How do I make Trance Music?

To the untrained ear, electronic dance music and all of its subgenres can sound a lot alike. The bassline kicks in, simple melodies follow, and the crowd starts moving. But to the artists and their fans, electronic music has very real, if not subtle, differences that hit everyone differently.

Classic trance is no different. Although not as old as house or techno music, there are music festivals around the world that showcase trance artists such as Paul van Dyk, Armin van Buuren, and Tiesto as part of their EDM lineup. Arriving on the heels of British new-age music, trance was first introduced in Germany in the late ‘90s.

KLF, Jam & Spoon, and Dance 2 Trance were the first acts to release primarily trance records in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The self-titled song by Age of Love is widely considered to be the first trance song to gain widespread appeal.

What is the Trance sound?

The objective of trance music is to put the listener in a state of hypnotic bliss. In some cases, trance producers employ professional sopranos to sing, although not in any particular chorus or refrain. Trance music is mostly instrumental, however, with a soft open and close that allows live DJs to easily transition from one song to the other.

Trance isn’t necessarily always chill, though. Part of the “trance” is lulling the crowd into comfort while slowly building the tension, lifting dancers up, before suddenly bringing them back down once or twice during the song. In the time between drops, the music resembles the softer opening.

For this reason, a lot of trance songs are longer in length to give the trance track time to establish melodic forms. But not every subgenre of trance follows this formula religiously, each has their own take on the scene. Progressive trance first introduced the build-up and release, psychedelic trance has a sci-fi ambient sound, and uplifting trance has recently been reborn as orchestral trance and features the sounds of symphonic orchestras.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of melodies, beats per minute, and vocal aspects when it comes to trance music production. Perhaps you’ve loved it all ever since you heard that first bass kick at a downtown dance club – now you want to know how to make it on your own.

Trance enthusiasts rejoice: you could be closer to putting your spin on this very popular form of EDM than you think.

What do I need to create trance music?

Obviously, you need to have the desire to create trance music. Either as a hobby to entertain yourself or your friends or to take your music on the road as a live DJ playing festivals around the world. No matter where you want to go, there’s always the first step on every journey.

There isn’t really a need to fill your room, den, or basement with every piece of equipment known to man. Frankly, it’ll just sit there gathering dust. When you’re starting out, It’s better to save your money until you know, for sure, that this is what you want to do.

The only thing you need is a high-quality digital audio workstation (DAW) and a computer with enough juice to run it properly. In this day and age, you probably already have a computer. Before looking for a DAW, find out exactly what kind of processor it has, how much RAM is available, and the size of the hard drive.

All of that information can help you decide what kind of DAW you’re able to download. Luckily, there are many free options out there for beginners and even slimmed-down versions of software professionals have been using for years. Ableton Live 9 Lite and Pro Tools First are free versions of established software. Because their “parents” are industry staples, upgrading your DAW should be painless.

Other inexpensive DAWs include GarageBand and FL Studio (formerly FruityLoops). In reality, just about any low-cost or free DAW will be fine to start experimenting with samples and kick drums. No, you won’t be able to save a bunch of your efforts nor do they provide the range of instruments found on the paid versions.

What they do offer is a way to become familiar with how the software works. Finding the instruments you want to set up tracks, to organizing your stage, these are the building blocks to making trance music – and any other kind of music – you can be proud of.

It’s time to learn.

What to Learn First

The most important thing to remember is to give yourself a chance to actually learn the software. If you don’t get the hang of how to establish a bassline after a few minutes, that’s fine! Believe us, the more you learn, the harder it can get.

If you’re ready to throw in the towel after a weekend, then maybe it isn’t for you. Aren’t you glad you didn’t spend hundreds of dollars on software and gear at the start? It certainly doesn’t hurt to take a step outside once in a while to recharge the batteries. But don’t give up – you can do this.

Start simple. How do different instruments sound? How do you move a track around the stage? Are there quick keys for starting, stopping, or sending a song in reverse? When learning something new, you never know what you don’t know until you start. It may take months, but eventually you’ll be fading, looping, and sampling with your eyes closed.

Hit a snag? We all do. However, trance is a very popular form of EDM, so there are plenty of places to find a few production tips. YouTube videos are a great resource and other online tutorials or chat rooms are great ways to get answers to your questions. Believe it or not, somebody else has asked the same exact question.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, consider upgrading your software and adding a piece of equipment or two. Improved headphones if you need them or even monitors (speakers) so you know how it will sound to your audience. A midi keyboard or drum machine will free up your keyboard. If you’re really on a roll, start pricing out synthesizers.

When it comes to learning how to fly the DAW of your choice, we don’t recommend scheduling a date by which you should have it perfected. However, once you feel good about where you’re at, do set yourself a deadline for completing that first song. Will it be great? Probably not, so don’t spend more time on it than you need. Get the song out there on social media and get feedback.

Now, is all the feedback that you get going to be good or even helpful? No. But you’ll find allies who appreciate what you’re doing and will offer constructive insights. You might even pick a few fans. Which might lead to a few smaller gigs. Which could lead to playing clubs. Which could lead to… who knows?

At this point, you’ve invested so much of your time and money, you are no longer in the “hobby zone.” You’re getting closer and closer. Keep plugging away and in a year or two, maybe you’ll get invited to play a festival or headline a weekly at a local club.

Streamline the Process

Recording Connection may be able to accelerate that timeframe. By giving you one-on-one access to a professional artist in their studio, you won’t waste hours doing research and learning how to fly your DAW like a pro. You’ll have a resource in the chair right next to you! Our mentors are dedicated, working music professionals who want to see people with passion and talent succeed and go far in their careers.

It won’t take years to get the education you need to take a real shot at making music your career. The Recording Connection Ableton Electronic Music Production (24 weeks) and Logic Pro Electronic Music Production Programs (20 weeks) can give you the skills and industry knowhow you need to pursue your dream.

But it’s up to you to make your dream career come true. The graduates that really put themselves out there, put in the work, put their blood, sweat, and tears into their music tend to be the most successful. If you’re ready to do the same, apply today.

Get your music production certification and build your music production and audio engineering skills by learning with an industry professional near you.