All things drone

I am a relative new comer to drone. I love the sounds of beating oscillators and I listen to some guitar based drone like Sunn O))). Also been listening to Tim Hecker - Ravedeath.

I searched for a thread and couldn’t find one. Here it is. Tell us about your process for making drone. What is your favorite instrument to drone on? Is there some gear you rely on? What drone music are you listening to right now?

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lots of oscillators (to de-tune), lots of delay, lots of reverb, lots of fun

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Fade-in / fade-out / crossfade.

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What is / isn’t drone?

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Here’s a regular favourite: Grendel Drone Commander -> [EG+VCA] -> QPAS or other stereo filter. NLC Triple Sloths on modulation duties, preferably in concert with Vector Space. Splash of reverb and saturation (in that order :wink:) on the master bus.

The upcoming Xaoc Odessa is probably going to be a complex drone demon. Just need to free up some rack space…

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I’m usually using only a few oscillators (2-3 usually), many different signal paths to send their signals through (filters, wavefolders, frequency shifters, bitcrushers, everything you can think of), lots of mixers and vcas. Then it’s about careful tuning of the oscillators and the settings of the modules that sit in the different signal paths. The last step is to set up slow modulations not of all the settings, but rather of the mix of all the different signal paths while I carefully change the settings on them myself.

I find that this way of working produces drones that don’t get boring after a short while without running into the problems you can get if you throw too much modulation at the modules that directly influence the signal - particularly the end result feeling too random (no arc to it) and/or hitting points where some settings interact in a way that shift the sound too dramatically.

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yes i ponder this often. I like almost drones.

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filterbanks for carving works well for me.
matrixmixers a great for FX routings.

music:

and:

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Calineczka’s very still explorations of mostly inharmonic spaces are very nice.

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I think of the lcrp track I did here as a drone track, but obviously there is lots of movement:

I’d like to try some more static / slowly shifting stuff at some point though…

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I’m not a drone purist by any means, but I tend to use a lot of drone voices in my music. Like others said, I tend to set up voices and then control mix levels. I also like putting timbral controls or effect parameters under fader control.

I very much prefer to have some texture in my drones, rather than a completely “static” sound – so all the methods I use are designed around that. I use FM or PM quite a bit to get growly textures, frequency beating, and create opportunities for timbral changes. AM and RM can do the trick as well, as can filter FM. Wavetables can also be good at motion, though I often pair them with other oscillators for modulation. Running a polysynth through distortion to get intermodulation can also be rewarding.

I’m also very fond of resonators and delays, and occasionally granular or spectral FX, particularly in feedback loops. Or a pitch shifter and reverb. A compressor/limiter to keep levels under control but perpetuate the loop, and a shelving EQ or fixed filter bank, can really work wonders. Small EQ changes cause different chord voicings to emerge.

I bought a Lyra-8 recently and it’s a drone monster, although it also begs to be played in a semi-melodic way.

I do like ebows on stringed instruments, but I don’t currently have anything set up for that. It’s more something I enjoy in other peoples’ work. The tone can be a bit more static than I like, but that depends on what you do with it. I’m also a fan of the hurdy-gurdy but will probably never own one :slight_smile:

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My Microbrute is great for drone, especially with the extra lower octave glitch! You can get some really nice ‘pulsing’ effects with the LFO and patching via the pulse width modulator.

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This may be a weird question for this thread but here goes…

I have a 16n that I’d like to be able to use to control volumes of a number of voices…

What would be a good way to get a bunch of VCAs that would respond to the full voltage range (0-5v) of the 16n in a small hp space?

Pots would be nice but not necessary in this context…

Thanks!

I love my Flower Electronics Little Boy Blue for noisy/chaotic droney stuff (I might be stretching the definition of drone a bit :slight_smile: ). On the surface, it’s a pretty simple configuration of two sawtooth oscillators, envelope follower, preamp and “intermodulating mixer” (after a year, I still don’t know what’s happening with that), but I really enjoy how it encourages me to use/misuse those components in feedback patches that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have if I had more options. With more complex patching, a small adjustment of a single knob can completely change the sound and the complete lack of VCA’s also helps to force creative patching. The only problem is that Flower Electronics is no longer in business, so they’re hard to track down/expensive, but worth it, I think.

Since I’ve had the LBB, I’ve tended to patch my other stuff in a similar manner, i.e. not really using VCA’s/envelopes/sequencers to create distinct notes, but rather just experimenting with droning feedback patching and playing the knobs to see what weird stuff happens and letting it all ring out for a while (e.g. VCO output–>wavefolder/filter/both–>mixer with another VCO–>own FM input is pretty fun).

@eblomquist Two of these maybe? https://zlobmodular.com/product/vnicursal-vca/

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Thanks! Looks interesting, I like that it’s a mixer too…

I tend to use my 16n to control mixer channels in my DAW (as well as the few VCAs and LPGs I have in hardware). But one thing I was looking at in modular was Rebel Technology MIX 04, a 4x4 matrix mixer with no knobs in 10HP.

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Zlob Vnicursal VCA could be a good option!

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That’s two thumbs up for Zlob!

Thanks!

I would categorize this as Drone (I like your piece too). If I had to define it, for me, it is long sustained tones, lack of percussion, “wall of sound”. I think dynamics and timbre play a huge role since you don’t have melody, harmony, rhythm to play with in a traditional sense.

To answer your original question @_mark, I don’t know how to classify Drone exactly, not sure if I need to. My primary interest in it is the beauty of its simplistic nature. Forget the constructs of contemporary music and just deal in sound. I think that Laurie Speigel’s The Expanding Universe or Micheal Stearns’ Planetary Unfolding probably both are considered to be Drone but certainly weren’t created with the intention to be. I also think you could make drone with a wine glass or a Tibetan singing bowl, or a looped sample, or a violin, or probably damn near anything.

I am fascinated though by the categorization or “sub-genre-nization” of music in the era of self-publishing. A topic I am sure would be rife with discussion and learning.

My process will vary a bit for the different types of drones I make. If I’m doing heavier, ‘darker’ stuff I like to come up with a bass drum sound/texture that I like and set that to it’s own clock/timing that is slightly offset from anything else I’m doing–it builds a little bit of drone emergence that comes from unexpected things.

In terms of specific modules, I’ve been really enjoying playing with the ADDAC 506 (stochastic function generation) as a way to add subtle variations between cycles

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