Psytrance and the Spirituality of Electronics – Berkeley (edu) analysis of what Psy Trance actually is, from a music science students point of view

Kenny EaswaranThis extremely thorough analysis on Psy-Trance and it’s true origins refers to a paper released by Kenny Easwaran, a Ph.D. student in the Program in Logic and Methodology of Science at UC Berkeley

Link to the entire paper | here |

Within trance, psytrance is distinguished by its generally higher tempo (135-145 bpm), more focus on sixteenth notes and exotic scales, and most noticeably, through the use of general sounds other than percussion and pitched sounds.(quote)

Tracks tend to be between 6 and 12 minutes long, with most clustering around 7 or 8 minutes. Most of the tracks begin with about 30 seconds of very atmospheric sounds. These introductions convey some suggestion of the beat (but definitely not the bass drum), but in the tracks I have analyzed here, they are more beat-less than usual, and last much longer than usual, since several are the first tracks of their albums. Sometimes, there is a return to this ambient sound at the end of the track, but it is generally not as long.(quote)

Pitched sounds in psytrance are generally contrasted by a combination of register and whether they tend towards more simple sine tones or towards more complex fm-synthesis sounds. It is very common for these sounds to also have a flanger/phaser effect, or to gradually shift one overtone to more prominence than another, resulting in a gradual change in octave, without interrupting the melodies. This is particularly effective when a short three- or four-note melody is repeated many times while gradually changing registers. Sometimes a melody that began in the bass line will end up several octaves higher after a few repetitions, just because of a redistribution of its overtones.(quote)

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