Writing Trance Music: The Basics

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


You can write trance music by following some simple tips. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of how to write trance music.

What is trance music?

Trance music is a genre of electronic music that developed in the early 1990s. It is characterized by aTempo between 125 and 150 BPM, an Emphasis on melody and use of Propulsive rhythms. Trance music typically employs one or two lead synthesizers playing simple Melodies, with accompany Rhythmic elements like drums, percussion, and basslines. The lead melodies are often played overtop of longer chord progressions, resulting in a hypnotic and trance-like feel.

The history of trance music

The origins of trance music can be traced back to the early 1990s, when a number of electronic music genres began to develop and evolve. Among these was a style known as Goa trance, which was characterized by elevating, often psychedelic melodies and rhythms. This music was popularized by DJ and producer groups such as the KLF, The Orb, and Astral Projection, and it continued to evolve throughout the 1990s.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a new style of trance music began to emerge, known as progressive trance. This style built upon the foundations laid by Goa trance, but it added a more driving, energetic feel to the music. Progressive trance quickly became one of the most popular subgenres of electronic dance music, thanks in large part to the work of influential producers such as Sasha, John Digweed, and Paul Oakenfold.

Today, trance music remains one of the most popular genres in EDM, and its sound has continued to evolve. Modern Trance is often characterized by ethereal melodies, soaring vocal tracks, and thumping basslines. If you’re interested in writing your own Trance tracks, there are a few basics that you’ll need to know. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the key elements that go into making great Trance music.

The elements of trance music

Trance music is characterized by a tempo of between 130 and 155 BPM, repetitive melodic phrases, and a distinctive “build-up” and release of energy. A typical trance track builds up over the course of several minutes, with repeated 4/4 beats laid down by a drum machine, then introduces one or more melodies played by synthesizers or recorded samples. These melodies build in intensity as the track progresses, eventually reaching a “peak” moment where all the elements come together for a brief period of time before releasing the energy and tension built up over the course of the track.

The melodies in trance tracks are often accompanied by “echoes” or “delays” which create a sense of space and depth. The use of reverb is also common in trance productions, giving the music a “bigger” sound. Trance tracks often make use of samples from other genres of music, including film scores, pop songs, and classical pieces.

The structure of trance music

Most trance music is built around a central melodic idea, which is then repeated and elaborated upon over the course of the track. This can be a simple short phrase, or a more complex melody that develops over time. The main element that differentiates trance from other genres is the use of long, sustained notes and chords over a throbbing, four-on-the-floor dance beat. This creates a feeling of forward motion and energy that can be very hypnotic and trance-inducing.

The tempo of trance music

The tempo of trance music is usually in the range of 130–150 beats per minute (BPM), although some tracks may be much faster or slower. The main sections of a trance track build from around 125 BPM up to around 150 BPM, with significant breakdowns and buildups happening at around the 145 BPM mark.

The key signatures of trance music

In order to understand the key signatures of trance music, it is important to first understand what trance music is. Trance music is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in the early 1990s. It is characterized by a tempo of around 130 beats per minute, and a distinctive melody that is often repetitive.

Trance music is usually in a major key, with a few exceptions. The most common key signatures for trance music are A major, C major, D major, and E major. The reason for this is that these keys tend to have a lot of energy and movement, which is perfect for danceable trance tunes.

Of course, there are many other key signatures that can be used for trance music, but these are the most common ones. If you want to write a trance tune in a different key signature, it is important to know how to do so in order to create the right mood and feel.

The chord progressions of trance music

In trance music, chord progressions are often repetitive and hypnotic, and they usually don’t stray too far from the tonic (the starting note of a scale). This creates a feeling of stability and helps to keep the listener in a “trance-like” state.

There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to composing trance music, but there are certain harmonic progressions that are commonly used. Below is a list of some of the most popular chord progressions in trance:

I-IV-V-I: This progression is often used in trance tracks with a major key signature. It starts on the tonic (I), moves to the fourth scale degree (IV), then to the fifth (V), before resolving back to the tonic.

ii-V-I: This progression is similar to the I-IV-V-I progression, but it starts on the second scale degree (ii). It’s often used in minor key signatures.

iii-vi-ii-V: This is another common progression in minor key signatures. It starts on the third scale degree (iii), moves to the sixth (vi), then to the second (ii), before resolving on the fifth (V).

The melodies of trance music

Most popular music is based on a chord progression, which is a repeating pattern of chords. Trance music, on the other hand, is based on a melody. The main melody is called the “lead” and is usually accompanied by one or more additional melodies, called “harmonies.”

The lead and harmony(ies) are often played by different instruments (e.g., lead on piano and harmony on strings). The lead might also be played by a human voice (usually female). The effect of all these different melodic lines playing together is called counterpoint.

The lead melody of a trance track is usually 8-16 bars long and repeats throughout the track. The harmonies typically change every 4 bars. So in a typical 8-bar section, the lead would play twice while the harmonies change once.

The basslines of trance music

In order to understand how to write trance music, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of the underlying conventions of the genre. In this article, we will take a look at the rhythmic foundation of trance music: the bassline.

Though there is a great deal of variation in the style of basslines used in trance music, there are certain elements that are common to most basslines in the genre. In general, trance basslines are characterized by a steady, driving pulse that helps to create a sense of forward momentum and energy. The bassline is often supported by a kick drum on every beat, which helps to anchor the rhythm and keep the listener locked in.

One of the most important aspects of a good trance bassline is that it should be able to stand on its own as a groove; in other words, it should be interesting and engaging enough to hold the listener’s attention even without the accompaniment of other instruments. A good way to achieve this is by using percussion elements such as hi-hats or shakers to add interest and texture to the bassline. Another common technique is to make use of ‘call and response’ between different parts of the bassline, such as between the low end and the high end.

Of course, these are only general guidelines – there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to writing trance music. The most important thing is that you experiment and find what works for you. As you become more familiar with the genre, you will develop your own unique style that reflects your personality and taste.

The drums of trance music

The drums of trance music are typically very simple, with a kick drum on every beat and a snare or clap on the 2 and 4. The hi hats usually play on the off beats, and the cymbals may accent the 1 and 3. The rhythm of the drums is usually very straightforward, with little or no variation. This simplicity allows the listener to focus on the melody and harmony of the track.

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