Drone (music)

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In music, a drone is a harmonic or monophonic effect or accompaniment where a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece. The word drone is also any part of a musical instrument that is used to produce such an effect, as is the archaic term burden (bourdon or burdon) [1] [2] such as a "drone [pipe] of a bagpipe", [3] [4] the pedal point in an organ, or the lowest course of a lute. Α burden is also part of a song that is repeated at the end of each stanza, such as the chorus or refrain. [5]

Music form of art using sound

Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.

Harmony aspect of music

In music, harmony considers the process by which the composition of individual sounds, or superpositions of sounds, is analysed by hearing. Usually, this means simultaneously occurring frequencies, pitches, or chords.

Monophony

In music, monophony is the simplest of musical textures, consisting of a melody, typically sung by a single singer or played by a single instrument player without accompanying harmony or chords. Many folk songs and traditional songs are monophonic. A melody is also considered to be monophonic if a group of singers sings the same melody together at the unison or with the same melody notes duplicated at the octave. If an entire melody is played by two or more instruments or sung by a choir with a fixed interval, such as a perfect fifth, it is also said to be monophony. The musical texture of a song or musical piece is determined by assessing whether varying components are used, such as an accompaniment part or polyphonic melody lines.

Contents

Musical effect

"Of all harmonic devices, it [a drone] is not only the simplest, but probably also the most fertile." [6]

A drone effect can be achieved through a sustained sound or through repetition of a note. It most often establishes a tonality upon which the rest of the piece is built. A drone can be instrumental, vocal or both. Drone (both instrumental and vocal) can be placed in different ranges of the polyphonic texture: in the lowest part, in the highest part, or in the middle. The drone is most often placed upon the tonic or dominant (play "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" with a drone on the Loudspeaker.svg   tonic  , on the Loudspeaker.svg   dominant  , or on Loudspeaker.svg   both  . Compare with Loudspeaker.svg   changing chords  .). A drone on the same pitch as a melodic note tends to both hide that note and to bring attention to it by increasing its importance.

Sustain parameter of musical sound over time

In music, sustain is a parameter of musical sound over time. It denotes the period of time during which the sound remains before it becomes inaudible, or silent.

Repetition is important in music, where sounds or sequences are often repeated. It may be called restatement, such as the restatement of a theme. While it plays a role in all music, with noise and musical tones lying along a spectrum from irregular to periodic sounds,(Moravcsik, 114)(Rajagopal, ) it is especially prominent in specific styles.

Tonality arranges pitches or chords to induce a hierarchy of perceived relations, stabilities, and attractions

Tonality is the arrangement of pitches and/or chords of a musical work in a hierarchy of perceived relations, stabilities, attractions and directionality. In this hierarchy, the single pitch or triadic chord with the greatest stability is called the tonic. The root of the tonic chord forms the name given to the key; so in the key of C major, the note C is both the tonic of the scale and the root of the tonic chord. Simple folk music songs often start and end with the tonic note. The most common use of the term "is to designate the arrangement of musical phenomena around a referential tonic in European music from about 1600 to about 1910". Contemporary classical music from 1910 to the 2000s may practice or avoid any sort of tonality—but harmony in almost all Western popular music remains tonal. Harmony in jazz includes many but not all tonal characteristics of the European common practice period, sometimes known as "classical music".

A drone differs from a pedal tone or point in degree or quality. A pedal point may be a form of nonchord tone and thus required to resolve unlike a drone, or a pedal point may simply be considered a shorter drone, a drone being a longer pedal point.

In music, a pedal point is a sustained tone, typically in the bass, during which at least one foreign, i.e., dissonant harmony is sounded in the other parts. A pedal point sometimes functions as a "non-chord tone", placing it in the categories alongside suspensions, retardations, and passing tones. However, the pedal point is unique among non-chord tones, "in that it begins on a consonance, sustains through another chord as a dissonance until the harmony", not the non-chord tone, "resolves back to a consonance."

A nonchord tone (NCT), nonharmonic tone, or embellishing tone is a note in a piece of music or song that is not part of the implied or expressed chord set out by the harmonic framework. In contrast, a chord tone is a note that is a part of the functional chord. Nonchord tones are most often discussed in the context of the common practice period of classical music, but they can be used in the analysis of other types of tonal music as well, such as Western popular music.

Resolution (music) in music theory, change from dissonance to consonance

Resolution in western tonal music theory is the move of a note or chord from dissonance to a consonance.

History and distribution

A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735. A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735.jpg
A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735.

The systematic use of drones originated in instrumental music of ancient Southwest Asia, and spread north and west to Europe, east to India, and south to Africa. [7] It is a key component of much Australian aboriginal music through the didgeridoo. It is used in Indian music and is played with the tanpura (or tambura) and other Indian drone instruments like the ottu, the ektar, the dotara (or dotar; dutar in Persian Central Asia), the surpeti, the surmandal (or swarmandal) and the shankh (conch shell). Most of the types of bagpipes that exist worldwide have up to three drones, making this one of the first instruments that comes to mind when speaking of drone music. In America, most forms of the African-influenced banjo contain a drone string. Since the 1960s, the drone has become a prominent feature in drone music and other forms of avant-garde music.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

India Country in South Asia

India, also known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country as well as the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

Africa The second largest and second most-populous continent, mostly in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres

Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent, being behind Asia in both categories. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

In vocal music drone is particularly widespread in traditional musical cultures, particularly in Europe, Polynesia and Melanesia. "Drones are not uncommon in primitive music, but neither are they characteristic of it." [8] It is also present in some isolated regions of Asia (like among Pearl-divers in the Persian Gulf, some national minorities of South-West China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Afghanistan). [9] [ page needed ]

Part(s) of a musical instrument

Highland bagpipes, with drone pipes over the pipers' left shoulders Golowan Festival Penzance June 2005 Mid-Argyl band2.jpg
Highland bagpipes, with drone pipes over the pipers' left shoulders

Drone is also the term for the part of a musical instrument intended to produce the drone effect's sustained pitch, generally without the ongoing attention of the player. Different melodic Indian instruments (e.g. the sitar, the sarod, the sarangi and the rudra veena) contain a drone. For example, the sitar features three or four resonating drone strings, and Indian notes (sargam) are practiced to a drone. Bagpipes (like the Great Highland Bagpipe and the Zampogna) feature a number of drone pipes, giving the instruments their characteristic sounds. A hurdy-gurdy has one or more drone strings. The fifth string on a five-string banjo is a drone string with a separate tuning peg that places the end of the string five frets down the neck of the instrument; this string is usually tuned to the same note as that which the first string produces when played at the fifth fret, and the drone string is seldom fretted. The bass strings of the Slovenian drone zither also freely resonate as a drone. The Welsh Crwth also features two drone strings.

Melody to "Yankee Doodle" without and with drone notes as played on the banjo
Play without  (help*info)
and
with drone  (help*info)
. Banjo drone in Yankee Doodle.png
Melody to "Yankee Doodle" without and with drone notes as played on the banjo Loudspeaker.svg   Play without   and Loudspeaker.svg   with drone  .

Use in musical compositions

Composers of Western classical music occasionally used a drone (especially one on open fifths) to evoke a rustic or archaic atmosphere, perhaps echoing that of Scottish or other early or folk music. Examples include the following:

The best-known drone piece in the concert repertory is the Prelude to Wagner's Das Rheingold (1854) wherein low horns and bass instruments sustain an E throughout the entire movement. [11] The atmospheric ostinato effect that opens Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which inspired similar gestures in the opening of all the symphonies of Anton Bruckner, represents a gesture derivative of drones.

One consideration for composers of common practice keyboard music was equal temperament. The adjustments lead to slight mistunings as heard against a sustained drone. Even so, drones have often been used to spotlight dissonance purposefully.

Modern concert musicians make frequent use of drones, often with just or other non-equal tempered tunings. Drones are a regular feature in the music of composers indebted to the chant tradition, such as Arvo Pärt, Sofia Gubaidulina, and John Tavener. The single-tones that provided the impetus for minimalism through the music of La Monte Young and many of his students qualify as drones. David First, the band Coil, the early experimental compilations of John Cale ( Sun Blindness Music , Dream Interpretation, and Stainless Gamelan ), Pauline Oliveros and Stuart Dempster, Alvin Lucier ( Music On A Long Thin Wire ), Ellen Fullman, Lawrence Chandler and Arnold Dreyblatt all make notable use of drones. The music of Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi is essentially drone-based. Shorter drones or the general concept of a continuous element are often used by many other composers. Other composers whose music is entirely based on drones include Charlemagne Palestine and Phill Niblock. Drone pieces also include Loren Rush's Hard Music (1970) [12] and Folke Rabe's Was?? (1968), [13] as well as Robert Erickson's Down at Piraeus. [14] The avant-garde guitarist Glenn Branca also uses drones extensively.

Drones continue to be characteristic of folk music. Early songs by Bob Dylan employ the effect with a retuned guitar in "Masters of War" and "Mr. Tambourine Man".[ citation needed ] The song "You Will Be My Ain True Love", written by Sting for the 2003 movie Cold Mountain and performed by Alison Krauss and Sting, uses drone bass.[ citation needed ]

Drones are used widely in the blues and blues-derived genres. Jerry Lee Lewis featured drones in solos and fills. [15] Drones were virtually absent in original rock and roll music,[ citation needed ] but gained popularity after the Beatles used drones in a few popular compositions (for example, "Blackbird" has a drone in the middle of a texture throughout the whole song, "Tomorrow Never Knows" makes use of tambura). They also used high drone for the dramatic effect in some sections of several of their compositions (like the last verses of "Yesterday" and "Eleanor Rigby").[ citation needed ] The rock band U2 uses drones in their compositions particularly widely.[ citation needed ] In the Led Zeppelin song "In The Light", a keyboard drone is used throughout the song, mostly in the intro.[ citation needed ]

Use for musical training

Drones are used by a number of music education programs for ear training and pitch awareness, as well as a way to improvise ensemble music. [16] A shruti box is often used by vocalists in this style of musical training. Drones, owing to their acoustic properties and following their longstanding use in ritual and chant, can be useful in constructing aural structures outside common practice expectations of harmony and melody. [17] [ verification needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Banjo musical instrument

The banjo is a four-, five-, or six-stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity as a resonator, called the head, which is typically circular. The membrane is typically made of plastic, although animal skin is still occasionally used. Early forms of the instrument were fashioned by Africans in the United States, adapted from African instruments of similar design. The banjo is frequently associated with folk, Irish traditional, and country music. Banjo can also be used in some Rock Songs. Countless Rock bands, such as The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, and The Allman Brothers, have used the five-string banjo in some of their songs. Historically, the banjo occupied a central place in African-American traditional music and the folk culture of rural whites before entering the mainstream via the minstrel shows of the 19th century. The banjo, along with the fiddle, is a mainstay of American old-time music. It is also very frequently used in traditional ("trad") jazz.

Bass guitar Electric bass instrument

The bass guitar is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric guitar, except with a longer neck and scale length, and four to six strings or courses.

Clavichord musical instrument

The clavichord is a European stringed rectangular keyboard instrument that was used largely in the Late Middle Ages, through the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical eras. Historically, it was mostly used as a practice instrument and as an aid to composition, not being loud enough for larger performances. The clavichord produces sound by striking brass or iron strings with small metal blades called tangents. Vibrations are transmitted through the bridge(s) to the soundboard.

Electric guitar electrified guitar; fretted stringed instrument with a neck and body that uses a pickup to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals

An electric guitar is a guitar that uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals. The vibration occurs when a guitar player strums, plucks, fingerpicks, slaps or taps the strings. The pickup generally uses electromagnetic induction to create this signal, which being relatively weak is fed into a guitar amplifier before being sent to the speaker(s), which converts it into audible sound.

Guitar fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that usually has six strings. It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the finger(s)/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting with the fingers of the other hand. The sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar, or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker.

Harmonic

A harmonic is any member of the harmonic series. The term is employed in various disciplines, including music, physics, acoustics, electronic power transmission, radio technology, and other fields. It is typically applied to repeating signals, such as sinusoidal waves. A harmonic of such a wave is a wave with a frequency that is a positive integer multiple of the frequency of the original wave, known as the fundamental frequency. The original wave is also called the 1st harmonic, the following harmonics are known as higher harmonics. As all harmonics are periodic at the fundamental frequency, the sum of harmonics is also periodic at that frequency. For example, if the fundamental frequency is 50 Hz, a common AC power supply frequency, the frequencies of the first three higher harmonics are 100 Hz, 150 Hz, 200 Hz and any addition of waves with these frequencies is periodic at 50 Hz.

An nth characteristic mode, for n > 1, will have nodes that are not vibrating. For example, the 3rd characteristic mode will have nodes at L and L, where L is the length of the string. In fact, each nth characteristic mode, for n not a multiple of 3, will not have nodes at these points. These other characteristic modes will be vibrating at the positions L and L. If the player gently touches one of these positions, then these other characteristic modes will be suppressed. The tonal harmonics from these other characteristic modes will then also be suppressed. Consequently, the tonal harmonics from the nth characteristic modes, where n is a multiple of 3, will be made relatively more prominent.

Sitar plucked stringed instrument used in Hindustani classical music

The sitar is a plucked stringed instrument, originating from the Indian subcontinent, used in Hindustani classical music. The instrument flourished under the Mughals, and it is named after a Persian instrument called the setar. The sitar flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries and arrived at its present form in 18th-century India. It derives its distinctive timbre and resonance from sympathetic strings, bridge design, a long hollow neck and a gourd-shaped resonance chamber. In appearance, the sitar is similar to the tanpura, except that it has frets.

Zither class of musical stringed instruments

Zither is a class of stringed instruments.

Clawhammer, sometimes called frailing, is a distinctive banjo playing style and a common component of American old-time music.

Capo musical string instrument part

A capo is a device a musician uses on the neck of a stringed instrument to shorten the playable length of the strings—hence raising the pitch. It is a common tool for players of guitars, mandolins, mandolas, banjos, ukuleles and bouzoukis. The word derives from the Italian capotasto, which means the nut of a stringed instrument. The earliest known use of capotasto is by Giovanni Battista Doni who, in his Annotazioni of 1640, uses it to describe the nut of a viola da gamba. The first patented capo was designed by James Ashborn of Wolcottville, Connecticut.

Bağlama a stringed musical instrument

The bağlama is a stringed musical instrument.

A pull-off is a stringed instrument plucking technique performed by "pulling" the finger off a string off the fingerboard of either a fretted or unfretted instrument.

Twelve-string guitar steel-string guitar with twelve strings in six courses

The 12-string guitar is a steel-string guitar with 12 strings in six courses, which produces a richer, more ringing tone than a standard six-string guitar. Typically, the strings of the lower four courses are tuned in octaves, with those of the upper two courses tuned in unisons. The gap between the strings within each dual-string course is narrow, and the strings of each course are fretted and plucked as a single unit. The neck is wider, to accommodate the extra strings, and is similar to the width of a classical guitar neck. The sound, particularly on acoustical instruments, is fuller and more harmonically resonant than six-string instruments.

Appalachian dulcimer fretted string instrument of the zither family

The Appalachian dulcimer is a fretted string instrument of the zither family, typically with three or four strings, originally played in the Appalachian region of the United States. The body extends the length of the fingerboard, and its fretting is generally diatonic.

Tamburica or Tamboura refers to a family of long-necked lutes popular in Southern Europe and Central Europe, especially Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, and Hungary. It is also known in Burgenland. All took their name and some characteristics from the Persian tanbur but also resemble the mandolin and guitar in the sense that its strings are plucked and often paired. The frets may be moveable to allow the playing of various modes. The variety of tamburica shapes known today were developed in Croatia and Serbia by a number of indigenous contributors near the end of the 19th century.

Guitar tunings

Guitar tunings assign pitches to the open strings of guitars, including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and classical guitars. Tunings are described by the particular pitches denoted by notes in Western music. By convention, the notes are ordered from lowest-pitched string to highest-pitched.

In music, a chorus effect occurs when individual sounds with approximately the same time, and very similar pitches converge and are perceived as one. While similar sounds coming from multiple sources can occur naturally, as in the case of a choir or string orchestra, it can also be simulated using an electronic effects unit or signal processing device.

Qinqin

The qinqin is a plucked Chinese lute. It was originally manufactured with a wooden body, a slender fretted neck, and three strings.photo 1[ photo 2] Its body can be round,photo hexagonal, or octagonal.[ photo] Often, only two strings were used, as in certain regional silk-and-bamboo ensembles.photo In its hexagonal form, it is also referred to as meihuaqin.

Classical music broad tradition of Western art music

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820, this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period. The major time divisions of Western art music are as follows:

The çifteli is a plucked string instrument, with only two strings, played mainly by the Gheg people of northern and central Albania, Southern Montenegro, and Kosovo.

References

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  5. Brabner, John H F., ed. (1884). The national encyclopædia , Vol. V, p.99. Libr. ed. William McKenzie. [ISBN unspecified].
  6. van der Merwe, Peter (1989). Origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of Twentieth-Century Popular Music, p.65. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN   0-19-316121-4.
  7. van der Merwe (1989), p.11.
  8. van der Merwe (1989), p.55.
  9. Joseph Jordania (2006). Who Asked the First Question? The Origins of Human Choral Singing, Intelligence, Language and Speech. Tbilisi: Logos. ISBN   99940-31-81-3.
  10. Erbsen, Wayne (2004). Bluegrass Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus, p.13. ISBN   1-883206-44-8.
  11. Erickson, Robert (1976). Sound Structure in Music, p.94. University of California Press. ISBN   0-520-02376-5.
  12. Erickson 1976, p. 104.
  13. Erickson 1976, p. 95 & 104.
  14. Erickson 1976, p. 97.
  15. Harrison, Mark (2003). Blues Piano: Hal Leonard Keyboard Style Series, [unpaginated]. Hal Leonard. ISBN   9781476816036.
  16. Oshinsky, James (January 2008). Return to Child - Music for People’s Guide to Improvising Music and Authentic Group Leadership (Second ed.).
  17. Clint Goss (2011). "Reference Drones". Flutopedia. Retrieved 2011-11-08.

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "Burden". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.