How to Write Trance Music
Perhaps the most emotional genres in electronic music are a source of trance. It can control emotions and make you cry or cheer for almost no reason. It is not uncommon for trance listeners to feel as though they are in pure bliss with music. Trance is retained its uniqueness through evolving subgenres that continue to make it thrive today. Whether it’s for a frame or whether it’s for fun here are a couple of pointers to get you started.
What makes trance unique? –
The main characteristic of trance lies in the emotion that it places the listener in. Most of the modern trance has an emphasis on the buildup and breakdown measure associated with progressive trance. While progressive buildups have gained fame as of late that were not originally used and were not integrated until about the late 1990s. Prior to that trance would just retain the same beat for the entire length of the song. Trance is also very repetitive. However, this is not a negative quality. Instead of repetition is one of the characteristics that drive the genre to induce a trancelike state. If the repetition in a track is not natural it will tend to sound as though it is a broken record making it difficult for listeners to continue to advance to the sound. However, if the repetition flows naturally the listeners will continue to advance and will not notice a switch from one song to the next. Much of the genre is generally very fast ranging from 130-150 beats per minute. While in ambient trance may drop below 128 beats per minute most of the genre will remain faster in order to drive the dance floor. Although it is not required trance almost exclusively features 1/4 note bass kick. This constant kick drum frequently grouped with an offbeat bassline is the basis for a majority of modern trance.
Get some inspiration –
While stealing somebody else’s music is not the best of ideas there is nothing wrong with learning from them. Listen to lots of trance music to determine what you like and what makes you feel inspired. When listening makes sure to examine all of the subgenres that trance has to offer. While modern trance sounds nothing like its predecessor the current product is still all based on the work of the artists of the early 90s.
Listen to many genres of Trance –
While trance has a few universal characteristics you will find that many of the subgenres can vary greatly from one to another. Learn to recognize the characteristics of these subgenres.
Classic trance –
Although this is not really a subgenre is commonly used to refer to the trance that began in the late 1980s. There is a huge focus on repetition and a slow change throughout the course of the song. Classic trance has been compared to the minimalist movement by such classical composers as Steve Reich, and Phillip Glass.
Acid trance –
While similar to classic trance this genre a much more hypnotic feel to it in. It has a unique sound characterized by swirling filters, pans, oscillators typically from a Roland TB-303.
Progressive trance –
Characterized by themes of buildup and break down this genre creates tension by building tracks up to a crescendo of emotional bliss. Just as the track erupts melodies are introduced to drive the track home. After each main theme that music will regress back to a broken downstate and then begin to build up again.
goa trance –
While very similar to acid trance, goa has a more organic feel to it as opposed to the harsh acidic sound of the TB-303. Goa trance is so complex it has spawned its own subgenres thus diluting its own definition.
Psychedelic trance aka Psytrance –
Originally an offshoot of goa psychedelic trance creates an organic feel through using futuristic sounds. Many of the noises used have a science fiction or ambient feel.
Ambient trance –
This genre places little emphasis on the kick drum and tends to be at a much slower pace. Most of this genre use softer sounds and maintains an almost easy listening sort of feel. While repetition that occurs less frequently it still helps to drive the genre.
Really more of a fusion, Tech-trance is a merger between techno and trance. Sometimes there are no melodies at all and the synthesizers used tend to sound very gritty and aggressive. This is the genre that is gaining the most popular currently and could almost be viewed as generic trance at the moment.
Analyze the music you listen to –
when is percussion added? when do changes occur within this track? what noises can you hear in the background? This will make you a better listener and in turn a better DJ.
Buy the right computer –
if you plan on writing music you will need a high-quality computer. Some important characteristics are large hard drives, at least 2GB of RAM, a dual-core processor (although quad-core is nice if you can afford it), and lastly a sound card although you could buy a cheap one like the “Audiophile” that would work just fine.
Choose your software wisely –
While it doesn’t matter what software you use, you will find that you are just more comfortable in one than the other. All of the DAWs out there are high quality and allow you almost the same functionality. Since they mostly offer free trials, play with them all, and then decide what you think you want to purchase.
Get some equipment –
Now that you have an all you need to write Trance music, you will find that you still want more equipment… All I can say is don’t waste too much money til you know what you are doing. It’s easy to believe that buying more expensive equipment will make you better… But it simply isn’t true. Most of the advanced and expensive equipment requires advanced working knowledge of how to use the equipment in general. However, will all of this in mind I do recommend buying a MIDI controller as that will speed up your workflow drastically. Although not at first you will eventually need some studio monitors. They tend to cost money for a reason and it is not worth buying a cheap pair. These speakers are the top of the line and will ensure that you are really hearing the same thing you are writing in your DAW.
Promote yourself and get connected –
Take some time to make a mixtape of your stuff and put it out there. There are tons of social networking sites out there now like Myspace and LinkedIn, so put your music up there and get some feedback. Not everyone will like the music you post, so try not to take it too harshly. The exposure will be good and some of the feedback will be genuine. Finally, once you think you getting large amounts of positive feedback, then it will be time to send out demos. Pick the labels you think that your music fits on and send out tons of them… and who knows maybe someday you’ll be the next famous Trance star.