Published on April 19th, 2013 | by Aysegul Tufekci1
What is Psytrance Music?
The word psy was derived from Ancient Greek language –written psuchē-. It represents psyche in English and associated with the notion of mind, soul, breathe and spirit. As parallel to the meaning, psytrance music genre has its roots in this kind of spirituality comes from its origins in Shamanic Rituals.
Psytrance music can be accepted as one of the sub-genres of Electronic Dance Music (EDM), but it differentiates itself with its hypnotic arrangements of synthetic rhythms. The melodies in psytrance music are complex layered, and they also are formed by high tempo riffs.
Psytrance music has started to be appeared since late 90s and accepted as a genre since the beginning of 2000s. While it has been evolving there are observed many different varieties in terms of tempo, style and mood. These varieties inside the psytrance are called as sub genres of psytrance music such as Full on, Dark, Progressive, Suomi, Psybreaks, Psygressive, Ambient and Goa Trance. If you are interested in Goa Trance, you can find more information in History of Psytrance Music about its origins and development.
“What is psytrance music” is a very difficult question to answer, but there have been some academic studies conducted in order to answer this question. In according to us, the most suited answer can be accepted as; a distinct speedy sound, generally between 120BPM-170BPM, having a constant or changeable bass line that continues all through the song. The bass line is covered by variety of different rhythms. A psytrance track is nurtured by different leads & rhythms, and they generally change every 8 bars. Overlaying is used in psytrance tracks and by this effect, new musical ideas are infused into regular musical intervals in every 4 to 8 bars, generally.
Usually, new musical layers are continued to be added until reaching a climax in psytrance track and this rise in the melodic line is followed by a new rhythmic pattern over the uninterrupted bass and kick line. Moreover, psychedelic trance tracks are prone to be 6-12 minutes long and cut off frequency is used in a great extend in the aim to control of adjusting (modulating) filter effect. Added, delay, flanger and Reverb etc effects are heavily used in psytrance tracks. Reverb of open sounding shows its presence in many lead synthesizers in the psytrance tacks.
The question of what is psytrance music can be analyzed under many categories such as formal features, melodic and harmonic feature, rhythmic feature and tumbrel features specific to psytrance music genre. Let us briefly discuss some of these above listed attributes of psytrance music.
If we start discussing about formal characteristics of psytrance music genre, that would not be wrong to declare that the tracks are generally between 6-12 minutes long – as we have mentioned above- many psytrance tracks start with atmospheric sounds about 30 seconds as an opening, and this opening is followed by an introduction.
Opening phase, introduction, body –where the distinctive features of the relevant track started to rise) and conclusion are general patterns. The body of a psytrance track diversified into two halves. The first one introduces the major theme of the song and the second half of the body re-arranges this newly introduced major thematic material of psytrance track.
These differentiated themes are ultimately layered on each other, and two halves of the body are used for reaching climax without being alienated from the main course of the track.
When we came to the issue of chords and harmonies, we can say that they are employed in relatively minor role in the harmonic and melodic character of this music genre. Instead of, chords and harmonies, drone pitching, which means making a low, continuous and monotonous sound, is the main focusing point of this genre. The only harmonies observed in psytrance tracks are collocation of pitches from differentiated melodies however they are not still operating as a main actor of the track. As you can guess, psytrance tracks are a composition of connections between varieties of sounds and re-arrange them under some sort of psychedelic way.
Furthermore, the rhythmic features of psytrance tracks can be characterized as a constant stream of 16th notes over a 4/4 steady rhythm in a bass drum and with the help of echo effect, the rhythmic character of melodies is obscured and tried to be absorbed into one 16th note long.
We can add more and more characteristic features for psytrance music but in order to draw a general framework for answering the question of what is psytrance music, these above discussed issues can be accepted as a brief summary. If you have any contributions, please feel free to contact Shamanic Tea Project.