What is Trance Music

What is Trance Music? A Journey into the Realm of Trance Music

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

If you’ve ever found yourself losing track of time, getting lost in a melody, and moving to the beat without even realizing it, then you might have experienced the power of trance music. But what is trance music exactly? In short, it’s a genre of electronic dance music that’s designed to transport the listener to a state of trance. But there’s so much more to it than that! Keep reading to discover the history, sub-genres, and unique characteristics that make trance music a global phenomenon.

What is Trance Music?

Trance music is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in Germany in the early 1990s. The trance genre is very popular with a worldwide following that has evolved and branched into various sub-genres over the years. Trance is known for its emotive melodies, soaring buildups, and euphoric drops that are designed to transport the listener to a state of ecstasy or trance. The uplifting melodies and energetic beats of trance music have gained a massive following over the years, drawing crowds to festivals, clubs and concerts worldwide. But what exactly is trance music and what makes it so unique?

What is Trance Music?
Genre of electronic dance music
Originated in Germany in the early 1990s
Known for emotive melodies, soaring buildups, and euphoric drops
Aims to transport listeners to a state of ecstasy or trance
Has evolved into various sub-genres
Popular worldwide with a dedicated following
Combines elements of electronic, house, and techno music
Notable trance music festivals include Tomorrowland and Transmission
What is Trance Music?

The Origins of Trance Music

Trance music originated in Germany in the early 1990s and was heavily influenced by the techno and house music scenes that were popular at the time. It was pioneered by artists such as Paul Van Dyk and Cosmic Baby, who combined the repetitive beats and basslines of techno with the emotional melodies and harmonies of classical music.

The genre’s name is derived from the word “trance,” which means a state of altered consciousness or hypnosis. The music is designed to induce a trance-like state in the listener, where they can lose themselves in the music and be transported to a higher state of consciousness.

The Characteristics of Trance Music

Trance music is characterized by its repetitive beats and basslines, often accompanied by arpeggiated synths, trance arpeggios, and lush trance pads that create an ethereal and dreamy atmosphere. Trance music is known for its emotive melodies and harmonies, often featuring uplifting chord progressions that create a sense of euphoria.

Trance tracks typically have a slow build-up, gradually increasing in tempo and intensity before reaching a climax, or “drop,” where the energy is released in a burst of frenetic beats and soaring melodies.

Trance music also typically has a faster tempo than other genres of electronic dance music, with most tracks ranging between 130-150 beats per minute (BPM). The genre is known for its intense builds and drops, which create a sense of anticipation and excitement in the listener.

When producing trance music, trance samples are often used in addition to the appropriate hardware and a suitable DAW (such as Ableton, Fruity Loops, Cubase, Reaper).

Trance sub-genres

Over the years, trance has branched out into various sub-genres, each with its own unique characteristics and influences. Some of the most popular subgenres of trance are

Progressive Trance

Progressive trance is a sub-genre that combines the repetitive beats and basslines of trance with the more melodic and atmospheric elements of progressive house. The tempo of progressive trance is generally slower than other sub-genres, with an emphasis on creating a hypnotic and dreamy atmosphere. Melodic elements also exist in other genres, such as hardstyle. Read also our article on the question what is hardstyle music?

Uplifting Trance

Uplifting Trance is a sub-genre characterized by its emotive melodies and uplifting chord progressions. Uplifting Trance tracks typically have a fast tempo and an energetic drop, designed to create a sense of euphoria in the listener.

Tech Trance

Tech Trance is a sub-genre that combines the hard-hitting beats and basslines of Techno with the emotional melodies and harmonies of Trance. Tech Trance tracks typically have a fast tempo and a darker, more aggressive sound than other sub-genres.

Psy Trance

Psy Trance is a subgenre characterized by its trippy and psychedelic sound. Psy trance tracks typically have a fast tempo and feature repetitive, hypnotic melodies and futuristic sound effects.

Vocal Trance

What sets vocal trance apart is the dreamy and ethereal quality of the vocals. They are often drenched in delay and reverb effects, creating an otherworldly atmosphere that perfectly complements the emotive nature of trance music. The combination of mesmerizing melodies and evocative vocals makes Vocal Trance a truly enchanting and immersive experience.

The inclusion of vocals in Vocal Trance brings an additional human element to the genre. It allows for more intimacy and a deeper connection with the listener. Whether it’s the heartfelt lyrics, the soaring vocal performances, or the seamless integration with the uplifting melodies, Vocal Trance manages to evoke a wide range of emotions, from pure bliss to introspection.

Vocal trance has captured the hearts of trance enthusiasts worldwide because it combines the best of both worlds: the mesmerizing instrumental elements that define trance music, along with the power and expressiveness of vocals. It has become a genre cherished by many, offering a captivating journey that resonates with the soul.

Epic Trance

One of the defining characteristics of Epic Trance is its fusion of the electronic beats and melodies of Uplifting Trance with the grandeur and emotional power of classical music and film scores. It’s a breathtaking collision of two worlds, resulting in an awe-inspiring sonic experience.

In Epic Trance, the breakdowns take center stage, captivating the listener with their extended duration. These breakdowns are meticulously crafted, inspired by the soaring string harmonies and majestic melodies of classical compositions. The result is a symphonic tapestry of sound that immerses you in a world of sonic splendor.

What Genre Is Skrillex? Unveiling Skrillex’s Unique Musical Identity

Trance Music Festivals

Trance music has a strong and dedicated following, with fans all over the world traveling to see their favorite DJs perform live. Trance music festivals are popular events that attract thousands of fans from around the world. Some of the most popular trance music festivals include

A State of Trance

A State of Trance is a trance music festival that is held annually in the Netherlands. The festival is hosted by Armin Van Buuren, one of the most popular and influential DJs in the world.


Dreamstate is a trance music festival held annually in California. The festival features some of the biggest names in trance music and is known for its energetic performances and immersive production. Dreamstate is a series of festivals focused exclusively on trance music. The festival was founded in 2015 in California, and has since expanded to other locations around the world. Dreamstate features a lineup of the biggest names in trance music and attracts thousands of fans from around the world.

What is an EDM Party and Why You Should Attend?


Transmission is a trance music festival that takes place in the United States as well as other countries such as the Czech Republic, Australia and Thailand. The festival brings together some of the biggest names in trance music and provides a unique and unforgettable experience for fans of the genre.

In addition to live events and festivals, trance music has a huge online following. There are numerous online radio stations and podcasts dedicated to the genre. One such example is A State of Trance, a weekly radio show hosted by Armin van Buuren. The show has been running since 2001 and is broadcast in over 84 countries. It has become one of the most popular trance music programs in the world.

A State of TranceNetherlands
DreamstateUnited States
TransmissionCzech Republic, Australia and Thailand
Trance Music Festivals

Influence of Technology on Trance Music

Technology has played a significant role in the production and evolution of trance music over the years. In the early days of trance, producers relied heavily on hardware synthesizers and drum machines to create their music. However, with the advent of digital audio workstations (DAWs) and software synthesizers, the production process has become more accessible and affordable.

Producers now have access to an endless array of sounds and plug-ins, allowing them to create more complex and varied arrangements. In addition, advances in DJ software and hardware have made it easier for DJs to mix and manipulate tracks during live performances.

If you want to become a trance producer yourself, read also our article how to make trance music.

Influential Trance Artists

Over the years, several artists have had a significant impact on the development and evolution of trance music. Here are just a few of the most influential trance artists of all time:

Armin van Buuren

Dutch DJ and producer Armin van Buuren is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the trance music scene. He has been voted the world’s best DJ several times and has produced numerous trance classics, including “Communication” and “Shivers.


Dutch DJ and producer Tiësto is another hugely influential figure in the trance music scene. He was a pioneer of the progressive trance subgenre and is known for tracks such as “Adagio for Strings” and “Elements of Life”.

Paul van Dyk

German DJ and producer Paul van Dyk is considered one of the founders of the trance genre and is credited with popularizing the term “trance”. He has released many classic trance tracks, including “For an Angel” and “Time of Our Lives”.

Above & Beyond

British trance trio Above & Beyond have been pushing the boundaries of the genre for over two decades. They are known for their emotional and uplifting tracks such as “Sun & Moon” and “Thing Called Love”.

For even more trance artists, be sure to check out our article best trance djs.

Trance Music Tracks

Armin van Buuren feat. Sharon den Adel – In And Out Of Love

Tiesto – Adagio For Strings

Paul van Dyk – For An Angel

Above & Beyond – 500

Haven’t you had enough of trance tunes yet? Then check out our lists of the best trance songs of all time and the best trance albums.


Trance music is a genre of electronic dance music that has been captivating audiences for over three decades. Its uplifting melodies, hypnotic rhythms, and euphoric atmosphere have made it a staple of clubs, festivals, and concerts worldwide.

The genre continues to evolve, with new artists and sub-genres emerging each year. But despite the changes, the defining characteristics of trance music remain the same – repetitive beats, arpeggiated melodies, and intense buildups and drops.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of trance music or just discovering the genre for the first time, one thing is for sure – it’s hard not to get swept up in the euphoria of a great trance track.


What defines trance music?

Trance music is defined by its emotive melodies, soaring build-ups, and euphoric drops designed to put the listener in a state of trance or ecstasy.

How does trance music make you feel?

Trance music has the power to evoke intense emotions in the listener, ranging from happiness, euphoria, and nostalgia to sadness, introspection, and contemplation.

Is EDM a trance music?

EDM, or Electronic Dance Music, is a broad genre that includes many sub-genres, one of which is Trance Music. Therefore, trance music is part of the larger EDM genre.

What is an example of trance music?

An example of trance music is “Adagio for Strings” by William Orbit, which features a soaring melody, atmospheric textures, and a powerful build-up leading to a euphoric drop.

What is the difference between techno and trance music?

The main difference between techno and trance music is the tempo and overall vibe. Techno tends to focus more on repetition, while trance music focuses more on melody and building to a climax. In addition, trance music tends to have a faster tempo than techno.