By: Metacafe Affiliate U
Trance employs a 4/4 time signature, a tempo of 130 to 160 BPM, and 32 beat phrases, somewhat faster than house music but usually not as fast as rave music. Psychedelic Trance is sometimes faster and earlier tracks were sometimes slower. A kick drum is placed on every downbeat and a regular open hi-hat is often placed on the upbeat. Some simple extra percussive elements are usually added, and major transitions, builds or climaxes are often foreshadowed by lengthy 'snare rolls' - a quick succession of equally spaced snare drum hits that builds in volume towards the end of a measure or phrase.
Synthesizers form the central elements of most trance tracks, with simple sawtooth-based sounds used both for short pizzicato elements and for long, sweeping string sounds. As with other genres of electronic music, important synthesizers are the Roland TR-808, TR-909, and TB-303, which is the source of the "acid" sound. There are also several synthesizer sounds that are almost completely unique to its genre. One of these sounds is the "supersaw", a waveform was made famous by such classic trance synthesizers as the Roland JP-8000, the Novation Supernova, and the Korg MS2000. A technique called "gating" is often employed in creating lead sounds (turning the volume up and down rapidly in rhythm with the piece to create a stuttered, chopped sound). Rapid arpeggios and minor scales are common features. Trance tracks often use one central "hook" melody which runs through almost the entire song, repeating at intervals anywhere between 2 beats and several bars.
While many trance tracks contain no vocals at all, other tracks rely heavily on vocals, and thus a sub-genre has developed. The sound and quality of the production relies to a large degree upon the technology available. Vintage analog equipment still holds a place in the hearts of many producers and enthusiasts, with names such as Moog, Roland and Oberheim staples in the trance sound palette. However, the mainstream availability of digital technology has allowed a whole new group of producers to emerge because while top shelf digital (or analog modeling) synthesizers cost thousands of US dollars, high demand and a small supply of clean vintage analog synthesizers causes them to be extremely expensive.
Trance records are often heavily loaded with reverb and delay effects on the synthesizer sounds, vocals and often parts of the percussion section. This provides the tracks with the sense of vast space that trance producers tend to look for in order to achieve the genre's epic quality. Flangers, phasers and other effects are also commonly used at extreme settings - in trance there is no need for sounds to resemble any real-world instrument, and so producers have free rein.
As is the case with many dance music tracks, trance tracks are usually built with sparser intros and outros in order to enable DJs to blend them together more readily. Records that adhere to this "build up, strip down" arrangement during intros and outros are referred as being "DJ friendly". As trance is more melodic and harmonic than much dance music, the construction of trance tracks in such a way is particularly important in order to avoid dissonant (or "key clashing," i.e., out of tune with one another) mixes by DJs who do not mix harmonically.