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What is a good drone?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Artist Discussion Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next [all]
Author What is a good drone?


Euro "Standard" ftl

Hey, drone artist, tell me!

I guess this is a hard question? Whatever...

What is a good drone?
How long is a good drone?
Does the begining has to be different of the middle and the ending?

And , technically speaking, whitch modules are the most common in your process?
What is your secret to make your drone?



the best drone you ll get is from a bagpipe, usually in G and tends to be unlimited if you master the pocket/bag pressure + breathing :-)

a good drone there is in the Pink floyd Obscured by clouds....

rico loverde

beyourdog wrote:
the best drone you ll get is from a bagpipe, usually in G and tends to be unlimited if you master the pocket/bag pressure + breathing :-)

a good drone there is in the Pink floyd Obscured by clouds....
i love bagpipes, i watched a guy play drone like stuff last year and it really hit a nerve with me. brought me to tears. something about that instrument really hits me emotionally


It's kind of an interesting question. The obvious answer is whatever makes you happy, but when you start thinking about "is my drone special" it does seem like... maybe your drone is a classic drone, and thus it should strive for maximum overwhelmingness -- maximum swell, volume, monotony... something which tries to overwhelm and calm the mind through consistency and power. OK, but maybe that's not a classic drone to you -- well, fine, but maybe then it needs some other sort of gimmick -- part of the beauty of the drone is that it lacks any sort of songwriting hook (which can also be seen as a gimmick), but if it's not the sort of meditative drone which should lull you to another place, it needs some other stimulation for the mind. Good dynamics, interesting harmonies, unique timbres, etc... the sky's the limit and I would never hope to put rules on it. I think I'm drawn to this style of performance art because of the immense potential for audience epiphany, and absolutely nothing else -- there's no other aspect which I really require. But when it comes to recordings it's a lot more nuanced and there's no obvious satisfaction of reaching the audience. So I think as a listener, I look for dynamics and intrigue, and as a composer... you need some justification to yourself! What do you want to make?


a good drone really doesn't get much better than this we're not worthy


I'm not a big fan of drones; it usually takes a lot more to entertain me.

However, what I appreciate in a good drone is when after feeling like I've been lulled to sleep I suddenly realize it's totally different than it was a few minutes ago.

Organic-sounding, animated, evolving, absorbing, complex. A single drone tells you an entire story.

Makes you want to listen to forever because you keep discovering new details with every listen.

Take Michael Stearns´ "Planetary Unfolding" as a great example for animated drones. Same thing goes for Robert Rich´s "Below Zero".


nrdvrgr wrote:
Organic-sounding, animated, evolving, absorbing, complex. A single drone tells you an entire story.

Agree on all of that except "complex", just take Eliane Radigue as a good example of how simple un-complex drones can still be very captivating.

For me the most important aspect is feeling - that thing you really can´t describe... it is just something about the sound that draws you in and makes your mind wander away. Like when you dissolve your ego and just drifts away in the sound and forget everything around you. Like ego-death during a good trip.


I ask that question because I would like to create a very long sound with an evolution, that begins when you just press the button...

But I am never satisfied...

Perhaps I do not have enough modules?

But I like the idea of Organic Sounding. Indeed, to make it beautiful, only the modular cannot make it beautiful... without a lot of experience and knowledge...

It´s not only the patch or the complexity thereof or of the instrument you use for creating that "drone", it´s also a question of what external devices you use. Loop delays are great, reverbs as well.

I did some rather complex stuff, using just a Very Crappy Synthesiser 3 and a couple of long delays.



What is a good drone?
I've been thinking about this question since last night, and can't come up with a straightforward answer. Drone is just one way to approach music, and the difficulty in answering what makes a good drone is the same that occurs when asking what makes a good song.

I think good music conveys, honestly and proficiently, the general ideas its built upon. To then describe what that means specifically, I always come up against an elusive I-know-it-when-I-hear-it quality because how those things are defined specifically depends on the circumstances that led to the result. But when creating music, ask yourself what you wish to accomplish, do what you can, and then ask yourself if you've accomplished it. There's two sides to consider when asking that last question: honesty and proficiency. Sometimes your abilities keep you from reaching your goal, and sometimes it's your sincerity. When it's the first, the answer is practice, learn to become more skilled, keep trying and understand that these things take time and effort. The second is existential, and requires reflection.

How long is a good drone?
As long as it needs to be, or as long as you wish it to be.

Does the beginning have to be different of the middle and the ending?
I don't believe there is only one way to approach it. Stasis can be a remarkably effective characteristic in music, but it can also result in boring shit. If your goal is to start from a point and move to another, then do that. Be aware of a listener's interest and disinterest (even if that listener is just you), figure out how you wish to work between the two states.

Which modules are the most common in your process?
I'm less a fan of synth drones than I am of drones made from other sources. I've loved some synth-based drone music, but I've heard a lot that is lazy, bland, ham-fisted. Synths drone easily. I'm not overly interested in music that could generally be described as "I just turned this shit on and hit record, call me a superstar, mama." Some people really dig that sort of thing, or at least some people seem to really dig making that sort of thing, but I'm not one of them. So don't think of drones in terms of modules, think of it in terms of music and sound. Your understanding of how the modules help you realize your musical intent will dictate what modules to use. Never has the quality of music depended on which LFO you use.

What is your secret to make your drone?
Patience, listening, and a sense of timing.


My concern with drone is probably worth another topic all together so I apologize now but, especially in the case of electronic music, I find the drone to be a cop out. This sort of reductionism only looks like the inability to make an interesting piece of music to me and taking the easy way out. Drones are perfectly fine as a structural component of a piece but not the end all. I could go one on how that modern tools like looper pedals, delays, and graphical DAW environments help promote the drone way of thinking which I feel is the biggest hurdle faced by experimental electronic music today but that is another very long discussion.

This all said, I would say a good drone is one that is part of a piece of music and not all that there is. Movement and animation are critical as well as moving out of the drone into other gestures even open silent moments.

srsly never
try to use them!


Something that connects with you. This is mysterious. It can depend on mood, setting, tones, emotions (sonic and self). Actually, what do I know.. I don't tend to get them - though ..sometimes..!


something you can dance to.



Drone CAN be a copout, I suppose. But I think it is also a valid way of approaching sound. It's obviously more sound design than music, although I don't really want to split hairs about what music is. I think part of what comes through in drone can be the selflessness of the musician. It doesn't have to be this way, but sometimes I think there is a magic that can occur by the musician opening herself up to the possibilities of the instrument, unguided or semi-guided, and really taking the time to appreciate the subtle changes, rather than whipping it into shape. This then transfers that opportunity to the listener, SOMEtimes with profound effects. I think this approach to drones is definitely not a method for the rabid individualist, though, because even when you succeed at accomplishing what you want, you will be left wondering, could you have done more, or did you do anything at all? XD

Hey, some people like it and I am occasionally one of them. For that, I say, halllujah!

To the OP: it's possible you could be more satisfied with more modules. But assuming money is a factor in your life, I'd seriously recommend getting familiar with as many digital workstation tricks as possible, because it's just as likely that your thought process will lead to always desiring more modules. A computer with one decent reverb can accomplish a lot, and even without effects, you could easily transform a single boring patch into a magnificent composition, for example, using multiple versions of a single patch at different offsets, etc.


Hi5 wrote:
Drones are perfectly fine as a structural component of a piece but not the end all.

I think you're cutting off the nose to spite the face. Just because a lot of people are lazy and use drones as a crutch doesn't mean drones can't be the focus of a composition. Some people use all manner of devices as crutches, that speaks more of their abilities than defines rules of engagement with those devices.


simple put, for listener position, it it bores me its not good
people think its easly done, but it isn't, a lot comes down to where you do it, the system, drone is more a conceptual kind of approach too (see minimalist, or the la monte young house thing) this sort of music where probably 80% or so sucks especially live


best drones i've heard recently:

de_raaf wrote:
simple put, for listener position, it it bores me its not good
people think its easly done, but it isn't, [...]

A lot of Dark Ambient Music is boring, uninventive drones, alas. From that angle I can very well understand the anti-drone sentiments some people have. It is very easy to make boring drones and boring dark ambient music. I´m particularly good at that.

Years ago, a friend of mine wanted to impress me with some DA releases he thought were seminal and outstanding, and all I could say was "What do you want to impress me with? This is boring." I won´t tell you what it was.

No, it wasn´t my stuff. It was even worse.



To me a good drone should be something of an auditory illusion if that makes any sense. Where your mind starts to fill in the blanks or provides more movement to the composition then there may actually be. I will agree that there's a fine line, and if a drone's not done right it can be a pretty boring listen and may be better suited as a backdrop for something else. Here's a short piece from a fellow wiggler that i've always enjoyed.


drone isn't a cop out if you're honestly doing it for the love of the sound exploration and techniques, genuinely.

if you're doing it because you don't know what else to do on a modular or any other instrument well there's nothing wrong with that either but you could be cheating yourself or wasting your time maybe?

I love good drone music.

Anyone ever heard of Growing? their older records are especially amazing.



^That's a good drone right there.


the thing with good drone is it usually takes a long time to evolve to hear any structural musicality.. to someone whos more into more dynamic types of music the patience required is a hard-ask. tibral/tonal qualities are another ballpark...

some old bandmates would play it all the time at practice pack-downs, it took me years of toleration (and lots of weed) before i could really get a sense of even how to appreciate it.

now its perfect for certain moods. baths, sleep, things that require continuous periods of attention. etc

hail the drone


rico loverde wrote:
i love bagpipes, i watched a guy play drone like stuff last year and it really hit a nerve with me. brought me to tears. something about that instrument really hits me emotionally

I know what you mean. The Uillean pipes (the Irish equivalent of the bagpipes) have an extraordinary effect on me. There is something about that plaintive tone that just evokes sadness, hard times and ancient tradition.


love this.

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