Dear Roger, Armin and #TranceFamily,
Electronic dance music is a legitimate part of my life. I was introduced to it when I stumbled upon a house music channel on an Air Canada flight in 2004. From that flight, I began learning about trance music, techno and the various sub genres in all aspects of EDM. I also began following your (Armin’s) ASOT sets as best I could and watched it grow into a charming, lovable, musically brilliant institution that is speeding towards its 500th show (congratulations!). Something wasn’t quite right though. As much as I enjoyed dancing to the music, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to it for pleasure like I did other forms of EDM. The music itself was beautifully crafted and I believe trance is one of the most complex musical genres in existence, but I wasn’t able to sit back and listen to it when it wasn’t in a concert setting.
As you can imagine, this is a difficult state of mind to negotiate. I had no idea why I felt so strange about listening to it in the comforts of my own home. For years I ignored it and remained satisfied with listening to trance at shows. I dismissed it simply by thinking that trance was best served in large stadiums of patrons. It is only now that I have discovered the real reason for this strange mental twist.
More recently, I was introduced to the mellifluous Balearic blends of yours (Roger Shah‘s) , and I was captivated by the patterns, lyrics and creative chords in your music. The music actually felt like it had been conceived on a Magic Island and I connected with the lyrics of ‘Lost’ and ‘Found’. Then I realized that I had connected with the lyrics of ‘Lost’ and ‘Found’…
…seeing Roger and Zara Taylor perform live provided a breakthrough for me. Hearing the ‘Found’ track live suddenly brought back some experiences in my life that paralleled the lyrics of the track. I froze for a minute before remembering to continue dancing.
I’m not sure what is in the mathematics and musicality of trance, but the ingredients make for thought-provoking music. On a dance floor, we connect with the tune and dance to the beat, but listening to it at home without the outlet of dance, we can only think about the music. Thinking about the music invokes mental imagery of our past, present and future lives, be it through lyrics or simply the chords themselves. The periods in the music before the big drops tend to be especially powerful and can draw attention to emotions and experiences of old like no other music can.
Trance can bring together battalions of connoisseurs in a frenzy of gyration. It can also isolate and amplify oneself in one’s own eyes and mind. It is this latter feature of trance that prevented me from embracing it in my chambers (and incidentally, it is why trance is particularly powerful on a long haul night flight. There is nothing quite as emotional as looking out at the constellations while being accompanied by a trance soundtrack). It can jerk tears from the strongest of mind and can force a level of introspection like no other music can. Such is the beauty of trance music, that it can bring groups together and still take the individual human being into the depths of their own minds and souls.
As soon as I came to terms with the emotions associated with solitary trance sessions, I began applying it as a mood-setter in my private quarters, and quickly came to terms with the level of introspection it provides. I realized that I was afraid of the kinds of feelings that this music could invoke. I am introspective by nature, but having a soundtrack makes the experience so much more powerful. It is this amplified introspection that I was not ready to accept and face alone, until now.
What a wondrous type of music you produce, that can make people so fundamentally happy at your concerts, yet reach out to one’s essential foundations so powerfully when one is alone! I salute the #trancefamily for giving us a rare blend of musicality, realism and emotion. It is for this reason that this blog post gets the rare honour of being filed under the “Introspection” category.
Don’t get me wrong though. I still can’t wait for my next big trance show outing.
Thanks for reading!
- What songs should I listen to for a slow, long distance, trance-like run? (ask.metafilter.com)
- Owl City, Armin Van Buuren Build ‘Youtopia’ Together (mtv.com)
- Armin Van Buuren ‘Mirage’ Out Today (hangout.altsounds.com)
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