Trance music

Trance is a genre of electronic music[7] that emerged from the British new-age music scene and the early 1990s German techno and hardcore scenes.[2][3] At the same time trance music was developing in Europe, the genre was also gathering a following in the Indian state of Goa.[10]

Trance music is characterized by a tempo lying between 110–150 bpm (BPM),[6] repeating melodic phrases[6] and a musical form that distinctly builds tension and elements throughout a track often culminating in 1 to 2 "peaks" or "drops".[6] Although trance is a genre of its own, it liberally incorporates influences from other musical styles such as techno,[4][2] house,[1][2] pop,[4] chill-out,[4] classical music,[4][5] tech house, ambient and film music.[5]

A trance is a state of hypnotism and heightened consciousness.[11] This is portrayed in trance music by the mixing of layers with distinctly foreshadowed build-up and release. A common characteristic of trance music is a mid-song climax followed by a soft breakdown disposing of beats and percussion entirely,[4][6] 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][6]

Trance is mostly instrumental, although vocals can be mixed in: typically they are performed by mezzo-soprano to soprano female soloists, often 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.[12][13]


The "Trance" name may refer to an induced emotional feeling, high, euphoria, chills, or uplifting rush that listeners claim to experience, or it may indicate an actual trance-like state the earliest forms of this music attempted to emulate in the 1990s before the genre's focus changed. A writer for Billboard magazine writes, “Trance music is perhaps best described as a mixture of 70s disco and 60s psychedelia”.[14]

Another possible antecedent is Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima's electronic soundtracks for the Streets of Rage series of video games from 1991 to 1994.[15][16][17] It was promoted by the well-known UK club-night "Megatripolis" (London, at Heaven on Thursdays) whose scene catapulted it to international fame.[18]

Examples of early trance releases include but are not limited to KLF's 1988 release 'What Time Is Love' (Pure Trance 1),[19] German duo Jam & Spoon's 1992 12" Single remix of the 1990 song "The Age Of Love",[1] and German duo Dance 2 Trance's 1990 track "We Came in Peace".[6]

The writer Bom Coen traces the roots of trance to Paul van Dyk's 1993 remix of Humate's "Love Stimulation".[1] However, Van Dyk's trance origins can be traced further back to his work with Visions of Shiva, being the first tracks he released[20] In subsequent years, one genre, vocal trance, arose as the combination of progressive elements and pop music,[4] and 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.[21][22]


Classic trance employs a 4/4 time signature,[6] a tempo of 125 to 150 BPM,[6] and 32 beat phrases and is somewhat faster than house music.[23] A kick drum is usually placed on every downbeat and a regular open hi-hat is often placed on the upbeat.[6] Extra percussive elements are usually added, and 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 or phrase.[6]

Rapid arpeggios and minor keys are common features of Trance, the latter being almost universal. 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.[6] Instruments are added or removed every 4, 8, 16, or 32 bars.[6]

In the section before the breakdown, the lead motif is often introduced in a sliced up and simplified form,[6] to give the audience a "taste" of what they will hear after the breakdown.[6] Then later, the final climax is usually "a culmination of the first part of the track mixed with the main melodic reprise".[6]

As is the case with many dance music tracks, trance tracks are usually built with sparser intros ("mix-ins") and outros ("mix-outs") in order to enable DJs to blend them together immediately.[4][6]

More recent forms of trance music 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 trance stay true to their melodic breakdowns and longer transitions.[24]


Trance music is broken into a number of subgenres including acid trance, classic trance, 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",[6] 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 Euro-trance, which has become a general term for a wide variety of highly commercialized European dance music. 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.

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."[25]

Music festivals

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


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 80's and through all of the 1990s[7]

  • China: Spirit Tribe is a regular event outside of Kunming, Yunnan, China.[26]
  • India: The Sunburn Festival was launched in December 2007 as South Asia's first electronic music festival, and featured heavyweights like DJ Carl Cox and John '00' Fleming. Located by the seaside in Goa, on India's west coast, the festival has its roots in Goa trance, centred around Anjuna beach. Sunburn had more than 5,000 party-goers attend a three-day event in December 2008. At the 2009 festival, DJs such as Armin Van Buuren and Sander van Doorn headlined when audience numbers were approx 15,000 . At the 2010 festival, when the likes of Paul Van Dyk and many other DJ's played the estimated attendance rose to about 30,000 people. The 2015 the festival achieved a record-breaking attendance with over 350,000 people attending the event to experience world class DJ's with the likes of Martin Garrix and Afrojack.[27]
  • Thailand: Full Moon Party, since 1985. Held each month on the island of Ko Pha-ngan. Thousands of people from across the world gather on Haad Rin Nok (Sunrise Beach) to dance to trance during full moons. Transmission, originally from Prague, also holds events in Bangkok.
  • Japan: Rebirth Festival
  • Israel: Total Eclipse.



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 worlds 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 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 (July 1) 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 last 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 Years 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.[34]
  • 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.
  • Imagine Music Festival, a 3-day annual EDM festival with 5 stages that occurs in a southern suburb of Atlanta, Georgia with optional outdoor camping.
  • 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 and Thorndale, Texas organized by Insomniac Events, held at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, California in either August or September.
  • Beyond Wonderland, an electronic dance festival in Northern California organized by Insomniac Events.
  • Dreamstate, first produced by festival organizer Insomniac Events on November 27–28, 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 Chatahoochee Hills, Georgia. Organized by ID&T, TomorrowWorld is a sister festival to TomorrowLand.
  • Sonic Bloom, three-day annual electronic/psytrance music festival in Rye, Colorado.
  • Spring Awakening, 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


  • Buenos Aires NRG Parade
  • Creamfields BA
  • Energy Rave Day
  • Ravevolution
  • Street Parade Buenos Aires


  • Shivaneris Easter Festival
  • Trance in Moon
  • Festival Mundo de Oz
  • Universo Paralelo
  • Tribe & Psychogarden


  • Arkana Festival


  • Empire Music Festival, an electronic dance festival rather done on Guatemala City or in Southern Guatemala mainly in Escuintla, various local and International DJ's take part in this festival, in the year 2000 the Ignaural Event invitee was none other than Paul Van Dyk this event is organized by Empire Promotions Inc. Cosmic Gate, The Thrillseekers, Blank & Jones, Paul Van Dyk and Above & Beyond are regular guests to this festival.
  • Summer Fest, formerly Gallo Music Fest, is an electronic music festival mainly done on the Southern Guatemala mainly in Escuintla or in Retalhuleu, various local and International DJ's take part in this festival, this festival was ignaurated on the year 2005 and among the Ignaural Event they brought artists such as Dash Berlin , Armin Van Buuren and Tiësto and the event is organized by Cervecería Centro Americana S.A.

See also


  1. Bom, Coen (2009). Armin Only: A Year in the Life of the World's No. 1 DJ. Oxford, UK: Dutch Media Uitgevers BV. ISBN 978-90-488-0323-1: p. 15
  2. "Trance". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  3. "34 reasons why trance is the greatest dance music of all". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. 2014-03-29. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  4. Fassbender, Torsten (2008). The Trance Experience. Knoxville, Tennessee: Sound Org Inc. ISBN 978-0-2405-2107-7: p. 15, 16, 17, 19
  5. Webber, Stephen (2008). DJ Skills: The Essential Guide to Mixing and Scratching. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Press. ISBN 978-0-240-52069-8: p. 35
  6. Snoman, Rick (2009). The Dance Music Manual: Tools, Toys, and Techniques – Second Edition. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Press. ISBN 0-9748438-4-9: p. 251, 252, 253, 266
  7. St John, Graham (1 June 2004). Rave Culture and Religion. Routledge. p. 242. ISBN 9781134379729. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  8. Hewitt, Michael (2009). Composition for Computer Musicians. Knoxville, Tennessee: Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-59863-861-5: p. 9
  9. "Goa Trance". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-02-25. Retrieved 2017-02-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. Weir, Dennis R. (May 2006). Trance: from Magic to Technology. Trance Research Foundation. ISBN 9781888428391. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  12. Hawkins, Erik (2004). The Complete Guide to Remixing. Boston, MA: Berklee Press. ISBN 0-87639-044-0: p. 51
  13. Trance Music—What is Trance Music?
  14. PhD, Kathryn A. Becker-Blease (2004-07-13). "Dissociative States Through New Age and Electronic Trance Music". Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. 5 (2): 89–100. doi:10.1300/J229v05n02_05. ISSN 1529-9732.
  15. McNeilly, Joe (April 19, 2010). "Game music of the day: Streets of Rage 2". GamesRadar. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  16. Ryan. "Streets of Rage 2 Original Soundtrack (US): Review". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  17. "Streets of Rage 3 review—Sega Megadrive". Mean Machines. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  18. Norman, Ben. "Can You Tell Trance Music from Ambient Music?". LiveAbout. Retrieved 2019-11-02.
  19. Harrison, Andrew (April 27, 2017). "Return of the KLF: 'They were agents of chaos. Now the world they anticipated is here'". Retrieved November 22, 2019 via
  20. "Paul Van Dyk - Dance FM". April 27, 2017. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  21. "Is Trance Dead?". Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  22. M., John. "A history of trance music". Archived from the original on 26 December 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  23. Hewitt, Michael (2008). Music Theory for Computer Musicians. Boston, MA: Course Technology. ISBN 978-1-59863-503-4
  24. Paterson, Angus. "Above & Beyond talk shop on Australian tour & 'trance 2.0'". inthemix. nthemix Pty Ltd. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  25. "Progressive Trance". AllMusic.
  26. "A look back at April's Spirit Tribe Trance celebration". GoKunming. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  27. Meadow, Matthew. "Martin Garrix & Other Top 100 DJs Helped This EDM Festival Break Massive Record". Your EDM. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  28. "Waldfrieden Events GmbH". Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  29. "Monday Bar -". Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  30. "SUMMER SOUND FESTIVAL 2015". Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  31. "Dreamland Greece". Archived from the original on 23 November 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  32. "Mythody Greece". Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  33. Jessop, Tara. "The History Of Manumission Parties In Ibiza". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  34. "Decadence NYE 2018". Decadence NYE 2018. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  35. [

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