If you’ve never heard of trance music in the 21st century, chances are you’ve been living under a rock or you’re probably dead. As a millennial, I can easily confirm that trance music has had quite an impact in current times.
Now I have been a sucker for classic songs. I would rather listen to Queen all day, sipping my tea and pretending to be British rather than go to clubs point my finger at the ceiling and jump to electronic music. But I cannot deny the fact that trance music however, is very different and gratifying from trap, techno or house music. This may be subjective of course – but it is much more pleasing than any of these genres and can calm you down when you are feeling anxious.
Now this begs answer to the question – how does trance music work? Does it affect the brain? if yes, what does trance music do the brain? And why is trance music so addictive?
What is Trance music?
Trance refers to the state of heightened consciousness or hypnotism. When you’re listening to trance music, you’re letting it dictate how you feel, much like any other music. The primary differentiator is – this impact is more than just the typical emotional impact other music genres tend to have. Additionally, when you are intoxicated or high, you might feel that the effects are elevated. If you’ve even been to a trance music festival or rave party (not that I advocate it), you have probably experienced an ‘other worldly’ trip.
The tempo in trance tracks can be anywhere between 125 to 150 beats per minute. These are accompanied by repetitive melodious phrases and often culminate in a couple of drops to deliver that satisfying payoff to listeners. It’s what makes trance music so addictive – the tunes are catchy and put you in a… trance. Though it is considered similar to many of the genres I just mentioned, it is not.
Trance Music Psychology: How Does It Work on the Mind?
It is common knowledge that our mind can be manipulated by sounds around us. The way this music works on the mind is – the repetitive tunes you listen to generate uniform signals in your brain. This establishes calmness and a sense of pattern that are likely to influence your state of mind. You enter a mode of serenity and your brain perceives the tunes as foreseen because of the repetitive music. The vocals in a trance track are typically serenading and melodious.
Now when you reach this stage, your brain releases dopamine, a response similarly found when you’re doing psychoactive drugs, addressed in my previous article here. Now since the dopamine system is the reward pathway of the brain, it eventually asks for more. This may explain why some people are highly addicted to trance music and need their daily fix.
If you’ve ever attended a trance music festival or concert, you may have noticed that DJs also use visual effects to enhance your experience. While you are listening to this music, the coordinated visuals like flashing lights and laser can manipulate your mind and deliver a more intense sensory experience.
Trance Music Psychology: Effects On The Brain
Don’t misunderstand this to be some potentially unhealthy phenomenon. There are many trance tracks can actually help calm you down when you are facing anxiety. They could act against the nervousness building up in your body by slowing down your heart rate. Ever since its invention in the early 90s, trance has come a long way.
It isn’t easy to appreciate trance music if you are into more lyric-oriented music (although I’d urge you to check out vocal trance music if that’s the case). There is a part of the market that finds this kind of music boring because of its repetitions.
But this shouldn’t be surprising, since music perception is a highly subjective concept and many genres get their share of haters. As someone who suffers from mild anxiety, I can tell you that sometimes trance can do wonders for you. To drive the point home – I mean when you are listening to the music which metaphorically takes you out of the world, I don’t think you’ll be sweating over your small problems.
I recommend you start with Mirage by Armin Van Buuren. You’re welcome.