Trance music, or trance, is a form of electronic dance music ([EDM](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-make-edm)) that gained popularity in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Though it draws on various music genres, from [house music](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/house-music-guide) to [classical music](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/classical-music-eras), trance is distinguished by its production aesthetic, which combines a faster [tempo](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/music-101-what-is-tempo-how-is-tempo-used-in-music), minimal, repetitive [synthesizer](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-do-synthesizers-work) lines, and an array of effects, from heavy delay to recurring build-up and breakdown structures. These elements are intended to suggest and even induce a trance-like state of euphoria on the dancefloor.\n\nAs with any musical form, there are many different subgenres of trance music, each delivering its own unique interpretation of its signature characteristics while expanding and redefining trance for new audiences. Though it has been supplanted by many newer forms of EDM like dubstep, trance music remains popular throughout the world, thanks to radio programs like DJ [Armin van Buuren](https://www.masterclass.com/classes/armin-van-buuren-teaches-dance-music)’s syndicated series, *A State of Trance*, and global music festivals.\nThe history of trance music begins in Europe, where DJs and record label owners began experimenting with forms of EDM, including acid house and Detroit techno. \n\n- __Beginnings__. The earliest trance songs, like “L’Esperanza” by Sven Vath, the KLF’s “What Time Is Love (Pure Trance 1),” and “We Came in Peace” by Dance 2 Trance, defined the trance sound by adding [melody and harmony](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/melody-vs-harmony-similarities-and-differences-with-musical-examples) from outside the EDM world, like classical and film music, to a house music context. A 1992 remix by Jam \u0026 Spoon of The Age of Love’s self-titled 1990 single became one of the first trance tracks to enjoy widespread attention and chart success.\n- __The rise__. By the late ’90s, trance tracks like “Don’t Be Afraid” by producer Ferry Corsten (under the alias Moonmen) led to the rise of variations like progressive trance and uplifting trance and superstar trance DJs like Tiesto and Paul Van Dyk. Trance had also made its way to the top of the UK and European dance charts with songs like Rank 1’s “Airwave,” and its popularity helped move EDM out of the rave scene and into clubs across Europe. \n- __The decline__. A 2001 remix of Madonna’s single “What It Feels Like for a Girl” by Above and Beyond seemed to indicate trance’s move into the mainstream, but its rise was quickly undone by changing tastes in dance music, and the return of pop and rock acts to British charts in the early 2000s.\n- __Legacy__. The legacy of trance lives on as a popular draw at EDM festivals and through subgenres like hard trance and tech trance.\nHere are the most common characteristics of trance music:\n\n1. __The beat__. Trance music is built on a 4/4 [time signature](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/guide-to-time-signatures-in-music), which means four beats per [measure](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-measures-in-music). It’s the time signature most frequently used for dance music, but at 125 to 150 beats per minute (BPM), trance music is also somewhat faster than house music. A [kick drum](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/kick-drum-basics) is typically used for the downbeat, while an open hi-hat signals the upbeat.\n2. __The build-up and breakdown__. Both the build-up and the breakdown are used in most forms of EDM, but in trance, it has a different impact. The build-up—a transitional point in the song where its energy is increased through various effects—in trance occurs at the midpoint of the song and is followed by a breakdown—a section where rhythm and beats are reduced to focus on melody—without any [percussion](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/percussion-guide). The result is a sensation of tension and release with a floating, euphoric quality. Trance build-ups and breakdowns are also typically longer and more melodic than in other forms of EDM.\n3. __The hook__. The melody or “hook” is all-important in trance music and frequently repeats throughout trance tracks. The repetition emphasizes the hypnotic trance-like effect and is furthered through effects like delay and reverb.\n4. __The vocals__. Though trance is usually an instrumental form, many trance tracks employ sample vocals or session vocalists. Vocal trance, in particular, uses female vocalists to enhance the melody with singing that lends an operatic or ethereal quality to the song.\nThere are many different subgenres of trance music, each with its own unique interpretation of the style:\n\n1. __Goa trance__. The Indian state of Goa, a favorite destination for the hippie counterculture during the 1960s, lends its name to this style of trance music. DJs began playing extended mixes in the late 1980s, which informed Goa trance’s long, slow aesthetic and frequent use of vocal samples to induce a trance-like state. DJ Paul Oakenfold popularized Goa trance with several mixes in the early ’90s.\n2. __Hard trance__. One of the newest forms of trance, hard trance is distinguished by hard basslines and repetitive, reverb-heavy beats that clock in at 140 to 180 BPM. It grew from the hip-hop sound of hardcore breakbeat in Germany and was a primary influence on the hardstyle scene in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. \n3. __Progressive trance__. Though structurally similar to pure trance music, progressive trance emphasizes a less aggressive sound with more build-ups and soft breakdowns. Progressive trance’s dreamier quality led to uplifting trance, an umbrella term for trance styles with a lighter tone and longer breakdowns.\n4. __Psychedelic trance__. An offshoot of Goa trance, psychedelic trance, or psytrance, is a high-energy style of music that features a pounding bassline and [rhythms](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/understanding-rhythm-in-music) that change every eight bars. At 190 to 300 BPM, psytrance is also one of the fastest forms of EDM.\n5. __Tech trance__. A mix of trance and [techno music](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/techno-music-guide), tech trance features more complicated rhythms and hard synths with lots of delay and resonance. Tech trance and hard trance are typically the most common forms of trance music heard today.\nTrance music has influenced popular culture in several significant ways:\n\n- __Helped fuel the superstar DJ__. While each form of electronic music had its own “name” DJs and producers, some of the most prominent and influential figures in EDM arose from the trance world. These included Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk, ATB, and Binary Finary, who introduced trance to UK television audiences in 1998 and 1999 via the popular music showcase *Top of the Pops*.\n- __Helped inspire huge dance festivals__. Trance remains the electronic music of choice for “big tent” dance festivals across the globe. Among these are the Electric Daisy Carnival, the largest dance festival in North America, Belgium’s Tomorrowland, and the Untold Festival in Romania.\n- __Took dance music from raves to clubs__. The widespread popularity of trance, which extended beyond the EDM fanbase, led to a demand for safer and bigger dancefloors than the rave scene could provide. This demand led to the rise of “superclubs” across Europe that were more acceptable from a legal and community standpoint and could house more dancers.\nBecome a better musician with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com). Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by the world’s best, including Armin van Buuren, St. Vincent, deadmau5, Usher, Timbaland, Sheila E., Tom Morello, and more.\nTrance music captivated electronic dance music fans in the late ’90s with its hypnotic melodies and swirling rhythms.