Today, we dive into the world of dance music once again. This time, we progress into..well progressive trance. That being said, progressive trance is a hard one to nail down exactly. Mainly because in recent years, all the forms of trance have begun to merge and cross paths. To be honest, even a lot of the chart topping releases seem to have a touch of progressive trance in them (much like Anjunabeats as of late).
The main difference of progressive trance that you may find is the lack of over the top melodic content. You usually will not find loud, high pitched synths wailing a melody over huge, energetic buildups. Instead, what you will find is very long and subtle builds and breaks. In terms of cooking, if uplifting and melodic trance are rolling boils, progressive trance is a small simmer.
Progressive trance is still in a good mid-range bpm area. Not too fast and not too slow. The name progressive comes from the feeling of “progressing on a journey” throughout the track. Songs tend to be on the longer side (7-8 mins) and progress much more slowly than typical dance music tracks. The buildups and breakdowns are drawn out much, much longer than other iterations of dance music (trance specifically). You also don’t get that huge sense of energy or excitement with progressive. It’s not so much the destination, but the journey to get to that destination. In the end, the payoff is rewarding, almost like the final battle in an action movie. The building and tension is created slowly but effectively.
Another key aspect of progressive trance is the emphasis on rhythmic elements rather than melodic elements. There is a lot of focus on percussion or background arpeggios and synth work. This rhythmic focus pushes the track forward like a rail car on the tracks. The slowly evolving background synths, pads and minimal melody, help push the track further on its journey.
Many different artists have at least touched their hands into progressive. Most noticeably, the likes of Markus Schulz, Christopher Lawrence, Gabriel and Dresden, James Holden and Sonorous. All dance music in a sense have the same concept, but the journeys and destinations are vastly different.
Christopher Lawrence – The Dark
Sonorous – Second Sun
Gabriel and Dresden – Rise Up