skulptr wrote: ↑
Sun Dec 27, 2020 10:43 am
KL1982's contributions clearly indicate that there are many ways of going about defining drone with none of them being really definitive (which doesn't mean that it cannot be interesting to explore these of course). The problem is that verbal language is not sufficiently "advanced" (or: too generic) to come to a definition of what is essentially a concept/construct written/created in an entirely different (non-verbal) language (and one that is much more linked to emotion which is inherently a very personal thing).
That is: the only way one can truly attempt to define drone is through drone...
Not necessarily. If there is a formal process involved, there can be a concrete definition (in much the same sense that 'Sonata', 'Minuet', 'Pitch', 'Square Wave' can be formally defined).
We can break down each part of the definition and think on/work through the process, formally.
For example, if we work on 'drone' defined as 'sustained tone', or 'continuous note of low pitch', we can then start playing with the boundaries i.e:
1) Is there a required duration for a sound to be perceived as 'sustained'?
2) Does this vary with age?
3) How does the decay portion of a sound affect the perception of 'sustained'?
4) Are there limits/boundaries RE decay that would alter perception of a note from 'sustained' to 'fading out'?
5) Can a sound appear continuous without actually being continuous (i.e a drum roll)?
5b) What 'is' continuous?
6) What are the limits/boundaries RE perception of aural continuity?
7) If the sustained tone is to be 'of low pitch': how low is 'low'?
8) Is 'low' relative - or rather, could the perception of 'low' be relative (i.e A440 could be the lowest note in a piece using only the upper register, or it could be the highest note in a piece using only the low register)?
9) Does a drone piece have to consist only of sustained tones?
10) If 'no': do the sustained tones have to be the musical focus?
11) If the sustained tones have to be the focus, is there a ratio of continuous material/duration for a piece to be perceived as drone?
12) A sonata can be defined as a sonata without having heard 'sonata' (i.e someone could identify a sonata upon 1st listen purely due to the formal structure); could this be said of drone?
All very worthwhile questions for the OP, given his curiosity (i.e couldn't we say of many things 'I'll know it when I see/hear it'? But I do agree in principle (i.e defining every word of a poem doesn't equate to understanding the poem), I'm simply attempting to stimulate interest/research for the OP).
If one of the above stimulates creative ideas, great. If not, no harm done.
RE point 3/something the OP may find interesting: @thelowerrhythm a research project I worked on a number of years back involved perception of continuity/dynamics. It was the attempt to answer some questions relating to the nature of decay/perception of decay (it involved sensory deprivation i.e no stimulus aside from the intended stimulus).
In short: imagine hearing a sustained sine tone for 8 hours, with the volume automated to fade to silence after 1 hour (i.e 7-hour fade-out), with 2 hours of silence thereafter.
The question was whether a test subject would perceive the sound as becoming softer, or whether the change was such that there was no perceptual awareness of change (test subjects weren't told the tone would fade out).
The results aren't yet published, but you may find some of the experiences interesting:
A number of people believed they were still hearing/could still hear the tone long after it had stopped (i.e residual aural perception).
A number of people believed the sound was altering (both in terms of timbre and pitch) when it was static.
One person, realising they could no longer hear a tone, rather than thinking the tone had faded, believed they had developed literal deafness to pitch, and began panicking/shouting/asking to leave (they thought that part of their 'brain had broken').
Off-topic, but something you may find interesting, given your writing thus far: maybe have a look at Johns Hopkins research into psychedelics. They developed a 'psilocybin playlist' (see here - https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/ar ... n-playlist
I'm mentioning it as it is tangentially related to sensory deprivation (have a read up on source-monitoring errors). In a sensorially-deprived environment, we can perceive things that aren't there (our brains are trying to 'fill out the gaps' RE sensory input). You'll find sensationalised media articles RE people hallucinating after 15 minutes, but if interested, I'd suggest avoiding this and looking back at the early McGill research (which also has a bad press i.e subproject MKULTRA)
I personally haven't taken psilocybin/psychedelics etc, but I did once spend 52 days in sensory deprivation (I had to sign waivers due to the nature of the research i.e the product of long-term sensory deprivation is negative (I mean in a neurological sense), hence many territories class it as torture).
If you have the opportunity, I'd recommend trying 24 hrs in sensory deprivation hearing only white noise (you probably know white noise contains all frequencies - hence military use it RE interrogation/captured soldiers: the primary reason for usage aside from psychological discomfort is its masking effect i.e conversations outside the room can't be heard, neither can the pitch of vehicles, or birds, or anything else that could give aural clues as to location etc).
Is white noise the 'ultimate' drone music?
Interesting anecdote: there's a certain group of Tibetan monks who practice overtone singing that, when you are relatively advanced, they will take you to a certain waterfall to sing - reason being the noise of the waterfall swallows the low fundamental, and all that can be heard are the high overtones i.e the 'spectral voice' soaring above the noise of the waterfall.
Maybe all overtone singers should sing near a waterfall?
Maybe certain drone music pieces could be written to be heard specifically in this manner?
This could be interesting in terms of bringing into question the fundamental nature of the music i.e what is heard only makes sense when certain parts are masked in a certain way - at which point the true nature of the aural experience is revealed.
Perhaps also have a look at vowels/consonants (i.e consonants are interrupted sounds (rhythmic/percussive white noise), whereas vowels are uninterrputed/continuous sounds (continuous tones)). This is interesting i.e vowels as 'free of noise', consisting of pitch/harmonic overtones (hence certain ancient cultures/languages considered vowels sacred/would avoid writing them down (old stories of ancient Egyptian priests evoking the deities by chanting certain vowel sounds in succession/certain order))
Take the word 'tune' - it could be mapped as:
white noise - pitched - white noise
(e.g 'tch' 'ooh' 'n')
Could this be paralleled in a piece of music? Theoretically all words could be structured in this manner, and a drone album could be created consisting of this principle i.e the album itself could spell out a phrase by having tracks consisting of drones/white noise (or rather, some form of noise). Novel, of course, but could be good fun for exploration.
Is drone music the closest we can/could get to sacred nature of sound i.e a parallel to the purity of the vowel?