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Definition and Origin of Trance Music - Subgenres of Trance (Hard Trance, Uplifting, Tech Trance, Vocal Trance and more

[EDITOR'S NOTE: It was not easy to find many sources. Thankfully, I listen to trance since I heard my first piece, what was about 3 years ago (Feb. 2009). The following research took several hours and I tried to make them as accurate as possible.]


Trance is an electronic dance genre and has about 125-150 beats per minute. It has been increasing in popularity all over the world ever since it started. Since then, many styles have emerged out of trance and subgenres formed, what makes it possible to have an almost infinite variety of trance songs. By some listeners, it is said that trance is the “new classic music”, since it evokes a euphoric, uplifted, trance-state feeling in the listener.

Roots of Trance

The origin of trance is hard to define. One might argue that already in religious songs there were trance-like features. In the early 1980’s experimental electronic music producer Klaus Schulze composed several “space music” albums, where two of them had “trance” in their title (“Trancefer, 1981, and “En=Trance”, 1987). In the late 1980’s, the label KLF in the UK published their first “proto-trance” songs, which they categorisedunder “pure trance”. One could say this is the foundation of the early trance songs. But it was in the beginning of the early 1990’s, where in Germany, Frankfurt, a massive dance party took place and also the trance label “dance 2 trance” brought out the most popular trance songs to that time. With the trance songs “Age of Love – Age of love” and “We came in Peace – Age of Love” (the first one was on the a-side the other one of the b-side of the vinyl) it is said that Germany was the origin of “true” trance.

Characteristics and Structure of Trance

Every subgenre of trance is subject to a clearly defined structure and law. Namely the following:

This part of a trance song introduces itself with a bassline and it builds up the intensity of the song by adding a synthesized melody and percussion. Rhythmic elements like kickdrums and tom-toms are added in order to increase the loudness and intensity and therefore this part induces the way to the climax.

This part is mainly coined by sharp drops of the beats and only with a leading melody. The listener therefore expects a change.

The melodic instruments return (drums and percussion) and the bass line becomes much more prominent in this part. New instruments and melodies are also added in this part.

In this ending part, the song is ant-climaxing. The kickdrum becomes the important beat along with some chords and a bass line. This part is also very important to the songwriter himself, because if it is too complicated, Dj’s in clubs will not play the song, since they can hardly mix it with the next trance song.

Subgenres of Trance

Trance has probably the greatest spectra of subgenres of all other music directions. They range from uplifting and calming styles to fast and intense beats.

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Uplifting Trance
Also often referred to epic, anthem, emotional or euphoric trance, this large subgenre describes the feeling one gets from this songs. Often, they uplift the listener or even “touch their soul”. It has a lighter tone than the other subgenres of trance and was also influenced by classical music in its emergence.
YouTube appearance: Pictures are often calm and wonderful landscapes, but can also be clouds or flowers some times. Some uploaders also have videos about a landscape and other beautiful scenes from our nature

Hard Trance
It is coined with strong and hard kicks and has 130-150 bpm. Hard Trance features a stronger bass line and the melody is often more aggressive in comparison with the other subgenres.
YouTueb appearance: Hard Trance pictures have often a space theme. Sometimes, they are more abstract, but mostly space or planet pictures. An exception is the Dragon Ball Z series of hard trance videous

Tech Trance
Tech Trance is very percussive and rhythmically stressed. Tech Trance has a very complex rhythmical structure and sound design. A melody only occurs for a short time and only if it subtly adds to the whole complex. It is often played in clubs, but barely on big raves and radios. Its tempo ranges from 135 bpm to 145 bpm.

Progressive Trance
It has a tempo speed between 130 bpm and 135 bpm. As the name already suggests it slowly builds up intensity by adding slowly more instruments along the song. Songs are often minimalistically distinct, but the melody on its own is more detailed and refined.

Vocal Trance
In this subgenre, vocals plays the leading role in a song and has a tempo of 134 bpm to 142 bpm. Vocal trance songs are often melodic and harmonic and their structure orientates to a certain extend on pop music. That is why vocal trance songs are often suitable for radios appearances and as chart hits.
YouTube appearance: Vocal Trance videos have most of the time beautiful models. Sometimes, there are also pictures of clouds or other calming and nice to look at pictures.

Important Producers

Cosmic Gate
Armin van Buuren
DJ Tatana
Aly & Fila
Above & Beyond
Ferry Corsten
Gareth Emery


stud on January 04, 2016:

really I don't find anything hypnotizing or calming in all trance sounds , it maybe one out of ten thousands vocal song that I can say well this is a tune or song but really I believe is just a propaganda , but I rather love to hear real music that have great lyrics , good catching beat with beautifull catchy melody , that's what all what the music is all about & I respect ur opinion and ur choice but its my opinion and I have really study lot the trance but I still didn't find the hook line in both ( music or lyric) and that I call it emphty music!!! the dj

Slaven Cvijetic (author) from Switzerland, Zurich on December 05, 2012:

I did, nice site you got! Thank god, I understand Russian, but you enable to change the language to English ;).

neowave on December 05, 2012:

Check out my Roots Of Trance Project

Slaven Cvijetic (author) from Switzerland, Zurich on February 16, 2012:

I am glad to hear that people appreciate my work! Thank you for your kind compliment!

Slaven Cvijetic (author) from Switzerland, Zurich on February 16, 2012:

As is said it, the origin is a bit complicated case. It could be the UK although the label KFL didn't make "the" trance, rather a proto-type of it. Germany is considered to be the origin, because there already Schulze was experimenting and he already had somehow of trancey songs. But I guess the most crucial point was that in Frankfurt a massive party took place, where only trance music was played plus the first real trance songs of "age of love" came from Germany. I hope I was able to help you.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on February 15, 2012:

I have learned from you what "trance" is all about. Very interesting and well written hub. I appreciate all your hard work. Great! Voted up!

anonn on February 15, 2012:

why is it sad that germany is the origin? wtf?

Slaven Cvijetic (author) from Switzerland, Zurich on February 15, 2012:

Thank you for the kind compliment! I almost thought you are going to say that my writing was filled with mistakes. And I am glad to hear that I could tell you something about trance in this hub!

Maria del Pilar Perez from Nicholson, Pennsylvania, USA on February 15, 2012:

Hello, and welcome to HubPages.

If grammar school in Switzerland is for 18 and under I must say your writing style is very mature. Your research is excellent and writing technique polished.

The topic is foreign to me. I had never heard of trance and you have updated me very well.

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