Trance is a genre of electronic music that emerged from the British new-age music scene and the early 1990s German techno and hardcore scenes.
Trance music is characterized by a tempo lying between 135–150 bpm (BPM), repeating melodic phrases and a musical form that distinctly builds tension and elements throughout a track often culminating in 1 to 2 "peaks" or "drops". Although trance is a genre of its own, it liberally incorporates influences from other musical styles such as techno, house, pop, chill-out, classical music, tech house, ambient and film music.
A trance is 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 common characteristic of trance music is a mid-song climax followed by a soft breakdown disposing of beats and percussion entirely, leaving the melody or atmospherics to stand alone for an extended period before gradually building up again. Trance tracks are often lengthy to allow for such progression and commonly have sufficiently sparse opening and closing sections to facilitate mixing by DJs.
Trance is mostly instrumental, although vocals can be mixed in: typically they are performed by mezzo-soprano to soprano female soloists, often without a traditional 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". However, male singers, such as Jonathan Mendelsohn, are also featured.
The origin of the term is ambiguous with suggestions that the term is derived from the Klaus Schulze album Trancefer or the early trance act Dance 2 Trance though it is likely that both these uses are linked to the perceived ability of a drum beat to induce altered states of consciousness, aka a trance. As this music is almost always played in nightclubs at popular vacation spots and in inner cities, trance can be understood as a form of club music.
Another possible antecedent is Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima's electronic soundtracks for the Streets of Rage series of video games from 1991 to 1994. It was promoted by the well-known UK club-night "Megatripolis" (London, at Heaven on Thursdays) whose scene catapulted it to international fame.
Examples of early trance releases include but are not limited to KLF's 1988 release "What Time Is Love?" (Pure Trance 1), German duo Dance 2 Trance's 1990 track "We Came in Peace", and German duo Jam & Spoon's 1992 12" Single remix of the 1990 song "The Age of Love".
The writer Bom Coen 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, being the first tracks he 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, finds 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 .