It’s the age-old debate: Bass vs. trance. One genre is defined by headbanging, robot noises, and a general air of “this will scare the crap out of your parents if you play it for them.” The other is rooted in a decidedly different approach, focusing on melodies, consistent tempos, and chord progressions. The internet has given rise to the polarization of these two groups, with each side making the argument that theirs is the superior genre. But what if we were finally able to answer that question once and for all? Well, now we can… sort of.
Per a Brain Decoder study published this last summer, we can now know exactly why some people prefer bass, and others trance. The study divided its test subjects into two group: Systemizers and empathizers. The former is classified as someone with “the ability to predict, identify or analyze the rules behind structured arrangements such as the weather, math or machines.” The latter is a tad more self explanatory, defining its members by their high levels of empathy.
Their findings may not have directly sought to scientifically classify the two separate genre groups, but in a sense they may have stumbled upon that answer anyway. Their empathizer test group “liked their music to be gentle, warm or sensual, a little sad, and poetic, relaxing or thoughtful,” or in a more electronic sense, trance. This of course doesn’t encompass the darker, harder avenues like 140, but it does hit at the heart of trance music ideals. On the systemizer side, we see a separate conclusion:
“People who were biased towards systematizing liked music that was very stirring and animated and fit into the intense group such as heavy metal or hard rock. These people were more likely to prefer loud, percussive, fast music with brass or electric guitar compared with the empathizers, who enjoyed music that featured string instruments.”
It’s a description that translates well over to the basshead side of the equation, as the music more suited to the high-octane ragefest of your average Substance Wednesday. Perhaps the most telling finding of the whole study though comes in the way each group subdivides itself. Bass music luminaries like Excision and Bassnectar have themselves labeled their various subgenres as generally meaningless. Translation: A basshead tends to view subgenres like dubstep, drum n bass, and glitch hop all on the same level. Or in more scientific terms, “the systemizers surprised the researchers by not having a significant preference for music in the sophisticated group.”
Notable exceptions of course exist across both sides of the aisle. There are trance fans out there who like everything from 140 to Dash Berlin. There are bassheads who insist that dubstep is the one true subgenre. There are even people out there that have a foot on either side of the line separating the two sides. What’s most intriguing about all this though is that we now have a decidedly more scientific proof to tell us just why trance and bass fans are so far apart in their respective tastes. So to answer the original question asking which is the better genre: It all depends on your brain.