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Goa trance music

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Goa trance music

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Goa trance
Stylistic origins: Indian classical music, Industrial/EBM, Acid house, Psychedelic rock
Cultural origins: Late 1980s - Mid/late 1990s, Goa, Europe, Israel (influenced by Hippie culture)
Typical instruments: Roland TB-303, Roland TR-909, Sequencer
Mainstream popularity: Europe, Israel, Japan, Brazil peaking in the mid/late-1990s
Psychedelic chillout - Psybient
Fusion genres
Psychedelic trance

Goa trance (often referred as Goa or by the number 604) is a form of electronic music and is a style of trance music. It originated in the late 1980's and early 1990's in the Indian state of Goa, which is distinctive as most forms of trance music were developed in Europe.

Goa trance is closely related to the emergence of psychedelic trance during the latter half of the 1990s; however, the distinction between the two genres is largely a matter of opinion (and they are considered by some to be synonymous, some say that the psychedelic trance is more "metallic" and the goa is more "organic".) These two are, however, sonically distinct from other forms of trance, largely by the unique sounds they use. In many countries they are generally more underground and less commercial than other forms of trance. The goa sound is more likely to be heard at outdoor parties and festivals than in clubs. The first compilations or albums where the Goa trance sound could be heard, distinguishable from "normal" trance music, is likely Dragonfly Records "Project II Trance" and its successor "Order Odonata".



A hand-drawn flyer for a Goa trance party in Israel in 1990.  Today Israel is one of the main producers of psychedelic trance and flyers have gotten more elaborate often featuring CG images. A hand-drawn flyer for a Goa trance party in Israel in 1990. Today Israel is one of the main producers of psychedelic trance and flyers have gotten more elaborate often featuring CG images.

The music has its roots in the popularity of the Goa state in India in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a hippie mecca, and although musical developments were incorporating elements of industrial music and EBM with the spiritual culture in India throughout the 1980's, the actual Goa trance style did not officially appear until the early 1990s. As the hippie tourist influx tapered off in the 1970s and 1980s, a core group remained in Goa, concentrating on developments in music along with other pursuits such as yoga and recreational drug use. The music that would eventually be known as Goa trance did not evolve from one single genre, but was inspired mainly by Industrial music/EBM like Front Line Assembly and A Split-Second, acid house (The KLF's "What time is love?" in particular) and psychedelic rock like Ozric Tentacles, Steve Hillage and Ash Ra Tempel. In addition to those, oriental tribal/ethnic music also became a source of inspiration, unsurprisingly considering that it was from Goa in the Orient that Goa trance originated. A very early example (1974) of the relation between psy-rock and the music that would eventually be known as Goa trance is The Cosmic Jokers (a collaboration between Ash Ra Tempel and Klaus Schulze) highly experimental and psychedelic album "Galactic Supermarket", which features occasional 4/4 rhythms intertwined with elements from psy-rock, early analogue synths and occasionally tribal-esque drum patterns.

The introduction of techno and its techniques to Goa led to what eventually became the Goa trance style; early pioneers included DJs Laurent, Fred Disko, Goa Gil, and, a bit later Mark Allen. Many "parties" (generally similar to raves but with a more mystic flavour, at least in early 90's) in Goa revolve entirely around this genre of music. In other countries, Goa is also often played at raves, festivals and parties in conjunction with other styles of trance and techno.

Today, Goa trance has a significant following in Israel, brought to that country by former soldiers returning from recreational "post-army trips" to Goa in the early 1990s. A great deal of Goa trance is now produced in Israel, but its production and consumption is a global phenomenon. New "hot-spots" today include Brazil, Japan, South Africa and Mexico. The actual Goa sound/style has changed a lot since 1997. From 1997 till 2000 the Goa Trance scene was without any clear goal. The musicians tried a lot from breakbeats to minimal techno. The main thing in this time was to make anything different than the good old music. So anything could be heard at a Goa party. After 2000 some new styles were born and fixed and have survived till now. Today a lot of music from the Goa trance drawer hasn`t anything to do with the original sound of Goa trance, however acheiveing a psychedelic sound (be it organic or metallic) is still the emphasis that producers are out to accomplish.

There is also one special underground genre called suomisaundi, which originates in Finland. One of its trademark features is reference to early\mid-90's classic Goa trance music, and this genre is often exhibited in Finland's forest party scene. At these parties, mostly Goa trance and Suomi-style psytrance are played.

The sound of Goa trance

Never changing. Forever true. In the name of love. Dance for paradise.
--as sampled by Boris Blenn

Goa is essentially "dance-trance" music (it was referred to as "Trance Dance" in its formative years), and as such has an energetic beat, often in 4/4 and often going into 16th or 32nd notes, especially for the pumping basslines. It is also noted for switching to a 12/8 beat with the same tempo during some parts of the song. A typical track will generally build up to a much more energetic movement in the second half then taper off fairly quickly toward the end. The BPM typically lies in the 130 - 150 range, making goa trance faster than more mainstream trance, although some tracks may have BPMs as low as 110 or as high as 170. Generally 8-12 minutes long, Goa tracks usually have a noticeably stronger bassline than other trance music and incorporate more organic "squelchy" sounds (sounds put through a resonance filter, thought to sound especially good on psychedelic drugs), with equipment used including popular analogue synthesizers such as the Roland TB-303, Roland Juno-60/106, Novation Bass-Station, Korg MS-10, and notably the Roland SH-101, used by one of the most prolific artists of the genre Simon Posford (Hallucinogen, Shpongle, The Infinity Project, Younger Brother). Hardware samplers manufactured by Akai, Yamaha and Ensoniq were also popular for sample storage and manipulation.

A popular element of both Goa trance and the closely related psytrance is the incorporation of strange samples into the tracks, mostly from sci-fi movies. Those samples mostly relates to drugs, parapsychology, Extraterrestrials, existentialism, OBE's, dreams, various fields of science and other things that could be deemed as "mysterious" and "unconventional". For an extensive list of such samples, see Psychedelic Mind Expander's sample list.

Goa trance parties

In the state of Goa, Goa trance parties can take place in unusual locations such as on a beach, in a desert or in the middle of the forest, although it is not uncommon for them to be held in conventional locations like clubs. These days, the need to pay the local police baksheesh means that they're generally staged around a bar, even though this may only be a temporary fixture in the forest or beach. Once the baksheesh is paid, then the party-goers are free to bring out their charas and fill their chillums without fear of getting arrested.

The parties around the New Year tend to be the most chaotic with busloads of people coming in from all Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and the world over. Travelers, beggars and sadhus from all over India pass by to join in the fun.

Goa parties also have a definitive visual aspect - the use of "fluoro" (fluorescent paint) is common on clothing and on decorations such as tapestries. The graphics on these decorations are usually associated with topics such as aliens, Hinduism, other religious (especially eastern) images, mushrooms (and other psychedelic imagery), shamanism and technology. Shrines in front of the DJ stands featuring religious items are also common decorations.

Goa trance in popular culture

For a short period in the mid-1990s Goa trance enjoyed significant commercial success with support from DJs like Paul Oakenfold. Only a few artists came close to being Goa trance "stars". The most notable are Astral Projection, Man With No Name, Shpongle, and Infected Mushroom. Juno Reactor had their music featured in many Hollywood movies like Mortal Kombat, The Matrix, and even Once Upon a Time in Mexico; however, whether or not those are actually Goa or psychedelic trance tracks is debatable.

In fact, Goa trance remains very much an underground form of music and except for the more popular artists, such as (Hallucinogen or Juno Reactor), Goa trance albums are usually not sold in mainstream record stores.

At the Mexican Rave Scene in the movie, Man on Fire several relatively famous goa trance songs (G.M.S - Juiced) can be heard in the background.

Typical Goa trance music tracks

all in Ogg Vorbis format.

See also

External links

General information

  • - an in-depth analysis of Goa trance.
  • - a European Goatrance Resource
  • Isratrance - Archive with information about most of Israel's Psychedelic/Goa Trance artists.
  • Psychedelic Mind Expander - database of Goa and psychedelic trance artists, labels and releases.
  • - a long running Goa/Psytrance community website. Includes reviews of most albums.
  • Reviews and interviews for the psychedelic community.
  • 3AM South African psy-trance forum.


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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.