What's the difference between House and Trance?
January 29, 2006 3:22 PM   Subscribe

What's the difference between House and Trance?

I couldn't find any other topic on this, so if exists, feel free to point me in that direction...

When I first started listening to electronic music, my brother got me addicted to House Music. Later on, I went on to find my own preferred genre, which is Trance. I owe credit to DJ Tiƫsto, Paul Oakenfold and Paul Van Dyk =)

I recently was in Singapore, and the Ministry of Sound where House Music was being played on the main floor. A song by Deep Dish, 'Say Hello' really caught my attention, and I started to appreciate House Music again.

Which got me intrigued. If I had heard this song on the Radio, I might've thought it was Trance. So tell me Metafites, what's the difference between the two?
posted by jasmeet to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
House music vs. trance music.
"Techno and trance, the two primary dance music genres that branched off from house in the late 1980s and early 1990s respectively, can share this basic beat infrastructure, but usually eschew house's live-music-influenced feel and black or Latin music influences in favor of more synthetic sound sources and approach."
posted by bloggboy at 3:32 PM on January 29, 2006

This is oversimplifying, but:

House: Bump Bump Bump-di-dump Bump ...

Trance: Bump Bump Bump Bump ...
posted by o0o0o at 3:34 PM on January 29, 2006

For any "what does x genre of Electronic music sound like" question, there's the exhaustive Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music. Bear with the lame intro; the guide itself is fantastic.
posted by zsazsa at 3:39 PM on January 29, 2006

I always like to use Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music. You may have seen it before.. but it's a fantastic site.. and an incredibly easy way to waste hours! :)
posted by snarkle at 3:40 PM on January 29, 2006

I think the difference is a subtle one, and certainly varies from place to place and arguably even from person to person. This is from knowing a few fans of either/both genre, though I am only a casual fan. My take is that trance is a subset or offshoot of house. I imagine the lines are very blurry when comparing Asia, US and UK/Europe definitions.

Wikipedia articles are informative: Trance, House.
posted by MetaMonkey at 3:40 PM on January 29, 2006

doh! beaten to the punch!
posted by snarkle at 3:41 PM on January 29, 2006

oOoOo: Trance very frequently has a 1-2 1-2 to it. Bump Bah Bump Bah or Bump diDump Bump diDump at least bump Bump bump Bump.
posted by aubilenon at 3:54 PM on January 29, 2006

Thanks for that link, zsazsa. Fantastic indeedy.
posted by matthewr at 4:02 PM on January 29, 2006

I never quite understood the difference until someone gave me a crate of house and techno and I tried to mix the two together - they share the same time signature type stuff but they don't really go together. Like bloggyboy said.
posted by 31d1 at 4:05 PM on January 29, 2006

Trance is more... trancey. Lots of repeated, slowly morphing, spacey synths. Lots of reverb. I would say it's more druggy (but YMMV -- I guess some people might prefer to do their drugs while listening/dancing to house). It's certainly got more of a "I'm flying thru the cosmos on a beam of light" feel.

Sometimes it's ridiculously cheesy and emotionally manipulative. I got tired of trance about 5 years ago, after buying one too many trance compilation CDs; after a while, it all starts to sound the same: buildup, breakdown, buildup, breakdown.

Having said that, the best trance producers I know of are Sasha and Digweed. I recommend seeking out some of their stuff -- it's less cliched than Oakenfold and van Dyk.

House, as someone said upthread, has more black and Latin influences -- funk, gospel, blues, salsa. It sounds less synthetic, more like it's performed by real people using real instruments.

Lately there's a subgenre called electro-house, which is neither trance nor traditional house nor techno, but has similarities to all three. It has a house beat (4/4 with some syncopation and variations), and weird, dark, edgy/noisy synths. Also a lot of EQ sweeps -- for example, you'll hear a phrase of music or singing or speaking, looped, very muffled, and as it repeats it slowly becomes more clear as the treble is turned up, or it starts out tinny and gets richer as the bass is turned up.

Some of this stuff actually has a very menacing feel to it -- not bluesy like house, euphoric like trance, or spaced-out like techno. Tiefschwarz and Blackstrobe are good exemplars of electro-house.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 4:27 PM on January 29, 2006

Trance music is very repetitive, usually lacks melody, and has simplistic drum rhythms that go boom-chick-boom-chick for the entire song. House music is a little harder to define. There are a lot of sub-genres of house that you can read about in the sites above. Global House Connection has hundred's of hours of mixes in mp3 with all kinds of outstanding house music. Download a show or two and you will understand why it is hard to define house as a whole.
posted by jasondigitized at 5:02 PM on January 29, 2006

Ya dance to house, and trance to trance. :)
posted by DrtyBlvd at 5:10 PM on January 29, 2006

To reiterate more clearly, house music has a syncopated feel that can vary from "lightly shuffled" to nearly a swung type feel. Trance strictly uses straight 8th notes, and any syncopation comes from the irregular placement of these notes.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:29 AM on January 30, 2006

House music definitely has its roots in some of the Chicago underground scene back in the early 90's. For more adjectives to add from the above: House: soulful, warm, urban, sexy, and IMO danceable (think actual dance steps).
Trance: much more psychedelic, cold, faster, european.
posted by _zed_ at 9:58 AM on January 30, 2006

House doesn't use gated synths.
posted by btocher at 10:10 AM on January 31, 2006

jasondigitized >>> "Trance music is very repetitive, usually lacks melody,"

Eh? Repetitive, yes, but melody is in many ways what defines trance as a genre. And, in fact, much of the structure or chord selection of the melodies is what largely separates various sub-genres of trance (5ths and major chords built in minor keys for big-room, melodic, Balearic trance, for example, as opposed to chords and melodies influenced more by Asian and Middle Eastern music for Goa and psytrance).

I think you're confusing trance with techno.

House, as said above, is mostly 4-4 beat music, with a kickdrum on every beat. Same with trance. Where they differ is in:

1) Speed. House will usually fall in the 115-125 beats per minute (bpm) range. Trance will go from about 130 (epic, vocal, Balearic) up to about 145-150 (hard trance), even up to 170 or so (hardstyle).

2) Melodic structure. House melodies are usually built in blues scales, whereas trance is almost always built around 5ths, usually in minor keys as they're more emotionally manipulative (major keys basically always sound happy, and there's not much tension to them. Minor keys demand resolution, which is what trance is all about).

3) Song structure. House and trance follow the same basic pattern: intro, build, break, build, release and major melodic theme, outro. But in house it's much subtler, and will (to me) often come closer to the standard Western pop format, as interpreted through disco. Trance takes the structure to extremes.

4) Instrumentation. In house, you're going to hear a lot more natural instruments and samples, or at least synths that sound natural. Most trance is very electronic in flavour; the synths are designed to sound unlike natural sounds (except in some epic or melodic trance, where pianos--or piano synths--will be used. 'Children', by Robert Miles, is probably the most famous example). The samples in trance are more likely to be vocal snippets from movies or TV shows, or sound effects, while in house you're more likely to hear sampled drum riffs, instrumentals from other songs, etc.

5) Beat structure. While (as I said above) house and trance are organized along the same lines, there are a few important differences. Someone upthread mentioned shuffle; in trance there's almost none. Drums hit on the beat they're supposed to (or the eighth, or sixteenth), in a very metronomic way. House drums will shuffle a bit around the beat. The easiest way to describe the difference is that house rhythms make you shake your ass, trance rhythms make you move your feet. Or another way: house is sex music, trance is exercise music. Anyway. A (very basic) trance beat will often look like this:

X-x-X-x-X-x-X-x- where the X is a kick drum, and the x is an open high hat. This gives you the standard oonst-oonst-oonst-oonst sound of trance.

X---X-X-X---X--- would be a fairly typical house beat. Tap it out, you'll hear a bit more of a 'rocking' to the beat.

Er, HTH. All my opinion of course.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:57 PM on January 31, 2006

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