Came back from Friday Night Waltz and a background from Above and Beyond’s Group Therapy album came up on my desktop wallpaper selection and I started feeling like listening to trance, and I’ve just been trancing out for a bit.

Trance denotes a variety of processes, ecstasy, techniques, modalities and states of mind, awareness and consciousness. Trance states may occur involuntarily and unbidden.

The term trance may be associated with meditationmagicflow, and prayer. It may also be related to the earlier generic term, altered states of consciousness, which is no longer used in “consciousness studies” discourse.

I wonder, what kind of music do people think I like given my persona?  I don’t think they would say trance, but I feel like a lot of that is because they don’t really know what that genre entails.  I feel like people definitely guess that I like either jpop and anime music, or video game music (maybe even chiptunes, though of course they don’t know what that actually sounds like), but that’s based on my interests, and not my persona.

Does it even make sense to you now?  In hindsight, now that you know that I love trance music (along with chiptunes and such), can you see any connection?  I know I’ve written about this before, but…hey, let’s face it, if you’ve been reading this blog for years, you’ve already figured out by now that everything I write is necessarily a rehashing of =something= I’ve said in the past…I mean, this is post #3328, for crying out loud…

But still…can you see the connections?  Can you see the reasoning?

It’s really interesting because trance music is something that’s played at massive raves where people just go wild.  And…that’s not something that’s very fitting of my character, is it?

…no, you’re right.  It’s not.  But if you disregard that and listen to the music itself, then you might begin to understand.

…or maybe you won’t.  You might just hear UNTS UNTS UNTS UNTS and then be done with it.  Which says something already, really.  Trance isn’t really music for those that aren’t willing to listen and give it attention.  You have to be patient and immerse yourself into the listening fully.  And isn’t that something that I do?

To me, trance music isn’t actually always music to dance to.  Yes, I love glowsticking to trance songs–certain ones more than others, but a lot of the time it’s better if I just “feel” the music rather than dance it out.

If at the beginning of the song you’re bobbing your head to the 4-on-the-floor beat, you’re doing it wrong (note: this post is getting really stupidly snobby and elitist, I apologize).  You’re focusing on the little picture, when the beauty is actually in the different layers of the cake.  And the layers…the =layers= of sound is what makes the intro to this song so excellent.

You might take issue with the regularity of trance.  Why always the same 32 bar phrases?  Why everything in powers of 2?  It’s because powers of 2 are the most natural thing, and the most expected thing.  And trance deals with expectation.  You =know= when the changeups are going to happen, and trance plays upon that expectation by riding the wave of your emotions and delivering things to you right as you know they’re going to come.

You might take issue with the repetitive nature of trance.  When the “melody” comes in at 1:27, you can barely call it a melody at all, really–just 5 notes in sequence.  But it’s another layer of sound.

And then at 1:55 we get YET ANOTHER layer of sound.  Notice that we already have the kick drum, hihats, background pad textures, and probably at least two different basses layered on each other.  Add to that the melody, plus now the melodic pads, and we’ve got one super-layered cake.  And these layers all fit together to make one all-encompassing soundscape.  And because the rhythm and texture of each are different, it all works together.  There’s no interest in the melodies or whatever that each instrument is playing at–it’s the weaving together of all of them to make the texture that is important.

3:22 marks the start of a build that takes TWO WHOLE MINUTES.  The climax of the song doesn’t hit until 5:10.  TWO WHOLE MINUTES.  That’s probably the entire length of some non-trance songs.

Why is it so drawn out?  Simple.  Because drawing things out; making the buildup more epic, builds up the musical tension in you more and more.  If you take some pop/rock song, there might be some one-bar or even one-beat epic drum break or solo vocal shout or even an instant of silence before the chorus hits.  And that little section is filled with musical expectation that sets it up for the chorus to be all that much more satisfying.  Well, with trance, it’s like the same thing, only times about 100.  And because it lasts longer, it’s that much better in the end.

It’s like sex.

And if you listen to 4:15, just listen to 4:15, you KNOW that that climax is coming.  You KNOW that it’s coming; every element of the music screams it.  The filters are opening up, the rhythmic basses have come back in to drive the beat forward.  Even the addition of the hihats at 4:28 plays on this.  And you know when the chorus is going to hit, EXACTLY, because it’s all powers of two.  And you know exactly what it’s going to sound like, because the same melodic line has been playing to you all this time.  And because you know exactly what’s going to happen, you can immerse yourself entirely in it.  There’s no surprises, no tricks, no gotchas, no clever musical ideas thrown at you.  Which is why you can enter the state known only as “trance”.

Which is really why we call the music what it’s called, anyways.  Because when you listen to it fully, you do enter a trance.  Your mind seems like it’s exploding; you close your eyes and tilt your head back and everything is simply euphoria.

So how does it all relate to me?  My persona?

For one thing, trance is about textures, not melodies.  Yes, there are some trance melodies that are amazingly beautiful…but beautiful not because of the notes, or complexity, or even the harmonies…but because of the sound textures.  Ethereal.  Angelic.  Heavenly.  Pulsating.  Soaring.  It’s all about the textures.  And that relates to me because I’m not a person who is always concerned with what is on-stage; what is in the foreground; what is in the forefront.  And when you are communicating to me, I pay just as much attention to how you are talking, as I do to what you are saying.  And so much of my own communication is non-verbal, after all, that my world is hardly the world where you just shout forth melodies in the foreground all the time.

My primary adjective is “soft”.  Is trance “soft” music?  Perhaps not, actually.  But it surely is not “hard” music.  Even the parts that are very “heavy”, are not “unsoft”, because they are slow crests of very large waves of emotion.  And yes, my emotions are sometimes like the ocean–very gentle, slow-moving, and rolling even when they are intense.

But I think a lot of it is just that trance is “inner” music, as opposed to “outer” music.  Which, again, may not seem to make much sense given that this is music that’s played to massive, massive crowds.  But to me, it is “inwards” music.  And surely I am an “inwards” person, if nothing else.


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