What really *is* missing from trance?

dmgtz96

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I've had this topic on the back of my mind for a couple of weeks already, but I wasn't sure how to approach it (and I still am unsure how to approach it). Hopefully this comes off coherently instead of a long-winded rant.
We've previously discussed qualities that make new trance tracks 'good'.
Go to any modern releases section - the one we have on trancefix, beatport, r/trance, and so on. What do you hear? Mostly the same kind of stuff that trended on Youtube 10 years ago, or that was played in festivals half a decade ago. If you're lucky, you will run into a neat sub-130 BPM anjunadeep style track that's just like the housey trance from 10 years ago. You will inevitably see cheap rehashes of classic trance, like Carte Blanche and Children.
Those things can be fine. I did not make this thread to just say that modern trance sounds all the same or whatever. Instead, I would argue that trance fundamentally lacks something deeper, an innovation that takes the genre beyond what it is right now. Why is trance like this? Even Armin's latest album feels like it was made a long time ago, including the poppy tracks. They feel like they were made for a different generation.
...
I don't claim to be an expert in 2010s music. I did listen to a good amount of 2011-2014 pop during my first break from trance (ex. Somebody I Used to Know, Riptide) and was exposed to mid-2010s American hip-hop/rap (ex. Hotline Bling, Black Beatles). I went right through the 2017 boom of reggaeton, which includes the Despacito that probably everyone on this forum knows and also more interesting, underground-sounding tracks like Karol G, Ozuna - Hello. I enjoyed hearing future house when it became popular in 2015. I was still in college when kpop broke into the mainstream in 2019, with tracks like Boy With Luv. Months just before the pandemic, there was a sudden demand for funky music, as evidenced by Don't Start Now and Say So. Around the same time, The Weeknd's Blinding Lights gave everyone the '80s sound that we all had been craving.

The general worldwide public of the 2010s saw many music genres come and go. Yet, trance remained largely the same way it started the decade {ex. Stresstest (John Askew remix) & even before that, like Inertia - The System}. It's failed to adapt, and that's pretty evident in the popularity of the genre. Just look at the worldwide Google trend of 'trance music'. I think this inability to evolve is harming the genre. The weird thing is, it's not like trance has zero sources of possible inspiration. It's right there, in popular music! Yet when Armin tries to make commercial "pop," it falls flat.
I do not know why trance producers saw all that was going on around them and just... ignored it and continued the same thing they've always done.

With modern trance, it's just really difficult to accept it as 2021 music. New releases don't feel like they belong with the rest of modern music.

tl;dr Trance failed to capitalize on worldwide music trends (early 2010s indie pop; reggaeton; kpop; American hip-hop; recent retro revivals like Blinding Lights) and has been paying it for a while. By remaining insular and sticking to the good old formulas developed by JOC, Askew, et al. from the 2000s, the genre is unable to reach broader audiences and progress meaningfully.
 
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jetflag

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Dunno m8.. I honestly don't think what *is* really missing from trance is furher innovation like influences from kpop, reggeaton, hiphop etc. of all things.. And I would argue that trying to incorporate those, (which is fine by the way) will simply see a unique genre or genres born instead of it "reviving trance" so to speak similar to how hardcore and trance ulitimatly gave way to hardstyle.

so if the goal is to make new fresh music or a new fresh genre, fine.

But if your goal is to sort of inject new youth into a, what I would personally dub a finished genre or set of genres, like trance, in order to sort of artificially revive or relive the (public) sense of wonder when trance actually *was* something new and unique (at least for the masses) , you're probably just going to end up with something that's half-trance half something else at best.

my 2 cents.

bit pessimistic/unconstructive I know and i'm sorry. but thats how I see this particular solution/suggestion unfold.
 
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Gagi

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Yeah there's not much to discover anymore, or at least it feels like it. The fusions all seem very seasonal and nothing sticks - think of synthwave, for example. We got a couple of average trance-synthwave albums and that was about it.

If I wanted to challenge Daysleeper and Propeller for the prestigious TranceFix Hipster Award 2021, I'd say that trance is just a word nowadays, a word that is used to label ('box') tracks with certain structures and sounds. Trance is not the idea itself anymore.
 

Magnevi

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Maybe it's simply the "rave culture" that's missing. I mean: a huge group of people who actually go out to dance all night, every week, on trance music.

The current "ravers" are all for techno. And it has been like that for a while now. Techno is huge (again). And luckily for us, that genre is VERY SLOWLY moving towards trance. A clear sign of that is all the techno-remixes of trance classics we see lately. Like the recent Charlotte de Witte Remix of "Age of Love".

The plus side is, those techno producers are in it for the love of music. Not for money. Above track isn't released as Charlotte De Witte - Age Of Love. That would only happen in our current commercial "trance" scene. It's Age of Love - Age of Love (Charlotte de Witte Remix). With respect to the original classic. The future for trance is in the (good) hands of the techno-scene imo.

We only have to wait for a few years. Melody is slowly crawling into techno. Which basically makes it trance.
 

jetflag

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I agree with @dmgtz96 that most trance has become rather formulaïc, so in a nuttshell, big club beats with grandiose hooks

again nothing wrong with that. but it often lacks the idea that this is a piece of music intended to "bring you in a dream like state of trance" so to speak.

might be interresting to sort of take that idea back. So let go of conventional sequence structures. and just "design" a 125/142 bpm track that is intended to (in a dj mix or not) hypnotize you and bring you in a trance like state, bottom up.

back to roots basically.
 
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dmgtz96

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I agree with @dmgtz96 that most trance has become rather formulaïc, so in a nuttshell, big club beats with grandiose hooks
I agree that modern trance producers make some pretty long, dramatic, grandiose hooks... yet, even with all that and modern production techniques, all of them fall flat. There are no earworms. I would argue that one of the last memorable, earworm-style trance track was John Askew - Shine, which is much better on that respect than the more popular tracks released after it (Anahera, Origami).

Dunno m8.. I honestly don't think what *is* really missing from trance is furher innovation like influences from kpop, reggeaton, hiphop etc. of all things.. And I would argue that trying to incorporate those, (which is fine by the way) will simply see a unique genre or genres born instead of it "reviving trance" so to speak similar to how hardcore and trance ulitimatly gave way to hardstyle.

so if the goal is to make new fresh music or a new fresh genre, fine.
Fair enough. Those mixtures would be interesting, if difficult to incorporate. I'm not saying, have a kpop vocal run over a trance track, some dude rapping over trance or random reggaeton beats during a trance breakdown (LOL imagine), but maybe take inspiration from their aesthetic/characteristics. So the catchy, earworm style of kpop, the edgy darkness of hip-hop, and the balearic radio-friendliness of reggaeton. These things can be added while still having trance be.... trance, but everyone has been sticking with the "steroid trance template" for the past several years and is just doing what has always been done since 2004+.

But if your goal is to sort of inject new youth into a, what I would personally dub a finished genre or set of genres, like trance, in order to sort of artificially revive or relive the (public) sense of wonder when trance actually *was* something new and unique (at least for the masses) , you're probably just going to end up with something that's half-trance half something else at best.

my 2 cents.

bit pessimistic/unconstructive I know and i'm sorry. but thats how I see this particular solution/suggestion unfold.
Maybe. We'll never know until someone tries.
 
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Progrez

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Stop using samples this sounds like Airwave to me and to my surprise it's from Deadmau5 whom I have never liked any tracks from him

 

Daysleeper

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You have some strong points. I agree. Trance never "evolved", or got with the times as you put it, and it has been even more evident in the last 5 to 10 years. Very much so. I dont even understand how the current mainstream trance scene is still here? How has it been surviving!!?? Wheres the audience? I dont get whats holding up the whole Armada/Fsoe/mainstream uplifting/steroid/festival/edm/fake trance whatever scene. Anjunafam and Atkinson/askew/tyas UK tech/uplifting not far behind either. It really feels like its still left in 2008- 2012. I dont mean to sound degrading or rude to anyone but is it possible that now parts of eastern europe, parts of asia/india and maybe even some part of south america is the main interest for the "established" mainstream scene? Is that the reason it feels so "not within the times" so to speak? At the same time in western countries theres this more 90's aesthetic that has been going on for most other genres within the last 5-6-7-8 years. This is all a big questionmark for me. Nothing makes any sense, haha.

We saw the rise of trouse, slower tempos,edm, and complextro elements starting in the mid to late 2000s. Was that evolvement or devolvement? Was the first wave of "dutch" corsten/de moor/s&g/rank1 "trance" evolvement or devolvement? I think anyone with half a brain can attest that was a form of evolution wasnt it? If not then we're just back to the statement that trance can only be like 90's german styled hypnotic trance, maybe some early goa and that sort of stuff.

Anyone that has been following the scene since back when remember how much talk there was about trance has to evolve, i dont want to make the same track over and over etc etc. This was back in the late 2000s. The question is , and I think this topic has been circlejerked so many times before theres really nothing to discuss. Its all down to these question again:

What is trance ?
What is not?
Can trance "evolve" or is it a fixed thing?
What if "real" trance died in 98 already?
How many trance genres can there be?

If I like a certain thing = evolution?
Not liking a certain thing ? de-volution ?

But I might detract to much from your initial subject and question now. Whats missing from trance?

Simple answer : trance itself ?
 
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TRANCEBLASTER

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In my case, i still have the 'wow' moments with Techno or House.. even situations when i say that a new/never before heard/ track is 'killer' or 'sublime'... i dont have this with Trance, maybe only with trancey House and trancey Techno ...but man, how boring are trance beats or trance bass? Cant stand the mainstream uplifting trance stuff, so uninspired with a sound of a vaccum cleaner, there is absolutely no spice in the genre

Maybe i mostly miss the analog/hardware stuff, great melodies, deep space pads, short breaks..
 
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TwinSilo

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That first post is non-sensical to me. You've just retrospectively looked back at 2010's through some narrow perspective of your personal taste of mainstream pop, got the analysis way off, none of which having any relevance to Trance to begin with or on your question on what's missing from the genre. Regaeton has been around for decades, what does 2017 have to do with anything? You've linked to some generic latin pop track with 253 million views and labelled it "Interesting underground" and also to some generic Drake track and called it Hip-Hop. And K-Pop, Blinded by the Lights... what? You've essentially listed some of the worst styles to come out of the 2010's, none of which represent any semblance of music in the past decade in any meaningful way.

If I could pin point one way to drive Trance further into the ground it would be your suggestion of merging it further into mainstream tripe, and creating further disassociation with the genres original roots. It's exactly that departure from the root feel of the music that's created the sense that something is missing. All of the old trance music felt linked together in some transient way, didn't matter if it was harsh and banging or soft like Jam El Mar - Stella. Even the guys today who try and give a mature older approach like Activa are only succesful up to the point, where their music sounds like it might be from 2007 (at a push). Trance used to have a spiritual and nuanced core, and i'm not just talking GOA. Now its ram as much obvious emotion and energy as possible and digitize the humanity out of all the sounds. There's room for that approach, but thats 80% of what we get.
 
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dmgtz96

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That first post is non-sensical to me. You've just retrospectively looked back at 2010's through some narrow perspective of your personal taste of mainstream pop, got the analysis way off, none of which having any relevance to Trance to begin with or on your question on what's missing from the genre. Regaeton has been around for decades, what does 2017 have to do with anything? You've linked to some generic latin pop track with 253 million views and labelled it "Interesting underground" and also to some generic Drake track and called it Hip-Hop. And K-Pop, Blinded by the Lights... what? You've essentially listed some of the worst styles to come out of the 2010's, none of which represent any semblance of music in the past decade in any meaningful way.
Opinion: Rejected
 

Gagi

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Whats missing from trance?

Simple answer : trance itself ?
As simple as that.

Don't think funky/kpop/whatever trance will make it...trance.

Bit lazy Sunday thinking, but is it safe to say we'll never get that feeling back again? We can only get (commercial) fusions or the same thing over and over again. The genre has been long out of style and has lost the fresh minds who want to see where they can go with it. Most just moved on, the rest are mostly doing the same/similar things.
 
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LostLegend

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I think it's the same problem that affects a lot of genres.

Too many people chasing the dragon of the golden years.
People want the music to give them same feelings that trance gave them in the 90's - but that time has come and gone sadly.

It's also frustrating from a producers point of view as well.
There's going to be a select few that complain no matter what you type of song you produce.
Whether you're trying to evoke the classic tracks, you get accused of being stuck in the past. If you try something modern, some people will complain that they don't like where the genre is headed and if you try something experimental then some will tell you "this isn't trance"
And good luck getting that past A&R if you are looking for a release.

Personally, I'm too old to fret too much about it. I just make music that I like these days. If people like it then cool! if not, then they are free to go back to their 90's mixtape collection :p

If you think I'm trying reggaetón trance though, you'd better curb that nonsense quickly as I'd rather smash my bollocks between 2 house bricks :LOL:
 
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dmgtz96

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Bit lazy Sunday thinking, but is it safe to say we'll never get that feeling back again?
Yep

If you think I'm trying reggaetón trance though, you'd better curb that nonsense quickly as I'd rather smash my bollocks between 2 house bricks :LOL:
Hahaha I liked that. Fortunately there is no one in the world that would even try to do this
 
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Progrez

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I would love for that feeling to come back. I don't care what people say.
 

Progrez

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Bit lazy Sunday thinking, but is it safe to say we'll never get that feeling back again?
Why not? With the advancement change of technology I just feel that the tunes have become shitty.
 
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dmgtz96

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The human effort required to replicate the "trance" feeling of old trance is immense. It's much easier to produce garbage and use the sample packs that everyone else is using. Only few people in the world (I'd say about a couple dozen?) have the skills to produce "old trance" that isn't shit. I would say most of these productions are experimental projects and not a concerted effort to bring back trancy trance.
Modern techno has a similar vibe, but it feels hollow and still doesn't feel trancy like old trance.
 

Progrez

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The human effort required to replicate the "trance" feeling of old trance is immense. It's much easier to produce garbage and use the sample packs that everyone else is using. Only few people in the world (I'd say about a couple dozen?) have the skills to produce "old trance" that isn't shit. I would say most of these productions are experimental projects and not a concerted effort to bring back trancy trance.
Modern techno has a similar vibe, but it feels hollow and still doesn't feel trancy like old trance.
Exactly! - that's why I wish producers would make up courses to show exactly how to produce those not the cheap ones that I hear from Jonas Steur like the recent ones actually genuine tracks. I would pay good money for that.
 
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Recharge

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I think what is missing is simplicity and imagination. We are missing on music like this:

Ruffault - Another Day Without You (Lost Mix)

And we are getting polished gold painted turds instead...
Exactly! - that's why I wish producers would make up courses to show exactly how to produce those not the cheap ones that I hear from Jonas Steur like the recent ones actually genuine tracks. I would pay good money for that.
Also you are so very right and so very wrong at the same time. You will be surprised how many talented producers there is out there and they can produce anything they want, we are not talking only about trance producers. Trance has been going on the dubstep path, but it just takes longer. It is just not attractive for producers these days unless they've been doing it for a long time.
 
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