Edit: This drone was recorded as a playalong for Ignacio Gonzalez’ “IgBlog”, a blog for guitar players featuring lessons, playalongs and other inspirations. Ignacio was very kind to ask me to contibute and I hope his audience has fun playing along to my drone. Stop over and check out his blog sometime. Thanks Ignacio!
(Original post below:)
I decided to make another drone piece this weekend, based around this one chord that I love. I don’t actually know what the chord is, as I’m not really well versed in music theory. I like it because it has one droning string that just adds this fullness in the fundamental tone.
Originally I was planning on just playing it like one would normally play a chord, but I decided it would be more interesting to play each note separately and then mix them together. I went back and forth as to whether to make it rhythmic or not, and in the end i chose to record each note in whatever rhythm felt natural. This way, I wouldn’t be encombered by the idea of performing, and the outcome would be more amorphose which I tend to like.
The first note i played was the lowest one, and I chose to play this with a bow I have really been having fun with recently. I got it with a cheapo Rabab my inlaws bought me in Egypt. it’s basically just a bent stick with some thin monofilament line wrapped a bunch of times between each end. It pretty much just screeched on it’s own no matter what you applied it to, until I bought some bow rosin. Now I can sort of choose to make it screech or not if I want. It sounds great on the acoustic guitar. I have found that depending on where you bow, you can choose to excite a few different overtones, which is really nice sounding, if you sort of “walk” between them as you play. It basically produces a phasing effect.
The other notes were played in various ways. Some plucked with the fingers, others I plucked with the pick while moving up and down the neck. This also produces a similar phasing effect to the bow. The last bit I did was actually holding the chord, but just sort of improvising with the way I struck it. Sometimes hitting, or plucking, sometimes just brushing it with my fingers. That track was then cut up semi-randomly and reversed. I like that technique, because you have no real idea what the end result will sound like, but you have controlled it to the extent that you know it will be something useful. I love listening back and hearing all of these really nice simple phrases that just happen by accident.
That’s actually sort of how the whole piece works. Because I didn’t bother with keeping time in any way, notes and phrases just come and go it a real natural way. I find music with this kind of randomness really soothing, and quite condusive to either sleeping of staring off into the distance and losing time. This is something I’d like to work more with. I have this dream of making an hour long piece of music out of subtly shifting parts that weave in and out. I’d like to make it so it has disticnt tracks or themes in a way, but that shift from one to the next in a way you don’t even really notice. I don’t think I’m ready for it yet, I’m still learning how to put things together in a way the pleases me. However if I do get something going, You’ll be the first to know…