Friday’s Sounding #10

This is a short study of an attempt to create material for a drone based on multiple levels  of sound and how volume in one layer can take the ear away from the other layers for moment. Such an activity can lead to “What will sneak out from under the more prominent sound the next time?” Can a drone remain a drone, for example, under this type of change?  This is an area that can be explored.

I’ve always been interested in drones and have used them in my music. I don’t limit a drone to being a single pitch, interval, complex sound or of repeated short sound patterns that sustains for a period of time (how long is that period of time to arrive at drone and not feel like it is something unintended?) with or without another layer of sound. I also don’t limit drones to aiding in the withdrawal of the senses. I want full sensory perception!

There is territory in drones that can be deeply explored. Drones can be transform. Drones can organically grow from drones and drones can be of multiple layers and each layer can operate independently. The tight rope walk in exploring drones will most likely involve when is a drone not a drone. At what point is a drone no longer a drone but a melodic line or  harmonic support? How to keep two or three drones operating without a hierarchy?.

I am aware of the nontraditional approaches that have been taken place over that last 60 years. I am not interested in drones non-musical use. But I am approaching drones as a composer and exploring new musical territory, not to put listeners to sleep or withdrawal them from their senses. Some serious questions that I will need to address are, are drones transitional? Because if an event is introduced that has too much contrast, for example, it will draw the ear to it and interfere with the drone. If the introduction of a contrasting sound  occurs often enough, however, will it too be perceived as part of the drone and weaken our feeling that it is interruptive? Where is that threshold or what are the elements involved in that threshold? What are the energy levels in a drone that make it engaging to listen to? Is there something else happening in the balance of musical energy that makes a drone? Does the composition of drone need to be regular or can it be consistently inconsistent?

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About Mark

American composer of music.
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