- Trance music belongs to the genre of electronically produced sound. Its immediate predecessors include techno (circa 1990), ambient wave (circa 1990), breakbeat (comprising jungle and drum ‘n’ bass, 1991–7) and initially acid house. The latter broke onto the dance scene in the UK in 1988 and fundamentally altered club culture; indeed it was the beginnings of a major cultural explosion, giving rise to raves and wild house mutations. By the end of 1990, a fusion of American and European house and techno styles was innovated, forming new substyles which included trance and ambient under the general heading of global house nation. Trance music gained ground around 1994 and provided an alternative to the rawer beats of house and extremities of techno where tracks can exceed 1,000 bpm. Trance music thus probably originated as a counteraction to hardcore techno and identified itself more with ambient, the latter being an atmospheric sound with softer rhythms and restrained noise levels. Hardcore trance and techno are related by the bass beat, with trance having a more moderate melodic sound. From 1994 onwards a new type of sound appeared, known as tribal music: it was the sound between hardcore techno and ambient.Trance also produced its own sub-genres. Hardtrance, with a faster rhythm, is the popular version played on the club scene; Café Del Mar, for example, is a highly popular trance club in Ibiza. Trancecore is a mixture of trance and hardcore. Goa trance, also known as psychedelic trance, is a more dynamic, deeper and ethno-based version which gained popularity in 1996–7. The name originates from the holiday resort in India, where DJs initially began producing and playing this more ethno-based variant. It involves a complex intermixing of synthetic and kaleidoscopic sound, with a steady 4/4 beat underlying a whirling assembly of analog sounds. A more popular division of trance music has been that of dreamhouse, which incorporates swelling piano arrangements inducing a more peaceful state of mind in the listener: the artist Robert Miles’s track ‘Children’, which reached number one in most European countries, is an example of dreamhouse. Since the dawn and increasing popularity of electronic music, coupled with widespread psychoactive experimentation, the age of the dance ‘bands’ with instruments in the traditional sense has given way to the new age of the sampler and technology in the production of sound. However, trance music in particular has seen a revival in the ideologies of the late 1960s and early 1970s, but this time with an incorporation of a distinctly technological agenda. Trance music is more than merely intertwined arpeggiated sixteenth-notes and one-note chords as is often perceived: hardtrance is arguably small nuances in the arrangements around a repeating rhythm, and thus seems to be designed to induce the listener/dancer into a ‘trance’ due to its repetitive nature. Yet, the softer, ambient trance is a more contemplative, meditative mix using musical structures with sounds from the electronic wavestation as well as Aztec flutes, bells and African drums. Although this more sombient sound is also electronically derived, its hypnotic sound would more aptly be described as moodseducing music enhancing an altered state of consciousness. If ambient trance is perceived as music for the ‘mind and soul’, the club version is its counterpart for ‘mind, body and soul’. As trance music is an abstract construct rather than actual instruments, it has been able to be simultaneously energetic yet sedate, either using an insistent rhythmic pulse to hypnotize into a ‘trance’ or a free-floating languidity to ‘en-trance’: either way the music gives expression to a sound which crosses listening genre boundaries and provides a blend of cross-cultural fusions.MIRIAM MOKAL
Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . Peter Childs and Mike Storry). 2014.