Trance; not just a state of mind

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Rants, Raves, and Education

Technical definition

Classic trance usually employs a 4/4 time signature, a tempo of 130 to 155 BPM, 32 beat phrases, and is somewhat faster than house music but usually not as fast as psychedelic trance. Occasionally, trance may be faster and slower. A kick drum is placed on every downbeat and a regular open hi-hat is often placed on the upbeat. Simple extra percussive elements are usually added, and major transitions, builds or climaxes are often foreshadowed by lengthy “snare rolls”—a quick succession of equally spaced snare drum hits that builds in volume towards the end of a measure or phrase.

Today’s trance is generally characterized by a tempo of between 120 and 145 bpm, repeating melodic synthesizer phrases, and a musical form that builds up and breaks down throughout a track. It is more melodic than Techno, and the harder styles usually have harder beats than House.


Pioneers of Trance

Jean Michel Jarre, a pioneer of electronic music, released two highly influential albums in the late 1970s: Oxygène in 1976 and Equinoxe in 1978.  Oxygène has been described as the album that “led the synthesizer revolution of the Seventies.”

Listen to Jean Michel Jarre


Klaus Schulze, inspired by the work of Jarre in the previous decade, composed several albums of highly atmospheric, sequencer-driven “experimental music”, 1981’s Trancefer and 1987’s En=Trance. The albums share similarities with early trance music; and, for this reason, are sometimes labeled as “trance”. Furthermore, it is debated whether the origin of the word trance as a description for the genre came from the Schulze’s albums bearing the name.


 Listen to Klaus Schulze


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