by Philip Sherburne | October 18, 2013
As with most of electronic music's subgenres, the definition of trance has morphed and expanded considerably over the years. This is especially true recently, as the music spun by erstwhile trance standard-bearers like Tiësto becomes indistinguishable from the homogenized sound of big-room EDM: a mishmash of pop hooks, needling riffs, dubstep breakdowns and the all-important drop. And trance itself has branched off into numerous sub-subgenres over the years, like Goa trance, psytrance, progressive trance -- there's even a whole category dedicated solely to "uplifting" trance.
At the music's core, however, the particulars haven't changed too much since the early '90s, when European DJs hammered its essential form into shape. Trance tends to use the same four-to-the-floor rhythms as techno, but funk plays second fiddle to driving, 16th-note-led cadences -- not to mention the soaring, emotive melodies that remain the genre's calling card. Explore one of dance music's most enduring styles with our Trance 101 playlist, featuring Tiësto, Paul van Dyk, ATB, Darude, Motorcycle, Cygnus X, System F, Armin van Buuren and many more.