Trance is a genre of electronic music that emerged from the rave scene in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s and developed further during the early 1990s in Germany before spreading throughout the rest of Europe, as a more melodic offshoot from techno and house. At the same time trance music was developing in Europe, the genre was also gathering a following in the Indian state of Goa.
Trance music is characterized by a tempo lying between 110–150 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.
It also 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 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. The tracks are often lengthy to allow for such progression and commonly have sufficiently sparse opening and closing sections to facilitate mixing by DJs.
The genre 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 subgenre, which has been described as “grand, soaring, and operatic” and “ethereal female leads floating amongst the synths”. However, male singers are also featured, Jonathan Mendelson for example.