An exploration of Trance

It’s a hot, humid night in Amsterdam. A warehouse packed with people drinking beer and dancing to fast house music. The DJ cuts the vocal so that just the high-end frequencies remain. He mixes in some drum beats and filters them through a synthesizer to make them sound like an Eastern tabla. His next move is to pitch down the track and bring up the reverb effect on his mixer console. This moment, right here, is when trance music was born.

If you have ever heard of it before, it’s because this particular subgenre of electronic dance music has since spawned many other subgenres based on its principles and ideas. Trance music today covers many genres that are all different from one another. And each one of them can be traced back to its origins as well as take inspiration from its principles still used today by artists around the world.

What is Trance Music?

Trance music is a broad umbrella term for many different subgenres of electronic dance music (EDM) that are characterized by hypnotic rhythms, soaring melodies, a big focus on the build, and a general uplifting energy. Trance DJs often use harmonic mixing to transition from one song to another by moving through different harmonic frequencies and maintaining those harmonic connections throughout an entire set.

A trance track might start off in one direction and then abruptly change directions, going from high energy to ultra low energy and back again. Trance music can also be thought of as an endless progression towards a climatic moment that never actually arrives. However one of the defining characteristics of trance music is a discernible build in the track that leads to a moment of euphoria.

One it had become established in The Netherlands Trance grew in the U.K. garage scene during a period of musical innovation and creativity in the 1990s.

Trance Culture

Trance music culture is a scene that has attracted people from all walks of life and various subcultures. This is because it’s more than just a genre of music—it’s a way of life. One only needs to look at the artwork of trance DJ/producer duo Infected Mushroom. Their artwork is inspired by the imagery of the Hindu gods and other eastern religions; this is because many producers in the trance scene have a spiritual connection to their music. There are also many trance artists who are inspired by sci-fi and fantasy. Trance music festivals have become some of the biggest EDM festivals in the world.

The particular subgenre of trance music that originated in the Netherlands came to be known as ‘Amsterdam trance’. The pioneers of this subgenre were largely inspired by the “Goa” sound that was coming out of India at the time. The scene was very much driven by parties in warehouses and outdoors. The main focuses were the drugs, the music, and the culture that grew around it. The majority of DJs were vinyl only and were inspired by the progressive sound of Goa trance.

The Origins of Trance Music

Some people might say that trance music is a relatively new genre, but it actually has a long and rich history. The first ever commercially-released track that was a trance track was “Go” by Humate. This was released in 1995 and it is considered the first track ever to be a trance track. Trance music began in the 1980s in the Netherlands when producers started experimenting with the genre by taking inspiration from goa trance, which is a psychedelic trance subgenre. They were trying to make music that was more melodic and had a stronger beat than other psychedelic subgenres. This is how classic trance was born. During that time, the majority of trance tracks had vocals in them. The vocals were usually female because male vocals were considered too aggressive. These vocals were usually sung in English, German, or Italian and they were all about positive thinking, love, and emotions.

What Is Classic Trance?

Classic trance was the first type of trance music that became popular in the 1990s. It was characterized by a 4/4 beat and had a steady bassline and a rising melody, often accompanied by a breakdown at about the middle of the song. The key elements in classic trance music were the lead and bass guitar, the vocal melody, and the kick drum, which are similar to the elements found in other types of music such as jazz and blues. A lot of classic trance music was instrumental, but some songs featured vocalists as well.

There were many artists who contributed to the popularity of classic trance music during the 1990s, such as Paul Van Dyk, ATB, and Armin Van Buuren.

Uplifting Trance

Uplifting trance is a mix of melodies, chords, and vocals that are extremely bright, happy, and uplifting. The rhythms are fast, the basslines are melodic, and the tracks are upbeat and energetic. Uplifting trance is often compared to pop music due to the fact that the melodies sound like they could be in a commercial. The vocalists often sing in a high register and have very happy lyrics. The lyrics are often about love and/or finding yourself.

Vocal Trance

Vocal trance takes the classic trance style and adds vocals that are often melodic and/or contain lyrics. The lyrics are often positive and uplifting, but not always. Vocal trance often features a female singer whose voice is often high pitched, bright, and very ethereal sounding. Some vocal trance songs feature male singers as well, but it’s more common to hear female singers due to the nature of how the human voice sounds.

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and Psychedelic Trance

Psychedelic trance is a subgenre of EDM that was influenced by the trance music of the 1990s. Psychedelic trance often uses a mixture of uplifting trance and classic trance. Psychedelic trance can be very experimental and is often a subgenre of trance where the DJs add in various effects and sounds.

Trance music has always been a popular genre of music among the psytrance subculture. Many psytrance artists are influenced by trance music and have been inspired by classic trance artists.

Progressive Trance and Big Room Trance

Big room trance is a subgenre of EDM that’s been influenced by classic trance and progressive trance. Big room trance mixes the fast-paced rhythms of uplifting trance with the melodic nature of classic trance. Big room trance is mostly played at large EDM festivals and/or performed by large DJ groups. It is a slower, more melodic style of EDM that focuses on the buildup of a track more so than the drop.


Trance music has its origins in the early 1990s and is what many people would call a subgenre of house music. Since the early 1990s, trance music has evolved into many different subgenres, with many of them taking inspiration from classic trance. Trance music has become very popular in the last decade and has evolved into many different subgenres, each with its own unique sound.