"Drones For Beginners"



Here's a step-by-step tutorial outlining one approach to creating an electronic drone-based composition. It's by no means exhaustive, and it doesn't elaborate particularly on any kind of harmonic theory, but it does give some ideas on how to develop sounds for drones and basic concepts of orchestration:

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* Start with any sound you have lying about with enough goods to work with. When working with computers for drones, one of the mainstays is the loop. So just think of any audio material you have as an oscillator, and then use some kind of loop player/sampler to turn it into a droning sound. I'll start with a bit I recorded from a dying toy Casio keyboard. Clip 1.


* Use a preferred processor to develop some interest in the relatively simple material you started with. Here, I'm using a granular? loop player (the Bubbleblower contraption in Audiomulch, which often aids in the creation of vaguely string-like timbres). Clip 2.


* Try to find an optimal starting pitch. It can be anything, mostly this an intuitive stage, deciding where you wish the track to reside physically. Here I've dropped the pitch of the found sound down an octave. Clip 3.


* Create a variation of the sound to fill another frequency band, I've chosen bass. Develop a further rhythm that will contrast the first voice. Clip 4.


* Play both sounds together and see what you get. Adjust anything that doesn't sound right. For instance one frequency might get swamped out by another. Clip 5.


* Create a third voice variation on the original sound, but affect it in a way that it is only partially related but characteristically different. I've processed the sound with a phase vocoder?, chorus, distortion, and stereo delay. Try to fill a different frequency band with the sound. I've bounced up an octave, but it doesn't have to be there. Think of it in terms of a standard quartet, the orchestration all fills complementary but separate sonic space. Clip 6.


* Then mix and compose. I'll keep it fairly simple by mostly only working with fades. I'll later mix the higher register voice into filter/delay multi-effect. This will vary the rhythm and timbre of the sound, works by giving the listener a transformational focal point. I've not mastered?/EQ'ed? anything. I actually like how heavy the bass got, so crank it up when you listen. Final mix.

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