My commute to work consists of two 20-30 minute drives, which gives me a lot of time to listen to music. Trance is great for these situations because of its developing/progressive style and long-track times. I think that many people are turned off by this because the beats start to sound repetitive and it takes too long for the song to finish, but I believe that this is the beauty of trance. By having a long play time (I would say the average length of an original mixed song is around 6 minutes), a trance song has the ability to combine multiple musical phrases into one long, flowing story. Most of the time, there are recurrent melodic structures placed throughout the song that give the track its identity, and they usually follow this structure: build-up, breakdown, climax, and ending breakdown. Haha, kinda reminds you of sex doesn’t it? Most of the progressive songs I listen to follow this pattern, and it has proven itself as a formula for success. I used to LIVE for the breakdown of a song, but after listening to hundeds of tracks, I have come to realize that in order to produce something great, you need to incorporate all of these elements.
The build up is what introduces the breakdown, which leads to the climax, and then ends with the final breakdown. The process of building up and breaking down can repeat itself multiple times in a song. This is what creates the peaks and troughs of a song, when musical ‘intensity’ grows and grows and then falls back down after a climax. Build ups are created by adding layers of sounds; the greatness of trance comes from the infinite combination of electronic instruments to create an endless supply of sounds. Buildups and breakdowns are often times very similar. In a lot of songs, I’ve noticed that the addition of sounds to create the buildup mirrors the subtraction of sounds that forms the breakdown. If you draw a graph representing musical intensity, it would look like a symmetrical mountain, with the build ups and breakdowns on the sides and the climax at the top.
The climax of the song (as well as in other facets of life) is usually the best part. It is the point at which the song builds up to, the culmination of all previous efforts. When you listen to trance, this is the part that is played the loudest. It is the part that you remember from the song, the part where everyone has their hands up, anxiously anticipating the drop of the beat. This is my favorite component of trance, when the melody builds, the intensity crescendos, and then the beat magically comes in, resulting in a satisfying release of approval. It’s amazing to me how such a simple formula for music can generate such a reaction from the listeners. Whenever I listen to a great breakdown, my mood is lifted and I get goosebumps all over my arms.
Trance might not be as great as house music for going clubbing, but when you put in the time to listen to a song develop, it rewards you with a gratified feeling. To me, trance is perfect for long drives as well as background music during a study session. As I stated before, the sublimity of trance resides in its melodic flexibility and boundless combinations of sound. To all you producers out there who are creating all these great works of music… thank you!