetitive, in many tracks.

Trance has a zillion subgenres, & it can sound classical-y to house-y to pop-y to electronic-y to jazzy to techno-y to opera-y to latin-y to hip-hop-y to electro-house-y to ambient-y to new-age-y. It's othing like its dark, twisted, & psychedelic Israeli relative psy-trance, trance usually aims to uplift you into feeling good, at the same time content while energized, and expansive & emotional & full of love & empathy while either activated or mellowed. Then theres euphoric trance, which makes you high-in-the-sky happy & connected with the universe, while some other songs are more melancholy, with others designed to drain energy & slow people down, undoing the effects of other songs. More precisely, the following is a list of major subgenres (I didn't make these up): Acid Trance, Ambient Trance, Anthem Trance, Breaktrance, Classic Trance, Deep Trance, Dream Trance, Dutch Trance, Epic Trance, Euro-trance, Electro Trance, Euphoric, Futurepop, German Trance, Hardstyle, Hard Trance, Ibiza/Balearic Trance, Melodic Trance, Neo-trance, Progressive Trance, (Goa/Psychadelic Trance, Psybreaks, Psybient, Psyfunk, Dark Psytrance, Full On, Nitzhonot, Progressive Goa, Progressive Psytrance, Suomisaundi), Symphonic Trance, Tech Trance, Trancecore, Tribal Trance, Uplifting Trance, & Vocal Trance. I am a fan of all of these except the ones in parentheses, but mostly just follow Anthem, Uplifting, Euphoric, Progressive, and Balearic.

One of the most definied characteristics of trance music is the beats per minute: Anthem trance will almost always be between 135–145 bpm, and progressive trance will almost always be 125–135 bpm. To compare with other music genres, ambient is usually 80–120, R'n'B is usually 80–105, Hip-Hop is usually 80–120, progressive house is usually 115–125, house in general is usually 110-–140, disco is usually 110–135, garage is usually 120–140, hard house is usually 130–150, techno is usually 130–160, psychedelic trance (in which Israel is a world leader) is usually 140–160, and drum 'n' bass is usually 165–200 bpm. (The bpm of 137 (your average uplifting trance bpm) is sometimes called "disco heaven" because there's an urban legend that it corresponds to the heartrate of clubbers dancing.)

That the bpm is so fast does not mean the music necessarily sounds fast. The bpm is a musical characteristic of the structure of the song, but instruments need not go at that rate. To give examples of pieces that sound really slow but have fast bpms:

  • Battleship Grey (linked at right) actually has a bpm of 139.
  • In the Past (linked at left) actually has a bpm of 136.
But regardless of how fast or slow or hard or soft a piece feels, if it's built around a melody and if its bpm is 125–145, then it's almost certainly considered trance, and if not, not.


Trance's Connection to House & Techno

In terms of confusing trance with other genres, house can actually be seen as a base on top of which trance is created. To quote the website moodbook.com,"Yes, in some ways trance is derived from house and techno, but this derivation is just a matter of taking the proper power supply. Look, airplanes consume diesel oil in order to be capable of flight. They just cannot fly without fuel, yet they are not fuel! They are much more complex than plain, simple diesel petrolium oil. Now draw and see an analogy, airplanes is trance, and diesel fuel is house, that's it."

From a pure music producer's standpoint, the following elements build up a basic trance track on top of a solid, house-powered beat and energetic, techno-powered progressive sound:

-Rifts, rolls, breakdowns and buildups.
-Short samples often going into 16th and 32nd notes.
-Anthems.
-Highly intermixed major and minor chords.

An article about trance notes, "Trance music offered an alternative to the techno and house music of the era, in that the genre was thought to be a musical style that was intended to help revitalize people, rather than be a vehicle for perpetuating stereotypes or promoting political agendas."


The Power of 2 Rule

Whereas in many other genres of music where elements almost always repeat four times and then something changes, in trance, musical elements can repeat any power of two: 1, 2, 4, 8, even 16, or even 32 (like the intro to Make This Your Day in the table at left). More technically, to quote Wikipedia, "Phrases are usually a power of two number of bars in most typical progressive trance tracks. Phrases usually begin with the introduction of a new or different melody or rhythm."

People who don't now this think some trance is repetitive, but this structure (if one knows it) actually heightens suspense & tension, which makes the melodies even more satisfying.

When you hear something for the fourth time, you don't know whether something new will now be introduced or if the same thing will repeat again. If it does repeat for the fifth time, you then know you'll hear the same thing again 3 more times and then the time after that something new or different may or not happen. So when that eighth time comes, again your body doesn't know what to expect. Maybe something new will happen. And if it again doesn't, you know you'll wait 8 more times again. So the tension created is tied to short bits of predictability, and a psychological balance between the repetitive and the tension is central to why trance has the effect it does.


On Facebook

The left & below links
show 4 trance genres:
- Uplifting/Anthem Tr.
- Progressive Trance
- Vocal Trance
- Balearic Trance
(Within these, trance producers
often merge trance with house,
jazz, ambient, classical, indie,
electro, psy-trance, pop, hip-
hop, techno, alt., Euro/HiNRG,
Latin, chill-out, or downtempo.)
----------------------------
In case you like a
couple of my
recommendations at
left, below (random
order), are more of
my all-time favorites:

----------------------------
Concert Video:
Classical-Based
Distorted-Sounds Anthem:
Adagio For Strings

Beautiful, Sweet, sortof
Sad-yet-Uplifting,
Ardent-yet-Serene, Rush-giving
Vocal Trance:
Angel (Original Mix)

Euphoric Trance:
Suburban Train in concert
  • Abbreviated version vid
  • Clip w Children's Choir in Concert
  • Version w Children's Choir in Concert
Forever Today

Moving yet bright:
Horizonte (Andy Blueman
Intro Mix)


Panic Alleviation:
Deep Breath Contact (Myon
& Shane 54 Mashup)


Breath-taking, Majestic Symphonic Uplifting:
Florescence (Emotional Mix)
Florescence (Epic Mix)
The World To Come (Andy
Blueman Mix)

Florescence (Original Mix)

Chill-Out Anthem:
Driving to Heaven (Matan
Zohar Remix)


Chill-out Downtempo Trance:
Fruits & Passion (Armin's
Downtempo Mix)

A Balearic Dinner (Chill Mix)

Russian, Classical Influenced,
Melodramatic "Epic" Anthem
Trance mixed w/ Techo-Trance:
Invisible Touch (Ferry
Corsten Remix)


Vocal Symphonic Uplifting:
Arctic Kiss (Andy Blueman Remix)

More calming-energizing
Symphonic Uplifting:
L'Acrobat (Andy Blueman Remix)
True Romance (Original Mix)

Introspective Vocal:
Just Listen

Soft Melancholy Vocal:
Breaking Ties (Flow Mix)

Entrancing emotional vocal repetition:
Safe (Wherever You Are) (Rank 1 Remix)

Latin-y:
La Noche
Beyond

Hard Intense Uplifting Anthem:
Destination Sunshine

Lyrical Vocal Progressive:
See The Sun (Aurosonic
Remix)

Sirens of the Sea

Lyrical Vocal Progressive:
Rush (Arty, Dan Stone Remix)
Rush (Mat Zo)

Shamanistic-Ritual-Like:
Zanzibar

Easy Listening-ish Vocal:
Close to You

Hard Techno-y Vocal:
We Belong (Tritonal Air up
There Remix)

Reason to Believe

Hard Background Music-y:
Peace (Breakfast Remix)

Mashup of chill soft Balearic & Epic Uplifting:
Lost Together (Armin van Buuren Mashup)

Deep Progressive, Almost House:
Anjunabeach

Pop-y:
Freefalling

If you're exhausted, calm, &
emotionally drained:
Downtempo Electronic
Melancholy Progressive:
Battleship Grey

Rougher Progressive:
Scrubs (Concert Video)
Reflect

Midspeed Melancholy Vocal:
In My Memory
Ashes

Calming Flowing Uptempo
Progressive:
In Motion (Andy Blueman Remix)

Energizing-yet-Calming
Progressive:
Fever
776 Miles

Chill-Out Jazzy Progressive:
Pacific

Progressive:
Fahrenheit

Energizing Progressive:
Downhill

Opera-ish(?) Vocal Progressive:
Call of Loneliness

Very Traditional "Epic" Anthem:
Healesville Sanctuary
(Roger Shah Mix)

Birth of an Angel

Yet More Self-Affirmational Vocal:
On a Good Day (Original Mix)

More Vocal Effects:
Tuvan

Flamenco Trance:
Flamenco Mediterraneo

Ambient Chill-Out:
Tri-State

Soft Romantic Vocal:
Good for Me
On the Beach

Medium Romantic Vocal:
I Am Strong
You Take My Breath Away (DJ
Tiesto Remix)

Can You Feel It

Balearic Trance:
Body Lotion (Inspirations
Mix)

So Far

Edgy Symphonic Uplifting:
Tuvan (Andy Blueman Remix)

Rough Electro-Housey Vocal:
In And Out Of Love /
Lost Connection (Mashup)


More Vocal Trance:
Right Back
Far Away (Club Mix)
Sanctuary (Club Mix)

Varied Mixes of Same Vocal Trance Song:
Waiting (Original Mix)
Waiting (First State Remix)
Waiting (Sean Tyas Remix)
Waiting (Acoustic Version)

De-Stress/Wind-Down:
As the Rush Comes (Tiesto
Demo Mix)


Danceable Balearic w Spanish Guitar:
A Balearic Breakfast (Dance Mix)

Mix of electroy & symphonic uplifting:
Trapeze (Original)

Uplifting w Electric Guitar:
Time To Rest (Live Guitar By Eller Van Buuren)
Lenda

More Symphonic Uplifting:
Circles (Andy Blueman Remix)
Nyctalopia (Original Mix)

Cheerful Uplifting:
Long Way Back (Six Senses Remix)