Trance is a genre of electronic music that developed in the 1990s in Germany. It is characterized by a tempo of between 125 to mid 140 beats per minute (BPM), repeating melodic phrases, and a musical form that distinctly builds up and down throughout a track. Although trance is a genre of its own, it liberally incorporates influences from other electronic music styles such as techno, house, pop, chill-out classical music, tech house, ambient and film music.
A trance refers to a state of hypnotism and heightened consciousness. This is portrayed in trance music by the mixing of layers with distinctly foreshadowed build-up and release. A characteristic of virtually all trance music is a mid-song climax followed by a soft breakdown disposing of beats and percussion entirely, and leaving the melody and/or atmospherics to stand alone for an extended period before gradually building up again. As a result, trance tracks are often lengthy to allow for this progression and have sufficiently sparse opening and closing sections to facilitate mixing by DJs.
Although trance can be purely instrumental, vocals are also a common feature. Typically they are performed by mezzo-soprano to soprano female soloists, often without 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”.
Other schools of thought argue the name may refer to an induced emotional feeling, high, euphoria, chills, or uplifting rush that listeners claim to experience, while other suggestions trace the name to the actual trance-like state the earliest forms of this music attempted to emulate in the 1990s before the genre’s focus changed.
Some trace Trance’s antecedents back to Klaus Schulze, a German experimental electronic music artist who concentrated in mixing minimalist music repetitive rhythms and arpeggiated sounds (specifically his 1988 album “En=Trance”. In truth it was really Sven Väth, his labels and others in the same group that saw the initial releases of trance Another possible antecedent is Yuzo Koshiro’s electronic soundtracks for the Streets of Rage series of video games from 1991 to 1994; and Wangan Midnignt Maximum Tune (series) series from 2001 up to present. It was promoted by the well-known UK club-night megatripolis (London, Heaven, Thursdays) whose scene catapulted it to international fame.
Examples of early Trance releases include but are not limited to German duo Jam & Spoon’s 1992 12″ Single remix of the 1990 song The Age Of Love., German duoDance 2 Trance’s 1990 track “We Came in Peace”.
One writer traces the roots of trance to Paul van Dyk’s 1993 remix of Humate’s “Love Stimulation”. However, van Dyk’s trance origins can be traced further back to his work with Visions Of Shiva, which were his first ever tracks to be released. In subsequent years, one genre, vocal trance, arose as the combination of progressive elements and pop music, and the development of another subgenre, epic trance, had some of its origins in classical music., with film music also being influential.
Trance was arguably at its commercial peak in the second part of 1990s and early 2000s.
The following is an incomplete list of dance music festivals that showcase Trance music.
- India: Sunburn Festival was launched in December 2007 as South Asia’s first electronic music festival, and featured heavyweights like Carl Cox and John ’00’ Fleming. Located seaside in Goa, on India’s west coast, the festival has its roots in Goa trance. Sunburn treated more than 5,000 electro revelers to a three-day party by the beach in December 2008. At the 2009 festival, DJs such as Armin Van Buuren and Sander van Doorn participated with audience numbers running between 15,000 to 18,000 making it the biggest edition yet.As of the 2010 festival, it showed the likes of Paul Van Dyk and many other DJ’s with estimated crowds of 30,000 people.
- Thailand: Full Moon Party Held each month on the island of Koh Phangan. Thousands of people from across the world gather on Haad Rin Nok (Sunrise Beach) to dance under the moonlight.
Artists from India Aftermorning Productions, lost stories
- Switzerland: Street Parade, Zürich, since 1992. The world’s biggest electronic music festival (more than one million visitors attend this event year by year).
- Portugal: Boom Festival (the last edition was in Idanha-a-Nova) since 1997. This event is an outdoor festival running every two years with a duration of several days, focusing in psychedelic Goa trance. The festival also features workshops, presentations, and cinema.
- Germany: Waldfrieden Wonderland, Stemwede, since 1997. The forest peace wonderland is an international open air music festival, which takes place every year in August. The main style of music is psychedelic trance.
- Sweden: Monday Bar Cruise has been arranged four times a year since 2002 and takes place on a 2000 people cruise ship between Stockholm and the Baltic countries. Styles include Trance, Psy-Trance, Hardstyle and Hardcore.
- Belgium: Tomorrowland, Boom, since 2005. The largest Belgian open-air electronic music festival. 2010 had more than 120.000 visitors. Tomorrowland in 2011 had a capacity of up to 180.000 visitors.DJs such as Armin Van Buuren, Tiësto, Arty, Cosmic Gate and many more.
- Czech Republic: Transmission, Prague, since 2006. The biggest indoor Trance Music event in middle and eastern Europe.
- Germany: We Are One, Berlin, since 2010. This is an Electronic Dance Music event, with the presence of Trance music stars like Paul van Dyk and many others. “We are One” is a Paul van Dyk’s brand. After the success of the last edition (Summer of 2013), they are looking forward to the next episode in 2014, developing this unique Berlin Dance Festival.
- Finland: Summer Sound, Helsinki, since 2011. Biggest indoor/outdoor Trance music event in Scandinavia. Started as a one-day festival in 2011 and was held in Suvilahti, Helsinki. First year performers included stars like Chicane, Above & Beyond, Roger Sanchez and Judge Jules. In 2012 was held first time in Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre as a 3-day festival partly inside and partly outside. Every summer worlds best trance (and other genres) DJ:s come together in Summersound. Past year performers have included such legends as Tiesto in 2012 and 2013, Armin van Buuren in 2012, and Faithless 2013. Summer Sound Festival is being hold this year 18-20.7 in Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre and this years performers includes for example epic Trance legends as Paul van Dyk and Paul Oakenfold.
- Greece: Dreamland, Ancient Olympia, since 2014. An innovative and pioneering festival which aims to achieve boundless cooperation among different types of electronic music, between art and culture as well as to promote the participants’ ecological awareness.
- United Kingdom: Gatecrasher also promotes sporadic events and have in the past also used venues such as Birmingham N.E.C.
- Romania: Untold Festival, Cluj-Napoca , since 2015. The first music festival in Romania dedicated to different types of electronic music. The first edition gathered more than 60.000 participants and reunited famous Djs like Armin van Buuren, David Guetta, Avicii, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike any many others.
Electronic Dance Music festivals in the Netherlands are mainly organized by four companies ALDA Events, ID&T, UDC and Q-dance:
- Armin Only, Jaarbeurs, Utrecht: the only DJ to mix at this event is Armin van Buuren. Organized by ALDA Events. Armin Only 2005 was held in Ahoy Rotterdam. The 2008 and 2010 editions were held in Jaarbeurs Utrecht. The 2013 edition was held in 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 in 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. Episode 400 was held in Rotterdam. Episodes 500, 550 and 600 were held in the Brabanthallen, ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Episodes 650 and 700 were held in the Jaarbeurs, Utrecht.
- Electronic Family. A Trance only festival. This year for the third time in the Amsterdamse Bos, Amsterdam. Organized by ALDA Events.
- Mysteryland. A series of electronic dance music festivals held by the Netherlands-based 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 considered to be a 100% Trance by some followers, and it’s organized by a foundation named Luminosity Events. In 2013, the event keeps the tradition, with a beach festival plenty of trance music stars, and as they say: “Luminosity Events is a non profit foundation run by volunteers who have a big heart for Trance music.”.
Many Djs from all over the world join in either Brazil or Argentina to perform in festivals. The mostly known are A State of Trance Fest (ASOT Fest) that takes place in Argentina almost every year.
- 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
Electronic Music festivals in the US feature various electronic music genres such as Trance, House, Techno, Electro, Dubstep, Breaks, and Drum & Bass:
- 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 programing 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.
- 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
- 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 4 day Annual festival in Michigan bringing very large crowd
- TomorrowWorld 3 day Annual festival in Georgia bringing very large crowd
- Spring Awakening 3 day annual festival in Chicago, Illinois with mostly mainstream electronic music genres
- POP The Dream – put on by Skills
- POP NYE – NYE Electronic Music show by Skills
- Paradiso – Festival hosted in the beautiful Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington state (27,000 in attendance for 2015)
- FreakNight – Costume festival during Halloween weekend in Seattle (Roughly 25,000 people)
- Sun City Music Festival – El Paso Texas show by SMG
- 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. Doof generally has live electronic artists and DJs playing a range of electronic music, commonly goa trance, eurodance, happy hardcore 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.
- Stereosonic – Largest Electronic music festival in Oceania, two days celebration since 2013, located in Australia. The festival features a full Trance Stage every year during the day in summer, and also includes big names of Trance music in the Main Stage such as, Armin Van Buuren, Above And Beyond, etc.